United States Displeased with Egypt’s Military Rule

The White House released a statement, urging the interim military rulers of Egypt to relinquish power to civilians in an effort to guide Egypt toward democracy. However, the military council does not appear to be as cooperative as the Obama administration had hoped. Demonstrators are swarming in Tahrir Square to protest the military’s explicit intention to retain power despite the pending parliamentary elections scheduled to begin next week. Although the United States is one of Egypt’s closest benefactors, aiding Egypt with more than $1 billion per year, the White House is pressuring the generals to transfer power to a civilian government that is better equipped to respond to the needs of the Egyptian people.

Unfortunately, escalations of unrest by civilians have led to the Egyptian generals endorsing the use of force to clear crowds from Tahrir Square. Close to thirty civilians have been killed in the past two weeks, as more than 2,000 have been injured from the military response.

The military council has apologized for the deaths and injuries in these past weeks of unrest, yet it has also made comments suggesting that the crowds gathering in protest will be ineffective in prompting any power transfer to civilians even in light of the elections. Major General Mukhtar el-Mallah, a member of the military council, stated, “We will not relinquish power because of a slogan-chanting crowd.”

Do you think the Egyptian military council will heed to international pressures? What backlash do you foresee, taking into consideration the United States contributing considerable aid each year to Egypt?  If civilian authority is established, could this prompt greater internal conflict with the military?

Original article from The New York Times


  1. The current situation in Egypt needs to be viewed by the world community as a lesson of what should not be allowed to happen in Libya. After revolution one authoritarian ruling body should not be permitted to take over from another. Many thought the revolution in Egypt was a great thing, but now that a military dictatorship seems to be taking hold and civilians are dying, many are questioning this. The world community needs to be proactive to make certain the same thing does not occur in Libya.

    One way to make certain that it does not is to keep the military out of a position of governmental power during rebuilding. Although a military force is certainly necessary to the security of a nation, often times when a military force is involved with governing a nation it leads to authoritarian rule. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, nations schooled in democracy need to be proactive in Libya in encouraging and educating the Libyan people as well as those in positions of power in democracy. Hopefully if these measures are taken, the Libya can avoid Egypt’s fate.

  2. I think that the military rulers will be forced to relinquish power in the face of so much domestic and international consternation. Millions of Egyptians risked their lives to get their nation to the point it is at today. Unless the Egyptian military regime is interested in contributing civil strife, forfeiting foreign aid, or inviting NATO military intervention (a la Libya), they would be wise to accelerate the democratic process. Egypt is in desperate need of stabilization in order to restore its economy and to legitimize all of the amazing images we witnessed taking place in Tahrir Square this past spring; Egypts military hold the key to that success.

  3. It is reasonable for the international community to place pressure on the Egyptian government to allow for civilian control of the government. However, whether such pressure should be exerted through military intervention or sanctions is debatable.

    Ms. Witkowski raises an interesting point about potential backlash given the fact that the United States provides Egypt with considerable financial aid. Unfortunately, this may turn out to be another example of how government action, even with good intentions, can sometimes have a negative impact. Continued financial support for an oppressive or tyrannical regime, despite the United States’ expressed disapproval of the regime’s actions, could result in anti-American sentiment among the Egyptian people.

    Ultimately, the best case scenario would be for any shifting of power from the current militaristic government to the Egyptian people to result from a grassroots movement within the country, rather than from an external force.

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