The Region: Egypt kicks sand in Obama’s face
Brotherhood’s leading liberal ally defects; West still doesn’t get it
Morsy and Ahmadinejad Photo: reuters
I could write a 300-page book on how the Obama administration’s Middle East
policy has damaged Israel. I could write an 800-page book about how the Obama
administration’s Middle East policy has damaged US interests. But why bother?
This is all you need to know: The US government asked its good buddy Egyptian
President Mohamed Morsy to inspect an Iranian ship suspected of carrying arms to
Syria while it passed through the Suez Canal. Remember that to do so is
arguably in Egypt’s own interest since Cairo is supporting the rebels while
Tehran backs the regime.
The Egyptian government, despite three decades
of massive US aid, licensing to produce advanced American tanks and other
equipment, strategic backing and an invitation to Washington to meet Obama –
refused. Indeed, Morsy headed for Tehran to attend a “nonaligned”
Does this mean Egypt is going to ally with Iran? No, Egypt
will fight Iran for influence tooth and nail. The two countries will kill each
others’ surrogates. But it means Morsy feels no friendlier toward America than
he does toward Iran. And Cairo will not lift a finger to help Washington against
Tehran unless, perhaps, America is willing to put a Muslim Brotherhood
government in place in Syria, which might well happen.
In other words,
under Jimmy Carter’s watch we got Islamist Iran – and, yes, things could have
turned out very differently – and under Obama’s watch – and, yes, things could
have turned out very differently – we got Islamist Egypt.
Egypt, the Arab
world’s most important country, has been turned from an ally of America against
the Iranian threat into, at best, a neutral between Washington and Tehran that
will do nothing to help America.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most important
country, has been turned from an ally of America – albeit an imperfect one, of
course – in maintaining and trying to extend Arab-Israeli peace into a leading
advocate of expanding the conflict and even potentially of going to
Egypt, the Arab world’s most important country, has been turned from
an ally of America in fighting international terrorism into an ally of most
international terrorist groups (except those that occasionally target Egypt
But here’s one for the 600 rabbis who front for Obama: The
destruction of the Egyptian natural gas pipeline and deal, as a result of the
instability and revolution that the US government helped promote, has done as
much economic damage as all the Arab and Islamic sabotage, boycotts and Western
sanctions or disinvestment in Israel’s history.
Egypt alone is a
catastrophe, even without mentioning another dozen examples. How much
longer is the obvious fact that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime is
anti-democratic, anti- American and anti-Semitic going to be denied?
there’s more. Lots more.
After meeting Egypt’s new president, Secretary
of Defense Leon Panetta said, “I was convinced that President Morsy is his own
man,” adding that the new president is committed to democratic reforms and to
representing all Egyptians.
How does Panetta know this? Simple: this is
what Morsy told him.
Of course, by endorsing Morsy before he actually
does anything, the US government puts its seal of approval on the Muslim
Brotherhood regime. Shouldn’t it have to prove itself before Obama gives up all
that leverage? What’s next, the Nobel Peace Prize? After all, Morsy’s been in
office for a few months.
Note the phrase “his own man.” What does that
mean? Why, that Morsy won’t follow the Brotherhood’s orders. He will even stand
up to it – presumably to be more moderate – right? Except there is no reason to
believe that this is true.
Panetta added: “They agreed that they would
cooperate in every way possible to ensure that extremists like al-Qaida are
dealt with.” Of course, they are more likely to cooperate against al-Qaida – a
group they don’t like. But will they cooperate against Egyptian Salafist
terrorists, Hamas and lots of other terrorists? Of course not.
the precise moment Panetta was meeting Morsy, the new president was releasing
Islamist terrorists from Egyptian prisons. These include terrorists from
Islamic Jihad, which is part of the al-Qaida coalition! How do you square that
one, secretary Panetta?
And finally, Morsy pointed out to Panetta that his own
son was born in California, when the future Egyptian president was studying
there. His son, Morsy pointed out, could be the president of the United
States one day.
I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to ponder that
Of course, the Obama administration can claim one success in
Egypt: the regime pulled its forces out of eastern Sinai in accord with the
Egypt-Israel peace treaty. The problem is that it has been reported in the
Egyptian media – a good source, though not confirmed – that the regime made a
deal with the al- Qaida terrorists who attacked Israel: if they promised to stop
fighting (for how long?) the Egyptian government would release all of their
Meanwhile, the most important (formerly) pro-Islamist moderate
intellectual in the Arabic-speaking world has defected, an event of monumental
importance that is being ignored in the West. The Egyptian sociologist Sa’ad
Eddin Ibrahim hated the Mubarak regime so much that he joined with the Islamists
as allies and insisted that they were really moderate.
Now here are some
tidbits from an interview he just gave (full interview can be watched on MEMRI
Interviewer: “You indicated that the Muslim Brotherhood are hijacking the
country, not merely the top political posts. Is the Muslim Brotherhood indeed
about to hijack the country?”
Ibrahim: “Well, this is how it seems to me, as
well as to other observers, some of whom are more knowledgeable than me about
the Brotherhood,” a reference to long-time members who he said have helped him
understand the Brotherhood’s “desire to hijack everything and to control
Ibrahim was the most articulate advocate of a liberal-Islamist alliance. Now he’s scared – and that should warn all of us to change
The writer is director of the Global Research in
International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, and
editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) journal. His
latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for
Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The
Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). GLORIA Center is at