The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
It is time to move forward with Egypt. The Administration’s current stance towards that historic ally since the removal of Muhammad Morsi and the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in July of 2013 has not only undermined U.S.-Egyptian relations but created a dangerous leadership vacuum that emboldens militant Islam.
America needs to act, now. Egypt is in a fragile state, and we believe that long-term U.S. security and even the goal of eventual peace in the Middle East is best served by siding with the majority of the Egyptian people, who rose up against a budding Islamist dictatorship last summer and have been fighting Islamist terrorism ever since.
This engagement should begin immediately with the provision of promised military and political support to Egypt and to its war on terror networks inside their country.
Last April, you promised that Apache helicopters and needed military parts would be sent to the Egyptian military to support it in the war on terrorism. Recent reports, however, indicate the Apaches have not been sent and are currently being stored at Ft. Hood, Texas.
Not only does this undermine the new government’s ability to bring peace and stability to the region but it raises serious questions concerning the relationship between our two nations and encourages violent adventurism among militant Islamic groups.
Delay in delivering the promised helicopters also flies in the face of your recent West Point speech and a new foreign policy doctrine to create international alliances to support the fight against terrorism and to “shift our counter-terrorism strategy to more effectively partner with countries where terrorists networks seek a foothold.”
You called on Congress to “support a $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnership Fund to train and support partner countries.”
In these objectives, Egypt has been an historic and proven partner, therefore a logical starting place if you are serious about your new doctrine strategy.
The Egyptian military has been fighting the very same Al Qaeda network that declared war on America so many years ago, killed thousands of Americans on September 11th, thousands in Iraq, and still attacks our troops in Afghanistan today.
As you outlined in your speech at West Point, America should be supporting our allies in our common war on terrorism. Al Qaeda has direct historical and ideological roots to the Islamist movement in Egypt; the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Mohammed Atta, and the current leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri are both Egyptian-born alumni of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The mastermind of the first terrorist attack against America, the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, Omar Abdel-Rahman (“the Blind Sheikh”) was also Egyptian. The secular Egyptian state and America have a common enemy and our partnership is critical to America’s national security interest.
Beyond issues of terrorism, the US-Egyptian relationship is vital to other U.S. national interests in the Middle East and has been essential to maintaining security and stability in the region.
Egypt’s military has been trained by our own for decades, and our two nations have worked hand in hand in securing and maintaining the Camp David Agreement, leading to a military and economic relationship that has lasted nearly four decades and bolsters any meaningful hope of Arab-Israeli peace.
The Egyptian military is America’s strongest ally in the Arab world, and has accompanied the United States to conflicts outside of Egypt’s immediate interests for the sake of that alliance. In 1991, the Egyptian military fought at our side with U.S. troops in the Gulf War, sending 35,000 troops. Since 2001, the Egyptian military served with NATO and American forces in Afghanistan, providing medical care to over 1 million Afghans.
After removing the influence of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military launched military operations in the Sinai to prevent Islamist militants from creating a safe haven similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban.
The Egyptian military has closed thousands of tunnels used for smuggling weapons and equipment from militant Gaza. They have captured or killed hundreds of militants, many of these jihadists belonging to Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S.
Mr. President, instead of supporting the Egyptian military, your Administration has chosen to punish it by withholding the military aid that has consistently provided to Egypt since 1979. Presumably those in your administration believe that by not supporting the military, you are preserving democracy.
We contend that by withholding Apache helicopters that are so desperately needed to fight militants in the Sinai, you are imperiling Egyptian security and creating a dangerous vacuum in the region that actually invites terrorism.
Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant extremist groups that have declared war against America, haven’t changed their minds about who they are fighting. Egypt is fighting the very same ideological movement that killed thousands of Americans in 2001 and thousands elsewhere around the globe in Pakistan, Mali, Nigeria, Iraq, Libya, and especially Syria.
The Muslim Brotherhood and their allies have killed over 50 civilians, 190 members of the military and over 250 Egyptian police.
On December 24, 2013, 15 people were killed and 130 more injured during a bombing carried out by militant extremists at the Dakahliya Security Directorate; on January 24, 2014 a bombing by militant extremists killed six people and injured almost 100; on February 16, 2014 a suicide bomber targeted a tourist bus at the Taba border crossing killing four Christian tourists from South Korea and injuring 17; in March, gunmen stormed a security checkpoint and attacked a military bus traveling in Cairo killing seven people.
There have been consistent assassination attempts, against both senior-ranking officials of the Egyptian military and police. In September there was an assassination attempt against the Minister of Interior, killing one person and wounding 22. Last week, another high-ranking Egyptian police officer was killed while he was leaving his home for work.
America should be supporting the people of Egypt who espouse America’s values such as democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
By refusing to reauthorize economic aid and political support to Egypt during this time we are sending an indirect message that the United States is supporting the radical militants who have declared war against the Egyptian people.
Since the removal of Morsi last July, Egypt has passed a Constitution that provides more freedom and equality to all Egyptians than they have known in recent history and last month they held a free and fair presidential election.
They have followed the democratic roadmap established in July of 2013 to the best of their ability, and are taking tremendous steps in their aspiration to become a democratic society.
Americans of all people know that a lasting Democracy is not made overnight; it takes time, just as it took America hundreds of years to establish democratic institutions, which we ourselves have yet to perfect. We should be patient as Egypt continues down their path in building a “New Egypt” -one with more rights and equality for all Egyptians.
We ask that you will support our ally Egypt by sending the desperately needed Apache helicopters and spare parts for their military equipment, and show political support in their fight against terrorism.
Egypt’s failure to succeed against Islamist terrorism and other challenges would have catastrophic consequences for the region and also will directly and irreparably affect the national security of the United States.
Thank you for your consideration.
Herb London, President, London Center for Policy Research
Katharine Gorka, President, Council on Global Security
Robert C. McFarlane
The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Dr. Walid Phares
Eli Gold, Vice-President, London Center for Policy Research
Admiral James A. Lyons, Jr., USN (Retired)
Maj General Robert Scales, USA (Retired)
General Paul Vallely (Retired)
LT Col Rick Francona, USAF (Retired)
Lt. General Thomas McInerney, USAF (Retired)
Gerald R. Molen
Wayne S. Simmons
Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the books "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America) and "Decline and Revival in Higher Education" (Transaction Books). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.
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