OBAMA AND EGYPT
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Obama and the Fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt
- In early 2011, as masses of Egyptian protesters forced their longtime president Hosni Mubarak to step down from power, Barack Obama declared that all opposition groups in Egypt should have some representation in the country's next government. He made no mention of the fact that such a development would essentially ensure that the Muslim Brotherhood—Egypt's largest opposition group—would be in a position to steer the new regime toward adopting Sharia Law and increasing its hostility toward the U.S. and Israel.
- Throughout the weeks of Egyptian rioting, the Obama administration repeatedly shifted its posture, initially expressing confidence in Mubarak's government, later threatening to withhold U.S. aid to that regime, and finally pressing Mubarak to loosen his grip on power. “We want to see free, fair and credible elections,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on February 2. “The sooner that can happen, the better.”
- Obama and his administration took the foregoing positions even though the Muslim Brotherhood had made it explicitly clear that it favored the dissolution of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel; even though the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef, had stated that his organization would never recognize Israel's legitimate right to exist; and even though Muhammad Ghannem, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, had told the Iranian news network Al-Alam that "the people [of Egypt] should be prepared for war against Israel."
- On February 3, 2011, Israeli lawmaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who until recently had been a cabinet minister, criticized President Obama for having called on Mubarak to allow open elections in Egypt, a prospect that undoubtedly would spell the end of Mubarak's long reign—a reign which, despite all its faults, was reliably pro-West and reasonably friendly toward Israel. Stating that Obama was repeating the mistakes of predecessors whose calls for human rights and democracy in the Middle East had backfired by bringing anti-West regimes to power, Ben-Eliezer said: “I don't think the Americans understand yet the disaster they have pushed the Middle East into. If there are elections like the Americans want, I wouldn't be surprised if the Muslim Brotherhood [wins] a majority, it would win half of the seats in parliament. It will be a new Middle East, extremist radical Islam.”
- Three decades earlier, President Jimmy Carter had urged another staunch American ally—the Shah of Iran—to loosen his own grip on power, only to see the Shah's autocratic regime replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Republic. More recently, U.S.-supported elections had strengthened such groups as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, and anti-American radicals in Iran. “Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as 'the president who lost Iran,'” analyst Aluf Benn wrote in the Israeli daily Haaretz. “Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who 'lost' Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled.”
- Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu similarly warned that “if extremist forces [in Egypt] are allowed to exploit democratic processes to come to power to advance anti-democratic goals—as has happened in Iran and elsewhere—the outcome will be bad for peace and bad for democracy.”
Obama Official Calls the Muslim Brotherhood “Largely Secular”
- During a February 10, 2011 House Intelligence Committee hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, erroneously: “The term 'Muslim Brotherhood'...is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam. They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, etc.... In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.”
- In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood is the ideological parent group of both Hamas and al Qaeda. It also seeks to create a worldwide Islamic caliphate governed by strict Sharia Law.
Obama Happily Reports that “We Are Witnessing History Unfold” in Egypt
- On February 10, 2011—as Mubarak was being driven from office—President Obama said: “We are following today's events in Egypt very closely. We'll have more to say as this plays out. But what is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It's a moment of transformation that's taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change.”
- Later, in an address to students at Northern Michigan University, he praised Egypt's youth movement for its role in fomenting the movement for political change. Noting that the Egyptian demonstrators had “turned out in extraordinary numbers representing all ages and all walks of life,” Obama emphasized that it was “a new generation—your generation” that had been “at the forefront” of the activism. “And so, going forward we want those young people, and we want all Egyptians, to know: America will continue to do everything that we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt,” he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood Gains Political Control of Egypt
- During the campaign for the Egyptian presidency, the eventual winner, Mohammed Morsi, who was a longtime prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, was candid about his preference for Sharia-based governance. On one occasion, for example, Morsi vowed that under his leadership, Egyptian law would be “the Sharia, then the Sharia, and finally, the Sharia.” And in a May 13, 2012 speech, Morsi passionately recited the pledge of the Muslim Brotherhood, which states: “Jihad is our path. And death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration.”
- In June 2012, Morsi won the first free presidential election in Egyptian history. After being sworn into office on June 30, he announced that Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel would eventually have to be “revise[d]”; he blasted Egypt’s military leaders for having recently dissolved the nation's Islamist-dominated parliament; he asserted that his eagerness to develop closer ties with Iran was “part of my agenda” to “create a strategic balance in the region”; he pledged to seek the release of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, serving a life sentence in a U.S. federal penitentiary for his role in numerous terrorist plots; and he pledged that the new Egyptian constitution would be founded on the Koran and a strict version of Sharia law.
- In September 2012, Morsi lectured the United States, saying that in order for the U.S. to repair its relations with the Arab world, America would need to show greater respect for Arab values and traditions.
- When a reporter asked Morsi whether Egypt and the U.S. were still allies, he replied that it would depend on the definition of an ally.”
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