Anthony Cordesman Walks Out of Al-Jazeera Interview to Protest Anti-American Line of Questions
During a May 28, 2014 interview, Ahmed Mansour, host of Al-Jazeera TV's show, "Without Borders," directed several anti-American questions at intelligence and national security analyst Prof. Anthony Cordesman, accusing the U.S. of supporting Al-Sisi's coup, of turning the Egyptian army into a tool for American interests, and of not caring about the people of Syria and Egypt. Eventually, Cordesman got up and left, leaving Mansour to wrap up the show with apologies to the viewers.
Following are excerpts:
TV host Ahmed Mansour: Two farces are underway in the Arab world, in order to elect two of the most vicious and despotic rulers, who are involved in the shedding of their peoples' blood. The first is Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, who has been killing his people and destroying his country for several years. The second is Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi in Egypt, who led a coup against the first elected president, killing and imprisoning tens of thousands of Egyptians. Now he wishes to crown his coup through a farcical mockery of elections.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, which was destroyed by the occupying U.S., last week's elections crowned Nouri Al-Maliki, who is accused of waging a cleansing war against the Sunnis, for a third term as prime minister. Lebanon has been left without a president, the Gulf states fear the American-Iranian rapprochement, Libya faces an Egyptian-style coup attempt, Tunisia is undergoing a critical transitional phase, and in neighboring Algeria, President Bouteflika was reelected, and he was sworn in in his wheelchair.
The U.S. is not far removed from everything that is happening. On the contrary, it participates in these events, or even sets many of them in motion.
Why does the U.S. challenge the will of the Egyptian people, and insist on supporting a coup leader, who has killed many Egyptians, and who is about to become president following this mockery of elections?
Prof. Anthony Cordesman: You know, when you ask the question when I stopped beating my wife, it's very difficult to give you an objective answer. I think the fact is that we have a power struggle in Egypt – a struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military. What people don't understand is that virtually all revolutions of this kind end in prolonged periods of violence. That doesn't mean that you can ignore them. It doesn't mean that you can fail to deal with the government. It doesn’t mean that you can ignore the future of the Egyptian people by somehow ceasing to have relations.
Ahmed Mansour: All analysts here say that Al-Sisi would not have carried out his coup without American support.
Prof. Anthony Cordesman: Well, oddly enough, we have heard from many people on the other side that we supported the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood far too long, and that the U.S. did not press them hard enough to leave office.
It is not an issue of political theory. This is an issue of millions and millions of people.
Ahmed Mansour: Do you even care about those people? 200,000 people have been killed in Syria, and over 6,000 in Egypt, yet we haven't heard any condemnation on your part. You care about nothing but your interests. Since when do you care about people?
Prof. Anthony Cordesman: First, what you have said is a fat lie. The U.S. is concerned about the people of Syria and Egypt.
Ahmed Mansour: The aid that you claim to give to Egypt is provided specifically to the army, and goes directly to generals. The Egyptian government or people do not benefit from this aid in any way. You know this full well. Giving direct aid to the commanders of the army…
Prof. Anthony Cordesman: let's pause for a moment...
Ahmed Mansour: …without going through the government budget, and signing contracts between the U.S. Department of Defense and the commanders of the Egyptian army, about which the government knows nothing – is all this considered aid to the Egyptian people?
Prof. Anthony Cordesman: The Egyptian government… I think that you have again totally misstated the facts.
Ahmed Mansour: With all due respect, I don't want to exchange accusations with you, so please don't level accusations against me. I'm telling you the facts. Since 1979, following the Camp David Accords…
Prof. Anthony Cordesman: You began with accusations…
Ahmed Mansour: …the U.S. has provided the Egyptian military 1.3 billion dollars. Isn't this considered buying the loyalty of the Egyptian army, and turning it into a tool for implementing American policy?
You still haven't condemned the army's killing of over 5,000 Egyptians so far. Nor have you condemned the trials of tens of thousands by the military coup. This means that you are giving the coup leaders a green light to do whatever they want to the Egyptian people, while you sit idly by.
I asked about your equating the criminal with the victim when you said that violations were evident on both sides.
We seem to be experiencing a technical problem. We'll return to this interview after a short break.
I'm sorry to inform you that although we fixed the technical problem immediately after cutting for a break, our guest refused to continue the interview, in protest of the questions that we have been addressing to him, even though we have him a chance to answer. I never interrupted him. Even though he leveled accusations against me several times, I didn't respond in kind. These are normal questions to ask any American official.
So he left the interview, and we are sorry about that. His chair in Washington is now vacant. We were doing our job, but he didn't want to continue the interview. So I thank you very much. Allah willing, we will interview another American official some time soon.
On behalf of the crew, I wish you all the best. This is Ahmed Mansour, wishing you all the best from our show, "Without Borders."