Military matters in Cairo: An interview with Michael Rubin

Reuters

A torn poster of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is pictured as riot police clear the area of his supporters at Rabaa Adawiya square, where the protesters had been camping, in Cairo August 14, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • We should abandon the nonsensical pap that filled John Kerry’s statement yesterday.

    Tweet This

  • It’s important to roll back the Muslim Brotherhood: In Egypt, with Hamas, in Syria, and in Turkey.

    Tweet This

  • No matter what happens, we are looking at economic failure in Egypt and years of insurgency.

    Tweet This

Editor's Note: This interview was first published in National Review Online.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Who is in charge of Egypt?

MICHAEL RUBIN: The army remains firmly in charge. Specifically, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

LOPEZ: Does yesterday’s resignation surprise you?

RUBIN: No. Mohamed ElBaradei has always been more of a posturing and a political gadfly than a serious politician. He has failed repeatedly to do well at the ballot box, and so he’s going to pivot repeatedly in order to try to cultivate foreign support to make up for the domestic support he lacks.

LOPEZ:  Is there any hope for the Copts if the Muslim Brotherhood has power?

RUBIN: Absolutely none. It says a lot that when the army upsets the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Brotherhood reacts by targeting the Christians. But it’s not just the Egyptian Christians that need to worry: It’s also the Syrian Christians who face slaughter should the Syrian opposition win, and the Turkish Christians who face an increasingly repressive regime at home.

LOPEZ: Is there a real democracy movement in  Egypt? Can there be going forward?

RUBIN: There is real aspiration among some ordinary people, but there is no real democrat or liberal among the Egyptian political class right now. The military is interested in preserving their own business interests, and the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrated how uninterested in democracy they really were when ousted president Muhammad Morsi promptly voided all of his promises for compromise and collective government as soon as he won power. I think Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the Egyptian-American sociologist, was right when he said almost a decade ago that in Egypt there are autocrats and theocrats and that they are mirror images of each other. Both will attack any more liberal force that tries to emerge in between.

LOPEZ: Can the U.S. help the situation? How much has it hurt?

RUBIN: First, it’s important to recognize this isn’t about the United States and we have precious little leverage in Egypt. We should abandon the nonsensical pap that filled John Kerry’s statement yesterday. This isn’t a battle about compromise or dialogue; both sides have staked out mutually exclusive positions. They are not going to compromise. In such a situation, we should pick our side. If we lose, we’ll be no worse off than we are right now. I would suggest that when it comes to U.S. interests — security of the Suez Canal and the Arab-Israeli peace treaty — our side is with Gen. Sisi’s transitional government. That he has outlined a transition to a new elected government also suggests that he provides the best opportunity for getting Egyptian reforms back on track.

LOPEZ: : What’s the best case scenario?

RUBIN: That the military defeats the Islamists and drives them underground. It’s important to roll back the Muslim Brotherhood: In Egypt, with Hamas, in Syria, and in Turkey. That will do more for the future of the Middle East than anything else we can do. But, no matter what happens, we are looking at economic failure in Egypt and years of insurgency. The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t going to disappear fully.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine

What's new on AEI

Love people, not pleasure
image Oval Office lacks resolve on Ukraine
image Middle East Morass: A public opinion rundown of Iraq, Iran, and more
image Verizon's Inspire Her Mind ad and the facts they didn't tell you
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Monday, July 21, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Closing the gaps in health outcomes: Alternative paths forward

Please join us for a broader exploration of targeted interventions that provide real promise for reducing health disparities, limiting or delaying the onset of chronic health conditions, and improving the performance of the US health care system.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Comprehending comprehensive universities

Join us for a panel discussion that seeks to comprehend the comprehensives and to determine the role these schools play in the nation’s college completion agenda.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | 8:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Who governs the Internet? A conversation on securing the multistakeholder process

Please join AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy for a conference to address key steps we can take, as members of the global community, to maintain a free Internet.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Expanding opportunity in America: A conversation with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan

Please join us as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveils a new set of policy reforms aimed at reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility throughout America.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Is it time to end the Export-Import Bank?

We welcome you to join us at AEI as POLITICO’s Ben White moderates a lively debate between Tim Carney, one of the bank’s fiercest critics, and Tony Fratto, one of the agency’s staunchest defenders.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.