Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An Islamist President Coming to Town

by Arnold Ahlert

In yet another overture to the Islamists of Egypt, President Barack Obama has invited newly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to conduct an official visit to America. “President Obama extended an invitation to President Mursi to visit the United States when he attends the U.N. General Assembly in September,” Egyptian aide Yasser Ali said after Morsi met U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in Cairo. The visit breaks new ground in that it will be the first visit to the White House by an official member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi resigned from the group after his presidential victory, but it was little more than a symbolic gesture.

Unsurprisingly, military and government officials in Israel were taken aback by the news, primarily because the move represented a breach of President Obama’s assurances to U.S. Jewish leaders at the White House last month. They had been told that Morsi would neither be invited to the White House nor maintain direct telephone contact with Obama until Morsi met certain conditions, the foremost of which concerned a public and unambiguous commitment to Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel. The American Jewish delegation was also assured that Morsi would be required to devote a section of his earliest speech on foreign affairs to a specific affirmation of that pact, as opposed to the ambiguous pledge he made upon his election on June 24 that he would uphold Egypt’s international accords.

The assurances were worthless. Secretary Burns was sent to Egypt and Morsi received his unconditional invitation. Burns, who failed to mention that invitation at an initial news conference, added insult to injury at a later meeting with reporters. ”We have taken careful note and appreciated President Mursi’s public statements about a commitment to international obligations and we certainly attach great importance to Egypt’s continuing role as a force for peace,” he said.

Peace in Egypt is still elusive. On Sunday, an ongoing power struggle between the Islamist president, Egypt’s military generals and judges intensified. Morsi ordered his political party, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, back into session. The move directly challenged the authority of the military who had dismissed them based on an order by Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court in June, dissolving the Islamist-dominated parliament because one-third of its members were elected unlawfully. On Tuesday, Morsi re-convened them, despite a warning from the military that such a move could provoke violence. The only item on the illegitimate gathering’s agenda was the Court’s ruling. After the meeting, the Court ruled that Morsi did not have the right to reconstitute the body.

Yet Morsi’s allies remained defiant. Freedom and Justice Party spokesman Momen Zarour, contended the brief meeting served notice that Egypt’s new political leaders will not be intimidated. “We had to hold a session today, and we will hold more sessions next week,” he said. “This is the first democratically elected parliament that Egypt has had in its history.”

Next Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due in Cairo after a visit to Israel. Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu has already made it clear Clinton’s visit will not be a pleasant one. In response to president Obama’s fecklessness, he has ordered construction on the fortified fence on the Israel-Egyptian border to be sped up, and expanded military deployment in the border region to be completed. Netanyahu will undoubtedly bring up the other promises abandoned by Obama as well. They included the new Egyptian government’s respect for human rights, especially relating to the Christian Copts, the formation of a broad national unity government representing Egypt’s active mainstream parties (not just the Muslim Brotherhood), ending the rabid anti-American and anti-Western rhetoric pervading the Egyptian media, and reining in the terrorist elements in the Sinai Peninsula.

Yet such elements are apparently irrelevant to an Obama administration seemingly determined to facilitate the Islamist ascendancy in Egypt. As Obama prepares to hand Morsi a PR boon, the Egyptian president’s stated ambitions matter very little. Morsi pledged, for instance, that the new Egyptian constitution will be founded on the Quran, and he intends that it will impose a strict version of Sharia law. In an interview last year, Morsi told the Washington Post that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservative version of Sharia was a good model for Egypt. Thus it could only be imposed by a complete takeover by the Brotherhood, or a pan-Islamist revolution similar to that which occurred in Iran. Such an occurrence would cement Obama’s reputation as the second coming of President Jimmy Carter.

Yet the most troublesome aspect of Morsi’s invite, is that it occurred in spite of the fact that he pledged to seek the release of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman from U.S. custody. Abdel-Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh,” is serving a life sentence at a federal penitentiary for his role in planning the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. He is also the leader of the Egyptian terrorist group Al Gama’a al Islamiyya, which has been accused of masterminding the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Abdel-Rahman managed to leave Egypt unscathed after the assassination. He then moved to Afghanistan–where he allied himself with Osama bin Laden.

President Obama’s willingness to grant official status to a leader who openly supports a mass murdering terrorist thug is disgraceful. That he would do it less two months before the election says something else as well. It says that he believes Jewish Americans will never abandon their support for him, no matter how much he is willing to compromise Israel’s security. That bespeaks a profound level of arrogance on his part, or a belief that Jewish Americans are ideologically paralyzed to the point where they are beyond antagonizing. However, there are plenty of other Americans who are bound to wonder how far this administration is willing to go to appease radical Islamists under the banner of mutual understanding. If the Abdel-Rahman had been able to realize the totality of his vision, thousands upon thousand more Americans would have been murdered. Mohammed Morsi wants him released from prison.

That alone should make Morsi persona non grata at the White House. Instead, president Obama intends to make him an honored guest. almost anything could happen between now and September, including further violence.

Arnold Ahlert


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