Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pentagon & Intel Community: 'Distasteful as it is, the Egyptian military has a job to do... & should be allowed to get on with it!'

'The announcement that the US and Japanese foreign and defense ministers will meet in October together with the August 19th meeting between the US and Chinese defense ministers might be taken as an indication that the US ‘pivot’ to the Asia-Pacific is proceeding as planned. However, with relations between North and South Korea continuing to improve, Washington’s focus is very much on the Middle East. Over Egypt, different voices are competing for the President’s ear. As one NSC official commented to us: “There is blood on the floor between the State and Defense departments.” The argument is a familiar one in US policy toward the Middle East, set out in in explicit language in  former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice' 2005 speech at the American University in Cairo. Today, the US military and intelligence community are arguing forcefully that, distasteful as it is, the Egyptian military has a job to do – the restoration of democracy – and should be allowed to get on with it. The Pentagon argues that the almost daily calls between Secretary of Defense Secretary of Defense Hagel and his Egyptian counterparty represent the best leverage available to Washington. The State Department by contrast is arguing that the violations of US human right standards are so egregious that harsh condemnation is required. At this stage this argument has no clear winner, but it is clear that the trend is toward a more condemnatory approach. If this continues, this will disappoint both the Israelis and Saudis, both of whom have urged Washington to be careful about undermining the military. These events have pushed developments on Syria, Iraq and the first round on the new Middle East peace process talks. Ironically, the need to keep Egypt supportive of these and to prevent chaos in Sinai will moderate Washington’s condemnation of the Egyptian General Staff.'

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