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Obama’s Tamarod Problem

ANALYSIS: How the administration's decision to teach Egypt a lesson won't have the effect that the White House hopes, and the dangerous precedent it sets.

by
Bridget Johnson

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October 14, 2013 - 11:09 am
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If the Obama administration is uncomfortable dealing with the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Washington is in for even more telling decisions as the uprising against the Islamists grows in other Arab Spring countries and beyond.

That could include the need to pick sides on untested ground bordering Israel and Egypt, where some residents inspired by Egypt’s overthrow have decided they’d rather have jobs and trash pickup over leaders constantly sinking resources into perpetual jihad.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Friday that Secretary of State John Kerry and Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “had a very good conversation” when Kerry told the military leader that the U.S. would withhold large-scale military systems and cash assistance until, in the words of the original announcement, Washington determines there is “pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections.”

“We both agreed that we have – that it’s important for the two countries to continue working together,” Harf said. “That’s why we’re continuing our relationship and that’s what we’re focused on right now, working with them to do just that.”

To many observers, the administration’s move came across as a half-measure meant to scold Egypt for the people-powered, military-assisted overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, who goes on trial Nov. 4 to face charges of killing and torturing protesters outside the presidential palace last December.

To anyone paying attention to the administration’s unwavering use of the word “inclusive,” the withdrawal of aid underscored Washington’s insistence that the Muslim Brotherhood be included in the diplomatic process toward forging a new Egypt, as well as administration anger that Brotherhood leaders were arrested and are facing trial for crimes against the Egyptian people.

The interim government’s cabinet includes three women and three Christians, inclusiveness never seen with the Muslim Brotherhood, yet no Islamists. A constitutional committee of 50 is busy drafting amendments to the document written by the Brotherhood; suggestions in the committee process have included equal protection for all ethnicities, genders and faiths, a certain number of legislative seats reserved for women, and the banning of religious political parties.

“I think we have to be very careful about telling another government how they should set up their government. We haven’t been too successful at that. But we have to be very careful also with Egypt,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said last week.

“I think it’s very important that we nourish that relationship and that we let them know that we are supportive of them and supportive of them coming up with a democratically elected president, administration, however way they structure it,” McKeon added.

The Obama administration, which demanded snap elections in July, continues to say that the democratic process isn’t moving ahead fast enough for them.

“We will continue to work with the interim government to promote our core interests and to support areas that benefit the Egyptian people,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week. “The president was also clear, and has been clear, that we are not able to continue with business as usual.”

“If inclusive democracy unlocks U.S. aid, the Freedom and Justice Party must compete in #Egypt’s upcoming elections. Hard to do from jail,” former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted.

The slashing of aid and the administration’s assumption that it’s still a power broker that can force Cairo’s hand, though, hasn’t had the effect Washington hoped.

Al-Sisi’s popularity, already enviable for any leader, is even higher since Washington’s slap on the wrist and could propel him to victory should he decide to run for president. If the Obama administration views him as a menace who toppled democratically elected Morsi, the Egyptian people view him as the superhero who stepped in front of a Muslim Brotherhood train hurtling out of control and took Egypt back for the people.

Lost in many administration assessments of what happened in Egypt this summer are the facts that 22 million people, more than a quarter of the population, signed the grass-roots Tamarod petitions to demand Morsi go, and some 14 million from veiled women to Coptic nuns turned out in the streets to protest the Muslim Brotherhood government. Al-Sisi tried to first negotiate concessions out of the Muslim Brotherhood government, and then told Morsi it was time to exit.

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Top Rated Comments   
Our Constitution took two years to get right, 1787-1789 and the last state didn't sign on until 1790. Obama expects Egypt to get theirs done in as many weeks?

How many signatures would it take for us to get this Muslim Brotherhood President and his gang out of our hair?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Al-Sisi gets my vote. I'd give my left arm to see any American politician with the balls to stomp the guts out of the muslim brotherhood, while at the same time telling obama to screw himself.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
It depends on what the goal of the Obama regime is. If their goal is to cause a collapse in Egypt to enable a Muslim Brotherhood resurgence; the main lever we have is aid. Keep in mind that Egypt imports more than half of its caloric intake. In the absence of foreign aid, there will be mass starvation. Mass starvation means unrest and a possible Muslim Brotherhood return.

And it is in line with every Obama foreign policy act in the Middle East. He has backed and is backing and supporting every Islamist movement he finds and opposes any movements that are in reality inclusive and willing not to attack either the United States or Israel.

There is never going to be what used to be an American-style constitutional republic in the Muslim world. Our form of governance *was* in large part a product of our history and culture. The best we can hope for is relatively free regimes in the area that are not actively at war with our culture and interests. Obama does not aim to achieve that "best possible" outcome. In fact he abhors the possibility.

Subotai Bahadur
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
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Having a brother thats the financial adviser for the Muslim Brotherhood probably has something to do with that and of course theres Odinga Obama`s radical Muslim cousin in Kenya who Obama backed for president there and who`s slogan was vote for change ,sound familiar.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

I just hope that the Egyptian don't have to barrycade the Pyraminds because of the shortfall in US aid.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just a question: I had the impression that American aid to Egypt was written into the Camp David Treaty. Is this administration breaking a legal commitment by not giving the aid?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the event of a military takeover the aid is to be suspended.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Our Constitution took two years to get right, 1787-1789 and the last state didn't sign on until 1790. Obama expects Egypt to get theirs done in as many weeks?

How many signatures would it take for us to get this Muslim Brotherhood President and his gang out of our hair?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perry. it would take one more than he could but with our tax monies. Or, about 5 million less ficticious , frequent,and/or deceased voters.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Speaking strictly in terms of military aid....Putin is more than willing to step in and sell the Egyptians whatever they wish to buy. As usual, Bath-House Barry is in over his head....putz.

Remember BENGHAZI!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I just call him homobama, the muslim terrorist occupying our WH.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Our Islamist-in-Chief doesn't like it when the boys don't play by his rules. Kinda reminds me of some old Charles Atlas ads with a big kid kicking sand in the face of a smaller one....and in this case Commander Zero is most definitely the smaller one. Just let him default on the U.S. debt to gain domestic political points and let's see how that works out.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Al-Sisi gets my vote. I'd give my left arm to see any American politician with the balls to stomp the guts out of the muslim brotherhood, while at the same time telling obama to screw himself.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
"administration’s assumption that it’s still a power broker"

When you deprecate America's power and govern like a bunch of halfwits, how could you expect to be a power broker except in local leftwing politics?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
It depends on what the goal of the Obama regime is. If their goal is to cause a collapse in Egypt to enable a Muslim Brotherhood resurgence; the main lever we have is aid. Keep in mind that Egypt imports more than half of its caloric intake. In the absence of foreign aid, there will be mass starvation. Mass starvation means unrest and a possible Muslim Brotherhood return.

And it is in line with every Obama foreign policy act in the Middle East. He has backed and is backing and supporting every Islamist movement he finds and opposes any movements that are in reality inclusive and willing not to attack either the United States or Israel.

There is never going to be what used to be an American-style constitutional republic in the Muslim world. Our form of governance *was* in large part a product of our history and culture. The best we can hope for is relatively free regimes in the area that are not actively at war with our culture and interests. Obama does not aim to achieve that "best possible" outcome. In fact he abhors the possibility.

Subotai Bahadur
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
As a continuation on your line of thought, Obama has a half-brother who is somewhat of a financier to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Who said families don't stick together!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Assuming the Saudis do not fill the gap.

American aid is about 1.5 billion a year.

The Saudis could fill that if they wanted to do so. It might put a crimp on their finances, but the aided the Afghan insurgency by as much in the 1980s and it hurt them a little financially.

the question is how afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood are the Saudis and how many other problems do they have to attend.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since the Saudis have homobama in their back pocket I would imagine they have been funding the MB, just like our stupid gov has.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
most USA aid to Egypt is a subsidy for Made in USA military purchases.

Saudi Arabia has more than 600 billionUSD in their sovereign wealth fund. They can subsidize Egypt's food imports for as long as it takes.
And they will.

Tamarod in Gaza? Good!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm pretty sure that Barry Rubin has stated here at PJM that the Saudis have promised Egypt THIRTY billion in aid since the Muslim Brotherhood was sidelined. If this is true, then Egypt need not fear a US withdrawal of aid unless the US is providing things that it can't get from the Saudis....
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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