Obama Misleads Israel on Egypt

The president goes back on his promises.

The British Guardian newspaper reported on Sunday, July 8, 2012 that “President Barack Obama has invited Egypt's newly elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi to the U.S., and pledged a 'new partnership' with the Arab nation.  The official visit will coincide with the September opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations,” said Egyptian aide Yasser Ali following a meeting between Mursi and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who was visiting Cairo.  This invitation is reflective of attempts by the White House to cultivate new ties between Washington and Egypt’s ruling Islamists. According to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz (7/8/12) this “move reflects a shift in Washington’s policy to open formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood…”

On the heels of Burn’s visit to Egypt, the State Department announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would also be visiting Egypt and then go on to Israel as part of an Asian tour, spending the 16th and 17th of July in Israel.  Just prior to this, the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government had exchanges regarding Mursi’s support for the 33-year-old Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

The news of Obama’s invitation to Mursi caught the Israeli government and military leaders by surprise and seems to be a breach of promises made by Obama to American Jewish leaders who met with him last month in the White House. Obama, it appears, promised that Mursi would not be invited to the White House and that he will not have any contact with the Islamist president until Mursi meets certain conditions, the most important being that Mursi give a public and unambiguous commitment to uphold Egypt’s 1979 Camp David Accords, the agreement which formalized peace between Egypt and Israel.

Conditions for American support of the new Egyptian Islamist regime were delivered to Cairo late last month and, according to the Debka File, demanded:  1. The resumption of the democratic process.  2. That the Mursi regime guarantee universal human rights, particularly the rights of religious minorities in Egypt, especially for the Copts and for women.  3. That Mursi form a wide coalition government with the participation of all the major political parties in Egypt, and not merely a strictly Muslim Brotherhood government.  4. That Mursi maintain peace with Israel.  5. That Mursi publicly ratify the peace treaty with Israel. 6. That Egypt adopt a determined war on terror emanating from the Sinai Peninsula and the return of Egyptian control there.  7. An end to the anti-American and anti-Western rhetoric in the Egyptian media and the cession of the harassment against pro-democracy NGOs operating in Egypt. The Obama administration further said that Mursi will not be invited to the U.S. until the above conditions were fulfilled and that the U.S. will not use its influence in the World Bank to ease Egypt’s economic and financial difficulties until Mursi acts on the abovementioned conditions.

It is highly unlikely that Mursi will fulfill any of the above conditions given his worldview, which is steeped in Islamism. In fact, Mursi is taking action to resume Egypt’s diplomatic ties with the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran after a 32-year-old hiatus. Reuters reported (6/26/12) that “Egypt’s Islamist President-elect Mohamed Mursi voiced interest in restoring long-severed ties with Tehran to create strategic balance in the region, in an interview published on Monday with Iran’s Fars news agency.”  Mursi was quoted by Fars as saying, “We must restore normal relations with Iran based on shared interests, and expand areas of political coordination and economic cooperation because this will create a balance of pressure in the region.”

In a June 14, 2012 speech posted on the Ikhwan Brotherhood Online website, Mohammad Badie, General Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood said, “How happy would be the Muslims if all Muslim rulers made the Palestinian cause a pivotal issue, around which Muslims, rulers and the ruled, would line up." According to Badie, they would ally to make "the sole goal for all of them the recovery of al Aqsa Mosque, freeing it from the filth of the Zionists, and imposing Muslim rule throughout beloved Palestine."

Badie's words are clearly the antithesis of assurances made by the Obama administration regarding the moderation and secularism of the new Muslim Brotherhood.  In February 2011, James Clapper, President Obama's Director of National Intelligence, told a U.S. congressional committee that the Muslim Brotherhood, the Middle East’s oldest terrorist organization, is "largely secular."  Despite assurances by the Obama administration, it is clear that Badie’s words do not reflect moderation or secularism.  Clapper also told the committee that the "term 'Muslim Brotherhood'...is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam. They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera...In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally."

U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned against “prejudging” the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s first Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi. He went on to say, “During my recent visits to Cairo, I’ve had two candid discussions with the new president. He’s acknowledged that the central issue to Egypt’s future is economic. His words suggest he understands the gravity of the challenges facing Egypt.” Kerry revealed that in his discussions with Mursi, the latter committed to “protecting fundamental freedoms, including women’s rights, minority rights, the right to free expression and assembly, and he said he understood the importance of Egypt’s post-revolutionary relationships with America and Israel.”  Kerry, however, was quick to point out that actions -- not words – are what matter.

The same Mursi who pledged to Kerry his commitment to protect “fundamental freedoms” and his “understanding” of the importance of Egypt’s relationship with the U.S. and Israel, declared only two months ago in a speech aired on Egypt’s Misr 25 TV (translated by MEMRI) that the Quran would be the new Egyptian constitution, and he led the crowds in chanting the Muslim Brotherhood’s motto: “The Quran is our constitution, Jihad is our path, and death for the sake of Allah is our lofty aspiration.”

President Obama is determined to prove that he alone understands Muslims and Islam and that he can cultivate the Muslim world into friendship with America and the West.  The Islamic Republic of Iran, which Obama sought to appease, rebuffed him, and in fact ridiculed him. Inviting Mursi to the White House, while ignoring his promises to Israel, indicates above all his sympathy for the Islamic revolutionaries in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, neither of which serve the best interests of the U.S. or its ally, Israel.

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