- Posted August 15, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Protests in Egypt: Your experiences
U.S President: Barack Obama Condemns Violence in Egypt
I just finished a discussion with my national security team about the situation in Egypt, and I wanted to provide an update about our response to the events of the last several days.
Let me begin by stepping back for a moment. The relationship between the United States and Egypt goes back decades. It’s rooted in our respect of Egypt as a nation and ancient center of civilization, and a cornerstone for peace in the Middle East. It’s also rooted in our ties to the Egyptian people, forged through a longstanding partnership.
Just over two years ago, America was inspired by the Egyptian people’s desire for change as millions of Egyptians took to the streets to defend their dignity and demand a government that was responsive to their aspirations for political freedom and economic opportunity. And we said at the time that change would not come quickly or easily, but we did align ourselves with a set of principles: nonviolence, a respect for universal rights, and a process for political and economic reform.
In doing so, we were guided by values, but also by interests, because we believe nations are more stable and more successful when they’re guided by those principles as well.
And that’s why we’re so concerned by recent events. We appreciate the complexity of the situation. While Mohammed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians. We know that many Egyptians, millions of Egyptians, perhaps even a majority of Egyptians were calling for a change in course.
And while we do not believe that force is the resolve differences, after the military’s intervention several weeks ago, there remained a chance for reconciliation and an opportunity to pursue a democratic path.
Instead, we’ve seen a more dangerous path taken through arbitrary arrests, a broad crackdown on Mr. Morsi’s associations and supporters, and now, tragically, violence that’s taken the lives of hundreds of people and wounded thousands more.
The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt’s interim government and security forces. We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest. We oppose the pursuit of martial law, which denies those rights to citizens under the principle that security trumps individual freedom or that might makes right. And today, the United States extends its condolences to the families of those who were killed and those who were wounded.
Given the depths of our partnership with Egypt, our national security interests in this pivotal part of the world, and our belief that engagement can support a transition back to a democratically- elected civilian government, we’ve sustained our commitment to Egypt and its people. But, while we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.
As a result, this morning we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month. Going forward, I’ve asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps we may take as necessary with respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship.
Let me say, the Egyptian people deserve better than what we’ve seen over the last several days. And to the Egyptian people, let me say, the cycle of violence and escalation needs to stop. We call on the Egyptian authorities to respect the universal rights of the people. We call on those who are protesting to do so peacefully, and condemn the attacks that we’ve seen by protesters, including on churches.
We believe that the state of emergency should be lifted, that a process of national reconciliation should begin, that all parties need to have a voice in Egypt’s future, that the rights of women and religious minorities should be respected and the commitments must be kept to pursue transparent reforms of the constitution and democratic elections of a parliament and a president.