Hillary Clinton Meets with Egypt's President Mursi
It's been a momentus week for President Mursi. He engineered a crisis with the military council by reconvening a parliament they had dissolved. He faced off with the Supreme Court when he said he would ignore their order to shut parliament down. And, after backing off that position, he traveled to Saudi Arabia, hat in hand, for some of that Saudi cash to prop up the faltering Egyptian economy.
Now, the Americans have come calling.
"This afternoon, President Morsi and I began a constructive dialogue about the broad, enduring relationship between the United States and Egypt for the 21st century," she told reporters. "We discussed the challenges ahead and how the United States and Egypt can work together in a spirit of mutual respect and mutual interest."
Clinton says the free election of a president for the first time in Egypt's long history is an inspiring achievement and a testament to voters' courage and commitment. But President Morsi's election is not without its challenges. Egyptian judges have dismissed the elected parliament. Egyptian soldiers still wield considerable authority.
"President Morsi made clear that he understands the success of his presidency, and indeed of Egypt's democratic transition, depends on building consensus across the Egyptian political spectrum to work on a new constitution and parliament," Clinton noted, "to protect civil society, to draft a new constitution that will be respected by all and to assert the full authority of the presidency."
Asked if she believes Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is undermining that presidential authority, Clinton commended the SCAF for representing the Egyptian people in the revolution against former president, Hosni Mubarak.
"As compared to what we are seeing in Syria which is the military murdering their own people, the SCAF here protected the Egyptian nation," Clinton said. "And we commend them for overseeing a free, fair election process. But there is more work ahead."
The problem is that the military did, indeed, take part in the crackdown. They changed their minds when the rest of the world abandoned Mubarak and the writing was on the wall that the dictator had to go. Many of the secular activists -- and some Islamists - certainly haven't forgotten that fact and for Hillary to make a big deal about praising the military probably doesn't sit too well with them.
But Clinton came offering nothing new - no new aid or support. In that respect, it was just windowdressing and a reminder that our relations with Egypt can change depending on how the Brotherhood acts while in power.