The Obama administration has finally found a reason to threaten Egypt with a cut off of aid.
Nope it’s not for the galloping Fascism the Morsi presidency demonstrated. Nope, it’s not over the Israeli peace treaty status. Nope, it’s not over the inflammatory rhetoric that the Morsi administration participated in. Nope, it’s not over the burning of Christian churches. Nope, it’s not over the roaming Sharia mobs in Cairo. Nope, it’s not over the systematic attacks on Coptic Christians. Nope, it’s not over human rights violations or allowing al Qaeda to set up shop in the Sinai.
The threat comes in the context of the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood officials in Egypt. The Obama administration wants it stopped. No more arrests of the MB brain trust; or else!
It appears that ‘not taking sides’ was so very, very …… last week.
The administration already reeling in terms of Egyptian public opinion has, once again, done what they said they would not do. They have once again changed positions on a dime. One of three rational considerations could have motivated the ‘taking of sides’.
1. The administration maintains a strong empathy for the Muslim Brotherhood which, to those of us who have studied the Brotherhood, is incomprehensible. The Brotherhood is at polar opposites as compared to what we hold dear as a value system. Oh, by the way; THEY HATE US! A significant motivation for what Sayyid Qutb defined as the foundations of the Muslim Brotherhood’s belief system came as a result of his time in America in the late 1940’s. He was disgusted by what he saw; disgusted at things like, Americans fussing over their lawns. He condemned us as soulless!
2. There really is no policy toward Egypt beyond the rhetoric of the moment. Shocking that this week’s rhetoric is different from last week’s rhetoric which was different from ….. well, you get the point.
3. Finally, these guys and gals in the Obama Foreign Policy shop have not a clue what they’re doing, why they’re doing it or what the predictable consequences are.
In Egypt there is a long history of suppressing the Brotherhood going back to President Nasser in the 1950’s. The issue at its most basic was secularism or Pan-Arabism vs. Islamism and the degree to which they could co-exist. Every Egyptian leader post Monarchy and before President Morsi, suppressed the Brotherhood to one degree or another. It’s worth remembering that al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri was a leading figure in the Brotherhood prior to the founding of al Qaeda.
Balance is still what is at issue in Egypt. The Obama administration would be well advised to support the ideals of democracy and leave Egyptian politics to the Egyptians. His support of Morsi and the demand that arrests of Brotherhood officials stop under economic threat will further damage American credibility in Egypt, if that is possible.
To, in one way or another, express support for the Brotherhood by way of the President’s threat is to support the manner of Fascism underway under President Morsi. The threat of removing aid is symbolic to the average Egyptian. To the man on the Egyptian street, American aid is invisible; as it is mainly in support of the military. The threat is feckless as is the underlying absence of cogent, thoughtful policy.