Has the objective of a liberal agenda and multilateral diplomacy shed more innocent blood?
By Denny A. Pierre
Introduction: Egypt, which became the Arab Republic of Egypt following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, received its independence from the British in 1923. The British ruled the country for some 41 years. Today, Egypt is one of the most populated nations in Africa and the Middle East, with a rich cultural legacy and sectors in tourism, agriculture, as well as a thriving service industry. The economy is largely dependent on petroleum imports, agriculture, natural gas, oil and tourism.
Denny A. Pierre is a lecturer at the T. A. Marryshow Community College in Grenada. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master of Law Degree with a Major in International Relations. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a nation, Egypt can be described as a center of economic gravity and power in the region with cultural, military and political influence in North Africa, the Middle East, and throughout the Muslim world. Egypt, a country whose religious ideology is Islam and Christianity, is now plagued with severe economic turbulence and rising political crime, attracting global attention; particularly from the West as the average people in the country continue to experience unfavourable human rights conditions, a declining economy, and higher prices of basic goods notwithstanding their purchasing power remains relatively stable.
In the middle of Egypt’s economic woe, there is a ferocious fight between the Egyptian opposition organizations (liberals, leftists, Christians, secularists) and the ousted President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood for the leadership of Egypt, justice, and the fair distribution of the country’s resources. Even so, the need for cooperative politics and diplomacy is urgent. The future security stability of Egypt is entangled in a complex interplay of a number of individual, political and economic factors.
Diplomacy vs. Conspiracy
The overthrow of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi by the Egyptian security forces on July 3, 2013, remains questionable for a number of reasons. On July 5, 2013, the Egyptian Army appointed Adli Mansour as Egypt’s interim president, a replacement for Morsi. Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in recent days accused Israel of orchestrating Morsi’s overthrow, as well as the Muslim nations for betraying Egypt by supporting the country’s army-backed new leaders to remove Morsi from the presidency.
According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, in response to Erdogan’s accusation, he said, “This is a statement well worth not commenting on.” Erdogan’s statement contributed to Egypt recalling its ambassador from Turkey and Turkey doing the same as relations between the two nations worsened. The Turkish Prime Minister was an ardent supporter of the Morsi government.
In defence of Israel, the US White House referred to Erdogan’s allegation as “offensive”. Israel is a key ally of the United States in the Middle East and the two countries usually collaborate on an array of substantial issues of common interest.
Even so, the prevailing political debacle in Egypt has claimed hundreds of lives already, albeit diplomats from the EU and the US have encouraged the parties involved in the conflict to resolve things through dialogue; the future direction of Egypt still remains uncertain. According to Gunther Meyer at the Center for Research on the Arab World at the University of Mainz, "The diplomatic efforts have at least caused a halt to the plans to evacuate the Muslim Brotherhood's camps and a refrain from the violence here until now." Nevertheless, Meyer remains skeptical about the US real intentions in Egypt. He said, "The US embassy in Egypt had tried to put a damper on the protest before Morsi was overthrown. After the coup, the US demanded Morsi had to be released."
In another statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said by overthrowing Morsi the army has “restored democracy” in Egypt, according to Meyer. Humadi El-Aouni, a Tunisian political scientist attached to the Free University of Berlin, believes that third parties should not engage in the Egyptian political conflict. He argues that “The Egyptians should just be left alone right now. Those who think they need to give advice to the Egyptians need to back off”.
This includes the Western governments and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), now led by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, which consists of 57 member states. The OIC is an international body that represents “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”. Given this reality, the OIC should not be quiet on the Egyptian issue but rather should engage the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Army to resolve the problems with which they are faced. To not act now is to go against the very purpose for which it has been established.
In light of Egypt’s political unrest, US President Barack Obama has cancelled a joint US-Egypt military exercise in the country due to civilians being killed on Egypt’s streets. The two countries have been engaged in military exercises for decades. The awful violence, though, has pushed the interim government into declaring a nationwide, month-long state of emergency. The death toll in Egypt political violence is over 500 and continues to increase as clashes between police and supporters of the country's ousted president remain a reality.
In Egypt, the population blamed the Muslim Brotherhood Administration of ousted President Mohammed Morsi of mismanagement of the country’s resources and abuse of justice. Morsi’s economic policies, during the past year, saw the country’s economy shifting from bad to worse, resulting in a decline in the GDP growth and foreign reserves, and also increased unemployment.
In addition, “price and capital controls have caused shortages and a substantial slide in the value of the Egyptian pound, which was 5.5 to the US dollar, is now at 7,” according to Steve Hanke, a subscriber to the Financial Post and professor of applied economics and co-director of the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise at The Johns Hopkins University and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. He further stated that the “Egyptians have watched inflation destroyed their standard of living”. Steve Hanke argued that “controls have delivered shortages of foreign exchange, which plunged from $36 billion at the end of 2010 to $16 billion in June 2013”.
The bad economic policies of Morsi’s administration made life very difficult for the Egyptian people to the extent that they acted to protect their own interests. According to Hanke, “bread is more important than ideas”.
The World Bank indicated in its Global Economic Prospects report published on January 16, 2013, that the “political uncertainty and unrest in the region, including Egypt, was suppressing economic activity”. The Egyptian government was expecting its economy to grow 3.5 to 4 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. But the World Bank gave a 2.6 percent prediction for the same period, a figure much lower than estimated by Egypt. The economy recorded a growth rate of 2.2 preceding 2011/2012. The World Bank estimated Egypt’s economy to accelerate to 3.8 percent in 2013/2014.
Given that the economy and political conditions inside of Egypt are in a quandary, in its September 2012 report, the bank has downgraded its prediction for Egypt and highlighted the country’s economic turbulence, as well as its inability to repay a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “The Egyptian economy crumbled following the popular uprising that unseated Hosni Mubarak early 2011. After the economy grew by an average five per cent in the few years preceding 2011, economic growth dropped to 1.8 per cent in 2010/2011”.
The Basic Values
Yes, in this world many individuals ignorantly overlook the basic values capable of uniting or setting us or apart. These values include welfare, security, freedom, justice, and respect for human rights. Adherence to these fundamental ideals is critically important for national peace, economic and security stability in Egypt. As such, these core values should act as a guide to the economic and political policies of countries the world over in the 21st century and beyond.
The UN recent emergency meeting on the developments in Egypt, which was encouraged by France, Britain and Australia, should pave the way for a UN resolution on Egypt. Egypt is one of the founding member nations of the UN, and in times like these it is imperative that the international community stand fully behind a UN resolution to address the situation in Egypt.
The international community needs to prove that the UN is a functional body and it is united and committed to ensuring security stability. Many view the UN as a failure in critical situations, like in Syria. They hold the opinion that the UN’s ability to act and normalize the Syrian internal conflict is paralyzed. Let not the same thing be said about the UN and the Egyptian crisis. On the contrary, the mission that the UN has been established to fulfill in the global context is beset by a complex interplay of ideological, economic and political factors, as we see and hear about more and more people dying in Egypt.
The conditions in Egypt warrant external intervention to return the country to a state of immediate political normalcy. The economic stability is a much longer and slower process to reach. What is needed now is an effective strategic approach to end the fighting between the two sides and to create the platform necessary for the effective leadership of the country. The future of Egypt’s economy is largely dependent on its good leadership. As it stands, the country is in a state of anarchy and if the Egyptians cannot resolve their issues peacefully, then external intervention is critical to bring about peace and security stability in Egypt. Every effort should be made to avoid Egypt from undergoing an economic disaster as a direct consequence of the fight between the two sides, particularly in this prevailing global economic recession.
In Syria, one may wonder whether a “liberal agenda and multilateral diplomacy have shed more innocent blood” and by now may be thinking the same about the Egyptian political conflict. Over 100,000 individuals have been killed in the Assad-Opposition forces fiasco in Syria, with still no end to this unfortunate situation in sight.
People need to strike a balance on what their real priorities are nationally and internationally. To achieve this, personal ambitions and political interests must give priority to the national interests of the people both in Syria and in Egypt. The calamity in Syria will continue as long as it is beneficial to the economies of others, as well as the Egyptian conflict. Liberalism is not working for the Syrian people. Will a liberal agenda and multilateral diplomacy work for the Egyptian people or will it prove to be a big failure? In cases where the liberal agenda failed, will a realist agenda prove to be effective?
The ordinary people inside of Syria and Egypt don’t care too much about which ideology that informs the will to act, they just desire peace and they need it now by the most effective means. They yearn for their lives, food to eat and democracy. They are not being unjust in their request one bit. Liberalism failed to prevent World War I and II and the prevailing events in Syria and Egypt are not good indications of the effectiveness of liberalism.
There are several constraints to the United Nations intervening in the Egyptian internal political conflict in order to restore political stability. To settle things in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Army must be willing to sit at the negotiation table and maybe the OIC, with the sole objective of normalizing conditions in Egypt for the betterment of all Egyptians. There should not be any external military intervention as a means to quell the problem, as this can only add to make matters worse for all involved.
Although the UN Declaration of Principles of International Law of 1970 prohibits the intervention of a state into the internal or external affairs of another state, to protect state sovereignty, today the state sovereignty is challenged by a complex interplay of security issues such as terrorism, organized crime, political crime, transnational issues like human trafficking and drugs, clime change, poverty, and economic trade and the like. According to the Declaration, “No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any state”.
Therefore, a government has supreme authority to make and enforce laws within its territory, as sovereignty means that a state enjoys political independence from other states. The Westphalia System of 1648 on state sovereignty in essence said the same thing.
Consequently, the UN is arguing for the strict concept of state sovereignty to be flexible due to these conventional challenges. This is to say that the situation in Egypt warrants intervention to halt the killing and to restore peace and good governance of the people. Against this backdrop, the UN should be given the support necessary to engage all the parties affected to work assiduously in order to resolve a crisis that can emerge into a civilian war in the Arab Republic of Egypt.
The UN Security Council needs the fullest support and should act collectively to abate the Egyptian political and economic catastrophe. The UN is an intergovernmental organization and its members are the countries of the world. To date, there are 193 member states of the UN, including Egypt.
Any mechanism/government framework to be installed in Egypt should consider a merging of the Muslim Brotherhood and opposition forces to lead Egypt in order to prevent potential political unrest in the country.
Rectifying the Egyptian political unrest quickly is necessary as it has global economic and political implications, particularly for the small developing countries.