Obama's Real Foreign Policy Takes Heavy Blows, Muslim Brotherhood Govt in Egypt Falls
Since taking office in January 2009, or even before then, Barack Hussein Obama has been working with a number of US intelligence honchos, James Jones, Clapper, Donilon, and others to promote the rise to power of Muslim Brotherhood governments in Sunni Arab countries as well as encouraging governments run by the MB's Shiite counterparts, as in Iran and its ally, Syria [dominated by Alawites, an offshoot sect of Shiism, considered heretics by Sunnis but as Muslims by Shiites, at least as long as convenient], and by Sunni counterparts of the MB as in Turkey. Obama's first trip abroad after taking office as president was to Ankara, where Erdogan --a veteran Judeophobe-- had successfully subdued his possible political opposition in the army and the judiciary, installing his own men, and had adopted an aggressive pro-Islamist foreign policy with overtones of nostalgia for the Sunni Ottoman Empire. Obama's second trip abroad, in June 2009, was to Egypt where he was going to make the Arab and Muslim worlds love America, while he forged an alliance of sorts with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Even before the 2008 presidential elections in the USA that brought him to power, he had his mentor Zbig Brzezinski travel to Syria, to Damascus. There he promised cooperative, helpful relations with the Syrian regime led by Bashar [Junior Basher] Assad, in contrast to the critical attitude of Pres. Geo. Bush II towards Junior Basher after the Hariri assassination, perpetrated by Assad through the instrumentality of Hizbullah. If only Obama were elected, of course. John Kerry, while still a senator, made a trip to Damascus too, promising --like Zbig-- friendly, profitable relations with Washington while Obama stayed prez. The Obama administration considered Junior Basher a "reformer," with Hilary notoriously making that point more than once after Junior had already begun to butcher his opposition.
Whereas Erdogan has been referred to as Obama's BFF and is reported to speak with Obama on the phone weekly, Obama brought the Muslim Brotherhood out of official political ostracism in Mubarak's Egypt. He not only invited the MB leaders to his notorious Cairo speech but he had them sit right up front, close to him. The speech itself became notorious for falsely praising Islam as a great force in the progress of civilization. Today, Egypt, long a Muslim country, has an illiteracy rate of 40%. Not quite the model of a land in the vanguard of civilization.
Promoting political Islam has been the real foundation of Obama's Middle East policy. In fact, Obama's foreign policy mentors, Lee Hamilton and Zbig Brzezinski, are both pro-Islamist. Yet this pro-Muslim policy had to be revised after the Arab Spring. To be sure, when crowds in Tahrir Square in Cairo --January-February 2011--- called on Mubarak to leave, Obama echoed those calls and also stated that an MB govt in Egypt would be acceptable to the United States. One of Obama's intelligence honchos, James Clapper, even lied to Congress on the MB's behalf, saying that it was "largely secular," in order to portray the MB as innocuous and even benevolent.
Obama has also favored Iran's Nuclear Bomb project, contrary to his campaign promises, opening his hand to the ayatollahs, hoping for friendship with them, failing to support the freedom demonstrators in Teheran after the falsified results of the 2009 election. That he was finally forced to endorse sanctions against Iran was due in great part to the ayatollahs' refusal to reciprocate his wishes for friendship. Sort of a relationship of unrequited love.
To be sure, the real US foreign policy as shaped by the State Department, CIA and other agencies, has long been pro-Muslim and pro-Arab. This goes back at least to Franklin D Roosevelt's meeting with King Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud [called Ibn Saud] in 1945. But it never has been so blatant as it is now under Obama.
To be sure, the USA favored the Islamist takeover after Algerian Islamists won the elections in 1991. The ruling faction there, originally called by the grandiose name, National Liberation Front [FLN] --as if they were liberators-- did not let the Islamists enjoy their electoral victory. This set off a civil war in which the Islamic Salvation Front [Front Islamique de Salut -- FIS] proved their salvation credentials much as the FLN proved its liberation credentials. Both sides slaughtered fellow Arab Muslims before the civil war petered out in the early 2000s. The Islamists especially slaughtered, killing many tens of thousands of their brethren.
The USA again, in the person of Sec'y of State Condoleezza Rice, insisted that Hamas --the Palestinian Arab affiliate of the MB-- be allowed to take part in Palestinian Authority elections
in January 2006, although the Oslo accords forbid any party refusing to ever live in peace with Israel from taking part in the Palestinian Authority government.
Obama's administration, following in the footsteps of Condoleezza, Zbig, Lee Hamilton, the Dulles brothers, William Polk, and others,pro-Islamopenly argued in favor of the "moderation" and "pragmatism" of the Muslim Brotherhood [as indicated in the first paragraph above].
Now the White House and State Dept are feeling sorrowful over the overthrow of the MB president of Egypt, Muhammad Morsi, as an anti-democratic act although the overthrow is supported by tens of millions of Egyptians. It is often claimed in American and British media that Morsi was elected in free and fair elections. What they conveniently forget is that Morsi as a stalwart Muslim Brother despised democracy and human rights, although Morsi and the MB do not mind using the lofty slogans of democracy and human rights when it is advantageous for them to do so. However, Morsi proved his contempt for democracy in November 2012, when he grabbed dictatorial powers for himself. The New York Times for once allowed respect for truth to take precedence over its pro-Islamist editorial policy:
So much for Morsi's loyalty to democracy. What concerns us more is that Morsi's defeat may represent a defeat for the decades long pro-Islamist policy of most of the US foreign policy establishment, a policy of which Obama has been the most blatant exponent. There is not much that Obama can do about Morsi and the MB's defeat. He and his coterie will have to get around it one way or the other. They will look for other ways of surrounding Israel with very hostile states that refuse any peace or compromise with Israel, which they apparently hoped that an MB govt in Egypt would do much to accomplish, aligning with Hamas in Gaza, Hizbullah in southern Lebanon and the murderous Assad regime in Syria.
More generally, this defeat in Egypt may represent a turning point for the Muslim Brotherhood --not only in Egypt-- the start of a slide downhill, starting slowly at first, maybe gaining momentum further down, but relentlessly downhill in any event, whether fast or slowly. As Carlo Panella argues, "The disaster in Cairo is a chapter in the general failure of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Arab world." [Il disastro al Cairo è un capitolo del fallimento generale dei Fratelli musulmani in tutto il mondo arabo]. As the Arabs say, Inshallah [in Spanish, !Ojala que fuera!], and as Jews say: Im yirtseh HaShem [אם ירצה השם]. Panella adds: "In Egypt, to very briefly summarize, the Brotherhood confused the weakness of the secular parties with a license to impose an Islamist dictatorship. It made mistaken calculations and threw the largest Arab country into chaos." [In Egitto, in estrema sintesi, la Fratellanza ha confuso la debolezza dei partiti laici con la licenza di imporre una dittatura islamista. Ha sbagliato i suoi calcoli e ha gettato il più grande paese arabo nel caos].
Another cause of Morsi and the MB's downfall --and maybe the major one-- is that, due to their focus on jihad and enforcing Islamic law, shari`a, even for minor matters, they neglected the economic disaster that took a poor country under Mubarak to economic disaster which very much accelerated after Morsi became president one year ago.
The MB and Islamists generally have used the slogan: Islam is the solution [al-Islam huwa al-hal]. That is, the solution to all of man's economic, political and social problems, and so on. Many Egyptians in their desperation gave the MB the chance to prove that proposition last year when a majority, albeit not overwhelming, voted for Morsi to become president. Since then Morsi and his comrades have demonstrated that this proposition was just another false, empty and even dangerous political slogan. Morsi's one-year reign has been a social and economic disaster for Egypt, with increasing poverty and decreasing safety on the streets.
When you are worried about how much of a woman's face is showing more than you worry about how much she and her husband and children are getting to eat, then you are inclined to avoid doing what is needed to even minimize the poverty and starvation rampant in Egypt. Even more so than in Mubarak's time or in the year and one-half between Mubarak's overthrow and Morsi's election last year.
The recent popular outrage against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, culminating in their overthrow, is a good thing. It puts Obama and his minions in a quandary. What to do now, now that a political instrument cultivated and favored for years, has been rejected by the masses in the most populous Arab country?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Commentary has published some commentary with good insight into the Egyptian problem and that of its relations with the rest of the world:
"Is Obama losing Egypt again?" here.
"Obama doubles down on Egypt folly" here.
"The end of Obama's Brotherhood crush" here.
"Kerry's Middle East has a price" here.
Barry Rubin's several articles on recent Egyptian developments are helpful as well. He blogs on Rubin Reports and at Pajamas Media. Barry sees this post by him summarizing the Obama outlook on the Middle East here.
See an intelligent comment on the Egyptian situation: here.
7-14-2013 Jihad Watch has a sensational post which, if true, significantly confirms what I wrote about Obama's policy regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and his reaction to the overthrow of Morsi and the MB here. This story about Obama demanding release of Morsi & other arrested MB leaders and officials shows that Obama's crowd is beside itself with anger over what happened in Egypt.
7-5-2013 LA Times reports Obama administration call to release Morsi here.
7-5-2013 Raymond Ibrahim reports on Obama's pro-MB policy: here & here.
8-2-2013 Inane article in Foreign Affairs asserting MB "moderation" here, published in 2007 during Bush 2's tenure in the White House.
8-5-2013 Walter Russell Mead sees the failure of Obama's pro-Muslim Brotherhood policy [here]
10-7-2013 Three months after Morsi and the MB's overthrow in Egypt, David Schenker finds that the Brothers, the Ikhwan, are much weakened in Jordan too [here]. This confirms my wish and my hunch in this original blog post in July.
10-8-2013 Hussein Ibish, a professional Arab nationalist, asks if we are now seeing "the end of the failed Muslim Brotherhood project." [here]
2-17-2014 Walid Phares agrees that the toppling of the Ikhwan in Egypt means a decline of the Muslim Brotherhood generally in the Arab World [here]