Frustrated with President Mohamed Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptians have taken to the streets in massive, largely peaceful, demonstrations against their government. But how should the U.S. respond to the protests? CNN speaks with Fareed about what role, if any, the United States should play.
A really amazing situation is unfolding in Egypt. What do you think the U.S. role should be?
This is a very tough spot. At some level, no matter what the United States does it gets blamed. For decades it was blamed for supporting the military, it was blamed for that even a year or two ago. Now the claim is that they’re too pro-President Morsy. So they’ve been trying to thread this needle and support the democratic process, the democratization of Egypt, and therefore support the outcome of that process, which was President Morsy.
The American ambassador probably went too far when she ruled out military intervention. She said that would be a terrible idea. So the president is now trying to backpedal a little bit and say well maybe the president should hold fresh elections.
But I think this is very treacherous water. In my view, the best thing for the United States would be to do is sort of stay out, say we support the Egyptian people, we support whatever choices they make. This is a fragile democracy. It's going to have some twists and turns, but this is a great country and they will end up all right.
Doesn't this threaten that the U.S. will be on the wrong side of history as this unfolds?
I think that's what they're trying to do, avoid that by saying, look, we support the democratic process, this guy was elected. At the end of the day that's the right side of history. But Egyptians are so suspicious that no matter what we do, they believe there's a hidden American hand behind almost everything that happens.
We’ve heard people say President Morsi has lost legitimacy here. You've seen the people in the streets telling him it's time to go, the military is kind of threatening to take over if he doesn't figure out something or call early elections. But he was democratically elected. If this happened in the United States people would be going crazy. Isn't that the point of elections?
It's a wonderful point to make. The problem is Egypt is a young democracy, and democracy isn't only about elections. It's about respect for human rights. It's about individual freedoms and protections. It is about the rights of minorities. And this party, the Muslim Brotherhood, has systematically abused power. It had promised it would not seek the presidency. It violated that. It promised it would not seek a parliamentary majority. It violated that. It promised to share power in several ways. It violated that. It tried to get various policies implemented through the constitution.
So it's a wonderful reminder that democracy isn't just about elections. If you think about it, in the United States, all three branches of government, the Supreme Court and unelected branch is the most powerful, and that's a cherished part of American democracy. This president of Egypt needs to remember that there are many other pieces of democracy. He was elected by 52 percent of the people on a second round ballot. That means there's 48 percent that really don't like him and that's the 48 percent you're seeing on the streets.