The Free Press, Mankato, MN


July 11, 2013

U.S. should back power sharing in Egypt

Why it matters: Turbulence in Egypt will impact U.S. interests in the Middle East


Violence was part what was wrought by the Brotherhood tension as well, says Farag who covered Egypt in the early 1990s.

She writes: “On June 22, shortly after the Egyptian president sat impassively through a tirade by an Islamist preacher against Shiites, a mob dragged four Shiite men through the streets of the village of Zawyat Abu Musalam, beating them to death.”

The reaction to Morsi’s ouster provided more of the same religious war, according to Farag. Morsi supporters attacked Christian homes, churches and three young men off rooftops.

Egyptians, she argues, did elect the Brotherhood, but only because many were poor and thought the new leadership would provide them “an extra bag of rice.” A year later, when that and many other efforts failed, the Egyptian people showed they had enough.

The way forward for the U.S. should include condemnation of religious intolerance by any group, including current military leaders. Brotherhood lawbreakers should be held accountable for their deeds, but not arrested willy-nilly for their religious beliefs.

The U.S. must encourage power sharing in a new Egyptian democracy that is not yet ready for a democracy lead by a strong majority, argues Megan O’Sullivan, a former George W. Bush administration security advisor who worked with transition governments in Iraq.

She argues in a Bloomberg View piece that emerging democracies must consider power sharing first at the risk of some dysfunction in government institutions. A quick move for these transitioning democracies into full blown “majoritarian” democracies, she argues, is a mistake that will only lead to more instability.

The U.S. doesn’t have influence in the forming of a government in Egypt like it did in Iraq, but our role should be to encourage the power sharing and help build the institutions that can provide the foundation for a representative, but not perfect, democracy.

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