US Welcomes Coup Leader As Egypt's New President
White House says it 'looks forward to working with' Al Sisi despite severe crackdown on dissent
The Obama administration said Wednesday that it "looks forward to working with" Egypt's new president, Abdelfattah Al Sisi—the country's former army chief who oversaw a military coup and fierce crackdown on dissent that has left thousands dead.
A statement issued by the White House expresses optimism about future work with the new president to "advance our strategic partnership and the many interests shared by the United States and Egypt." While the official communication touches on concerns about the "restrictive political environment" surrounding the election, it affirms the election's outcome and welcomes Al Sisi to the world stage of leaders.
"The US has looked forward to working with every single Egyptian regime to date," Sherif Gaber, member of the Mosireen Independent Media Collective in Cairo, told Common Dreams. "It’s no secret that America’s greatest interest for Egypt is a stable partner to maintain status quo relations favoring US policy in the region, regardless of whether that was Mubarak, Morsi or now Sisi."
Emad Mekay, a California-based reporter on the Middle East who has previously worked for the New York Times and Bloomberg News, told Common Dreams that the statement is more evidence that the U.S. is "trying to revive the Mubarak regime in the form of a new US-trained, funded and backed military general."
Following the military's ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi last July, which came on the heels of unprecendented anti-Morsi protests across Egypt, Al Sisi oversaw an aggressive campaign of state repression that targeted suspected Morsi supporters, under the guise of a war on "terrorists," and spread to dissenters of all stripes, including high-profile youth organizers of the 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
The military-backed interim government detained over 16,000 people and killed thousands. Al Sisi previously stated in a campaign interview that if elected president he would wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood.
Many have charged that the elections were illegitimate given the climate of repression.
“It should be said that this is a farce mimicking an ‘election,’ and not even a terribly well orchestrated farce," said Gaber in a statement immediately following the election in late May. "Between the glaringly repressive conditions leading up to the vote, as well as the ridiculous 11th hour decision by the elections committee to extend voting by another day, there’s nothing democratic about what’s happened here.”