Obama's Egyptian Dilemma
At the same time that the Obama administration has decided to provide Egypt with the most sophisticated varieties of American weaponry, mass protests against the increasingly dictatorial regime of Mohamed Morsi reached a magnitude that threatens the very foundations of the Egyptian statehood. This shocking dichotomy raises questions as to why the most important leader in the world and the supreme commander of the most powerful armed force is so confused and so helpless while facing the challenges of radical Islam.
It's very likely that President Obama's views of Islam-related problems is based on his childhood experience in Indonesia. Undoubtedly, those impressions have created an image that the majority of Muslims are good people. This is absolutely correct. As far as the radical Islamists are concerned, however, Mr. Obama's attitude is mistaken. What is even worse is that it impacted in a negative way his strategic thinking and the practical conduct of his policy.
For President Obama, the term "radical Islam" is a kind of taboo -- for the first four years of his term, he didn't master the courage to pronounce it even once. Instead, he prefers to define the adherents of radical Islam simply as "terrorists." The problem here is that terror is a method used by the enemy but not its name... Given this ignorance or arrogance, it is a small wonder that the president and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, were not able to develop an effective strategy towards radical Islam in general and towards Egypt in particular.
Consequently, the United States' foreign policy regarding a fanatical and dedicated enemy bent on the destruction of everything that makes life worth living has been seriously crippled. Even more, the actions of the current administration are facilitating the growth of the poisonous seeds of radical Islam.
The first ray of hope for an ambitious and hard-core Muslim Brotherhood leader by the name of Mohamed Morsi to assume that his hour had struck emerged when it became clear that the United States has thrown its loyal ally, Hosni Mubarak, under the bus.
In July of 2011 Secretary Hillary Clinton made a statement to the effect that the United States was recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate participant in Egyptian political life. In practice, this meant that the United States was ready to recognize a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt provided that Mohamed Morsi won the election.
Secretary Clinton's declaration was a fatal mistake. All the Department of State had to do was to issue a declaration making it abundantly clear that the United States would respect the right of the people of Egypt to choose a government of its liking. At the same time however, this statement should have left no doubt that Washington wouldn't offer any assistance to a tyrannical government that was about to violate the human rights and political freedom of women and minorities. Such an American strategy would have brought a victory to Morsi's rival, Ahmed Shafiq -- a popular and intelligent general with solid secular credentials.
Once in power, Morsi's very first step was to tighten the knot of the cord that President Obama had placed around his own wrists by making clear his belief in the legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood. Very soon, however, the Gaza conflict broke out. In the middle of the bloody duel between Hamas' missiles and the Israeli bombings, Morsi sent his prime minister, Hesham Qandi, to Gaza. Qandi gave inspirational and highly provocative speeches encouraging the continuation of Hamas attacks on Israel.
At the same time, the Egyptian President was busy building a completely different image on behalf of President Obama, who had sent his secretary of state to Cairo, all the way from distant Burma. Upon reaching the capital of Egypt, the jet-lagged Secretary of State received Morsi's assurances that Hamas was ready to stop shooting missiles into Israel...
This was an excellent strategic move by Morsi, bestowing as it did the status of complete master of the situation in Gaza. With his help, the attacks on Israel would be stopped. But if some kind of pressure on the United States and Israel is desired, then the missiles will fly.
Perhaps dizzy from so much brilliance, Morsi committed one very important mistake. Assuming that the ground for the dreamt-of Islamo-totalitarian eternity he had prepared for Egypt was ready, the new President of Egypt rushed to proclaim absolutist power over the country. The new dictator was in such a precious hurry to Islamize Egypt that he immediately imposed a constitution suspiciously similar to the Iranian one.
This decisive step proved to be premature. The young opponents of the authoritarian regime of President Mubarak once again filled Tahrir Square, demanding this time the resignation of the impatient totalitarian by the name of Mohamed Morsi.
An interesting difference emerged between the current demonstrations and the turmoil that brought down President Mubarak. When historic Tahrir Square was filled with angry demonstrators against Mubarak, the Department of State decided to undercut him by proscribing to the embattled statesman any violent response and demanding release of political prisoners. (By the way, one of the released "victims of the repressive regime of Mubarak" was an individual currently detained for his participation in the Benghazi murders.)
Events now enveloping Tahrir Square represent a huge dilemma to the Obama administration. The problem is that the anti-Morsi demonstrations are of such a magnitude that at one point the new dictator was chased out of his palace, which upon his return he transformed into a fortress surrounded with barbed wire and tanks.
Unlike Mubarak, however, Morsi is not about to resign. Knowing full well the vulnerability and the weakness of Obama, he is contemplating all possible means to preserve his dictatorial powers. The delicate spot Obama has placed himself in by not supporting the Egyptian enemies of radical Islam is a dangerous one because it evokes an important question: Is the president about to let down the anti-Morsi demonstrators the way he let down the young Iranians whose blood was shed on the streets of Teheran back in 2009?
Georgy Gounev teaches and lectures on the ideology and strategy of radical Islam in Southern California. He is author of the book entitled "The Dark Side of the Crescent Moon" that explores the international impact of the Islamization of Europe. In addition, other articles by Gounev can be found in the American Thinker, Gatestone and "foraff.org."