President Obama’s misguided attempt to bend Egyptian political affairs in the Muslim Brotherhood’s favor is unravelling the carefully nurtured military and economic alliance between the United States and Egypt, which has served for decades to stabilize that vital part of the Middle East.
First, after throwing former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak under the bus, the Obama administration did everything it could to portray the Muslim Brotherhood as a worthy organization committed to democratic principles of governance. The United States was seen by many secular Egyptians, including those who spearheaded the original revolution that led to Mubarak’s overthrow, as helping to unfairly tip the scales in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidates.
A year later, millions of Egyptians filled the streets demanding an end to the Islamic theocracy that Mubarak’s elected Islamist successor, Mohamed Morsi, tried to impose on the country. U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson stirred up hostility against the United States when she said the protesters should stop wasting their time with street demonstrations and allow the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government to continue to govern. “Some say that street action will produce better results than elections,” she said. “To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical.”
After the Egyptian military heeded the wishes of the people and ended Morsi’s authoritarian rule, the Obama administration has continued to meddle by advocating for the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood while at the same time hedging its bets. It has so far avoided using the word “coup” to describe the military’s action, in order to forestall the automatic triggering of a statutory requirement to cut off non-humanitarian aid when a military coup overthrows a democratically elected government. Secretary of State John Kerry even went so far as to say earlier this month that Egypt’s army was “restoring democracy.” He added that “The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people. The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment — so far.”
Such mixed signals have ended up alienating both the Muslim Brotherhood and its opponents, but the Muslim Brotherhood need not worry. President Obama’s heart is with them.
In fact, Obama has reportedly agreed to meet with Muslim Brotherhood representatives at the White House. According to the Egypt Independent,“Obama would reportedly meet with Brotherhood officials to ‘hear their opinion’ on developments in Egypt, in the presence of Turkish diplomats.”
On July 30th, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel set the stage when he phoned Egypt’s defense minister and leader of Mohamed Morsi’s removal from power, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and urged him to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back into the government. According to an exclusive report in the DEBKA File, al-Sisi told Hagel that “it was up to the Muslim Brotherhood to subscribe to his roadmap for the caretaker administration which is ruling the country until elections are held. He then floored the US defense secretary by announcing he was launching a lightning campaign for his own run for the presidency in an early election.”