Egypt has exploded in violence and bloodshed. The Post reports:
Egyptian security forces stormed two sprawling sit-ins by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi shortly after dawn Wednesday, killing dozens of people and igniting a wave of violent clashes across the country.
Hours after the raids, Egypt’s military-backed interim president declared a state of emergency, imposing a nighttime curfew on Cairo and 10 provinces and allowing security forces to arrest and detain civilians indefinitely without charge. The state of emergency took effect at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EDT).
To top it off, vice president Mohamed ElBaradei resigned in protest. Egypt now looks more like tin pot dictatorship verging on the edge of civil war than a government transitioning to democracy.
This comes to no surprise to administration critics who have criticized the White House for failure to designate the military take over as a “coup.” A former official (certainly not of this administration) tells me, “They are not listening to us at all; which is in part because the White House blinked on calling it a coup. That showed the generals they have little to fear in Washington.” He doubts the military will listen to anything we say at this point and instead will proceed to “decapitate the Muslim Brotherhood, and deal with gaining support or acquiescence from MB voters and sympathizers later.” It is hard to argue with his conclusion that “American influence in Egypt has not been this low since Nasser.” That makes perfect sense given that General Abdul-Fattah Sissi seems to be modeling himself on Nasser.
The White House “strongly condemns” the violence, but every utterance from this administration only serves to underscore its ineffectiveness.
Tony Badran of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies agrees there has been a total lack of leadership. He emails:
This is what passivity and lack of a clear and overarching strategy for the region gets you. The problem is that the ability of the US to lean on Sissi’s Gulf Arab supporters to leverage aid and condition it on fulfilling what the US has said it wants to see — a complete transition to full democracy, not having military rule, the release of Morsi, and not shutting the MB out — has been strongly damaged not just by our lackluster engagement, but also by the fact that we have proceeded with a “cafeteria-style” policy in the region, deciding where and how much we wish to be engaged without concern for the priorities and issues of concerns for our allies, and without integrating that into a credible strategy for the region. Namely, instead of being able to bring our regional partners together under the tent of a clear US regional policy, we have signaled total lack of interest.
In that sense Badran sees the military’s action logical if not inevitable. “Therefore, why should they accommodate us in Egypt, say, when we’ve rebuffed them for two years on Syria? Instead, we now find ourselves practically irrelevant in Egypt, even with our aid to the military.”
It should not go unmentioned that Secretary of State John Kerry’s ludicrous obsession with the ‘peace process’ while refusing to focus on the biggest current crisis in the region is now a huge embarrassment for the administration and a signal to the world that our foreign policy is rudderless. But in this regard the blame falls squarely on the president’s shoulders. It’s his foreign policy or lack thereof that has contributed to the crisis and his under-qualified and inept advisers who are at a loss to deal with it.