1-20-2012By Neil Hicks
International Policy Advisor
In January 2011, the people of Egypt took to the streets and brought down their president of thirty years, Hosni Mubarak. Next week will mark the anniversary of the protests in Tahrir Square. While Mubarak is gone, his military and much of his regime still rule the country.
On Tuesday, when President Obama delivers the State of the Union address, he should tell Americans and our allies throughout the Middle East and the world that the United States supports civilian, democratic rule in Egypt. And that the United States stands with all those who struggle for human rights and democracy.
“It’s time for the Egyptian military to hand power to civilian rule!” That’s what I heard from the human rights activists I met with in Egypt this month. They are putting their faith in advancing the democratic transition process and in remaining mobilized and vigilant against any backsliding on human rights from Egypt’s new rulers. One human rights activist there told me that the military leadership “threatens our very existence”.
In recent months, the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) has presided over:
- the killing of scores of peaceful protestors calling for the end of military rule;
- raids on the offices of American, German, and Egyptian NGO’s working to promote a transparent democratic process in the country;
- fueling divisions within Egyptian society by targeting Christians and implementing an election timetable and system that favored the Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood; and
- the trial of over 12,000 civilians in military courts.
If the United States wants to build a positive relationship with a new democratic Egypt, President Obama should state unequivocally that Egypt’s future lies with a democratic civilian government and that the military rulers do not have the unconditional support of the U.S. government.