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September 16, 2012
Obama Continues Pleading for 'Mursi'
Barack Obama, delivering a carefully designed message, has said of Egypt's new government under President Mohamed Mursi that, "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy." Matching this pseudo-tough guy stance, Hillary Clinton, apparently hinting at Mursi's failure to condemn fresh assaults on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, said that "any responsible leader should be standing up now and drawing that line."
This sudden projection of an oh-so-fragile backbone comes after initially condemning anyone who might hurt Islamists' feelings, and is likely just a response to Mitt Romney's effective criticism of the administration's humiliating first reaction to the murder of Ambassador Stevens in Libya.
But before the mainstream media runs with this new game plan, presenting Obama as a strong leader prepared to call them as he sees them, we might stop to consider just how forceful Obama's new position really is.
President Mursi is presently one of the most politically powerful members of the Muslim Brotherhood. On the day he entered the Egyptian presidential race, a large rally was held in Cairo to introduce him to Brotherhood supporters, i.e., fellow Islamists. At this rally, the man who officially introduced Mursi, thus initiating his candidacy, was Safwat Higazi. By way of preparing the crowd for Mursi's speech, Higazi promised them that Mursi would be dedicated to the goal of a global caliphate.
And after leading the crowd in chants of "Mursi will liberate Gaza tomorrow," Higazi insisted that the capital of the coming "United States of the Arabs" "shall not be in Cairo, Mecca or Medina." Where shall it be? Higazi's next call-and-response chant answers that one: "Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem."
In case you failed to catch that, the word "martyrs" seems to suggest that this is more than a vague article of faith, or a fanciful hope. Driving the point home, a singer and musicians then performed a song declaring,
Remember, this little hootenanny was held as the build-up to the presidential bid of Mohamed Mursi. By describing his government as neither ally nor enemy, Obama wished to appear strong, but in fact merely demonstrated his weakness. He is still pleading for Mursi to play by the rules, to scratch the West's back so that we can all scratch his.
What Obama fails or simply refuses to see is that Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood do not recognize or care about the rules. They are brandishing their weapons and saying their prayers, as the song goes. Sometimes, to Western eyes, those weapons look vaguely similar to diplomacy. Such was the case two days ago, when Mursi was saying, "Expressing opinion, freedom to protest and announcing positions is guaranteed but without assaulting private or public property, diplomatic missions or embassies."
And, inevitably, the Obama administration's attempt to look stern regarding the Mursi government melted away the moment the inner circle considered how angry this show might make the Brotherhood. Already, the administration is running away from the weak words that had been their lame attempt at strength.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor confirmed to Foreign Policy that Obama's words did not represent a change in policy. The president was speaking colloquially, he said.
"I think folks are reading way too much into this," Vietor said. "'Ally' is a legal term of art. We don't have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt like we do with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is a longstanding and close partner of the United States, and we have built on that foundation by supporting Egypt's transition to democracy and working with the new government."
Well, that certainly clears everything up. Egypt is neither an ally nor an enemy -- rather, it is an ally. (Squirm, fidget, change subject.)
So the upshot of Obama's ersatz harsh words is only to emphasize and reinforce the fact that the present administration fundamentally regards the Muslim Brotherhood as a partner, albeit a difficult one.
President Mursi is dedicated to global caliphate, which means Islamic world domination. So confirms Safwat Higazi, the man who officially introduced him to his first political campaign audience. Of course, we know Obama can teach Mursi a good answer for that one. Mursi can say, "Higazi was just a guy from my neighborhood."
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