Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Egypt's Backwards Fall into Oppression

By Marc GetzoffPublished April 21, 2014

Despite having been heralded for its largely peaceful overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt seems to be slipping back into a crevasse of oppression and violence. The U.S's foreign policy and geopolitical goals must be re-evaluated in light of the most recent news.
By Marc Getzoff, 4/21/14

A series of frightening and unfortunate events have been occurring in Egypt. One of the longest running dictatorships in the world fell amidst a wave of protests and anger at the Mubarak regime. The long years of political oppression and restriction had resulted in only one political force having the power to contend for office after Mubarak's fall. The Muslim Brotherhood came to power with a majority in the first free elections Egypt had experienced in decades. However, the country soon turned against the ruling party as President Morsi sought to alter the constitution and fixate the government under the control of his party.

The resulting protest and anger, however, did not drive Morsi to step down. Rather, the military intervened and placed Morsi under arrest along with many other supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Since this second overthrow, the Egyptian government (under military rule) has faced conflicts with Morsi supporters and radical Islamicists in the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian military government has responded harshly by breaking the protests with force and now seems to be contemplating moves to end the protest in a truly symbolic and yet all too real way.

An Egyptian government court has recently issued death sentences for 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. The news not only caused fear and protests in Egypt but has drawn much concern about the future of Egypt's government. Only a few days after the announcement of the death sentences, Egypt's top military commander, General Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, announced that he would run for president. The two actions may seem unrelated to some; but they provide a disturbing pattern. The military government in Egypt is attempting to cement its rule through violence and by silencing the opposition. The rhetoric of the government has only supported this idea as they continue to claim that their desire is to "crush militancy" and that they are not targeting innocent peoples. However, the death sentences were passed in the court without a jury and without a majority of the defendants actually present at the time of the sentencing. The legal decision was essentially a government decision intended to engage in political oppression by removing supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. The military government has proven itself not to be a temporary transition in between governments but has sought to become the permanent government.

The U.S government's foreign policy has seemed to have been directed at achieving a non-Muslim ruled Egypt rather than a peaceful and just one. The U.S stood in support of overthrowing Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and their largest condemnation of the violence of the new military government came when Obama announced they would cancel joint military exercises. The U.S government has thus far not publically condemned the death sentences that seem to resemble much more of Mubarak's rule than Morsi's It is becoming apparent that the geopolitical tactics and decisions of the U.S must change. It should not be the directive to force Islamic parties out of power. Rather, the goal should be to seek a stable yet lawful government.