Robert Kagan writes: Twice last month, the Egyptian military opened fire on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, killing more than 100 people. A few days ago, the military’s leader, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, asked Egyptians to go into the streets and give him a popular “mandate” to fight “terrorism.” On Wednesday, the military-backed government ordered security forces to break up protests in Cairo.
The stage is set for a deadly government assault not only against the Muslim Brotherhood but also against the millions of Egyptians who voted for the Brotherhood in elections over the past two years. Combined with the arrests on trumped-up charges of Morsi and others linked to the Brotherhood, the military appears intent on eradicating the organization from Egypt’s politics, jailing its leaders and followers or driving them underground.
Through its continued support of the Egyptian military, the United States is complicit in these acts. Despite our repeated claims of neutrality and our calls for reconciliation, in reality we have taken sides in the burgeoning violent confrontation. We winked at the coup against a democratically elected government, and, most important, we remain the leading provider of assistance to Egypt’s military: Even as violent and undemocratic intentions have become increasingly clear, the administration and Congress are pressing ahead with the annual provision of $1.3 billion in military assistance.
Some supporters of the aid claim that it gives us leverage over the military’s behavior — that fear of an aid cutoff will curb Sissi’s more extreme inclinations and lead the government to moderation. Recent events suggest the opposite. Why should military leaders fear losing aid when the Obama administration did not even abide by U.S. law requiring it to cut off that aid after the coup? The recent delay of F-16 deliveries had no effect. [Continue reading…]