Dempsey Addresses Concerns With Egyptian Military Leaders

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Feb. 12, 2012 — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he voiced both con­cerns and com­mit­ment to Egypt­ian defense lead­ers dur­ing meet­ings held yes­ter­day in Cairo.

 -
Egypt­ian Field Mar­shal Mohammed Hus­sein Tanta­wi, left, Egypt­ian Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan, chief of staff of the Egypt­ian armed forces, cen­ter, and U.S. Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speak with each oth­er at the Egypt­ian Min­istry of Defense in Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 11, 2012. DOD pho­to by D. Myles Cullen
Click to enlarge

Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey met with his Egypt­ian coun­ter­part, Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan, as well as with Field Mar­shal Mohamed Hus­sein Tanta­wi and oth­er offi­cials at Egypt’s Min­istry of Defense. They dis­cussed the long-term rela­tion­ship between the U.S. and Egypt and sev­er­al of that nation’s region­al issues. They also addressed Egypt’s inves­ti­ga­tion of alleged­ly ille­gal for­eign fund­ing for pro-democ­ra­cy non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions by more than 40 Egypt­ian and Amer­i­can activists, includ­ing 19 U.S. cit­i­zens.

Sev­er­al Amer­i­cans who are tar­gets of the inves­ti­ga­tion have not been allowed to leave Egypt and have tak­en refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Dempsey’s trip was planned long before this sit­u­a­tion devel­oped and caused ten­sion between the two nations.

“We dis­cussed that [sit­u­a­tion] very pro­fes­sion­al­ly,” the chair­man told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice dur­ing the flight back. “I expressed the fact that it caused us con­cern, not only about the par­tic­u­lar NGOs and indi­vid­u­als cur­rent­ly unable to leave the coun­try, but rather more broad­ly.”

Dempsey said he asked the defense lead­ers, “ ‘What sig­nal should I take from this in terms of how you see Egypt’s future? Are you going to become iso­lat­ed? Are you going to pre­serve indi­vid­ual free­doms or deny them?’ ” He not­ed that “they don’t have the answers right now.”

Along with his con­cern, the chair­man expressed the Defense Department’s com­mit­ment to com­mon inter­ests, choic­es and con­se­quences.

Dempsey, who hap­pened to vis­it Cairo on the Feb. 11 anniver­sary of the over­throw of for­mer Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak, said that although Egypt has always had a mil­i­tary pres­i­dent, the coun­try “has nev­er been a democ­ra­cy of the sort they’re try­ing to devel­op now.”

The chair­man added, “Frankly they’re strug­gling — I think [that] is prob­a­bly a fair term — to fig­ure this all out, to fol­low the time­line for the dif­fer­ent elec­tions, the fram­ing of the con­sti­tu­tion and even­tu­al­ly the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in June.”

Dempsey said he found the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary “quite eager” to get out of the coun­try-run­ning busi­ness.

The chair­man has had five-year rela­tion­ship with Enan and Tanta­wi that began in 2007 when Dempsey was deputy com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, and that con­tin­ued after he became act­ing com­man­der in 2008.

On the foun­da­tion of that rela­tion­ship, Dempsey said, he went into what might have been a tough meet­ing and was able to be can­did.

“But we’ve got some work to do” on resolv­ing ten­sions relat­ed to the NGO issue, he added, “and so do they.”

The mil­i­tary lead­ers also dis­cussed joint exer­cis­es like Bright Star, a bien­ni­al, mul­ti-nation­al exer­cise designed to strength­en mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ships and improve readi­ness and inter­op­er­abil­i­ty between U.S., Egypt­ian and coali­tion forces.

“We of course post­poned it in [20]11 because [the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary lead­ers] were rather busy,” Dempsey said, adding, “We’re both eager to pick it up again in [20]13. But there are some issues that have to be resolved soon in order to do that.”

Dur­ing a year filled with mon­u­men­tal changes for the gov­ern­ment, cit­i­zens and mil­i­tary forces of Egypt, the army has become inward­ly focused on such new respon­si­bil­i­ties as inter­nal secu­ri­ty, the chair­man said.

“I think they’ve adapt­ed to that pret­ty well,” Dempsey said, and attrib­uted the country’s abil­i­ty “to pro­mote a process toward democ­ra­cy — notice I did­n’t say they’re there yet — because of our rela­tion­ship with them.”

At any giv­en time, he added, “200 to 300 of their offi­cers are in our schools, and I think that we should take some sense of sat­is­fac­tion that they have done that.”

Dempsey said the U.S. mil­i­tary will con­tin­ue to remain engaged with Egypt­ian lead­ers as they work through the changes that lie ahead.

“In June they’ll salute a civil­ian pres­i­dent for the first time … and then they’ll go back to bar­racks. But I don’t think it’s going to be as clean as that.”

Con­tend­ing with being sub­or­di­nate to a civil­ian author­i­ty won’t be easy, the chair­man said, but today “they’re all say­ing the right things, and I believe they all intend the right things.”

The true test, he added, will be the remain­ing elec­tions, the fram­ing of the con­sti­tu­tion and the June pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

“That’s why we want to stay engaged with them … not [to] shape or influ­ence, but sim­ply be there as a part­ner to help them under­stand their new respon­si­bil­i­ties,” Dempsey said.

“I think they eager to have that kind of part­ner­ship with us,” he added, “but we have to get beyond this NGO issue.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →