(/sites/default/files/uploads/2013/07/OMuslimB.jpg)Tahrir Square may have filled up with fireworks after Morsi’s fall, but it’s far too early to count the Muslim Brotherhood out of the game. Not when its best asset is still in the White House.
As the Anti-Morsi protests grew intense, the White House attempted to sell the Brotherhood president on a plan for early elections and a broader coalition. That plan never went anywhere and when the military rolled out its deadline, the administration was left scrambling to head off the inevitable.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel got on the phone to the Egyptian military and proved to be about as effective as he had been at his confirmation hearing. Secretary of State John Kerry was last seen aboard his yacht at Nantucket. The only consistent thing about Obama’s foreign policy teams is that they hover somewhere between the incompetent and the ineffectual. But that’s because they really don’t matter.
Kerry has as little to do with foreign policy decision making as his predecessor. Like Hillary, Kerry is a “face” to be kept busy with some make-work, in this case the bankrupt Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The real foreign policy decisions are handled by a close circle of Obama advisers who will never have to dance through a confirmation hearing. Hagel and Kerry are just the clowns who get to take the blame.
America under Obama has fairly little political influence. Its only real leverage over Egypt is foreign aid. Whatever threats Hagel and Kerry made to Cairo were not enough to stop the Egyptian military from acting as the arbiters of political succession for a second time. This time without the approval of D.C.
Plan A, the plan to keep Morsi in power with new elections and a coalition with some liberal figures, flopped.
Plan B however may work. Plan B is the plan to get the Brotherhood back into power and it depends on using foreign aid and international investments to pressure the current government into rushing into new elections as soon as possible.
During the last days of Mubarak, there was a split over whether to push the Egyptian leader to call for elections or to force his immediate resignation.
The foreign policy pros wanted Mubarak to go the elections route which would have resulted in a smooth transition of power and would have made the liberal protesters more competitive in a national election, but Obama’s inner circle sidelined the pros and demanded that Mubarak immediately step down. The rushed elections were a gift to the Muslim Brotherhood; the only group with the organization needed to compete and win an election on short notice.
With Morsi, the White House picked the “slow” elections route that it had rejected with Mubarak. Now that Morsi is out, the White House is reverting to calls for “fast” elections and a rapid and immediate transfer of power. The call for fast elections once again benefits the Brotherhood.
But there’s more to Plan B than just another rushed election that would take place soon enough to be characterized by the Brotherhood’s street battles and aggrieved victimization, rather than by policy.
Obama issued a statement in which he not only called for quick elections, but also warned the Egyptian military to “avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters”. The Egyptian judiciary and police appear to have largely ignored his words, but that warning is part of the Plan B strategy to protect the Muslim Brotherhood’s ability to compete in and win a new set of elections.
During his brief reign, Morsi had overseen a regime that used violent militias to kill and torture political opponents. In any other country that would be grounds for criminal charges. But Plan B depends on intimidating the Egyptian authorities into making the same mistake that Mubarak did by setting the Brotherhood loose one more time.
Obama’s statement is unique because he offered no such warnings after the takedown of Mubarak, even though Mubarak loyalists continued to remain politically active and there was no democratically elected government in place.
In response to the common and correct perception among many Egyptians that Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood, Kerry issued a statement saying, “The United States categorically rejects the false claims propagated by some in Egypt that we are working with specific political parties or movements to dictate how Egypt’s transition should proceed.”
However Obama’s earlier statement in defense of the Brotherhood coupled with the implication that Egypt’s foreign aid was linked to its treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood gives the lie to that defense.
The White House still wants the Muslim Brotherhood to win. It couldn’t head off the mass protests and military action that toppled Morsi, but its Plan B is meant to salvage that disaster by paving the way for a second round of Muslim Brotherhood political victories.
What Team Obama couldn’t manage to do within the military deadline, they hope to be able to manage in the coming weeks and months as Egypt’s new government struggles with economic problems that require international aid. As the Brotherhood’s protests grow, the new government will be caught between a rock and a hard place. And the State Department will be playing the familiar game of forcing a wounded government to make concessions to its worst enemies in exchange for American support.
These are the tactics that turned over China to the Communist Party and Iran over to the Ayatollahs. The treason of the diplomats did not begin in 2008. It began far earlier and hit its peak during the Cold War. And those same reliable tactics will be employed to compel a second Muslim Brotherhood victory.
Plan B requires forcing the Egyptian authorities to do two things. Call elections as soon as possible and avoid arresting or prosecuting Muslim Brotherhood officials and members for their numerous crimes. Every time you see Team Obama or the State Department issuing another statement expressing concern about the protests in Egypt, urging a transition to democracy and condemning the arrest of Brotherhood figures, what you are really seeing is Plan B in action.
Plan A couldn’t keep Morsi in power. Plan B intends to finish what Obama’s Cairo speech started by putting the Muslim Brotherhood back on the throne.
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