Or at least the article does, intentionally or not. Source: Barack Obama, ‘lackey’ of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood
Barack Obama’s administration was divided over the unexpected upheaval that threatened the regional status quo, starting in the winter of 2011-2012.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton favoured supporting President Hosni Mubarak to the bitter end, whereas Obama – almost alone among the members of his cabinet – thought otherwise.
However, over and beyond these differences of opinion, all agreed that what mattered most was the defence of American interests, that the issue of democracy was not a priority.
As a senior State Department official explained to the author: “First you lean into the idea of Mubarak leading a transition. When that doesn’t work, you lean into Omar Suleiman, and when that idea goes down, too, you think, ‘Okay, let’s work with the SCAF’.”
What did the US government think of the Muslim Brotherhood? In the spring of 2011, the State Department had no contact with anyone inside what was soon to become the most influential political force in Egypt.
As one member of the National Security Council told the author: “We didn’t know anything! Advisers to Clinton at the State Department and staff on the Egypt desk at the National Security Council drafted a cable formally instructing the embassy in Cairo to reach out to the Muslim Brothers. But it was over a month before the diplomats complied.”
The first contacts were mostly fruitless and many American policymakers, high-ranking military and intelligence officers feared the election of Mohamed Morsi.
|The Pentagon began referring to the presidential advisers as the ‘White House jihadi’ or ‘the Muslim Brotherhood caucus’|
The run-off in June 2012 gave rise to violent debates behind the scenes, all the more so as the very influential Saudi and Emirati lobbies in Washington wanted his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq to win.
“Many in the American military and intelligence agencies dreaded the prospect of an Islamist president of Egypt, too,” Kirkpatrick writes. “But given the generals’ [poor] performance so far, a rigged Shafiq victory seemed to guarantee only continued chaos.”
Washington’s gamble – or at least that of the White House – was twofold: First that the Muslim Brotherhood, the most powerful and best organised Egyptian political party, could undertake the economic reforms necessary to stabilise the country again; and secondly that Morsi’s de facto support of the Israeli-Egyptian agreement would strengthen American influence in the region.
The second gamble paid off, the first did not. A full-scale test came in November 2012 after the Israeli offensive against Gaza and Hamas.
Obama contacted Morsi personally and the latter promised to bring Hamas to the negotiating table.
Ben Rhodes recalled the episode: “The ceasefire talks had been going nowhere before Morsi stepped in. And he delivered. He kept his end of the bargain. He surprised even the sceptics.”
And Steven Simon of the National Security Council told Kirkpatrick: “It was a litmus test for Morsi, and he passed with flying colours. He was indispensable.”
The reward was not long in coming, Hillary Clinton went to Cairo in person to announce the ceasefire agreement and to thank Morsi, “for assuming the leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”
And when Morsi’s foreign affairs adviser, Essam el-Haddad went to Washington a few weeks later, he was surprised to obtain an impromptu meeting with President Obama himself.
These events had two consequences: They fuelled a campaign in Egypt denouncing Obama’s alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and convinced Morsi that the support of the American administration would prevent the army from taking action against him. Ensuing events would show how wrong he was.
“By April 2013, the Emirati-based satellite network Sky News Arabia, Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya, and other Emirati-linked Egyptian media were all railing against a supposed American plot to bring the Brotherhood to power, with Ambassador Patterson as its ringleader.
“The Gulf-based satellite networks were full of accusations that she was a Brotherhood ‘lackey,’ ‘an old hag,’ or an ogre. They claimed that she had pressured the Egyptian government to rig the election.”
The Pentagon began referring to the presidential advisers as the “White House jihadi” or “the Muslim Brotherhood caucus”. Obama quickly restored the military aid. Washington had put paid to democracy in Egypt.
This book ultimately offers a rather unflattering portrait of a procrastinating President Obama, incapable of imposing his options on his own administration and a president who certainly did not himself regard democracy as a priority for US foreign policy. With serious consequences.
As Mohamad Soltan, an Egyptian-American member of the Brotherhood, jailed by the junta before being deported to the USA, explained to the author, “the one thing that everybody in the prison had in common – the IS guys, the Muslim Brotherhood guys, the liberals, the guards, the officers – is that they all hate America.”
The Obama administration claims they didn’t know anything about the Muslim Brotherhood prior to the spring of 2011. That’s a blatant lie. That Obama supporting the Brotherhood was a conspiracy is also a lie.
As we reported throughout the Obama error, both Obama and Clinton (and Kerry) worked with the Muslim Brotherhood (starting with his first speech) and with Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood clearly has members in the United States.
The “lackey” in the Alaraby article title actually refers to Anne Paterson, Obama’s envoy to Egypt, whom many Egyptian people hate(d).