Violence in the land of the Pharaohs: Egyptians inside and outside of the government need to take a step back
| 15 August 2013
The United States strongly condemns Wednesday’s violence and bloodshed across Egypt. It’s a serious blow to reconciliation and the Egyptian people’s hopes for a transition towards democracy and inclusion. In the past week, at every occasion, perhaps even more than the past week, we and others have urged the government to respect the rights of free assembly and of free expression, and we have also urged all parties to resolve this impasse peacefully and underscored that demonstrators should avoid violence and incitement.
Wednesday’s events are deplorable and they run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion, and genuine democracy. Egyptians inside and outside of the government need to take a step back. They need to calm the situation and avoid further loss of life. We also strongly oppose a return to a state of emergency law and we call on the government to respect basic human rights including freedom of peaceful assembly and due process under the law. And we believe that the state of emergency should end as soon as possible.
Violence is simply not a solution in Egypt or anywhere else. Violence will not create a roadmap for Egypt’s future. Violence only impedes the transition to an inclusive civilian government, a government chosen in free and fair elections that governs democratically, consistent with the goals of the Egyptian revolution. And violence and continued political polarization will only further tear the Egyptian economy apart and prevent it from growing and providing the jobs and the future that the people of Egypt want so badly.
The United States strongly supports the Egyptian people’s hope for a prompt and sustainable transition to an inclusive, tolerant, civilian-led democracy. Deputy Secretary of State Burns, together with our EU colleagues, provided constructive ideas and left them on the table during our talks in Cairo last week. From my many phone calls with many Egyptians, I believe they know full well what a constructive process would look like. The interim government and the military, which together possess the preponderance of power in this confrontation, have a unique responsibility to prevent further violence and to offer constructive options for an inclusive, peaceful process across the entire political spectrum. This includes amending the constitution, holding parliamentary and presidential elections, which the interim government itself has called for.
All of the other parties – all of the opposition, all of civil society, all parties – also share a responsibility to avoid violence and to participate in a productive path towards a political solution. There will not be a solution through further polarization. There can only be a political solution by bringing people together with a political solution.
So this is a pivotal moment for all Egyptians. The path towards violence leads only to greater instability, economic disaster, and suffering. The only sustainable path for either side is one towards a political solution. I am convinced from my conversations with a number of foreign ministers, including the Foreign Minister of Egypt, I am convinced that that path is, in fact, still open and it is possible, though it has been made much, much harder, much more complicated, by the events of today.
The promise of the 2011 revolution has simply never been fully realized, and the final outcome of that revolution is not yet decided. It will be shaped in the hours ahead, in the days ahead. It will be shaped by the decisions which all of Egypt’s political leaders make now and in these days ahead. The world is closely watching Egypt and is deeply concerned about the events that we have witnessed today. The United States remains at the ready to work with all of the parties and with our partners and with others around the world in order to help achieve a peaceful, democratic way forward.