Former Director General of Al Jazeera Wadah Khanfar joined me Monday for a wide-ranging conversation on the ongoing violence in Egypt, slamming the military's "horrific" crackdown on civilians and accusing the United States of hypocrisy, predicting both civil war in Egypt and the "collapse of the entire region" if there is no real U.S. intervention against military violence there.
Khanfar, whose HuffPost blog post last week focused on the Egyptian military's role in dragging the country closer to a civil war, said the unprecedented amount of violence the military has carried out against the people in recent days marks "a beginning of a new history where people will give up on democracy and will turn to defend themselves through violence."
Throughout the interview, Khanfar repeatedly used the word "coup," calling the recent images of civilians harmed by military "horrific" and saying that "the Arab world did not sleep [two nights ago] watching live the shooting and killing by the military of people who were not armed."
Khanfar, co-founder of the Sharq Forum and one of the most widely-respected journalists in the Arab world, predicted the situation in Egypt will have major consequences in an already volatile region.
"If this coup continues in Egypt, then we are not only in front of a dictatorship, a military dictatorship, but we are facing the collapse of the entire region," he said. "No government, no international power will be able to predict or even imagine what kind of consequences we are going to see in this region."
Khanfar said that Egyptian minister of defense Lt. General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi reminded him of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi by invoking the Bush administration's favorite phrase to frame Egyptian civilians as terrorist and thus justify violence against them.
"The [phrase] 'War on Terrorism' became very useful for our dictators," Khanfar said. "Today Sisi is imitating Muammar Gaddafi, who used the war on terrorism to put down people and put them in jail."
Ultimately, Khanfar blames the United States government for "putting security above freedom" and failing to stand up to restore democracy in Egypt. He said that Egyptian people see the US as unwilling to "call things as they are" and will ultimately hold America accountable if the violence persists.
"If the Americans, at this stage, do not take a bold stance against this coup and demand immediate restoration of the democratic process, I do believe the people in this region will put this burden of the collapse of democracy on American shoulders as well," he said. "If the Americans do not call this a coup, it will be seen as hypocrisy and another act to suppress the demands of the public in this part of the world."