Meet the Press   |  July 07, 2013

Former ambassador: Military intervention was necessary

Former Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S. Nabil Fahmy says former President Morsi should have responded to the people’s unhappiness with his decisions since taking office.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> me turn to the former egyptian ambassador to the united states . mr. ambassador, welcome to "meet the press." there are reports you would become the foreign minister in a new government that would be formed on this interim basis. but my question to you this morning, sir, is who is going to be in charge of egypt and how does anyone govern egypt at this particular moment?

>> let me start by saying that, as you said, we do not yet have a prime minister. consequently, we don't have any nominees for any of the cabinet posts, including that of foreign minister. we are trying to establish a government that the interim president is consulting to try to get the widest possible support for the new prime minister, and hopefully he will announce the prime minister's name within a few hours or a day at most, i hope. once that's set, you will also have a roadmap set out by the president how to return to the constitutional discussions and two settles of elections for parliament and for president.

>> the question about the muslim brotherhood and the islamists is a really important one. dr. elbaradei told me this morning that he likened what many people call a coup to an impeachment process. the reality is that the egyptian military had to force out the government and the president was democratically elected. will you not as an opposition reform figure come to rue the day you had to rely upon the egyptian military to achieve this kind of change?

>> i think it's important to look at the context. you have 20 million to 30 million people out on the street. the military has a choice between intervention and chaos. and they had to respond to that. as the president responded to the people. 20 million to 30 million people on the streets here is equivalent to 50 million to 60 million on capitol hill . your president would have responded to the people there in one political form or the other. there was no response. so i think the military acted in response to the people, not their initiative. they did oust the president, that's true. but then they handled over government immediately to the interim president. so the fact they seized power or wanted to seize power is frankly incorrect.

>> but why wouldn't this happen to the next administration against whom there might be popular dissent? i mean, the template here is for opposition in the streets to ultimately force the military's hand to change the path of democracy.

>> when you're looking at the numbers here, 20 million to 30 million people, that is more than half of our political constituency. any president who has that kind of opposition has to understand he has a problem, he has made mistake, and he has to respond to them. had the president responded to the people, he would have been able to find different ways to do this. this is not about what the military did. we are looking for a democratic process that's inclusive, that's transparent, that's accountable, that includes everyone.

>> well, you --

>> and islamists .

>> what is the role of the muslim brotherhood now moving forward? will islamists now not believe that democracy is available for everyone except them? and what are the consequences of that?

>> no. every effort has to be made to include islamists . they are part of egypt . the issue is not including them. the issue is neither side can have exclusive control over egypt . so i'm fully supportive of including them, and we intend to work toward that objective.

>> finally, ambassador, there is a question for a lot of americans about the safety of egypt right now. there are a lot of visitors from this country who go there. the pyramids themselves are just ten minutes in guiza from cairo. before the revolution, you had some 270,000 americans who travelled there on some sort of holiday. at this particular juncture, are you prepared to say to americans that it's safe to travel to egypt ?

>> needless to say there is tension and turmoil. i still believe it's generally safe. but one of the reasons why the military intervened was to try to prevent widespread chaos and move us into a political transition. so i would hope tourists feel comfortable in the near future.

>> ambassador, thank you very much for your time this morning.