Issue: Crisis in Egypt

What happened?

  • President Muhammad Morsi was democratically elected last year, but lost the support of much of the country due to huge power grabs.  He rammed through a new Constitution and essentially decreed that he and other leaders were not subject to court oversight or judicial review.  This was in addition to his generally failed policies in virtually every aspect of governance and his ignoring of the opposition party and public opinion.
  • On June 30th (one year since his election) approximately 10-15 million people began protesting in the streets and the Egyptian army issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Morsi to meet the demands of the people or be removed from office.  Morsi refused and was forced from office when the deadline passed.  The military has taken over the country (temporarily), suspended Morsi’s Constitution, and installed a Supreme Court judge as interim president.

What now?

  • Morsi is under house arrest and the army has ordered new elections.
  • Violence has escalated between Islamist demonstrators (supporters of Mr. Morsi) and the military, fear of a civil war is increasing.

U.S. response

  • President Obama supported the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarek last year and the installation of President Morsi.  The White House has largely been silent so far regarding the uprisings, military takeover, and future steps.

Looming issues

  • The legitimacy of an Egyptian election – since the military has deposed a duly elected president because of civil unrest, why wouldn’t they do it again?  Does this signify a change to a military-run state?  How much legitimacy will the next election winner have?
  • US aid – the US government gives approximately $1.5 billion annually to Egypt.  US law prohibits giving aid to countries under military coup.  Will the US cut off aid to Egypt?
  • US position – will the US come out in support of this military coup over a democratically elected leader?  Or will the US support President Morsi and risk alienating much of Egypt?

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