On Wednesday afternoon, AEI's Danielle Pletka and the Brookings Institution's Tamara Cofman Wittes were joined by Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in a Google Hangout to consider the implications of the Egyptian coup that toppled former president Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013.
Wittes noted that the coalition that successfully ousted Morsi is already showing signs of fracturing: while the Al-Nour Party and the secularists agreed that Morsi's departure was necessary, they do not share a common vision of Egypt's future. Trager, who was in Cairo during the putsch, echoed Wittes's assessment and predicted persistent civil strife between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Reflecting on the wider consequences for the Middle East, Pletka cautioned against drawing parallels between Turkey and Egypt. She explained that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – unlike his Egyptian brethren – delivered economic growth and geopolitical heft before his Sunni-dominated Justice and Development Party ever considered neutralizing institutions such as the military.
Although political scientists are rarely afforded opportunities to test hypotheses, Wittes said that events in Egypt had conclusively disproven the notion that governing would moderate the Muslim Brotherhood.
Two and a half years after the ouster of strongman Hosni Mubarak, a military-engineered coup has deposed Egypt's democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, once again upending the country's constitutional, economic, and social order. In the wake of the military’s intervention, violent clashes between pro- and anti-Muslim Brotherhood protestors have dashed hopes for a smooth transition.
Is it a coup? Should the US suspend aid to the country? What are the implications of events in Egypt for the broader Middle East? Does the composition of the interim government reveal anything about the direction of post-Morsi Egypt.
Join AEI and the Brookings Institution for a lively Google Hangout discussion of these questions and more.
This event will be livestreamed.
Danielle Pletka, AEI
Eric Trager, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Tamara Cofman Wittes, Brookings Institution
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Danielle Pletka was a long-time US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia. In that role, Pletka was the point person on the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel, and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia (Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan). She is the coeditor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the coauthor of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011). Her most recent study, “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” was published in May 2012. She is currently working on a follow-up report on US–Iranian competitive strategies in the Middle East, to be published in the summer of 2013.
Eric Trager, a Next Generation Fellow at the Washington Institute, is an expert on Egyptian politics and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He was in Egypt during the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolts and he returns frequently to conduct firsthand interviews with leaders in Egypt's government, military, political parties, media, and civil society. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. Trager is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where his doctoral research focused on Egyptian opposition parties. From 2006 to 2007, he lived in Egypt as an Islamic Civilizations Fulbright Fellow. He served as a research assistant at the Washington Institute from 2005 to 2006.
Tamara Cofman Wittes is a senior fellow and the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Wittes served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from November of 2009 to January 2012, coordinating US policy on democracy and human rights in the Middle East for the US State Department. Wittes also oversaw the Middle East Partnership Initiative and served as deputy special coordinator for Middle East transitions. She was central to organizing the US government's response to the Arab awakening. She is the author of “Freedom’s Unsteady March: America’s Role in Building Arab Democracy” (Brookings Press, 2008). She is also editor of “How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process” (United States Institute of Peace, 2005). Wittes is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Women in International Security.