As soon as the Egyptian military asked President Mohammed Mursi to step down and dismantle his Muslim Brotherhood regime, millions in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities and towns celebrated the end of what they felt was a dangerous fascistic regime. But despite an overwhelming popular support for the ousting of the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) from power, some U.S. leaders, starting with President Barack Obama and later joined by Republican Senator John McCain, expressed their rejection of the move because they argued it was “directed by the Egyptian military against a democratically elected Government.”
Awkwardly, the United States executive branch, along with some of its supporters in the legislature, sided with the Muslim Brotherhood, known to be hard core Islamists, against a wide coalition of democratic and secular forces which called on the military to help them against what they perceived an oppressive regime. Observers both in the Middle East and in the West have asked how this equation can hold. Why would Obama and McCain end up backing the Ikhwan while the liberals and seculars forces of Egyptian civil society rise against the Brotherhood? The chaos in Washington has several roots but one global fact is clear: U.S. Foreign Policy has lost momentum in the Arab Spring.
Muslim Brotherhood maneuvering
The first waves of the revolution in January 2011 were launched and inspired by secular and reformist youth, as I had projected in my book The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East published in 2010, before the upheavals. The first Facebook page of the “Egyptian Revolution” attracted 85,000 “likes.” Many of these early online supporters hit Tahrir Square and drew up to a million citizens from the middle class, from labor, students, women and minorities. The revolution was the baby of moderate, secular and democratic segments of Egyptian civil society who have never spoken in public or taken action on the streets. Once the U.S. and international community recognized them as peaceful demonstrators, the Muslim Brotherhood rushed in and created their “quarter” inside the Square.
From there on, the Ikhwan maneuvered between the military and the youth, pitting one against the other and taking full advantage of the Obama Administration’s vigorous support. In June 2012, Mohammed Mursi won Egypt’s presidential election. This election was praised as “democratically held” by Washington and Western chanceries. While vastly questioned by the Egyptian opposition, the results were accepted as a democratic fact, internationally. Mursi was “democratically elected” in as much as the opposition was not able to draw any attention from a U.S. influenced Western coalition. The sour reality was more of a Washington endorsement to the Ikhwan, trusting their ability to change towards the better, than a truly popular representation. All observers agreed that half of the Mursi voters were not even members of his party, but were rather simply opposed to the other candidate, a remnant of the Mubarak regime.
Mursi then used the next twelve months to deconstruct every aspect of the democratic achievements of the initial Egyptian revolution. He issued a Presidential “constitutional decree,” modifying the constitutional basic rights of Egyptians with major setbacks for women, minorities and seculars and without consultations with the opposition. On those grounds alone, Mursi has committed a breach in constitutional and human rights of Egyptians. He then attempted to transform the leadership of the Army and security forces into Ikhwan extensions; appointed extremist governors throughout the country, including a member of a terrorist group as a governor of the Luxor district, a target of the group’s terror strikes in 1997. In parallel, the Brotherhood regime allowed Islamist militias to grow across the country and opened a dialogue with al-Qaeda linked groups in Sinai. In foreign policy, Mursi stood against the African campaign against al-Qaeda in Northern Mali; consolidated ties with the ICC-indicted head of Sudan’s regime, General Omar Bashir; hosted terror group Hamas in Cairo, aided the Nahda Party in Tunisia as the latter reduced women’s rights in their country and established cooperation with the Jihadi militias of Libya, one of which was responsible for the Benghazi attack against the U.S. consulate in September 2012. In 2013, Mursi presided over a rally to support the A-Q affiliated al Nusra Front in Syria and backed suicide fatwas issued by his allies.
On the economic level, the Brotherhood regime mismanaged the country’s fledgling finances while at the same time receiving significant funding from the United States, Europe and Qatar. The social disparities already monumental under Mubarak became epic under Mursi.
Read more at Al Arabiya
- Egypt to Pro-Brotherhood Obama Admin: ‘Stop Meddling in Our Affairs’ (counterjihadreport.com)
- Truth in numbers: How much legitimacy is legitimate? (english.ahram.org)
- Not a Coup But a Revolution (breitbart.com)