Britain has halted some military programs with Cairo, London’s foreign secretary said Monday, while admitting that there is little that the West can do to bring an end to the violence that has erupted across Egypt.
In a radio interview with the BBC, Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke of the measures that Britain has taken in response to the ongoing violence in Egypt that has killed some 850 people in the past five days.
“What we’ve done in Britain so far is that we have suspended projects with the Egyptian security forces,” he said. “We have revoked a number of export licenses, and I think that among the European countries we should review together how we try to aid Egypt, what aid and assistance we should give to Egypt in the future.”
Hague said that despite London’s outreach to Egypt, it is possible that the country would remain in turmoil for years to come.
“Our influence may be limited. It is a proudly independent country and there may be years of turbulence in Egypt and other countries going through this profound debate about the nature of democracy and the role of religion in their society,” he continued.
He added that the Middle East as a whole would also likely be hard-pressed to find stability in the near future.
“I think it will take years, maybe decades, to play out, and through that we have to keep our nerve in clearly supporting democracy, democratic institutions, promoting dialogue. There will be many setbacks in doing that and we should not be surprised when they take place,” claimed Hague.
Although he noted that it is “hard to overstate the levels of hatred and mistrust between the various sides of politics in Egypt,” Hague reiterated the need to keep trying.
“But we have to do our best to promote democratic institutions, to promote political dialogue and to keep faith with the majority of Egyptians who just want a free and stable and prosperous country,” he said.
According to the BBC, Hague was scheduled to meet with EU foreign ministers later on Monday to discuss the situation in Egypt.