Two and a half years after the widely popular ousting of Hosni Mubarak from his three decade long autocracy, Egypt has found itself having to fight a very different, but similar beast — a corrupt government alongside a military just as crooked.
The difference between the Egyptian government during Mubarak’s reign and now is the (cue extreme sarcasm) simple fact of democratically elected leadership. Hopeful and zealous were the Egyptian people for the promised fair and democratic elections of 2012. That optimism turned sour once Egyptians realized their “democratically elected” president, Mohamad Morsi, was not interested in upholding the constitution and thus the interests of the people.
Mohamad Morsi, the now ex-president of Egypt was and still is a leading member in the Muslim Brotherhood, whose founding documents explicitly label them a terrorist organization promising to use violence to spread their religious and political objectives.
The Egyptian military, which had been supported largely by the United States in aid, is rampant with Muslim Brotherhood influence, power and violence. While the military is constitutionally owned by the Egyptian people, civilians who have been and continue to protest the venomous government experience a military dedicated to serving the undemocratic interests of the Muslim Brotherhood. This was made clear by the intensely violent reaction to Egyptian protesters, specifically in the past month.
In short, the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi terrifically failed to establish a true participatory democracy in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the thorn in Egypt’s side which can never be removed because its influence is regionally and globally supported financially, theologically and physically in numbers. Coup or no coup, democracy or not; the United States position with Egypt, albeit complicated, must be one that distinctly denies all form of support to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The best way to support Egypt in its push for a functioning democracy is to realize that democracy in America will inevitably look and act much different than democracy in Egypt. Democracy, like in the West and in Europe, both shared a tumultuous timeline leading up to their now modern democracies. Egypt needs regional support to help manage the inevitable turmoil that comes from trying to kick-start a democracy.
How can the United States lend effective aid to the Arab world’s most populous country in order to establish itself as a functioning democratic nation? For starters: by not supporting an Egyptian leadership and military who justify killing over 600 civilians exercising their constitutional right to protest a corrupt government.
While Obama recently rescinded a large portion of the $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt which mostly goes towards military use, the Muslim Brotherhood still holds tremendous amounts of power both militarily and within the government even after Morsi’s expulsion.
While voiding funds to Egypt is a tangible means of crippling Egypt’s enemy of democracy now (MB), the United States must rely on regional efforts in supporting Egyptian democracy. It is ultimately left to the Egyptian people to decide who are the true Egyptian revolutionaries and what should democracy look like in Egypt.
Brooke Lake is an International and Arabic studies major. She studied abroad in Meknes, Morocco and currently studies abroad in Jordan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org