Mideast Expert: US Should Help Lead Egypt to a Compromise

Monday, 19 Aug 2013 05:48 PM

By Courtney Coren and Kathleen Walter

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The best-case scenario for the Egypt crisis would be for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military to reach some sort of compromise, says Mideast expert Robert Rabil.

"Really, Egypt is too important. It's the most populous state, it's a strategic country for the United States, and I really believe and hope that some kind of a compromise will be worked out between the two parties," Rabil said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.

The Florida Atlantic University political science professor says that while he agrees with the premise made in an editorial in the National Review that the United States should stand behind the Egyptian military, "we should tell the military, 'Listen, you have to be very careful,' because we have to stand by our universal values."

Story continues below video.

"We can't have, every other day, news that people were killed, including in custody," he adds.

The last thing we want, Rabil says, is for Egypt to spiral into a civil war.

"The military, or the army of Egypt, is acting mainly with a full blessing of Saudi Arabia, and this is why they have somehow brushed aside all the concerns of the international community, and they are moving ahead, believing in an existential battle with the Muslim Brotherhood.

"And this is where the United States ... has to speak with Saudi Arabia. I am no fan of the Muslim Brotherhood and I know what they did was terrible, but also I don't like to see Egypt going the way of Syria — and there is a good chance that this will happen."

The Mideast expert does not think the U.S. government should pull the $1.5 billion in military and economic aid it sends to Egypt every year because the United States would lose that leverage and it would probably do nothing to prevent the military from trying "to clamp down on the Muslim Brotherhood" and it could actually serve to bring the Islamist group together.

Rabil thinks that the United States should take the lead and form "a regional conference to deal with the problem not only of Egypt, but also with Syria and what's happening in the region."

He argues that the Obama administration has sent a lot of mixed messages.

"And really, from the perspective of the Egyptian people that took to Tahrir Square, they felt somehow a little bit abandoned by the Obama administration," Rabil concluded.

"So, really, for the United States, we have to walk a very delicate line between supporting the army and telling them, 'we are with you, but also, we believe in the establishment of democratic institutions that we know are going to take time, and you are the guardian. But … in your responsibility as a guardian, you have to act as a proper guardian."

Rabil is the author of "Religion, National Identity, and Confessional Politics in Lebanon."

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