Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, in graphic on Press TV News Analysis. Azikiwe is a frequent contributor to media agencies around the world., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Interview with Abayomi Azikiwe
Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:57PM GMT
To watch this Press TV edition of The Debate featuring Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: This is really a mandate to fight violence that Egypt’s army general has called for: mass rallies. Does that make sense as to coming up with some type of solution, this mass rally being called for by the army general?
Azikiwe: I believe that the Egyptian military at this point is dealing with a question of legitimacy and this is the rallying cry of the Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood that the current military dispensation, the appointment of an interim governing council, lacks legitimacy.
President Morsi, despite what many people felt about his policies that have been enacted over the last year, he was elected by the Egyptian people.
Although there were demonstrations around the June 30th campaign, it was not the people who removed him. It was the top military leadership in Egypt who seized his office, who took him into detention; who are still holding him against his will and against the will of the Freedom and Justice Party.
It is the military right now that is calling the shots in regard to the formulation of this new cabinet and also the road map for the holding of elections in some six months time.
So I think he’s dealing with the question of legitimacy and he wants to make it appear as if there is popular support for what the military is doing in Egypt.
But it’s going to be very interesting to see what’s going to happen Friday in light of the rising tensions that are going on right now not just in Cairo, but in other parts of the country as well.
Press TV: When we look at the mass rallies I think much of the media neglects perhaps to say, at least the ones that I’m exposed to not only mainstream, but also in print, that there’s been 20 days of sit-ins that have occurred from pro-Morsi supporters in the tens of thousands.
Now, I would think that want not only Morsi’s reinstatement, but for there to be some type of solution that would require a safe exit for Morsi as proposed by former presidential candidate Iman Noor who said, “A safe exit allowing him to return to his home, suspend any current or future legal claims against him.” Do you think that could still be something that could be worked out between the Muslim Brotherhood and the army?
Azikiwe: I believe that could be a start. The Muslim Brotherhood has taken a position and rightly so that the president has to be released; that the top leadership of the Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood have to be released; that these criminal investigations have to cease in order for any genuine dialogue to take place.
It’s going to be very difficult for any type of national reconciliation to occur in Egypt when you have the top leadership of the now-opposition Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood as well as other Islamist tenancies inside the country...[in detention].
If they’re in detention, if their voice is being suppressed through the national media in Egypt and if their political will is being totally disregarded by the military and this appointed cabinet, which they claim is supposed to be more representative of the Egyptian people than the Freedom and Justice Party, it will be impossible to achieve national reconciliation.
It’s not going to happen until some real dialogue is opened up between the Islamist forces and the military and those who have aligned themselves with the Egyptian military.
Press TV: Our guest, Christopher Walker talks about how pivotal Friday is. From what I understand and perhaps you can elaborate more on this, is it what the army wants? They’ve called for this mass rally, they know it’s going to involve violence, therefore they’re going to go out there, they’re probably going to make tons of arrests thinking that their power, so to speak, is going to overpower the people’s will.
Will it do so and have Morsi supporters back down?
Azikiwe: They haven’t backed down so far. Since the July 3 coup, they have been out in front of the Republican Guard headquarters in Nasser city. We saw what happened in July 8th with the massacre of over 50 supporters of the Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood. Their position has been very clear. They have a tremendous amount of support inside the country.
And the tensions are not lessening at all. We saw yesterday that at least 12 people were killed inside the country as a result of direct street clashes with supporters of the military and other secular elements in Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood.
They have to bring this situation to some type of resolution because as Mr. Walker said, the economic crisis in Egypt is not getting any better. They have a huge international debt crisis, they also have a problem with high unemployment and poverty inside the country.
And despite the fact that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged some 12 billion dollars to assist Egypt, it’s not going to be enough to resolve the political crisis that is going on inside the country.
We’ve had the visit by the US envoy last week as well as Catherine Ashton from the European Union. These entities particularly the European Union is not going to endorse any type of assistance to Egypt unless the political situation is normalized.
And the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which also provided policy recommendations for Egypt have declined to provide a 4.8 billion dollar loan to the former government of President Morsi.
So there has to be a genuine national reconciliation process adopted and perhaps the formation of a national unity government where the Freedom and Justice Party, other Islamist tenancies within the country alongside the more secular liberal and social democratic elements as well as the military can form some type of government of national unity.
This is the only solution that I can see that can normalize and stabilize the political situation inside of Egypt itself because this impacts Egypt’s foreign policy as well. They have a serious issue now with Ethiopia, which is determined along with other states to go forward with the Great Renaissance Dam project, which the Egyptian foreign ministry issued a statement earlier this week, they are still opposing this program, in opposition to many other states throughout the region.
Also the situation that’s going on now in Syria; Egypt intervened in that situation by breaking diplomatic relations with Damascus.
The domestic crisis in Egypt of course is going to have a tremendous impact on its foreign policy as well not to mention the Palestinian question where even under the previous government of President Morsi they closed down the tunnels between Gaza and The Sinai and this is causing a tremendous amount of consternation inside of Gaza as well.
Press TV: What would be the US’s intent behind OK-ing and giving the green light to this?
Azikiwe: They want to maintain stability based upon US strategic interests in North Africa and throughout the Middle East.
The US has invested tens of billions of dollars in Egypt over the last 35 years. They subsidize the Egyptian state largely through the military to the tune of some 1.5 billion dollars annually. There are very close ties between the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Egyptian military. They do not want to see any government come to power in Egypt that opposes a US foreign policy in the Middle East and they do not want any threat to the Camp David peace accord, which has been in effect since 1979.
So they (the United States) are in fact supporting this military coup. It’s quite obvious. They won’t even categorize it as a coup and they are going to continue supplying aid and they provided four F-16 fighter jets just two weeks ago to the Egyptian government despite the fact that the African Union, the continental organization, has suspended Egypt pending the resolution of this internal conflict.
Press TV: Options to calm things down. Your thoughts?
Azikiwe: Yes I think that repeating an election is purely a waste of resources and time. There was an election held in 2012 and I don’t see any point to holding another election. They should just restore President Morsi to his office; establish a government of national unity and try to move forward towards national reconciliation.