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Contents The January 25 Revolution in Egypt: Latest Developments, U.S. Foreign Policy, and Issues for the 112th Congress The People's Revolution: A Timeline January 25 to January 28, 2011: Protests and Police Confrontations January 29 to January 30, 2011: Concessions and Chaos Who are the protestors and what do they want? January 31, 2011: A New Cabinet and Clearer Positions February 1, 2011: The "March of Millions" and Mubarak's Second Speech February 2 and 3, 2011: The Battle of Tahrir Square February 4 to February 7: Negotiations Begin, Protests Continue February 8 to February 9: Protestors Inspired and Demonstrations Apex Thursday, February 10: Mubarak's Defiant Speech Friday, February 11, 2011: Mubarak Resigns The U.S. Response: "Orderly Transition", Lasting Security Interests, and Potential Issues for Congress Repercussions for Israel and Middle East Peace Evacuation of American Citizens Issues for Congress Presidential Succession: Who Will Follow Hosni Mubarak? Managing Egypt's Leadership Transition The Legal Framework The Contenders The Opposition Other Prominent Egyptian Leaders The Muslim Brotherhood The Role of the Military in Egyptian Society Promoting Democracy in Egypt: U.S.-Egyptian Relations U.S. Foreign Assistance to Egypt Overview Debate over U.S. Assistance to Egypt Economic Aid Military Aid Recent Arms Sales Notifications U.S.-Egyptian Trade Contacts Author Contact Information
On Friday, February 11, President Hosni Mubarak resigned from the presidency after 29 years in power. For 18 days, a popular peaceful uprising spread across Egypt and ultimately forced Mubarak to cede power to the military. How Egypt transitions to a more democratic system in the months ahead will have major implications for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and for other countries in the region ruled by monarchs and dictators.
This report provides an overview of U.S.-Egyptian relations, Egyptian politics, and U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. U.S. policy toward Egypt has long been framed as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running military cooperation and sustaining the March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Successive U.S. Administrations have viewed Egypt's government as a moderating influence in the Middle East. At the same time, there have been increasing U.S. calls for Egypt to democratize. In recent years, congressional views of U.S.-Egyptian relations have varied. Many lawmakers have viewed Egypt as a stabilizing regional force, but some members have argued for the United States to pressure Egypt's government to implement political reforms, improve human rights, and take a more active role in reducing Arab-Israeli tensions. Those concerns, in addition to economic frustration, are now driving the most significant public unrest in Egypt in a generation. The Obama Administration has called on the Egyptian government to respect the basic rights of protestors and has expressed concern about violence, while calling for a meaningful transition toward more democratic governance to begin immediately.
U.S. policy makers are now grappling with complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations and these debates are likely to influence consideration of appropriations and authorization legislation in the 112th Congress. The United States has provided Egypt with an annual average of $2 billion in economic and military foreign assistance since 1979. In FY2010, the United States provided Egypt with $1.552 billion in total assistance. Congress appropriated FY2010 aid to Egypt in two separate bills: P.L. 111-117, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, included $1.292 billion in economic and military assistance; and P.L. 111-32, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, FY2009, contained $260 million in FY2010 military assistance. Under P.L. 111-322, the Obama Administration can provide Egypt aid for FY2011 at FY2010 levels until March 4, 2011, or the passage of superseding FY2011 appropriations legislation. For FY2011, the Obama Administration is seeking $1.552 billion in total assistance, the exact same amount as the previous fiscal year. The Administration's request includes $1.3 billion in military assistance and $250 million in economic aid. Some Members of Congress are advocating a delay or reversal in U.S. assistance policy, while others have argued that decisions about foreign assistance should be made only once the results of recent events are clear.
Prior to the recent unrest, Egyptian politics were already focused on the possibility of a leadership transition in the near future, and political and economic tensions rose throughout 2010. In November and December 2010 parliamentary elections, just one Muslim Brotherhood independent won a seat, and the ruling National Democratic Party won over 90% of all seats (as opposed to slightly less than 80% in the last parliament). Some analysts have criticized the Obama Administration for limiting its public criticism of the Egyptian government before and after the election. Others assert that U.S. democracy assistance funding has been largely ineffective and that U.S. assistance should seek to improve the lives of average Egyptians. Some critics of U.S. policy believe that aid should be conditioned on human rights and religious freedom reform.
February 11, 2011
The January 25 Revolution in Egypt: Latest Developments, U.S. Foreign Policy, and Issues for the 112th Congress
Note: A narrative summary of recent events is presented in chronological order below. For the most recent events, please see: "Friday, February 11, 2011: Mubarak Resigns"
For the first time in the history of the modern Middle East, an Arab ruler has been overthrown by a popular, peaceful revolution that represented a wide swath of society, religiously and socioeconomically. How Egypt transitions from 29 years of rule by Hosni Mubarak into something more liberal and democratic may have major implications for U.S. foreign policy. The U.S.Egyptian relationship has long helped guarantee regional peace in the Middle East, but has now entered a period of profound uncertainty. The U.S. government and the 112th Congress face the prospect of either a more democratic Egyptian government (and what that means for Arab-Israeli peace), a military dictatorship, or an Egyptian government in transition, struggling to balance the primacy of the military with real political reform.
Members of Congress are closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, and some leading figures have called for U.S. assistance to Egypt to be frozen or conditioned pending resolution of the current crisis. (1) Other Members have argued that decisions about the future of U.S. assistance should be taken only after recent unrest is resolved. On February 4, a Senate resolution (S.Res. 44) was introduced that echoes President Obama's calls for restraint by the Egyptian military and calls on "President Mubarak to immediately begin an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic political system, including the transfer of power to an inclusive interim caretaker government, in coordination with leaders from Egypt's opposition, civil society, and military, to enact the necessary reforms to hold free, fair, and internationally credible elections this year."
Lawmakers have an array of concerns with respect to events in Egypt including the following.
* The potential implications of an immediate resignation by President Hosni Mubarak.
* The safety and security of American citizens in Egypt and U.S. efforts to evacuate Americans who want to leave Egypt.
* The Egyptian government's respect for human rights and the security forces' treatment of civilian protestors.
* The possible misuse of U.S.-supplied military equipment to the Egyptian army if soldiers should fire upon peaceful demonstrators.
* The reform of the Egyptian political system into a more democratic space with free and fair elections for president in the fall of 2011.
* The role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian politics.
* Any new Egyptian government's respect for Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, its commitments to securing the Suez Canal as an international waterway, and plans for military and counterterrorism cooperation with the United States.
The People's Revolution: A Timeline
In perhaps the most unexpected development in modern Egyptian history, a purely popular revolution that started only 10 days ago has forced President Hosni Mubarak to announce his intention not to stand for reelection for president this fall after 29 years in power. Although for years experts have described simmering discontent among the urban Egyptian masses and a host of socio-economic factors that may breed instability, (2) none had predicted what has transpired over the last two weeks. Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" has inspired popular protests against entrenched dictatorships across the Arab world, and it resonated strongly in Egypt, where recent sectarian violence, an apparently rigged parliamentary election, and the uncertainty surrounding succession all combined to bring unprecedented numbers of Egyptians into the streets.
Since late January, the balance of events in the streets of Cairo has tipped back and forth between opposition protestors and the weight of the political status quo. Events in other major cities have indicated broad dissatisfaction with the status quo and President' Mubarak's response to the protests. At the same time, the Egyptian government's limits on media and Internet, the international media's focus on central Cairo, and the relative opacity of events in the broader Cairo metro area, the Nile Delta, and the rural governorates make it difficult to accurately represent the scale or likely trajectory of the unrest. Egypt's U.S.-funded and equipped armed forces have heeded U.S. calls for restraint thus far. However, their apparent acquiescence to violence between opposition protestors and pro-government forces has raised questions about the military's intentions. As of February 11, its leaders, by all accounts, remained loyal to President Mubarak. Observers have examined the durability of that loyalty closely since the protests began.
January 25 to January 28, 2011: Protests and Police Confrontations
Beginning with a day of protest on January 25, young protestors using social media to organize came out in far greater numbers than initially envisioned, creating a self-sustaining momentum that culminated in ever larger nationwide protests. On Friday, January 28, hundreds of thousands of protestors throughout the country clashed with riot police and central security forces controlled by the widely unpopular Ministry of Interior. An estimated 100,000 people turned up in Cairo alone. Although people were largely peaceful, crowds burned several symbols of Mubarak's rule, including the National Democratic Party headquarters' building. Police units appeared to have used a disproportionate amount of force against protesters who at times used violence themselves, although police largely avoided the use of live ammunition. (3) Ultimately the police were overwhelmed, and by early evening crowds began to dissipate as the army took to the streets to try and instill a sense of calm. Since the army's deployment, soldiers have largely refrained from firing on crowds and many protestors initially embraced the army.
January 29 to January 30, 2011: Concessions and Chaos
In the early morning of January 29, President Mubarak made what some described as a desperate attempt to cling to power in a televised speech to the nation in which he defiantly insisted that he would remain as president to protect the nation. During the speech, President Mubarak announced that he was dissolving the government and, later that day, he appointed national intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his Vice President, (4) the first time anyone has held that office under Mubarak. He also appointed Civil Aviation Minister Ahmad Shafiq as Prime Minister. Both men are considered military figures with close ties to the President. The moves failed to calm public anger, and the weekend of January 29-30 witnessed looting, protests, and near-total chaos, with the army remaining the only authority in the country. The army was also deployed to protect important national sites, such as the Central Bank, Ministry of Information, and the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.
Many Egyptian observers have speculated that the withdrawal of police from urban areas was a deliberate policy by the government, a scare tactic intended to sow chaos in order to remind Egyptians that a strongman like Mubarak is needed. Some Egyptians are even accusing the police themselves of terrorizing the country. Throughout the weekend of January 29-30, there were numerous reports of looting, and many Egyptians banded together to protect private property and businesses from armed gangs. Inmates escaped or were released from four main prisons, and state-owned television broadcasted images of burned infrastructure and disorder in what appeared to be an attempt to disparage the protest movement by linking it to the ongoing insecurity. Some human rights groups have alleged that undercover police loyal to the government were among the looters.
By Sunday January 30, it appeared that all sides (President Mubarak, the military, and the opposition) were trying to reach a solution in order to stabilize the country and extricate Egypt from falling further into chaos. Since protests began, media sources are citing unconfirmed reports of at least 300 people killed, the Egyptian stock market has crashed (fallen at least 18% in 2011) and trading has halted, and some are predicting that Egypt's tourist industry (its main source of foreign exchange) has been severely damaged. It is clear that, the longer chaos persists in Egypt, the more lasting damage will be done to the country as a whole, no matter which government rises in Mubarak's place. To date, the Suez Canal continues to operate normally. (5)
Who are the protestors and what do they want?
Images and footage from the early days of the protests suggest that the crowds who flocked to the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Damietta, and other major Egyptian cities represented a broad and unexpected cross-section of Egyptian society. While most of the protestors were young men, media accounts showed a significant number of women, children, and older Egyptians who appeared to represent various social classes joining in their demand for President Mubarak's ouster. Clashes with security forces and battles between protestors and progovernment forces have been dominated by young men, although women have been active participants in many cases. The disparate elements of the crowd largely outshone the cast of expected opposition organizations. At present, Dr. Muhammad ElBaradei is leading a committee of opposition groups/figures that has said that it will negotiate with the government over the demands of the protestors once Mubarak leaves office. (6) Their goals, aside from Mubarak's immediate resignation, are as follow.
* To form a more representative interim national unity government.
* To amend the constitution or form an assembly to rewrite it entirely. (7)
* To remove corrupt Egyptian leaders responsible for repressing protestors.
* To dissolve parliament and hold new free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which has been conspicuously under the radar throughout the last week of protests, has deliberately deferred to secular opposition leaders and groups, especially Dr.
ElBaradei. According to one Brotherhood leader, "we're supporting ElBaradei to lead the path to change.... The Brotherhood realizes the sensitivities, especially in the West, towards the Islamists, and we're not keen to be at the forefront." Despite ElBaradei's prominence, it is unclear whether he commands much popular support beyond the educated middle- and upper-class opposition. He has lived outside of Egypt for decades and was out of the country when protests began. Much of the grass-roots organizing of demonstrations has been carried out by activists several generations younger than the traditional leadership of Egypt's opposition.
January 31, 2011: A New Cabinet and Clearer Positions
On January 31, 2011, the army said that it would not use force against Egyptians, a claim that Vice President Omar Suleiman has since repeated in public interviews. The army further added that, "your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to …