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Obama still lost in Egypt


By Frank Mazzaglia/Local columnist
MetroWest Daily News
Posted Mar 25, 2012 @ 12:07 AM

The Obama administration did it again. Last week while Americans fumed over the fast rising gas prizes at the pump, the Obama administration told Congress that it will release up to $1.5 billion dollars in aid to Egypt. The announcement even upset stalwart Democrats like Sen. Patrick Leahy who was quick to publicly register his disappointment with the Obama decision.

Back in December, federal aid to Egypt’s military machine was contingent to a determination that the government would support the will of the people’s desire to transition from a military to a civilian government. In fact, Egypt did hold elections. However, the people elected the Muslim Brotherhood which has been laughingly described by many liberals as ‘moderate.’

Once in power, the leaders of the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood made it clear to Washington that “what was acceptable before the revolution is no longer.” That was diplomatic shorthand telegraphing that Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel was a thing of the past. Yet, this was hardly a surprise to the Obama administration which was well aware of the Brotherhood’s hostility towards the Jewish state. Despite Mubarak’s 30 years of staunch support for the peace pact with Israel, Obama turned against him. Perhaps Mubarak should have known better. When Obama delivered his famous Cairo speech in 2009, he actually invited the then outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to attend.

By supporting the rioters, Obama jeopardized the security of our srongest Arabic ally in the Middle East. Since the election, the military has been slow to grant full power to the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood. This places the United States in a no-win situation. Supporting the military is akin to sustaining a dictatorship. Supporting the Muslim Brotherhood represents a step backwards for any legitimate hope for peace.

The Muslim Brotherhood has long insisted that it really is a moderate political party. Nevertheless, it also makes the argument that while it differs with the more extremist Salafi-oriented Nour Party over the way Islamic Sharia law is applied, there is common agreement that it should be applied. The imposition of Sharia law in Egypt would pose a threat to women as well as to peace with Israel. The alleged “war on women” doesn’t register for a Democratic administration looking the other way as millions of Egyptian women lose fundamental rights.

The more serious question is this. Does the Barack Obama administration have any idea of what it’s doing? Or is this a process of just hoping for the best?

It is now clear that we are heading for a showdown in Egypt. Despite the power of the military, the only force inside the country that can mobilize a million people at the drop of the hat is the Muslim Brotherhood. In the face of popular support, the military has always backed down. This means that, like it or not, an eventual relationship between the civilian government and the military powers favors the eventual dominance of the civilian government. Indeed, while the thing that united rioters was opposition to Hosni Mubarak, only the Muslim Brotherhood had the organization and the leaders in place to take control of the government.

Sending $1.5 billion dollars of American money to retain the allegiance of the military generals may be an argument that makes sense on the short term, but sooner or later the Muslim Brotherhood will gain control of the armed forces as well as of the money we just gave them.

This is why Congress was determined to carefully monitor ties between Cairo and Washington before transferring aid. Congress wanted assurances that the pact with Israel would be maintained, that civilian government would come to power in a cooperative arrangement with the military.

Obama-style diplomacy hasn’t worked very well in the past. There are too many conflicting intersts in the Middle East with too many separate agendas. We can only hope that Obama’s tendency to confuse Cairo with Chicago doesn’t present unintended negative consequences.

Frank Mazzaglia can be reached at

Source: Mazzaglia: Obama still lost in Egypt

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