The head of Egypt’s military took a tough line Sunday on the Muslim Brotherhood, warning that he won’t let the fundamentalist group dominate the country, only hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged him to work with Egypt’s elected Islamist leaders.
Clinton’s visit to Egypt underscored the difficulty Washington faces in trying to wield its influence amid the country’s stormy post-Hosni Mubarak power struggles. Protesters chanting against the U.S. – sometimes reaching several hundred – sprung up at several sites Clinton visited this weekend. On Sunday, protesters threw tomatoes, water bottles and shoes at her motorcade as she left a ceremony marking the opening of a new U.S. consulate in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
Islamist Mohammed Morsi, a longtime Brotherhood figure, was sworn two weeks ago as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. Led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the military handed over power to him June 30 after ruling Egypt for 16 months. The military, however, dissolved the Brotherhood-led parliament and stripped Morsi of significant authorities in the days before his inauguration, while retaining overwhelming powers for itself, including legislative power and control of the writing of a new constitution.
The United States is in a difficult spot when it comes to dealing with post-Mubarak Egypt – eager to be seen as a champion of democracy and human rights after three decades of close ties with the ousted leader despite his abysmal record in advancing either.
This has involved some uncomfortable changes, including occasional criticism of America’s longtime faithful partners in Egypt’s military as it grabs more power and words of support for Islamist parties far more skeptical of U.S. intentions in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East.
That has fueled accusations among some Egyptians who back the military or oppose Islamists that Washington is promoting the rise of the Brotherhood to power.
As Hil was traveling to her meeting, she wasn’t exactly greeted warmly:
Protesters threw tomatoes and shoes at U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s motorcade on Sunday during her first visit to Egypt since the election of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
A tomato struck an Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle landed near the armoured cars carrying Clinton’s delegation in the port city of Alexandria.
A senior state department official said that neither Clinton nor her vehicle, which were around the corner from the incident, were struck by any of the projectiles.
Protesters chanted: “Monica, Monica”, a reference to Former President Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affair. Some chanted: “leave, Clinton”, Egyptian security officials said.
It was not clear who the protesters were or what political affiliations they had. Protesters outside Clinton’s hotel on Saturday night chanted anti-Islamist slogans, accusing the United States of backing the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power.
The assault on her motorcade came on a day Clinton spoke at the newly re-opened U.S. consulate in Alexandria, addressing accusations the United States, which had long supported former President Hosni Mubarak, of backing one faction or another in Egypt following his ouster last year.
“I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which of course we cannot,” Clinton said.
Clinton also met the country’s top general, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, on Sunday to discuss Egypt’s turbulent democratic transition as the military wrestles for influence with the new president.
The meeting came a day after she met Mursi, whose powers were clipped by the military days before he took office.
Mursi fired back by reinstating the Islamist-dominated parliament that the army leadership had disbanded after a court declared it void, deepening the stand-off before the new leader even had time to form a government.
The result has been acute political uncertainty as the various power centres try to find a way to get along in a country that still has no permanent constitution, parliament or government more than a year after Mubarak’s downfall.
In their hour-long meeting, Clinton and Tantawi discussed Egypt’s political transition and the military’s “ongoing dialogue with President Mursi,” a U.S. official travelling with Clinton said in an email brief.
“Tantawi stressed that this is what Egyptians need most now – help getting the economy back on track,” the official said.
Clinton “stressed the importance of protecting the rights of all Egyptians, including women and minorities”.
The talks also touched on the increasingly lawless Sinai region and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Speaking after the meeting, Tantawi said the army respected the presidency but would not be deterred from its role of “protecting” Egypt.
“The armed forces and the army council respects legislative and executive authorities,” he said in a speech to troops in the city of Ismailia. “The armed forces would not allow anyone to discourage it from its role in protecting Egypt and its people.”
Back on April 7th, Andrew McCarthy reported for nationalreview.com that:
In October 2010, on the eve of the Islamic revolution that the media fancies as “the Arab Spring,” the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood called for jihad against the United States.
You might think that this all but unnoticed bombshell would be of some importance to policymakers in Washington. It was not. It is not. This week, the Obama administration quietly released $1.5 billion in foreign aid to the new Egyptian government, now dominated by a Brotherhood-led coalition in parliament — soon to be joined by an Ikhwan (i.e., Brotherhood) luminary as president.
It is not easy to find the announcement. With the legacy media having joined the Obama reelection campaign, we must turn for such news to outlets like the Kuwait News Agency. There, we learn that, having dug our nation into a $16 trillion debt hole, President Obama has nevertheless decided to borrow more money from unfriendly powers like China so he can give it to an outfit that views the United States as an enemy to be destroyed.
It appears that money can’t buy friendship. Looks like Scooter invested our money poorly.