Sunday, July 7, 2013

NSC Official: "The crisis in Egypt comes at exactly the wrong time for our Syrian policy"

'The overthrow of the Morsi government in Egypt has revived a familiar US dilemma in the Middle East: whether to give priority to stability or to democracy. Commentary split between those advocating suspending US aid and those applauding the military’s action.For itself, the Administration lost little time in splitting the difference. Well before his ouster, US officials had become disenchanted with Morsi over what they saw as his non-inclusive and authoritarian policies. With President Obama demanding a minimum of agonizing, they rapidly decided to opt for, as one State Department official described it to us, the “lesser of two evils”, namely to use the well-established US leverage with the Egyptian military and security authorities in an attempt to shape the transitional government and obtain assurances of an early return to civilian rule. This was the course being on the Administration urged by regional allies like the Israelis, Jordanians and Saudis. While officials are cautiously optimistic that, despite the sporadic violence, this approach is having the desired effect, they are troubled that this leaves wider US policy in the region in disarray. As one NSC official explained privately, “The crisis in Egypt comes at exactly the wrong time for our Syrian policy. Here we are arming the opposition in support of democracy at a time when we are walking back from democracy in Egypt.” Nonetheless, we do not expect any change in the decision to proceed with some scale of arms provision for the Syrian opposition....'

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