tv [untitled] June 1, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT
or r.t. dot com slash usa and you should follow me on twitter i'm at christine for that now . hello and welcome to crossfire can you tell about a revolution misunderstood soon egyptians will go to the polls to democratically elected president but what about the choice is this a contest pitting the military against islam is this election in other changes in the arab middle east living up to the hopes and aspirations of the arab spring.
and. to cross-talk what's next for the arab revolutions i'm joined by greg roman in tel aviv he is the director of development at the global research in international affairs center at the interdisciplinary center in cairo we have avi sapir oh he is a journalist and writer and in austin we cross to michael brenner he is a professor of international relations at the university of texas all right gentlemen crosstalk rose in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want i mean if i go to you first in cairo how would you describe the choice to gyptian is have when it comes to the presidential election well first of all thanks for having me you know a lot of people see it as a difficult choice between now islam as the remnants of the old regime but at the same time there's a lot of optimism that at least the democratic process is begin to work and. you know there's
a large segment of society that is excited by both candidates. you know although he is a member of the old regime there are a lot of a lot of people who seeks debility in the coming in the coming years and they see as a viable option and when it comes to morsi the muslim brotherhood has a wide base of support in the country and they've been you know a key component of the transition process and you know they were able to mobilize a large segment of society to vote for them in both the parliamentary and presidential elections so i mean although you know hardcore revolutionaries and. time disappointed by these choices you know i don't think it's time yet to call the egyptian revolution failed over ok michael if i go to you in austin people are excited about the democratic process or either candidates democrats in your mind. well the democrats for the time being whether they have political democracy in the d.n.a. is quite another matter. from washington vantage point at this stage
you know when they're thinking about the arab spring and the revolutionary changes in arab societies certainly the obama administration sort of primary concerns less about realizing democratic ideals then they are. you know hopefully seeing these stable regimes unstable regimes that would be friendly to the united states and friendly those would express itself and terms of agreeing with the basic outline of american foreign policy in the region rather than what's happening internally ok great do you think the egyptian people are going to disappoint washington. i don't think it's so much about the egyptian people disappointing washington but what the elected leadership will do in order to deal with the military now we see in egypt two states one where you have the political institutions which are being elected right now and the power of the presidency and
the power of the parliament still haven't been defined yet we're going to still go through a constitutional process but on the other hand what a lot of people are talking about is the results of what will happen to the tonto we supreme council of armed forces now and the egyptian military they don't just exist as the body that the fens egypt but they also exist with the full economic structure the independence that they have in their ability to be able to dictate economic policy and as long as the elected official whoever ends up winning with their show thinker marci appeases the needs of the military then consequentially i think then the american administration who usually deals with the military on these matters and not so much the elected leadership will be the one who have to deal with the washington relations ok i'm very i mean what do you still roll of the military after the election in your mind i mean i think this is the question that everyone really wants and wants the answer to is they are they going to eventually withdraw from the political sphere and as we just heard i mean they're deeply embedded in the economy when you have something it's pretty hard to give it up. yeah i mean that's that's the that's the big question going forward i mean you know
as greg mentioned egypt's military is embedded in society in a very deep deep fashion they have some people estimate they have control of as much as forty percent of the egyptian economy on top of that you know they've been they've been serving as the sole sole source of real power in the country over the last year and a half so you know people are really concerned about egypt and the willingness to return to the barracks and more important that you know if the gyptian military will ever subordinate subordinate itself to civilian control and that's really an open question at this point but over the last year and a half the military has indicated it is not willing to do that it's floated a couple of constitutional documents and principles sort of outlining where where they see their role in the country even after a presidential election and to be honest it doesn't look good they see themselves as above civilian control they see their budget is outside of the scrutiny of a civilian parliament and at this point you know it's unclear if there's going to
be a strong enough elected mandate or a strong enough civilian leadership to really question that you know power base and people here in egypt are really concerned about that i mean if i can explain with you do you think that we could see revolution two point zero if the military doesn't make an exit is from power. i mean it depends on what you mean by that you know over the last year and a half there's been a lot of street protests in this country and there's a serious fatigue setting in you know a lot of people's friends have died a lot of people have you know seen some horrible things on the streets of cairo and you know the willingness for people to take to the streets again it's a really difficult thing to do but that being said you know a lot of people sacrificed a lot to bring the mubarak regime down and to see it replaced by an old general from the old regime or you know that's something that would rub people here the wrong way and i don't want to it's really interesting if i go to if i go to michael it's very interesting and they brought mubarak down but they didn't bring down his regime and i think this is what's being tested in this presidential election.
well i think the obama administration was really hoping for a consistent level of high level of continuity that deeply suspicious of the burslem of the muslim brotherhood. even though you know explosive to apply kotori words and the direction and try to maintain a certain sort of minimal cordiality of relations to the extent that they exist what the united states has been trying to do and has been trying to do for decades in the region and goes. is to maintain a tacit coalition among politicians who are not natural. means the united states israel and the conservative authoritarian sunni regimes the three main players being. egypt and jordan and what their own spring does is and knocks the props out of that arrangement. making a very uncertain what both the internal dynamics and for the foreign policy
orientation of at least one of the key players egypt is likely to be ok greg it sounds like washington is and let me just felt it was going to say all out ok i have a go ahead but it seems to me that you know what the washington senses just doesn't like democracy in the arab world abi go ahead jump in i want to go to greg well you know i see what michael is saying but i think you know that in terms of american hegemony american and economic interest they don't have a lot to fear from either ahmed shafik or mohamed morsi i mean both both candidates are very committed to continuing this sort of economic model that was in place under the mubarak regime you know you see the muslim brotherhood holding high level meetings with investment banks and you know neo liberals throughout the region. you know it is famous very championing the sorts of you know neo liberal forms that were in vogue under the mubarak years so you know i think that it's in terms of the you know american empire and american power in the region and there's no they don't
really have anything to fear at this point. you know these human revolution has it and yet i realize you are a journeyman and i let me right now ok go ahead listen ok so it's not just about the political hedge of money that the united states is trying to exert on the future egyptian leadership egypt right now is facing a severe internal economic crisis for the third year in a row they're facing fuel storage is the pipeline between sinai israel and jordan has been blown up fourteen times they have lost control over most parts of the country where there is been a smattering of a gyptian military forces and in addition you see tourism has gone down the amount of ships going through the suez canal has gone down they're facing a severe currency crisis and they're facing debts which are going to keep on growing now either if the muslim brotherhood or shell think unselected the muslim brotherhood has promise in their platform that they will sever all relations with the state of israel in this nice way of saying that they're going to review the
peace treaty i'm sorry but the foundation for middle east peace rests on the laurels of the peace treaty that was signed in the late seventy's between israel and egypt the only candidate who will be able to maintain posture in the region will be show feet and any other individual was elected and most likely morsi is going to be elected after he got the endorsement now of the far less the laura party and also of a bowl full we are going to be in some dark times in the next couple of years who's going to be and i'm ok oh yes and it means that i'm gentlemen gentlemen let me jump in here though a great who's going to have dark times the egyptians or the israelis. both sides because you can have an elected political leadership that has nothing to want to do with israel and on the other hand will see their tacit endorsement where we see most of the candidates in the election advocating violence against the jewish state and in doing so we're going to get to a period which is going to be even before the own people are war a cold peace that best and i think i'd like to know where it is jumpin jumping ahead it. it's gives me i mean this is the sort of fear mongering and that led to
this you know the israeli support of a dictatorship in egypt for the last thirty years i mean there is nothing to indicate that we were going to begin any sort of military conflict between israel and egypt and suggesting such and then suggesting that the only way to prevent such a conflict is to maintain military dictatorship in egypt is a responsible i mean i think we the muslim brotherhood has been. a rhetorical level hostile to israel because that is a good campaign issue in this country just like mitt romney is hostile to russia when he runs for office and you know in the republican primary and you have republican candidates you know calling china red china that's domestic politics you know i've spoken with high level muslim brotherhood leaders jamal and you said yesterday i hold a meeting three on the original i'm going to jump in here we're going to go to a break and after a short break we'll continue our discussion on the future of the arab revolutions state. and.
the live. welcome back across the table remind you we're talking about egypt and politics and the arab spring. live and you can still live. ok michael go back to you when asked and i think really one of the questions is at least when we look at it from a western media perspective is how islam and democracy work together and we just have a democracy that stresses islamic values because we tend in the west they tend to think of democracy that supports liberal values what about islamic values. well those that's a big subject. you know i've been interested in and recently published. a longish monaco of on you know on the subject but let's let's pose the question in terms of water supply what this means for for egypt as well as for other countries you know in the region. and here we should differentiate between tactical
considerations and underlying philosophical or ideological orientations and then one can fairly say for example in egypt that the muslim brotherhood and its leadership finds it very much in their interest to be a participant in the in the democratic process i think true they recognize that in the near future they're not going to be in a position where they could call into question the democratic institutions even if they were so inclined to do so all the way in effect the liberal democrats will that's a that's a very dubious proposition of which one should be skeptical i think the one important feature of the situation to bear in mind is that all of the parties that we've been referring to have as their priority concern internal domestic matters and their own political ambitions wound of the external relations it was convenient
feeds in fact for decades for the united states to see a dove tailing of what it was one the promotion of democracy to the maintenance of political stability and three the maintenance of general political status quo which had israeli interests defined by israel and supported by the states as really its centerpiece all of the others is thrown into doubt and a change in any one of these elements of the old constellation is. i'm going to represent. you know knowing exactly three and i could go to great i don't think you're going to take great in tel aviv i mean the brotherhood i mean there it looks very much very likely that they will have complete control of egypt after this election here they will have a lot of responsibility on their father to say i would disagree with that this i say which is my proposition great is that necessarily a bad thing i mean when you it's ok when you're campaigning you can say
a lot of things but once you're sitting in the seat of power it's very different we see that with all kinds of leaders all over the world ok and as you pointed out there's a lot of problems in egypt so they're you know they're asking for a lot of responsibility on their shoulders and if that's what the egyptian people want why not. that's fine but when we look at the history in the last sixty years of regime change when you start with the bitties the government in cuba we saw what we got when we saw the shell overthrown we saw what we got so just because they're going to have a lot of power and responsibility doesn't necessarily that they'll exercise that power and wisely now the previous speaker said that american foreign policy was based on israeli interests excuse me but i think that the fact that peace in the region is the most utmost internal interest for the united states foreign policy making and then when avi came up here and he used victoria nuland statement saying that what people campaign on isn't necessarily what they're going to be governing on disputes forty years of history of the muslim brotherhood i mean these people
are those responsible for assessing dating on worse a dot in the early eighty's not this is fairly the chapter itself but the threat that radical islam is and revolutionary islam is imposes not just to internal egyptian politics but to the wider region needs to be clear fully examined and you should hold these people to their statements because the egyptians. because they see them as honest they also see them as generally high recommendations that they'll head i mean this is the exact problem i'm talking about you know conflating one islamic group in egypt that assassinated rather. in the eighty's with all of the muslim brotherhood painting everything with this broad brush not an unwillingness to look into the details and subtleties and analyze egypt in affairs on their own terms instead of what they might mean for israel i mean in an unwillingness to really look at what egypt and politics look like on the ground you know this leads to fear mongering and frankly it leads to a dangerous foreign policy where you promote stability as the highest good and we've seen what that what that leads to that leads to repression and torture and
a horrible regime in egypt that you know while the united states and israel stood by you but you're their own population that's not what we want for the future and that sort of reasoning they greg is employing right now if that's what it will lead to ok greg you want to reply to that i think it's fair to use the words i think it's fair to use the words of the. sin for the egyptian liberal party who called masri an islamist fascist and shall think a military fascist which i don't think it's fair to think but if we use the words of the egyptian candidates themselves who didn't make it to the second round of the elections this is now become a struggle between pro revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces so i'm not using any words or any kind of rhetoric that was used by israeli government leaders who have widely remained silent on the subject but using the words of egyptian politicians themselves they see this is a battle not just for the future of egypt but also the proud arab standing that they once had you know after the fifty six revolution so if we can really say i
think that i said yes we will have on the egyptian street liberal liberal forces have been defeated in the wake of these lamas rising sir ok obviously i mean when i suggest we do not of anybody here i mean i think michael jumping in austin pleased with the question a question of agree agree go do excepted face do the remarks of your deputy prime minister and foreign minister. who has said things quite as radical of not more radical as the muslim brotherhood brotherhood leadership. have promulgated in some other official documents and there's a man who's already in number two if you're referring. to his viewers ok first first of all the oil a whole set of i was having dinner with the treatment of palestinians having to do with. yes you can but i mean if you're going to take it literally as a guide to action what people say it is then there's a good reason for other people in the region to be very fearful of having
a man like lieberman as deputy prime minister greg you want to reply. first of all i do object to a lieberman our foreign minister is a man who's accepted the fact that a switch of territories a land for lend model and he has recognized the fact that a palestinian state will eventually have to exist on the land where the palestinians currently live but this debate isn't about the israeli palestinian issues the larger context of lieberman statement is made of the head of yours about where he is now telling a politician say. no no no no what i what i'm talking about is when people make statements in the context of the political issues in which they have to deal with so when we hear a party that was defeated in the first round of the elections the people who pulled out unionists left this cops the minorities in egypt all that this enfranchise minorities who now fear threatens because of the rise of salafi in the rise of islamist in the muslim brotherhood and we use their own statements in the actions
of these people recently burning down ahmed shah thinks campaign headquarters we are in for a dark tide i mean you can't ignore reality ok i mean it was not really and they have to do i'm not in the habit of quoting george w. bush and people like that but then again sometimes democracy is a bit messy what do you say to that ok. yeah i mean i think what's happening here is we're conflating is a couple of separate issues you know here in egypt there's there is genuine concern about the trajectory of the revolution that you hear from leftists you hear from cops you can hear from people who you know from all of all political stripes you know who frankly the people who preach are the people who made the revolution in egypt they're not well represented in the run off of the presidential election this is a real concern but conflating this issue with with the israel issue and and suggesting that a muslim brotherhood election would mean a victory so it would mean war is completely separate i mean i speak to activists all the time who are very concerned about trajectory of the egyptian revolution no
one is concerned about looming war with israel this is not a real concern in egypt no one is proposing this if no one is afraid of it people as you know as michael said earlier this is about domestic concerns and often you know people in the american foreign policy establishment people associated with you know lobbying on behalf of israel in america like to make everything about israel and israel's security and all the israel security is important as is any any any country's security in the region that's not what this is about and egyptians are not taking to the streets to protest israel it's a non-issue here i mean it's used as a rhetorical club not just iraq but ironically if you let me finish let me finish ironically the most anti israel candidates from greggs perspective in this election came from the left the most anti israel candidate in the campaign was how many in sabbahi a leftist you know a liberal you know the muslim brotherhood is temperance writer and these are obama's you know where that it's open to the criticism that greg is leveling right
now ok greg you know he had this lead great jump in reply. one of the one of the main issues in the egyptian presidential debate is what the gyptian government would do with the peace treaty with israel said he would completely dismantle the treaty masri said he would review it even in your own words he said that he would advocate on resistance against a jew. which states every single candidate except for show feet is calling for armed resistance whether it's by the palestinians or whether it's by the egyptians themselves by reviewing the conditions of the sinai peninsula and the conditions which were formulated under the treaty so what you're going to have is a destabilization in regional relationships and in doing so the rise of radical forces which have called not just for armed conflict against israel but also for supporting other organizations which are calling for armed conflict against israel will lead to a new coalition of forces which will lead to a threat for the jewish state and don't expect the state division of the city and i declare if i had when he was in the ways you believe it's not
a matter assessment i mean i did this. you're painting a scenario which is just far far away from reality you know there is a there's a belief here in egypt you know a widely held belief that the peace treaty with israel and the conditions of the sinai agreement aren't fair that doesn't mean war there are details of the treaty that everyone agrees should be revisited ok michael if i could go if i go to you i'll give you the last word in the program michael how is this election going to play out for the rest of the arab spring is it a good example is it muddling through is it inspiring how would you describe it. well i think here we have to separate out popular attitudes and the. political class in many countries such as you know those in the gulf there's no doubt the arab spring has been popular and has struck a resin and nodes throughout the world and so well to go throughout you know the
islamic world at the same to think of those a sort of both oratory and elements who have dominated political life in the region . you know see themselves their own position as being directly threatened ok on that point and that's another topic for another cross talk program many thanks to my guests today in tel aviv cairo and in austin and thanks to our viewers for watching us here see you next time remember.
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