‘US will accept any Egyptian authority that controls the territory’
Washington remains eager to work with its key Middle Eastern ally, Egypt, despite concerns over widespread human rights abuses and limits on freedom of expression under new leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said on Sunday.
Kerry arrived to Cairo a day after an Egyptian court confirmed death sentences against 183 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which supports ousted president, Mohammed Morsi.
But the US official, instead, decided to focus on the “few flickering signs of positive movement” in recent weeks, including the release of an Al Jazeera journalist, steps to start addressing sexual violence against women and Sisi’s call for the revision of human rights law.
“This is a critical moment of transition in Egypt (with) enormous challenges,” Kerry is cited by Reuters.
Lawrence Davidson, professor of Middle East history at West Chester University says the US is almost always playing the ball with whoever can establish their sovereignty over the territory.
RT:Looks like Egypt's new leader has just got a powerful ally, hasn't he?
Lawrence Davidson: The Obama administration has wanted to resume military aid to Egypt for months now. And the problem for them has been the position taken by Senator Patrick Leahy, who is a very high-ranking Democratic senator and head of one of the Appropriations Committees that passes on funds for foreign aid. And Leahy says: ‘You know, this Egyptian government is illegitimate and we shouldn’t be funding them.’
So, there’s a bit of a problem, actually. Kerry is probably in Egypt now, trying to get Sisi to do something that would suggest lightening on the opposition. And if he can get Sisi to do that – then he can argue in the Senate that: ‘You know, you got rule of the law in Egypt’ and the Senators would then clear the way for full military aid to resume. But I don’t think Sisi is going to do that.
RT:Does it matter who's in charge? We had ex-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton cozying up to then-leader Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted by Sisi's army. John Kerry also came out in support of Morsi at the time. So which side is America really on?
LD: America is on the side of whoever can establish their sovereignty over the territory; the authority over Egypt. If you’ve got a stable government in Egypt then the Americans will play ball with it.
But there’s an argument about whether in fact this government is legitimate. The executive, the presidency says “Yes, now it’s legitimate.” It has established control over the territory and in needs to fight “terrorists” coming of the Sinai. Leahy and the Senate says “that’s just false, you’ve got a coup, you’ve got a military dictatorship. They’re suppressing all kinds of opposition. They’re condemning masses of people to execution.”
RT:Kerry spoke of upholding the rule of law. But what about the US turning a blind eye to the hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members sentenced to death for rioting. The concern is that it's heavy-handed sentencing, and that their convictions are somewhat political?
LD: Again, the Department of State and the President ultimately will accept the government that controls the territory. That’s always been the American position. They’ll recognize a government as long as it controls territory. Actually, the only exception to that was the Bolshevik government in 1917, but we won’t go into that. But you’ve got this guy in the Senate, who is very powerful, very well positioned and he has the ability to stop the funding that facilitates foreign aid. And he says: “No.”