Zakaria: U.S. should stay out of Egypt unrest
July 3rd, 2013
10:59 AM ET

Zakaria: U.S. should stay out of Egypt unrest

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.

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Topics: Egypt • Middle East • Protests

soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. dion

    I wonder what would happen if we did not send ANY FUNDS to other nations – even Israel itself. How would that affect our bottom line? I would think it would give us more funds for what the people want sans any political considerations or back room agreements amongst our fellow politicians right? What a idea if only it could come true...

    July 3, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  2. oobydooby99

    what shoul th U.s. do? nothing stay out and away from

    July 3, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  3. yusef almasry

    What is happening in Egypt is a coup popular for the majority of the Egyptian people on the dictator, a member of a terrorist group hostile to non-Muslims did not listen to the demands of his people never even was inciting the civil war in order to maintain his position, so people dropped the tyrant who destroyed our economy and kill our sons and our soldiers,What is happening in Egypt is a triumph of the will of the people with the help of army and insurance only.

    July 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • Amir

      Bravo. Well said and congratulations to the millions of Egyptians who contributed to making this happen. Regardless of what CNN reporters say...

      July 3, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  4. deep blue

    "So this is how liberty dies, to the sounds of thunderous applause."

    July 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  5. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    I posted the following earlier this morning, and see this article now:

    Where's Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA now?

    We saw a steady stream of his PROPHETIC ANALYSIS praising the MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD for bringing ISLAMIC DEMOCRACY, even as he completely forgot the butcher of COPTIC CHRISTIANS. In fact mere days after the Alexandria mega church was burnt down Mr.Zakaria was in Egypt and wrote back such an analysis with NO MENTION of the hapless CHRISTIANS.


    Wonder what he has to say now!

    Post #2

    Very soon our own Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA will come back with a big list of apologies laying the blame PRIMARILY at the US and US supported former dictator Hosni Mubarak:

    a) The shattered economy (He will NOT talk about the downslide in Tourism due to MB policies)

    b) Blaming US aid (saying that most money was channeled into defence rather than for meeting people's needs – never talking about the stability brought and the GDP growth of over 8%)

    c) Curbing of freedoms by Mubarak (never talking about the radicals kept at bay)

    d) Pent up frustrations especially with the youth given high unemployment etc. (never attributing that to exploding population in the Muslim world and also amongst Muslims everywhere on earth, a primary cause for their backwardness).

    All the while pretending to be fair & balanced by saying "partly the blame goes to Morsy for garnering too much power and not taking those opposed to him along".

    All the same, Mr. Zakaria will carefully AVOID blaming the MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD whom he has always portrayed as the VOICE OF MODERATION!!!!

    That's how the SPIN & the Web of Half-Truths, mis-characterization & even blatant lies from our plagiarist Mr. Zakaria goes... will see it soon on CNN-GPS and these columns.

    Post #3

    Isn't it surprising that we haven't seen an analysis from Mr.Fareed Zakaria (at least NOT yet) on the:

    a) The Egyptian situation

    b) Arab-Israeli peace negotiation non-start,

    c) Syrian Conflict,

    d) Immigration Debate and ofcourse

    e) The entire Snowden NSA leaks episode, and America's freedoms (given that July 4th is right around and he can camouflage himself in the Star-spangled banner!)

    And, I am sure they are all coming very soon.

    And, what will he say:

    a) In Egypt blame the US & Mubarak for suppressing Egyptian freedoms for so long that we see this "Natural" release of people's pent up yearnings for democracy (what he calls "Islamic Democracy!). To provide an icing on the cake (just to show that he's all fair & balanced) he will "passingly" find Morsy at fault for amassing so much power in such a short time.

    b) On the Arab-Israel imbroglio, "as always" he will blame the
    Israeli policies of continued expansion of the settlements, oppression of Palestinian rights etc, heavy handedness etc. but will NEVER ever talk about fundamental issues of non-recognition of Israel's right to exist, raining of rockets from Gaza into Israeli homes, schools & hospitals, killing of settlers etc.

    c) On Syria, I am sure his positions are still evolving ONLY to show the US in poor light, and trying to gain respectability for his radical brethren. While initially he was passionately defending the Assad regime (given its pro-Hamas, and pro-Iran stance), now given the potent mix. of Al-Qaeda rebels, Sunni extremists
    joining hands to force the secular Assad & the Christian minorities out, Mr.Zakaria is "enthused" and will YET AGAIN blame the US for NOT being too receptive of the rebels' freedom cries!

    d) On immigration once again as with the NSA leaks (below) what better opportunity than July 4th to trash Americans in the garb of freedoms & Human rights, while appealing for amnesty & citizenship to people who broke the law. All in line with the global Jihadist agenda of bring anti-Islamic America down on its knees!

    e) Finally on the NSA leaks, he will blame the US (as always) by
    "passionately" appealing for America's freedoms, our founding
    fathers' values, and NEVER EVER talking about any of the terrorist attacks thwarted etc. In the same story (or even more cleverly as a sequel in a different story) he will politely appeal to Americans for being "NON-INCLUSIVE" of Minorities (he will slowly introduce MUSLIMS later!), while politely castigating" (rather in a suggestive manner) Americans' discrimination of Muslims.

    May be we will get to hear all of it on his CNN-GPS!

    July 3, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Reply
    • Amir

      Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Well said. Couldn't agree more. God bless you.

      July 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  6. EbonyDelite

    America should stay out of everyone's politics, stop all aid of any kind, and just let the pieces fall where they may! Take care of the numerous problems here at home which would keep our elected leaders busy full time. Notice how so much money was spent on fireworks and those cute little green laser pointers!

    July 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  7. Canadian Eh

    American meddling in others affairs has a long history and should be examined with the country's concept and belief of "Manifest Destiny" in mind ! Top that with a large helping of "American Exceptionalism" and you have food for thought .......

    July 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  8. andresl

    Farid.. How much research and study did you have to do to come up with the conclusion that no matter what the US will be blamed? Hopefully you didn't have to stretch yourself with this one.

    July 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  9. viva morsi he was elected by 80% down with the mop

    EGYPT MUSLIM BROTHER HOOD PARTY WILL RISE TO DEFEND MORSI, AS HE WAS DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED BY 80% AND OUSTED BY ARMY COUP , THE ARMY WHO GET PAID BY USA AND OTHER FOREIGN AGENTS....USA , CANADA AND UK PAID LOTS OF MONEY TO THOSE GENERALS... IRAN AND ISRAEL PAID MORE TO THOSE IN THE STREET gave them cameras lasers food and supplies, SO NOW THE 80% WHO VOTED FOR MORSI WILL RISE AGAIN VERY SOON MARK MY WORDS IT WILL HAPPEN THIS FRIDAY AFTER JOMAA FRIDAY PRAYERS HELL WILL BREAK LOSE...they will never stop until they get what they voted can not vote and some one else steal your vote by a coup ...CAN WE ASK OBAMA TO LEAVE AS HE IS NOT DOING GOOD JOB AT ALL...NO we cant cause he was elected by same people who elected BUSH BEFORE HIM 2 TIMES...DUMP AND DUMPER ...WHY USA DONT DO NOTHING ABOUT SYRIA who killed more than 189000 people already ..why they are silent about IRAN!!!! THOSE EVIL ALONG WITH HEZBOLLAH ARE THE REAL TERRORISTS ..Iran and Hezbollah killed thousands in Lebanon few weeks ago and CNN is silent !!!!

    July 4, 2013 at 12:57 am | Reply
  10. Joseph

    "I'm an American of Egyptian descent. I'm sharing this post which represents the opinion of the vast majority of Egyptians living in the U.S., in Egypt and elsewhere:
    I'm watching your LIVE coverage of my country, and all I can say is S.H.A.M.E. on you for being so biased and ignorant, and for trying by your subjective, lopsided coverage to brainwash your viewers and distort facts.

    First of all, what happened in Egypt earlier is by no means a military coup as you call it. The military's intervention was very welcome and came only as a response of what the masses desired.

    And Morsi was NOT a democratically elected president: there was massive rigging... many poors' votes were purchased with little money or in-kind trivialities... and mosque leaders poisoned many people's decisions by convincing them that whoever wouldn't vote for Morsi will end up in hell! Now how democratic is this, taking advantage of people's poverty and ignorance???

    I personally had a short chat with Morsi last September when he came to the UN General Assembly, and I instantly felt embarrassed to be Egyptian and thus be associated with such a retard.

    Rather than focusing on the tiny unknown square where the minuscule Morsi support base is gathered, how about taking your cameras to the famous Tahrir Square or to any other Egyptian neighborhood?

    I'm listening to Wolf Blitzer as we speak and am outraged by him and by CNN for spreading such blatant lies and distorting the crystal clear truth.

    The overwhelming majority of Egyptians today are in a state of euphoria because a dictator was ousted: a dictator who in one year has (along with his gang) caused the country indelible damage and has been trying systematically to destroy its economy, chase away tourists, assign former terrorists to leadership positions, discriminate against women and minorities, arrest journalists, justify harassment against us women, undermine the country's culture and art (e.g. attempting to ban ballet for being a "nude art"), instill sectarian sedition between its people, cause a massive brain-drain... an exodus of skills out of the country, deprive Egyptians of the bare essentials of a decent live, including water, electricity and fuel, etc. etc.

    How about taking a peek at social media to see how delighted everyone is and how people are congratulating each other for the end of a dark era?

    If there's no mention of all this, then that ill-intentioned Blitzer and the rest of his crowd should go find themselves another job and should be branded liars! Shame on you all indeed!"

    July 4, 2013 at 2:40 am | Reply
  11. J.R.

    I say let em go back to having a Pharoph. At least they were a power house and more tolerant and tolerable back then. I swear, Islam is always messing a country up!

    July 4, 2013 at 8:32 am | Reply
  12. J.S

    "Egyptians have taken to the streets in massive, largely peaceful, demonstrations..."

    Wow. At last count 35 deaths is considered a "largely peaceful" affair. The world truly is relative.

    July 4, 2013 at 11:03 am | Reply
  13. Hank

    We should stay out of Syria as well. It is a fight between the Shia and the Sunni and we Americans do not have a dog in that fight. Here, we expect our various religious sects to behave and not kill each other or discriminate against one another on the basis of religion. Outside the borders of the United States religious fanatics are at liberty to do whatever they please to one another.

    July 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  14. robert wilkinson

    Morsi believes in one man,one vote,one time because once Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood consolidate their power then why would they care about elections.The Muslim Brotherhood wasn't even going to run for election '"WINK WINK,NOD NOD"and then changed their mind and ran for office.When they were elected their first priority was to consolidate power as fast as possible before the next election.Thank goodness that didn't happen.Morsi dosn't care about you if you not muslim,all he cares about is power.He wants the power to make Egypt a muslim country period.A dictator is a dictator no matter if he or she is a military dictator,a religious dictator or a technocracy dictator.The lesson of Egypts revolution is that dictators are out and democracy is in,to their credit even the military has figured that out and will be remembered as the saviours of Egypts peoples and their quest for democracy.

    July 7, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  15. MichaelDum

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