As angry demonstrators gathered once again in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest what many are calling a “soft coup” by the military, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that Washington still expects “a full transfer or power to a democratically elected civilian government” in Egypt.
“There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people,” Clinton said in reaction to the news that the Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court had dissolved the country’s elected parliament on the eve of presidential elections this weekend.
“Now, ultimately, it is up to the Egyptian people to determine their own future, and we expect that this weekend’s presidential election will be held in an atmosphere that is conducive to being peaceful, fair, and free.”
But a number of Egypt experts here said the latest moves by both the court and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which assumed all legislative powers following the court’s decision, have thrown the entire “transition” process into grave doubt and should prompt the administration of President Barack Obama to reassess its expectations and its policy.
“The United States should be examining the actions of the SCAF very carefully and keep in reserve the option of suspending military assistance should the SCAF not take the action it should in this situation,” said Michelle Dunne, the head of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council and co-chair of the Egypt Working Group, an ad hoc task force of Middle East specialists who advised the White House on Egypt policy over the past 18 months.
“The parliament was quite active and enjoyed a lot of popular support,” she told IPS. “Its dissolution creates a highly unstable atmosphere in which the final round of the presidential election will ...