In yet another overture to the Islamists of Egypt, President Barack Obama has invited newly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to conduct an official visit to America. “President Obama extended an invitation to President Mursi to visit the United States when he attends the U.N. General Assembly in September,” Egyptian aide Yasser Ali said after Morsi met U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in Cairo. The visit breaks new ground in that it will be the first visit to the White House by an official member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi resigned from the group after his presidential victory, but it was little more than a symbolic gesture.
Unsurprisingly, military and government officials in Israel were taken aback by the news, primarily because the move represented a breach of President Obama’s assurances to U.S. Jewish leaders at the White House last month. They had been told that Morsi would neither be invited to the White House nor maintain direct telephone contact with Obama until Morsi met certain conditions, the foremost of which concerned a public and unambiguous commitment to Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel. The American Jewish delegation was also assured that Morsi would be required to devote a section of his earliest speech on foreign affairs to a specific affirmation of that pact, as opposed to the ambiguous pledge he made upon his election on June 24 that he would uphold Egypt’s international accords.
The assurances were worthless. Secretary Burns was sent to Egypt and Morsi received his unconditional invitation. Burns, who failed to mention that invitation at an initial news conference, added insult to injury at a later meeting with reporters. “We have taken careful note and appreciated President Mursi’s public statements about a commitment to international obligations and we certainly attach great importance to Egypt’s continuing role as a force for peace,” he said.
Peace in Egypt is still elusive. On Sunday, an ongoing power struggle between the Islamist president, Egypt’s military generals and judges intensified. Morsi ordered his political party, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, back into session. The move directly challenged the authority of the military who had dismissed them based on an order by Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court in June, dissolving the Islamist-dominated parliament because one-third of its members were elected unlawfully. On Tuesday, Morsi re-convened them, despite a warning from the military that such a move could provoke violence. The only item on the illegitimate gathering’s agenda was the Court’s ruling. After the meeting, the Court ruled that Morsi did not have the right to reconstitute the body.