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Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Backing Morsi: America's radical shift

Morsi got a green light from the US before pushing Tantawi out, but how long can this support last?

Said Shehata , Saturday 18 Aug 2012
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President Mohamed Morsi had US support before dismissing Field Marshal Tantawi, who had worked with the US for decades. The US anticipated the step before it was taken. Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters, “We had expected President Morsi at some point to coordinate changes in the military leadership.” Morsi also changed many leaders within the armed forces, in order to control this important institution that had thrown hurdles in the way of his presidency. The Morsi decision is a clear reminder of Sadat’s move against his opponents in 1971. It can be argued that Morsi won a battle against the army to build Egypt as a civil state, but not the war to be a civilian president to all Egyptians.

The US shift in support from SCAF (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) to the Islamists and Morsi started with the sweeping Islamist victory in the parliamentary elections. The shift had become obvious in the recent visits of Clinton and Panetta to Egypt and their meetings with both Tantawi and Morsi. Clinton asked SCAF to hand power over to the elected president. Power then was divided between SCAF, who held legislative authorities, and Morsi as the executive authority. The angry reaction of Tantawi was that SCAF would not withdraw until stability prevailed in Egypt. The US, meanwhile, is keen on dealing with one institution, the presidency or the army. It opted for the president because Morsi and the Islamists will better serve their interests in the region.

Looking at the history of US foreign policy, the US focuses on its interests, even when those interests are served through cooperation with fierce enemies. I remember that Esam Al-Erian, the acting head of the Freedom and Justice Party, expressed his surprise to me at a conference at Al-Ahram that David Cameron did not invite the Muslim Brotherhood to a meeting Cameron held with different political forces after the January 2011 revolution. I told him that the UK and the US do not believe religion plus politics will lead to democracy. The only shift in this view would be a pragmatic one, when Islamists come to power and to a certain extent are supported by people. This is exactly what happened. American interests now lie with Islamists and Morsi as was the case with the mujahedeen and Bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1980s. It is the Islamists’ time and they have a golden opportunity to change their image in the West and live up to the expectations of Egyptians.

The US called for cooperation between the army and Morsi to build Egypt after the recent changes at the top of this apparatus that was in control of the country since Nasser’s era. Victoria Nuland, the US State Department spokeswoman, said that the civilian leadership and the military should work together to achieve the goals of the democratic transition. The new defence minister, Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, is known to the US and he comes from the ranks of SCAF.

American backing to Morsi and Islamists in Egypt was seen by some Christians as a betrayal of their aspirations. Some Copts do not trust Islamists and fear of Islamisation of both state and society. There have calls in churches to pray to God and not count on the US after the American blessing was given to Morsi’s move against the powers of SCAF. Other political forces, such as Farida Al-Naqqash of Al-Tagammu Party, think that Morsi will be another dictator because he holds both legislative and executive powers together.

It was a vital and calculated decision by Morsi, and he gained American support. The question is now about Morsi’s ability to lead a civil state without huge influence by the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi must distance himself from the group through championing civil institutions and not religious ones. He should build institutions that support his decisions in order to limit the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence on him. The US supports him now, but this is not guaranteed forever. 

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aladino
22-08-2012 01:11pm
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poooooo
allah ,,i love egitto,egypt,masr
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Samantha Criscione
20-08-2012 06:16pm
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US government backed Islamists since Jan. 2011 (and actually, before)
U.S. support for the Brotherhood did not start with the parliamentary victory, but made it happen. Example: before Mubarak resigned, the State Department a) demanded the end to the constitutional exclusion of religion-based parties and inclusion of "has to include a whole host of important non-secular actors"( State Dep't briefing Jan. 31, 2011) and b) insisted Mubarak leave IMMEDIATELY and then privately demanded the destruction of his party. This left Islamists the only organized player. Lest this advantage be only temporary, the U.S. then pushed for the most rapid Islamist consolidation of power, to prevent liberal/secular alternatives getting organized. This spectacle of rabid anti-Americans coddled by the U.S. is beyond description. -- Samantha Criscione
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Free Lady
19-08-2012 09:06am
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American Loyality
American are famous for their betrayal. The best example is Mubarak. They will be friends for Mursi till the time he is doing as per their will. But the moment he change his course same Americans will be his worst enemies. American friendship is more bad then enemity. In friendship they stab you on back but in enmity they threat the strong and ruins weak. Best option for Mursi and Egypt to build country strong and keep Americans at arms distance.
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Mona
20-08-2012 07:38pm
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Dear Free Lady
I am sorry Al Ahram blocked (?) readers from "liking" your comment !
Dalou
20-08-2012 03:32pm
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Not American loyality
West interference, wich you briliantly point out. West long standing, desperate and unwielding plan, to redraw map, recolonise the Midlle-East and give it to Israel to Rule.
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G.R.Menes
19-08-2012 06:00am
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The US still can't learn
The support of the US to Morsi will causea tremendous chaos later Morsi will be even worse that Nasser.Sadate and Moubarak. He learned in America and he knows what his parti want.The American administration doesn't know Morsi's plan.This a modern Joseph Fouchet. Mr Obama LEARN from history this is EGYPT not Iraq or Afghanistan
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Richard Patterson
18-08-2012 06:24pm
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Muslim Brotherhood
I feel proud to live in Los Angeles where Dr. Mohammed Morsi studied and taught for so long. And I have never met a good Muslim brother who did not love all his good brothers; it's only the bad brothers one must watch out for! What is a good man? A teacher of a bad man. And what is a bad man? A good man's charge.
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