Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Kerry’s Fantasy Egypt

by Elliott Abrams
February 9, 2016


The Under Secretary of State for “Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights,”  Sarah Sewall, is today in Egypt. She might as well have stayed home.

Because today, Secretary of State Kerry did a joint press appearance with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and showed that he has zero interest in “Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights” in Egypt.

His remarks did not mention the words “human rights” or “democracy.” Instead he spoke about an Egypt that exists only in fantasy.

Kerry said Egypt is “going through a political transition.” That’s simply not so: it was a military dictatorship under Mubarak and is now under Sisi, only the human rights situation is considerably worse today.

Kerry said “We very much respect the important role that Egypt plays traditionally within the region – a leader of the Arab world in no uncertain terms.” That’s also a fantasy. Egypt has never had less clout in the region than it does today. It is not at all a leader of the Arab world, and no Arab head of state consults Sisi for advice.

Kerry said “the success of the transformation that is currently being worked on is critical for the United States and obviously for the region and for Egypt.” What transformation is “being worked on” in Egypt? The move from a general named Mubarak to a general named Sisi is no transformation. There is no transformative economic reform whatsoever, and in fact the Army’s control of the economy has grown considerably under Sisi.

Today’s Egypt is broke, and will over time receive less and less from its Gulf donors. The security situation in both the Sinai and the Western Desert is deteriorating, but Kerry did not mention that. The human rights situation is appalling, as Sisi crushes not only the Muslim Brotherhood but all political life. So much for “Civilian Security.”

The message Kerry transmitted in these remarks today is that he knows little about the real Egypt, or does not much care– or is afraid to say anything approaching the truth. The Egyptian government must itself wonder which of the three possibilities is the truth. Meanwhile, Ms. Sewall ought to come home. These remarks have left her swinging in the wind.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by A.T. Halmay

    This assessment is doubtlessly correct but I suspect that if Morsi and the Brotherhood would have been left in charge thing would be worse.

  • Posted by neville craig

    While not disagreeing with your analysis in most respects, are there no regrets in DC about the Hillary-induced ‘Arab Uprising’? The extent to which local people were led to believe that they could change things suddenly, aided by US-financed networking goods.
    (I had this confirmed to me by a former US Ambassador in Syria.)

    The almighty mess created by this change from ‘shock and awe’ tactics is obvious to see and has left almost insoluble problems. Even the Zionist interest is not being served by the failure of borders with Arab countries, when the BigMen rulers were dispensed with.

  • Posted by Omerli

    Shameless and craven. Who would’ve thought that US foreign policy would descend to such levels? Obama and Kerry are good with Sisi, good with the other autocrats in the region and beyond and – given their total helplessness when faced with Russian and Iranian military intervention – even good with Bashar Assad. Their paralysis may be mistaken for analysis by some but this level of spineless drivel is shocking. At the very least, have they no personal integrity at all?

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