Will new protests change US policy towards Egypt?
Col. Cedric Leighton on American strategy towards Egyptian President Morsi
- Duration 13:40
- Date Nov 29, 2012
Col. Cedric Leighton on American strategy towards Egyptian President Morsi
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-- -- and Egypt is it as -- his critics say an outright power grab by president -- in a return to the days of dictatorship.
We'll talk but it sure looks like that and that the problem that I think the western world is going to be confronted.
Bought with his defected -- is going to do everything he possibly can to consolidate his power.
Not only -- his Islamic power base but also by neutralizing the armed forces.
There's very little what you hear from any of the service chiefs in Egypt and it seems as if he is either call -- them -- -- somehow bought their acquiescence.
Right in this process the constitutional convention that Steve mentioned.
It is not a really convention it's just a basically a constitutional -- -- And that is going to create some real problems in terms of more -- future legitimacy.
As a political leader in Egypt.
Didn't do you see the -- the protests that we've seen on the street.
-- -- -- As have -- longevity.
Do you think that they will be a real.
-- to president -- or is this an outpouring of manga that he will be able to keep a lid on and continue.
This power grab.
It all depends on what -- you on forces decides to do.
The armed forces the intelligence services and -- the police forces.
Whole key to this so if the president -- -- has actually bought their allegiance.
Then it will be much easier for him to maintain power however.
If -- -- cracks in that allegiance from the military or from the police were from the intelligence services.
Then is there is a chance that this popular uprising will truly.
Become -- popular uprising and will be a something that might -- assume his regime so there's a lot of danger in this for president Morsi.
But there's also -- danger -- -- -- opposition forces as well.
I do I won the colonel.
How do you see this play having played -- in president -- mind we saw him being.
Lauded by the US and all -- Put his role in bringing about a cease fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
And then just days off to that we've got this announcement of his.
New powers do you believe that he.
Have this in mind all along that if I do this for -- the cease fire process.
Then I'll have some political capital I can spend and I can seize these powers and the US and others will be able to criticize me or do you think he did he played his spot in the cease fire.
And then suddenly thought hey this will be a good time to make a power -- Well I'm sure he has his moments of opportunism but the speed with which he did this.
It indicates to me that he really had planned this all along he was looking for some vehicle or some situation that would enable him to.
Assume it nearly total power forward the Muslim Brotherhood and for himself as the president.
It is somewhat surprising for outside observers to.
To see this because they certainly did not think he would do this myself included.
But to win it today and it came to the actual timetable that he was using.
He was flexible enough to implement this with lightning speed and -- you have to give him -- at least from a political standpoint a lot of credit.
Or his perhaps Machiavellian instincts in making this work.
On the other hand you look at all the different -- different factors involved with this and I think the opportunistic aspect.
Was one in which she began to realize that once he received his praise from the United States in particular.
He could use that to his advantage and -- somewhat neutralizes the Egyptian opposition to the time was opportune.
But the planning was in place for a long long time.
That -- under -- President Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt -- all that any old the are wrong as he perpetrated.
On his own people it -- a cornerstone of stability.
In the Middle East because of the peace accords between Egypt.
How worried should we be Imus should we be worried at all in fact that president -- is seeking similar sort of dictatorial powers.
But he is a member.
Of the Muslim Brotherhood he has proven himself to be -- willing participant in the in the -- for.
Process say in terms of Israel and Hamas.
Recently so should we view him as somebody we can look -- or should we view him as a danger.
To US interest at this point.
I think we have to be very careful -- with him and how he's planning to do things -- particularly interest me is his relationship with Iran.
The fact that Iranian ships have been allowed to transit the Suez Canal for example.
And that is something that President Mubarak and before him president Sadat.
Allowed you through Suez Canal that didn't allow that kind of transit and when you look at how.
They are working.
This particular issue with the Egyptian relationship in the Middle East with other players in the Middle East.
That's going to be something that we have to keep very very close tabs on.
I think there are potentials.
In terms of the peace process with president -- But I also believe that he has his own agenda and it may not always aligned with the the west and it may not always -- with other players like -- so he's I think carving out an independent player role for himself.
But it may -- times -- antithetical to US interests.
-- let's turn to the -- hair at the United Nations that later.
This off to -- -- the recognition effectively of a Palestinian state.
I -- view of this the Palestinian view that this is a this is morally politically overdo it will help the peace process all the Israeli view that this will hinder rather than not help matters on that school.
Well I think in this case you have to look at perception is being reality and from a Palestinian.
Standpoint when you see how the Palestinians have work to -- -- the goal of achieving statehood for a long long time for the Palestinian entities.
-- for them this is a key and critical factor.
For the Israelis as you pointed out they see this as being little -- a much more than a symbolic gesture.
-- guy you think you admit real life you know -- diplomacy has done its thing in the vote is taking.
Taken place at the UN.
I would say that the Palestinians will come out ahead in terms of -- gaining something on the international political stage.
And when they gain something of this magnitude on the international political stage that increases the prestige.
All of the Palestinian entity.
It also allows them to act more like a nation state to at least diplomatically.
Internally though there are some significant divisions among the Palestinians -- obviously Hamas being in charge of -- and then.
You have the other elements of Fatah in the in the West Bank.
Bill was become 82 elements that are somewhat antithetical to each other and you could see -- probable erosion of Palestinian unity.
Even further than currently exists so it may not help them very much but in the short run.
-- the diplomatic aspect of this for the Palestinians is going to be a positive one from their point of view and also from the general Arab diplomatic point of view.
The Israelis we'll see this as a setback.
But I think they should realize that this you know because of its symbolic nature.
Just more to assuage Palestinian concerns.
Than it does to affect the interest of the Jewish state.
Your -- -- kernel as though you might have some sympathy for the argument.
That this strengthens the more moderate side.
In Palestinian politics aside represented by a President Mahmoud Abbas against the -- militant side represented by Hamas.
Yes because if -- -- is able to.
Work this -- -- through the UN it gives him further legitimacy and often acts that happen outside of a country.
-- outside of a state like like the Palestinian state.
I -- becomes something that can be played internally and because of that.
It it gives him a potential to strengthen his hand and a very necessary aspect in his efforts.
To control what happens with the rest of the Palestinian entity you what happens with Hamas.
So that becomes very important for a bus and I think it would be in Israel's interest.
To let it happen in this way.
Because it will it be strengthened Abbas hand -- will be better to deal with him.
They would be to deal with Hamas.
All right we've moved north from Egypt to Israel let's keep going all night hysteria.
There appears to be a significant.
Battle taking shape in the Syrian capital Damascus.
I'm now colonel the -- -- we understand it guys close certainly.
A lot of flights have been canceled -- -- -- flight into Damascus we heard was canceled today because of the fighting are run in the apple.
I spoke to -- some Middle East -- experts.
Who believed that this may be the beginning.
Of the big one the big -- But control it may be the beginning of the end not to say that the end will come quickly by any means what -- -- view of what is going on in Damascus now.
-- once you have something like the airport being controlled by rebel entities or at least being in play for control.
That becomes a huge huge deal and there is -- great potential.
That say you know as other experts have said that this could actually happen.
Where if they control the airports -- the rebel forces control the airport especially the main international airport.
-- they've also taken over control of helicopter bases other air bases and army bases throughout the country.
This then it serves to see value be more or less -- Anaconda like grip against the regime of Bashar Al Assad.
Now -- to say that that -- who will be no holding all the time but what will happen to be in this way if the rebels are continually successful.
They will basically starve.
The Assad regime of the oxygen it needs to survive -- that oxygen comes in the form of aid from Iran.
Russia and to a lesser extent China so if they -- if they -- -- the rebels are able to star of that aid.
All out of the is -- the lifeblood of of the Assad regime.
Then you have a situation where.
I have the Asad regime.
Will possibly fall.
You know we've been you know as soon as a few weeks -- longer term could be of course several months.
It all depends on -- the back and forth and how many others defect.
Within the security forces can still stay loyal to Assad and when something like an airport is is taken over.
Then you have a totally different situation and I think -- also see an increase of defections so this could accelerate the fall of the Assad regime.
-- -- one of Baghdad beat the a question of the arming of any of the Syrian rebels -- it.
-- -- is being located a couple of newspaper articles recently which usually means it's been leaked to the sort of trial believe -- by.
That we might be willing -- to consider.
All means certain groups Ollie just -- trouble for the future as we have -- in so many places it seems around the world if we do that or is it now necessary.
For us to give the rebels certain all of them more help than we have been.
Well I think we're a bit -- didn't Jonathan in terms of actually helping the rebels at this point.
Not that we shouldn't do it if we can find the right ones the problem that we have is that this could be a replay of what happened in Afghanistan we were supporting.
The told Juan in similar elements that we're going against the old Soviet Union.
Is you may recall there were a lot of stinger missiles that all the sudden mysteriously appeared and told -- -- hands tied during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
And in this particular case.
The same things seems to be happening that stinger missiles probably supplied through culture and Saudi Arabia and other nations that are.
They're supportive of the rebels are being used by the rebel forces.
I had to go after Syria helicopters Syrian aircraft industry government helicopters -- government aircraft.
And -- the dad is of course it accelerating the success of the rebels are having.
But by the same token.
These weapons are falling into the hands of rebel groups that are more likely to be a line -- we've all tied and Muslim Brotherhood type elements.
Than they are to be aligned with secular elements.
And that is that is the big danger so in one way we want to.
Accelerate the demise of the Assad regime because it's an -- ally.
It is a major player in in the Middle East for the Iranians -- for the Russians.
But by the other token on the other hand.
We're looking at a situation where there are going to be so many players out there that we risk the disintegration of the Syrian state.
And did -- the political entity of Syria irrespective of which government controls sit.
Breaks up into different fiefdoms controlled by different warlords which is a distinct possibility.
I and that then we'll speak to a greater weakness within the Middle East.
And -- resulted a lot of proxy wars going on.
In what is now known as Syria.
All right certainly hot to see anything other than chaos being the result of the all of us that at least in the short to medium to until Cedric Leighton.
US air force retired president of Cedric -- associates thanks so much for your expertise and arrange of them -- subjects as always colonel good to see.
Good to see you -- Jonathan thanks so much for having me.
All right and we are -- and.