Hagel Admits U.S. Influence in Egypt Is ‘Limited’

Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel spoke about Egypt on Monday during a joint Pentagon press conference with China's defense minister, Gen. Change Wanquan. Aug. 19, 2013

DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

AA Font size + Print

Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel spoke about Egypt on Monday during a joint Pentagon press conference with China's defense minister, Gen. Change Wanquan. Aug. 19, 2013

In his first public remarks about the violence in Egypt, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says “it will be their responsibility to sort this out.” By Kevin Baron

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel admitted what long has become obvious by saying on Monday that there was little left the U.S. could do to stop the ongoing violence in Egypt as military and security forces there continued a bloody crackdown on opposition protestors and leaders.

Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited,” Hagel said, in his first publicly spoken remarks about Egypt since July 31.

Hagel said the Pentagon would continue to work with the Egyptian military and interim government, repeating President Obama’s calls for a stop to the violence that has reportedly claimed more than 1,000 lives.

But the defense secretary declined to answer specific questions about whether there was anything more concrete the U.S. should do to pressure Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, including withholding Egypt’s $1.3 billion foreign aid package or further delaying shipments of Apache helicopters. “We are reviewing all aspects of our relationship,” Hagel said, noting that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait still have “committed to a considerable amount of assistance to Egypt.”

“There’s not a consistent call from Capitol Hill one way or the other,” about whether to cancel aid to Egypt, he added.  

The Obama administration, which Hagel joined in late February, since the start of the Arab spring more than two years ago has taken a realpolitik approach to the region by choosing to side with security and stability while trying to avoid becoming entangled in each country’s own steps toward democratization, despite allegations of human rights violations being ignored in Bahrain, where the U.S. maintains a significant Navy base in the Persian Gulf, and calls in Congress for direct U.S. military intervention in Syria.

“We have serious interests in Egypt and that part of the world. This is a very complicated problem. We continue to work with all the parties to try to help as much as we can facilitate a reconciliation, a stop to the violence,” Hagel said. “It’s up to the Egyptian people, and they are a large and great, sovereign nation. And it will be their responsibility to sort this out. All nations are limited in their influence in another nations’ internal issues. I don’t think the United States is without influence, but that has to be a collaborative effort, focused on what the Egyptian people want, supporting the Egyptian people, and we believe… that should come as an inclusive, open, democratic process.”

[Related: The Pentagon Has Lost Its Leverage with Egypt. Now What?]

Hagel’s comments came during a press conference with China’s visiting defense minister, Gen. Chang Wanquan. Hagel said he accepted an invitation to visit China in 2014.

Hagel also announce he was departing this week on a Southeast Asia trip to an ASEAN minister’s conference in Brunei, with stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. 

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.