USA calls off military exercises with Egypt

Protest outside Sydney’s Egyptian Consulate on August 17

US President Barack Obama has warned that support of the Egyptian government will depend on its adoption of US and democratic values.

In last Tuesday’s address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Obama officially cancelled military exercises with Egypt that had been planned for September. He said cooperation with other countries depended on their recognition of US interests.

“Our approach to Egypt reflects a larger point: the United States will at times work with governments that do not meet the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests.”

But the President said the US would maintain a “constructive relationship” with Egypt.

“And so, going forward, the United States will maintain a constructive relationship with the interim government that promotes core interests like the Camp David Accords and counter-terrorism.”

Obama’s UNGA address comes several weeks after anti-secularist protests in Sydney. Hundreds of protestors gathered outside Sydney’s Egyptian Consulate on August 17 to condemn the Egyptian military and Western governments as violence escalated in Egypt.

The protest was just one of many sparked across the globe, in Japan, Malaysia, Turkey and Indonesia in reaction to the increasing crisis in Egypt.

On the day, protest organiser  Hamzah Quereshi said a “deep and blatant hypocrisy” by Western governments saw national agendas prioritised over civilians’ lives. Despite Obama’s announcement that week that he would suspend bi-annual military exercises with Egypt in September, Mr Qureshi criticised Washington’s annual $1.2 billion funding of the Egyptian military.

“Obama has bought this massacre. He is the benefactor of a butcher. And for him to now say that ‘we will cease a joint military operation’ doesn’t change the fact that he has sidelined the issue of the funding.”

Mr Quereshi said there was a “double standard in play” in US support for Egypt.

“So what’s clear here is that Obama and the United States administration is still very much intent on bankrolling the Egyptian regime when it serves their interest for things like the Camp David Accords, security of Israel, and other regional interests.”

Many women participated in the August protests worldwide

Earlier that week, the then foreign minister Bob Carr had condemned violence by both sides in Egypt.

“We call for restraint by the military. We urge restraint by those people who are protesting.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar had also criticised the Australian government’s response to the Egyptian conflict.

“Their response has been very weak. If they were sincere what they would be doing is recognising the military regime to be illegitimate and cutting off all forms of support to it.”

The anger of the protesters was made clear that day with many carrying placards that read: “Kevin Rudd, Bob Carr, your silence speaks volumes!” and “America: modern-day pharaoh in Egypt!”.

Mr Badar acknowledged that while such protests did not achieve immediate, tangible outcomes, they served to inform the public.

“It’s part of a larger genre of activities, conferences, lectures, leafleting that are designed to create public awareness.”

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