Was President Obama wrong to put his faith in Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi? Morsi took the reins as leader of Egypt following the sunrise of the Arab Spring, as human worth, freedom, and democracy became absolutes; gifts from the creator. In the early months of 2011, In Egypt’s Tahrir Square, Muslims and Christians joined as brothers to unseat Hosni Mubarak, who was accused of corruption, abuse of power, and later, the killing of peaceful demonstrators. “Now we are talking to people we don’t usually talk to,” one speaker said, “The Muslim Brotherhood is here, but it is only one part of us. We are all brothers.” This man defined himself as “secular.”
At that time, Morsi had the support of the US government, and still does. He spoke many times on the phone with President Barack Obama; he held negotiations with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and he received a loan of $4.8 billion for the people of Egypt from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization of 29 nations, . The International Monetary Fundis headquartered in Washington, DC.
As a result of a contract made between the US and the ousted Mubarak, Morsi is receiving sixteen F-16 state-of-the-art fighter planes and 200 twenty-first century Abrams tanks. The military hardware has already been partially delivered.
It is clear from recent and past statements made by Morsi that he is adamantly anti-Israel, anti-Semitic: “Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them,” he has said. “They must be nursed on hatred. The hatred must continue.” This quote is from a 2009 speech in Cairo.
Mohamed Morsi seems an impulsive man. Following talks with Obama, and meetings with our secretary of state, last November, Morsi was being praised for his assistance in bringing into check conflicts between Israel and Palestine on and near the Gaza Strip. Obama, at that emotional junction, made a decision to continue supporting Morsi in spite of outstanding issues. Morsi has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, but in recent years that group has been viewed in a softer light.
Following the departure of Clinton, and the promise of the IMF loan, Morsi made an unexpected grab for power. He essentially declared himself dictator of Egypt and ruled that all decisions, laws, and decrees he made would not be subject to appeal or revocation. He granted himself authority to, “Make any decision.”
Although Morsi’s self-aggrandizement was soon modified, the people of Egypt, who have fought so hard for freedom, now witnessed a new polarization. The new bonds between Christians and Muslims were being shattered before their eyes. The Egyptians were unwilling to give up their new hard-won freedoms. On February 1, protestors attacked the Egyptian presidential palace, pitching incendiary devices over palace walls, and setting fire to a guardhouse. Simultaneously, thousands of Egyptians demonstrated along the Suez Canal. The demonstrations and the attack on the presidential palace were met by government police who used tear gas and light, non-lethal shotgun fire to restrain the angry protestors. Ironically, the protest had begun as an orderly sit-in, and then escalated into violence. President Morsi cited “unnamed political forces” for their attempt to “storm the gates of the palace.”
This popular movement against the reigning president brought denials of participation from the secular National Salvation Front (NSF); they claimed no connection to the violence, and charged Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood for what they called, “A state of congestions and tension prevailing in the Egyptian society for the last two months.” Now, opposition parties are working in unison; hard-line Islamists are joining forces with the non-sectarian National Salvation Front in bringing order to the state. The NSF has accused Morsi of imposing his will on the nation, and earlier, of ruling in favor of Muslim Brotherhood Islamists. Opposition leaders have renounced violence in favor of dialogue at a meeting at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo. It is further reported that the Egyptian police are calling for peaceful and civilized protests.
All these developments in Egypt come at a time when the office of the secretary of state for the United States is changing hands. As Secretary Clinton takes leave of the office, John Kerry, long time member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is now taking over. In addition, changes are in progress within both the House of Representatives and Senate Foreign Relations Committees. Fresh minds will be called upon to deal with unanticipated crises. As protests enter their second week, President Obama has yet to make any statement regarding changes in American ties to Morsi or the military equipment promised and already in transfer. Critics are asking for a detailed accounting of our national position.
Egypt has come far in her quest for freedom, harmony, and democracy. We owe a debt to these individuals, having encouraged and supported them in their painful struggle for recognition. The president will meet with advisors; the blame will continue. We anticipate some important statement coming from the White House in the next few days.
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