Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton says the Obama administration should only support Egyptian leaders who are committed to preserving the Camp David Accords and protecting the Suez Canal.
Anything else, he said in a New York Daily News op-ed piece
Thursday, would simply continue what he called "a confused and irresolute" American policy toward what is obviously now a "violently divided" Egypt.
Bolton said the White House should move quickly to define its priorities in Egypt "in light of the country's strategic significance, and given the potential for protracted hostilities there between armed combatants."
"What Washington needs to do is clear. U.S. policy should be to support only Egyptian leaders unambiguously committed to Camp David, both to its terms and to its broader regional significance," Bolton argued in the Daily News piece. "And we must assist those who place highest priority on repairing Egypt's badly weakened economy and securing its international economic obligations, particularly safe transit through the Suez Canal."
Bolton insisted that the 1978 Camp David agreement signed by then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the urging of President Jimmy Carter, "was critical not only to establishing this foundation of America's overall Middle East policy, but also evidenced Egypt's momentous shift, after the death of longtime dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser, away from the Soviet Union."
Sadat's courageous move, he continued, "provided an opening the U.S. used to undermine Moscow's extensive regional influence, and was an early sign that the Cold War was entirely winnable."
Bolton noted that it was Islamist nationalists associated with the Muslim Brotherhood that assassinated Sadat in 1981 because of the Camp David agreement that led to the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in 1979.
"Then, as now, the Brotherhood has only contempt for Egyptian leaders who seek peace with Israel," he said, adding that if ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi "had enjoyed only a slightly longer tenure in office, he would likely have abrogated Camp David entirely."
"Make no mistake, if Washington takes Camp David for granted, it will disappear, and quickly," he warned.
As for the canal, Bolton urged the administration to ensure that it remains open, say that not only Egypt but Europe and the United States as well would "suffer" if the ongoing violence results in its closure.
"Already, 2 1/2 years of domestic instability have made the Sinai Peninsula a haven for terrorists and devastated Egypt's economy, with both foreign investment and tourism revenues plummeting," he added.
Bolton also rejected calls from some Republicans to stop U.S. to Egypt's military, whose leaders, he said, have been "close to Washington." He urged the administration to give "our Egyptian friends flexibility in their internal political debates."
"This does not mean granting them a completely blank check," he continued. "It does mean rejecting the Obama approach of essentially supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which is as much an armed militia as a political party, and condemning the interim government."
"What is happening in Egypt now is not pretty," Bolton concluded. "We should take care that our efforts to improve things don't make them worse, disrupting our larger regional and worldwide interests."
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