Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton says the situation in Egypt, where authorities announced Monday 19 Americans and 24 other employees of nonprofit groups will be tried on accusations they illegally used foreign funds to foment unrest in the country, is “approaching a kind of hostage crisis.” Bolton also told Fox News the Obama administration is doing “precious little” to resolve the predicament.
“They have now made it plain they will charge them — I wouldn’t place any money on the odds of a fair trial in Egypt. I certainly wouldn’t want to see them in an Egyptian jail,” Bolton told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. “So I think the situation is approaching a kind of hostage crisis here. And from all that we can see behind the scenes — which is where the activity should be — the administration has done precious little to protect these Americans.
“I think the fact is that the government of Egypt — and it’s not just the military here — I think you have to take into account the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament sees a weak, indecisive president,” he said. “This is a way to make political points in the Egyptian context. And they are apparently not afraid of what the U.S. reaction will be — that is a prescription for bad news.”
Turning to Syria, Bolton noted the administration has misjudged President Bashar Assad’s determination to use violence against protesters of his regime “from the beginning” and said China and Russia’s vetoes of a U.N. resolution condemning the government in Damascus were “entirely predictable.”
“I think the Syrian government needs to be replaced, but I don’t think you can serious about regime change in Syria without taking into account the malignant presence of Iran,” Bolton said. “And therefore to be effective in Syria you have to be prepared to engage in a regime-change policy against the regime in Tehran as well.
These problems “are serious and complicated, but they are made much worse by the perception and — I’m afraid — the reality of American weakness — a country that can’t even protect its own citizens internationally is going to be disregarded,” he said. “That is the consequence of what is happening in Egypt — obviously the serious risk to the 19 Americans — but far more broadly the perception of weakness and inability to assert our own interests.”
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