Tuesday, July 16, 2013

‘Please Mr Obama, stop supporting terrorists here in Egypt’

By Melanie Phillips
14 July 2013
Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
In all the welter of words about the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, very little has been written in the mainstream media about the extraordinary contortions of the Obama administration, which did so much to put the Brothers into power there in the first place.
The administration’s first reaction was to threaten to cut off US aid to Egypt in order to punish the military for unseating the Muslim Brother President, Mohamed Morsi.  Then a State Department official vouchsafed that Morsi had been ‘undemocratic’, and the administration backed away from outright confrontation.
Nevertheless, reports persist that the US continues to support the Brothers against the Egyptian military.  As Raymond Ibrahim reports, the US ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, has come to be seen as a Brotherhood stooge:
‘... soon after the overthrow of Morsi, U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson assured Hisham Qandil, who hours ago was Egypt’s Prime Minister, that “there are many forms of pressure, and America holds the keys to the Gulf.”
‘Among other things, in the days leading to June 30, she called on Egyptians not to protest — including by meeting with the Coptic Pope and asking him to urge the nation’s Christian minority not to oppose the Brotherhood, even though Christians have naturally been the most to suffer under Morsi, especially in the context of “blasphemy” accusations.
‘Thus, and once again, the Obama administration makes indubitably clear that its primary interest in Egypt is to see the Muslim Brotherhood stay in power, the Egyptian people’s will — the will of tens of millions of secularists, liberals, moderates, and Christians — be damned.’
Then there was this
‘Yesterday El Fagr reported that, during their most recent phone conversation, U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson demanded that Egyptian General Sisi release all Muslim Brotherhood members currently being held for questioning: “And when Sisi rejected this order, the American ambassador began threatening him that Egypt will turn into another Syria and live through a civil war, to which Sisi responded violently: ‘Neither you nor your country can overcome Egypt and its people.’”
‘Moreover, the day before the Salafi party withdrew from negotiations with the new Egyptian government, Al Nahar reported that Patterson had “incited them [the Nour Party, the Salafi party] to tamper with the political scene and the road map and to threaten to withdraw from political participation if Dr. Muhammad Baradei becomes elected as Prime Minister…”Apparently, these are the “many forms of pressure”that Patterson earlier assured Hishan Qandil the U.S. would use to reinstate the Brotherhood.’
Things have reached such a pass that Patterson has even been called a member of a MB sleeper cell. So what does that make Obama — whose bidding, after all,  his Ambassador to Egypt is merely doing?
The astonishing thing is that, given Obama’s backing for the Brothers, the US currently might be said to be more Islamist than Saudi Arabia.
And all this, moreover, when the Arab world is convulsed in unprecedented ferment, offering the best chance of stopping the advanced of the Brotherhood – mortal enemies of the west --  that has occurred for a very long time.  As the authoritative Israeli commentator Ehud Ya’ari has observed, the ousting of Morsi has delivered a stunning reverse to the Brothers’ hitherto steady progress towards regional power.
And as Khaled abu Toameh writes, Egypt is now punishing the Palestinians on account of Hamas’s  support of the Egyptian Brotherhood, by sealing its frontier with Gaza and denying access of food, fuel and other supplies to the Palestinians (with not a peep, of course, from the anti-Israel BDS crowd against this ‘collective punishment’).
So now a new and powerful alliance against Iran, the deadly Shia Islamic foe of the west, is on the cards between Egypt, Saudi and the Gulf states. There is a chance to put the Muslim Brotherhood, the deadly Sunni Islamic foe of the west, back in its box. Even Qatar, backer of Hamas and the Brotherhood, is now under pressure to reposition itself. And Egypt is getting down to stamping out al Qaeda in the Sinai.
For the first time in living memory, a popular uprising has ousted Islamists from power -- and suddenly the prospects for dealing the forces of darkness a severe blow look brighter than anyone can remember.
Yet at this critical juncture, when western leadership to take advantage of this situation is essential, the US is on the wrong side. Despite posing as the champion of the Egyptian masses who craved freedom, Obama has aligned the US with those seeking to extinguish freedom.
The ironies abound. Having declared he would reposition the US as the friend of the Arab and Muslim world, by extending to it the hand of friendship and promoting the Muslim Brotherhood for all he was worth, Obama now finds that hand is being furiously bitten off.
The millions who took to the Egyptian streets were demonstrating not just against Morsi --the man who was leading the country into both economic ruin and religious tyranny and was tacitly supporting those who were killing Egyptian soldiers -- but also against the  man they blamed for putting him there, Barack Obama.
As the Egyptian film director Mazen Said has said in this passionate video: Mr Obama, stop supporting terrorists and leave Egypt alone.
The instinct of the shallow, ignorant, culturally narcissistic west, which cannot conceive of anyone not behaving or reacting like itself, is to say that anyone who opposes tyranny must be a good guy. But at present in the Arab and Muslim world only bad guys, alas, are likely to gain power.  The reason is that freedom and democracy do not automatically follow from elections. They depend instead on the prior establishment of free institutions. In the absence of such institutions, elections merely empower more tyrannical regimes. And such institutions largely do not yet exist in the Arab and Muslim world.
Those young Arabs and Muslims who really do crave western freedoms will unfortunately have a long time to wait. For the foreseeable future, therefore, it’s a war to the finish between barbarism and civilisation.
Maybe one day the US and UK and the rest will finally work out which is which. But not until Obama himself has passed into history – where it goes without saying, he will be fixed for all eternity on the wrong side.

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