Shortly before she was sworn in as US secretary of state in 2009, Hillary Clinton set up a home e-mail account, email@example.com. She relied on this for all her electronic correspondence during her four-year tenure in office from 2009 to 2013. She did not even activate an email account at the US State Department.
Clinton said her action was “for convenience.” Others say she wanted her correspondence to remain private and confidential, and from this perspective she must be held accountable. Still, the US State Department investigated the email kerfuffle twice, and both times it attested to Clinton’s intention but considered her to have been “careless” in handling classified information.
Thousands of Clinton’s e-mails were declassified in 2015, but thousands of others were not, and today US President Donald Trump is demanding their disclosure. He has reprimanded Mike Pompeo, the present US secretary of state, for not having released them thus far, prompting Pompeo to announce his intention to do just that.
In the meantime, many of the emails have been leaked or disclosed. The bulk of the e-mails are of no interest to Egypt, but several are quite incriminating, exposing the degree of collusion between the former Obama administration in the US and the Muslim Brotherhood group. Top secret information was loosely passed on to Clinton as a confidante and a backer though she was also of course a non-Egyptian of obscure intent.
One e-mail dating from as far back as April 2010 reveals the connections between Clinton and the Aljazeera TV channel. On a one-day trip to Doha where Aljazeera is based, Clinton was first to meet Waddah Khanfar, director-general of the Aljazeera Network, and the general manager of the English-language Aljazeera channel Tony Burman at a dinner in her honour. The e-mail also discussed a visit by the Aljazeera delegation to Washington at a later time.
Another e-mail informed Clinton of a plan to establish a media network in support of the Muslim Brotherhood and to have Khayrat Al-Shater, a senior member of the Brotherhood, at its head. The Qataris would have bankrolled this network with $100 million, corroborating their allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Yet another e-mail discusses the launch of an Egyptian-American investment fund. Jim Harmon, an American banker close to former US president Barack Obama, was to head the fund, with Qatar pledging $2 billion in support of it. The e-mail implies that the Qataris were to utilise the fund to intervene in Egyptian affairs with the Muslim Brotherhood’s backing.
In an e-mail dated 6 December 2011, Clinton was advised of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “plans for Egypt.” The source of the information confirmed that “the new Egypt will be an Islamic state, loosely based on the Turkish model, with the government and military establishing a working relationship under Islamic principles, all of which will promote cooperation with Western firms.”
In another e-mail, dated 22 February 2012, the subject line read “Muslim Brotherhood strategy post-election.” The e-mail’s source reported back on meetings that the Muslim Brotherhood leaders had held to coordinate their “plans to take full advantage of the electoral success.” The victory that the Brotherhood had won in parliament that year was to “guide Egypt quickly towards becoming an Islamic Republic, albeit one that can work with selected Western governments and firms.”
The source also disclosed confidential information on how Egypt was being run, including the Brotherhood’s plan to select Saad Al-Katatni as speaker of the new house of parliament, former president Mohamed Morsi’s bitter personal differences with Emad Abdel-Ghaffour, the Al-Nour Party leader, and the Al-Nour Party’s agreement to work with the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s army leaders might not accept an Islamic state easily, the e-mail said, but “lower-ranking officers would.”
An e-mail subject-lined “Muslim Brothers at Davos and Beyond” discussed how the “leaders of the Western nations accepted the Muslim Brotherhood as the new, dominant force in Egypt and are adjusting their foreign and economic policies accordingly.” The e-mail also confirmed the role of Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, a former leader of the Brotherhood and a presidential elections candidate in 2012, in improving the reputation of the Brotherhood among Western government and business leaders.
According to the source, Mohamed Badie, general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, and his closest advisers would have Egypt work to “avoid radical or terrorist groups using the country as a base for operations against the West and western interests in the Middle East,” neglecting to mention the vital goal of protecting Egypt from such groups.
The minutes from a meeting between ex-president Morsi and secretary of state Hillary Clinton in a nine-page document were also uncovered. Clinton offered congratulation to the new Brotherhood regime in Egypt and gave her full support to the new government. One point in particular stands out in the minutes, substantiating Clinton’s goal to access the Egyptian security apparatus. “Another shared priority to explore is police and civilian security sector reform… If the Egyptian government is interested, a team from across the US government can visit Egypt to discuss a framework for a cooperation at an appropriate time. This could be done quite discreetly,” the minutes said.
In an e-mail dated 17 July 2012 subject-lined “in Egypt, US government seeks a few good Democrats,” an article in the Washington Post is shared in which the US had announced three months earlier that it was giving $65,000 in grants “to build democracy in Egypt” and that an Egyptian, Marawan Younes, had pursued a grant and had finally succeeded in receiving it.
That an Egyptian national would be granted LE420,000 by the US under the auspices of “building democracy” in Egypt is peculiar and that the US would grant such a sum in the first place is also bizarre. This may be one reason why ex-minister of planning Faiza Abul-Naga investigated the illegal NGOs in Egypt and their roles.
If nothing else, the Clinton e-mails confirm the collusion and complicity of the Muslim Brotherhood with the Obama administration, which received information from confidants willing to disclose vital details of happenings in Egypt. This firm alliance led Obama, after the 30 June Revolution, to call on the Egyptian military to “move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to the democratically elected civilian government.” It also saw ex-president Morsi assume that the US would back him and not allow his ouster.
No such luck, ex-president Morsi, no such luck.
The writer is the author of Cairo Rewind on the First Two Years of Egypt’s Revolution, 2011-2013.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 22 October, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly