During the past week, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson has been under fire, mainly from Egyptian opposition circles, following statements she made on June 18, 2013 in Cairo, at a conference at the Ibn Khaldun Research Center, which is headed by Sa'd Al-Din Ibrahim. According to Egyptian media, Patterson said at the conference (which was closed to the press) that "Mursi is not Mubarak" and that "there is no room for comparison because Mubarak was in power for 30 years, which ended with his ouster, while Mursi is an elected president who has yet to complete his first year [in office]..." With Egypt currently in turmoil in anticipation of protests calling for Mursi's ouster on the first anniversary of his presidency (June 30, 2013), the statements attributed to Patterson were seen as supporting the Mursi regime and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and opposing the popular protests planned by his opponents.
Patterson seated next to S'ad Al-Din Ibrahim at the Ibn Khaldun Research Center conference (Image: Ibnkhalduncenter.org, June 18, 2013)
Oppositionists in Egypt condemned Patterson's statements, seeing them as an attack on the forces of the revolution and a blatant interference in the country's internal affairs on behalf of the regime, and advised the ambassador to shut up. Oppositionist papers claimed that Patterson was instigating strife in Egyptian society and delivering false reports to the U.S. administration that paint the opposition as being in decline, and even called to expel her from Egypt. Egyptians on social networks cursed Patterson and called to boycott American products.
This is not the first time Patterson has been under public fire in Egypt. Since her appointment in March 2011, she has faced attacks on several occasions from all social and political circles in Egypt, both Islamic and non-Islamic. She has been accused of being concerned only with American and Israeli interests and of trying to create Egyptian dependence on U.S. aid. During the foreign funding affair in early 2013, lawsuits calling for her expulsion from Egypt were submitted, claiming that she had overstepped her authority by refusing to deliver the American NGO workers implicated in the affair to the Egyptian authorities and by sheltering them in the U.S. embassy. In March 2013, a popular protest was held outside the U.S. embassy calling to expel her from Cairo.
The following are excerpts from the statements attributed to Patterson, from her actual statements as published by the U.S. embassy, and from the responses to her statements in Egypt.
Patterson's Statement – The U.S. Embassy Version vs. Egyptian Media VersionAccording to sources who attended the June 18, 2013 conference, on the topic of "The U.S. Administration's Position On The Political Situation In Egypt," Ambassador Anne Patterson said: "Mursi is not Mubarak... There is no room for comparison because Mubarak was in power for 30 years, which ended with his ouster, while Mursi is an elected president who has yet to complete his first year [in office]..." Regarding the Tamarrud popular campaign for a no-confidence vote against Mursi, which is heading the June 30, 2013 protest, Patterson said that campaigns such as this influence decision-makers, and that they express the aspiration of the Egyptian people to determine its own future, and therefore the Egyptian government must recognize this aspiration. She added: "We support protests, but mobilizing the street will never bring about stable democracy, which can only be achieved by elections." According to reports in Egyptian media, Patterson also said: "The Egyptian army is our friend, it has good relations with the U.S. administration... [But] we completely object to military rule; Egypt should be a civil state..."
However, the transcript of Patterson's statements at the conference, which appears on the official website of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, does not include these statements, especially the statement that enraged the opposition, that Mursi cannot be compared to Mubarak. According to this transcript, the statements by Patterson that could be interpreted as supporting the MB and opposing the popular protest on June 30 are the following: "We oppose chaos... The Government of the United States of America supports Egypt, its people, and its government... In order to do this, the U.S. Government must deal with the Egyptian Government. This is the government that you and your fellow citizens elected... Throughout Egypt's post-revolution series of elections, the United States took the position that we would work with whoever won elections that met international standards, and this is what we have done. Because many in the Egyptian Government are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood or its Freedom and Justice Party, the U.S. Government must work with them across a huge range of issues...
"Some say that street action will produce better results than elections. To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical. Egypt needs stability to get its economic house in order, and more violence on the streets will do little more than add new names to the lists of martyrs. Instead, I recommend Egyptians get organized. Join or start a political party that reflects your values and aspirations..."
Egyptian Oppositionists To Patterson: Shut Up And Mind Your Own BusinessAs mentioned, Egyptian oppositionists criticized Patterson's statements and claimed that they constitute an improper interference in Egypt's internal affairs. George Ishak, a member of the National Salvation Front – an umbrella organization of Egyptian opposition forces – said: "If I saw her on the street, I would tell her: Shut up and don't interfere in affairs that do not concern you." He added: "The American ambassador is an evil woman who incites strife." Magdi Hamdan, a member of the National Salvation Front and head of the Democratic Front Party, also advised Patterson to "say nice things or shut up," and added that her statements contradict the U.S.'s claim that it supports democracies and stands by the revolution forces. According to him, the U.S.'s only interest is Israel's security, and therefore it is defending Mursi and the MB, who are the only ones loyal to the U.S. Hisham Abu Al-Sa'd, another member of the Democratic Front Party, likewise attacked the U.S. interference, claiming that America's primary goal is to protect Israel's security and that it sees Mursi and the MB as suitable for the task. He added: "We expected the Egyptian regime to protest these statements so as to defend its honor in the eyes of the Egyptian people... but that did not happen."
A communiqué issued by the Egyptian Communist Party described Patterson's statements as insolent and a blatant interference in Egypt's business, and as aggression towards the free will of the Egyptian people to oust the MB regime and complete its revolution. The communique claimed further: "This statement at this [particular] time was a message of support for Mursi and his allies... [given as] a reward for their stance in support of aggression and foreign intervention in Syria." It added that Patterson was attempting to pressure the Egyptian army and other elements in Egypt to refrain from assisting the people in toppling Mursi, because the imperialist forces fear the second wave of the Egyptian revolution, which could spread to other peoples of the region and other regions in the world and threaten their interests.
Egyptian Opposition Press: Patterson Is An Ambassador of the MB; She Should Be Expelled From EgyptThe Egyptian opposition press portrayed Patterson's statements as a proclamation of support by the American government for the Mursi regime, and Patterson as an ally of the MB and opponent of the revolution. For example, an article titled "Profile of Anne Patterson, the [MB] Movement's Ambassador," published by journalist Akram Sami in the opposition Egyptian daily Al-Watan, stated: "Despite the criticism and hatred that Egyptians direct at her, she has managed to train the forces of political Islam to benefit her country, and proved to her government that she can deal with the Islamic [forces] in a manner that suits her and serves her country's interest. The American Ambassador in Cairo, Anne Patterson, who has become a pariah [in the eyes of] the Egyptian opposition due to her role as the 'American High Commissioner in Egypt' and because of her constant interference in Egyptian affairs, which oversteps the boundaries [of her office], has a great deal of experience in working with the forces of political Islam, thanks to her activity in Pakistan and Afghanistan…"
The daily Al-Wafd likewise described Patterson as "the American High Commissioner of Egypt under the MB's sponsorship" and quoted Imad Gad, an expert at the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, as saying that Patterson had been appointed ambassador in Cairo "due to her dark past, [i.e., her] involvement in planning the assassination of well-known politicians and supervising their execution while she served as ambassador to Columbia and Pakistan."
Gad described Patterson's recent meetings with MB leaders, and especially her meeting with the MB deputy general guide on June 25, 2013, as "a desperate attempt on her part to demonstrate that her work in Egypt is anchored in reality, especially after John Kerry discovered in his recent visit to Egypt contradictions between the reality there and the reports that Patterson had submitted to the American State Department." In Gad's opinion, Patterson's efforts are intended to prolong the MB rule, and this in order to justify her reports in which she claimed that the extensive popular rage has waned due to Mursi's election.
Al-Wafd also cited 'Issam Al-Sharif, the coordinator of the Free Front for Peaceful Change, who demanded Patterson's immediate removal on the grounds that she has violated all accepted diplomatic norms. He said: "She has no right to tour the provinces, but in the Mursi era, she has toured through all parts of Egypt and has met with whoever she wanted because she is aware that the regime is fragile and feeble." Al-Sharif warned the next American ambassador to Egypt not to follow the example of Patterson, who, he said, does not report the real facts to the American government and flagrantly intervenes in Egyptian affairs, and has even charged the Coptic patriarch Tawadros to prohibit the Copts from participating in the June 30 demonstrations.
Egyptian Journalist: Patterson Has Gone Too Far This Time In Her Interference In Egypt's AffairsIn an article in the Egypt daily Al-Misriyyoun, Muhammad Khader Al-Sharif, a member of the Egyptian Journalists Union, wrote: "...Anne Patterson's job allows her to reside and be [here], to work and to come and go, but this time 'Her Excellency' went too far in intervening in Egyptian affairs. She meets with whoever she wants and sets a fire amongst the people...
"[Her recent statements were] a flagrant intervention in Egyptian affairs, which no Arab or foreign ambassador and no state may intervene in. [Patterson] sticks her nose into everything in a manner that recalls the days of Lord Cromer, the British High Commissioner during the British occupation [in 1883-1907]... who was one of the major advocates of Westernization and one of the leading colonialists in the Islamic world, and one who formulated the policy that colonialism practiced [back then] and still practices [today] in an attempt to liquidate the foundations of the Islamic world and the Arab nation.
"Neither I nor anyone else who subscribes to a respectable nationalism can agree to the ambassador's intervention in Egyptian affairs, and particularly [in the affairs of] the army, even if [the army] receives annual American assistance, however large it may be..."
Irate Responses On The Social Networks To Patterson's Alleged StatementsMany used the social networks to express their outrage over Patterson's alleged statements. For example, the businessman and founder of the Free Egyptians party, Naguib Sawiris, wrote on his Twitter account: "Do us a favor and shut up."
In response to reports that the U.S. intends to replace Patterson with the current U.S. ambassador to Jordan (rumors that were since denied), the editor of the Egyptian opposition weekly Al-Usbu', Mustafa Bakri, wrote on his Facebook account: "[Patterson] has played a dubious role in Egypt by submitting erroneous reports to the [American] government in which she sided with the MB at the expense of other forces. Washington has promptly decided [to recall Patterson from Cairo] due to the crises that were caused by her declarations about the army and the events of the [upcoming] 'June 30 Revolution.'"
Bakri's message on Facebook
Responses On Facebook Page Of American Embassy In CairoEgyptian citizens expressed their rage over Patterson's statement and "the American intervention in Egyptian life" on the Facebook page of the American Embassy in Cairo. Some called to boycott American products, and others wrote English messages brutally cursing and insulting the ambassador. The following is a sample of messages in Arabic:
"Patterson should stop playing [the role] of High Commissioner in Egypt. Stop intervening in Egyptian internal affairs. Stop supporting terrorists, your policy has failed the world over. Egypt will not fall, to your chagrin and the chagrin of your ambassador."
"If you try to intervene in Egyptian affairs, we will launch a campaign similar to the 'Tamarrud' campaign to boycott all American products. Stop intervening in Egyptian affairs."
"I would like to say to the American ambassador in Cairo, Anne Patterson: The Egyptian people are unlike the people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where traders in religion and murderers are in power. Whoever plays with fire will be burned by it."
"We as a people respect all the other peoples and oppose America's intervention in Egyptian life. [We oppose] its support for a regime that is fascist and suppresses liberties, and [its act of] forcing the Egyptian people to surrender to this regime for the sake of American interests. Where is the liberty you advocate?"
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 984, First Anniversary Of Mursi's Presidency, On June 30, Expected To See Popular Protests Calling For His Ouster, Clashes Between His Opponents And Supporters, June 19, 2013.
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 811, Crisis Between Egypt, U.S. Deepens over American Funding to Civil Society Organizations – Part III: Egyptian Press Attacks U.S. Ambassador To Cairo Anne Patterson, March 15, 2012.
 Al-Watan (Egypt), June 18, 2013; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 19, 2013.
 Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 20, 2013.
 Akhbar Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 20, 2013.
 Al-Mal (Egypt), June 20, 2013.
 Al-Dustour (Egypt), June 20, 2013.
 Al-Watan (Egypt), June 22, 2013
 Al-Wafd (Egypt), June 23, 2013.
 Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), June 22, 2013.
 Twitter.com/NaguibSawiris, June 19, 2013.
 Facebook.com/BakryMoP, June 21, 2013.
 Facebook.com/USEmbassyCairo, June 25, 2013.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.