The United States and Egypt on Sunday resumed formal security talks that were last held six years ago and kept on hiatus until now amid the political unrest that swept the country in the wake of the Arab Spring. Two days after the U.S. delivered eight F-16 warplanes to Egypt as part of a military support package, Secretary of State John Kerry restarted the dialogue with Egyptian officials in Cairo. Kerry, on the first stop of a Mideast trip aimed at assuaging Arab concerns over the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, began his day in talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. He later will see President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi before leaving for Qatar, where he will hold discussions with Gulf Arab foreign ministers on the Iran deal and its implications for the region.
Egypt has been battling insurgents and Islamic radicals in the Sinai Peninsula for years. Despite this, aid had been on hold until earlier this year due to human rights and democracy concerns in the wake of the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. I certainly do not agree with everything Mr. Kerry says or does, but I must agree with his statement during this meeting: “We are absolutely clear that terrorists who kill civilians and attack Egyptian security forces have to be brought to justice, and we stand with Egypt in that effort. But it is equally important … to distinguish between those who use violence to achieve their ends and others who seek peacefully to participate in a political dialogue, even if what they say sometimes may make people uncomfortable.”
Therefore, if Egypt wants to truly defeat the terrorists, it needs to begin acting like a democratic country and cease silencing political dissenters. Otherwise, they will just turn to the radicals to have their voice heard.