The collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood and fall of President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt was inevitable. The challenge for the United States now is dealing with Egypt in this post-Morsi era.
The United States needs to realize that the collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood could be the beginning of the real defeat of radical Islam worldwide. Americans have spent trillions of dollars during the past decade fighting radical Islam with limited and minuscule successes. By supporting the anti-Islamist revolution in Egypt, the United States has the opportunity to correct its mistakes and deliver a devastating blow to Islamist radicals.
One of the important things that the nation must do at this stage is to heal the damage in its relationship with Egyptian liberals and secularists, who felt betrayed by President Obama when he turned a blind eye to the anti-democratic steps of Mr. Morsi. Those steps included seizing various powers, breaking his promise to select a Coptic vice president, and encouraging Islamic thugs to surround the Supreme Constitutional Court and threaten its judges if they issued any rulings against Mr. Morsi. Above all, Mr. Morsi cheated in the referendum of Egypt’s new constitution in order to benefit Islamists.
The silence of the Obama administration in the face of these crimes indicated to secular Egyptians that Mr. Obama, for unknown reasons, was a supporter of radical Islam. In fact, the demonstrators in Tahrir Square displayed a huge banner that depicted Mr. Obama as a terrorist. It was astonishing for these secular groups to see the United States spend taxpayer money attacking radical Islamists in Afghanistan and at the same time support an Islamist fascist regime in Egypt. Egyptian liberals could not comprehend how the U.S. president, who supports homosexual marriage, also would support an Islamist regime whose ultimate goal is to implement Shariah law that promotes brutal killings of homosexual individuals.
The United States needs to be pragmatic in its approach to a post-Morsi Egypt. Supporting the Muslim Brotherhood is useless and will not bring the organization back to power now that it has lost the support of the majority of Egyptians. If the United States supports the Muslim Brotherhood, it will only inflame anti-U.S. sentiments in Egypt and jeopardize relations between Egypt and the United States.
The June 30 revolution clearly showed that the Egyptian military is the only organized power in Egypt that can make a change. Any attempt by the United States to halt aid to Egypt will be counterproductive to U.S. interests. Weakening the Egyptian military will simply give radical Islamists the impetus for attacking the Suez Canal, which would increase the price of oil and have a negative impact on the U.S. economy.
The United States may need to consider increasing aid to the Egyptian military, especially in areas such as the use of technology that can help defeat radical Islamists and bring stability to the region in the shortest possible time.
At this crucial moment, a statement by Mr. Obama showing clear and unambiguous support for the June 30 revolution could help improve the relationship between the United States and the next — most likely — secular government of Egypt. This support does not contradict the value of supporting democracy, as Mr. Morsi merely used the ballot box to implement policies that contradict the essence of democracy. Additionally, the United States must realize that what happened in Egypt cannot be classified as a military coup because the military delivered power immediately to civilians once Mr. Morsi was removed. Furthermore, U.S. policymakers need to realize that had the Egyptian people been certain the results of the 2012 presidential ballot weren’t manipulated, they would not have gone into the streets and most likely would have accepted early presidential elections.
The Obama administration needs to realize that by clearly supporting the removal of Mr. Morsi, it will win the hearts and minds of most people in Egypt and will strike a powerful blow against radical Islam and facilitate a resilient relationship with the new Egypt. In fact, the lack of such a public announcement by the U.S. administration is leading the Islamists to think the United States is on their side — a feeling that encourages them to continue fighting. Once they realize the U.S. is not with them, they may see their battle for Egypt as unwinnable and accept a peaceful resolution of the conflict, at least at this stage.
Additionally, support for the June 30 revolution will show that the United States supports real democracy that respects minorities rather than Mr. Morsi’s false democracy that betrayed the true soul and spirit of equality and rule of law. Failure to take a clear stance that supports the vast majority of Egyptians could have serious negative consequences on U.S. interests in the region.
Tafik Hamid, a former Islamic extremist from Egypt, is a senior fellow and chairman of the study of Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.