Six weeks removed from the coup in Egypt, which removed Mohamed Morsi as president, violence is escalating in the streets.
Reports vary, but around 100 people have been killed and countless more injured in the latest crackdown to clear the streets of pro-Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. People on the ground have described the scene as a war zone. The pictures and video footage are pretty unbelievable. Among those killed are two members of the media: Mick Deane was a cameraman for Sky News out of Great Britain and Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz was a reporter with XPress, a United Arab Emirates newspaper.
Egyptian security forces are reported to have rolled through the streets with tanks and opened fire with tear gas. There are also reports that protesters have returned fire with ammunition and set fire to churches. The interim government has issued a monthlong state of emergency and a curfew is likely going into place. Officials claim to have arrested leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian vice president Mohamed ElBaradei has resigned in the wake of the crackdown.
What should the role of the United States be at this point, if at all? Many people are upset that taxpayer dollars are used to support foreign powers such as Egypt, especially if they don't agree with us, but do we (and Israel) have a long-term interest in making sure that stability is returned to Egypt? The problem is that Egypt represents Barack Obama's failed leadership. He supported the ousting of Mubarak yet sat silent as the Muslim Brotherhood came to power and essentially scrapped the Egyptian constitution. Now the administration refuses to label the recent revolution as a “coup,” and its efforts to restore stability by negotiating with the Muslim Brotherhood have failed. White House spokesman Josh Earnest responded to the violence today that “the 'world is watching' what is happening in Cairo and urged restraint,” according to the Associated Press. Wow, talk about bold leadership. Obama's inability to lead has been noticed by Egypt's most powerful man Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. I encourage you to read this recent interview he gave to the Washington Post where it is clear that Egypt feels Obama has alienated both sides of the mess he helped to create. Republican Senator Ted Cruz recently called Obama's Egypt policy a “stunning diplomatic failure.” I would have to agree.