White House Exhibits No Urgency as Muslim Brotherhood Takes Power

January 19, 2012

Egypt’s final round of elections earlier this month confirmed our greatest fear: victory by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) received 41% of the parliament. Together with other parties, Islamists dominate two-thirds of the new Egyptian legislature, and elected a strong Brotherhood leader Mohamed al-Katatni, as Speaker of the Parliament.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s election victory indicates strong support for Islamism and for Sharia law. Sharia law does not tolerate free speech or protests against the government, and it exploits and suppresses minorities.  Muslim Brotherhood has expressed their goal to see the newly-formed government, “evolv[e] into a rightly guided caliphate.”

This naturally alarms Israel because the Brotherhood is closely allied with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for murdering hundreds of civilians, including Americans, in Israel. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s prime minister, has described his organization as the “jihadi movement of the Brotherhood with a Palestinian face.” Haniyeh stated recently that “our presence with the Brotherhood threatens the Israeli entity.”

The parliamentary elections will soon be followed by a rewriting of the 1971 constitution which will take place prior to the presidential elections.  That will ensure that the power will reside in the Islamist-dominated parliament. In any case, most of the current presidential contenders have a similar agenda to the Brotherhood, calling for imposing Sharia law in Egypt and modifying the country’s peace treaty with Israel.

The 1979 peace treaty was negotiated by Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat, and Israel is rightly concerned about whether the document will be honored.  Odds are slim, since the ruling military junta, The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) plans to put the Camp David accords on the ballot for a national referendum. The Brotherhood has vowed never to recognize Israel as legitimate.

As Islamists were swept into power throughout the Middle East, what was the White House doing? It was standing shoulder to shoulder with the Islamists. As the revolution in Egypt evoked Western fears (now proven to be prescient) of a Brotherhood rise to power, the administration dispatched Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to announce that the Islamist group was “largely secular.” The U.S. government provided election training to Egyptian Islamist parties.

The N.Y. Times reported that the Obama administration accepts the Muslim Brotherhood’s assurances that it will build a democracy that respects individual rights, free markets and free speech. On January 4, the administration began to “forge closer ties to the Muslim Brotherhood that once was received as irreconcilably opposed to U.S. interests,” the newspaper said.  The White House is giving the Brotherhood international legitimacy, based on the platitudes the latter expresses in English, while in Arabic it has demanded the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and called for preparations for war against Israel.

At the same time, the White House has represented the Egyptian military as a pro-Western and secular force which will restrain Islamist elements. In reality, the Egyptian military has used deadly force against civilian protesters. In response to a Coptic protest in the Cairo neighborhood of Maspero, SCAF unleashed armored vehicles, which deliberately ran over protestors. Protestors were assaulted and beaten as Egyptian troops yelled “Allahu akbar” at those they called “Christian sons of dogs.”

These recent attacks by the military and their Islamist allies against Coptic Christians (who make up 10 percent of the 82 million Egyptians) give us a preview of what is to come when the Islamists impose Sharia law:

“The Islamists have been unleashed,” says Nasri, a Copt pharmacist who is hoping to leave Egypt.  “You’re talking about no rights for women.  No rights for Coptic Christians.  They’ll make us more of a minority.  It will be like living centuries ago.”

Red lights are flashing and sirens are blasting, but the Obama administration does not sense the threat. That is not for lack of information. EMET predicted early-on that the Brotherhood would take power and that the Egyptian military would not stand for democracy and minority rights. Unfortunately, President Obama believes that America’s role in the world is far too aggressive and arrogant in promoting democracy. As a result, he apologizes for our supposed failure to understand others, our alleged selfishness in pursuing U.S. interests instead of global interests and showing far too much concern for U.S. independence and freedom of action.

Perhaps Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sees the danger in Obama’s support for Egypt’s incoming government. Traditionally, Washington appropriates $1.3 billion a year to Egypt, plus additional support from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Senator Leahy has sponsored a bill in the Appropriations Committee that calls for restrictions in military aid to Egypt. Leahy also calls for funds to be earmarked to promote democracy and limit military power there. The Egyptian military has lobbied aggressively against the Leahy legislation, and it upped the ante by raiding Western pro-democracy Non-governmental organizations.  According to The Washington Post, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also opposes these restrictions, and the State Department has proposed an additional billion dollars in debt relief, to provide funds for the Egyptian government’s “transition.”

The seismic wave of change in Middle East has swept Sharia advocates into power, and the Obama Administration has been a contributor to that outcome. Now, freedoms of speech and of minority rights are threatened. So is Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, which long has stood as the only democracy in the region. The White House has settled for the democracy of “one man, one vote, one time,” thus bringing even worse regimes to power than had previously ruled in the region. Who will take a stand and promote real democratic values?

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