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  • Friday ,14 December 2012

The Obama Middle East experiment

Michael Wahba

Article Of The Day


Saturday ,15 December 2012

The Obama Middle East experiment

 The US President Barack Obama made a speech in Cairo University on June 4th 2009 . In his almost hour long speech Mr. Obama outlined the United States future Middle East policy for years to come. As Barack Obama starts his second term in office it becomes very critical to examine how did his policy match the content of the speech and possibly predict what lies ahead specifically for our beloved birthplace and homeland Egypt.  

The interesting part in the Obama speech was about democracy. Here is the part of the speech that is of concern.
“I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.”
The Obama administration followed the premise of the speech above and stood by the side of the peaceful demonstrators against their longtime dictator and ally Hosni Mubarak which led to the fall of the dictator and a transition period run by his top Generals. That period was marred with human rights violations which rivaled the Mubarak 30 year era. As the transition period ended with the presidential elections between two undesirable candidates, The Muslim brotherhood candidate Mr. Mohammed Morsi vs. Mr. Ahmad Shafiq who was a Mubarak era prime minster and loyalist. On 24 June 2012 the Muslim Brotherhood candidate won the elections by 51.7% of the vote through backroom deals with the army generals and unguaranteed concessions to the undecided voters who elected Morsi because they could not tolerate the sight of a president who is an ex-army general with so many ties to the fallen regime.  On 22 November 2012 Egypt entered another phase of political instability when Mr. Morsi issued a declaration designed to protect the work of the Constituent Assembly drafting the new constitution from judicial interference. This declaration in effect attempted to immune his actions from any legal challenge. The sweeping declaration had other articles designed to appease and fool the people such as retrials of the accused of the Mubarak-era killings of the peaceful protestors. Such articles had no real legal value as no new evidence could be presented to justify these retrials. Peaceful protests erupted immediately in Egypt due to this November declaration demanding withdrawal of the declaration and formation of a new Constituent Assembly that is balanced and representative of all Egyptians instead of the current assembly that is mostly represented by the Muslim brotherhood members, Salafis and their supporters. The Muslim brotherhood armed militias dealt with these protests utilizing brutal force killing 6 protestors and wounding hundreds. Two Muslim brotherhood supporters also died in the clashes. 
The Obama administration at this critical moment is put to the test regarding its true intentions for the Egyptian fledgling democracy. It is becoming very apparent that the Muslim brotherhood and their president advocated democracy when they were out of power; once in power they became ruthless in suppressing the democracy that got them to power exactly as Obama predicted in his speech above. So far the Egyptian people are getting mixed signs from Washington. In one hand the Obama administration stood by Morsi as a pay back to the seize fire he achieved between Israel and Hamas, On the other hand the Obama administration started slowly to pull support away from the Egyptian regime hoping to nudge the Muslim brotherhood to go back to the negotiating table with their opposition.  There are few questions upon us at this point: 
Could the Obama administration have predicted the outcome in Egypt as it is today?  Yes, the US administration knew very well the nature of the Muslim brotherhood as a supremacist organization which has been trying to rule Egypt for over 80 years and will use all means possible legal and illegal to achieve its goal.  It is also very apparent to any student of history which president Obama claims to be one that the Muslim brotherhood will stop at nothing to spread its reach all over the Arab Muslim world to reestablish the lost Islamic Caliphate. 
Could the Obama administration have changed the outcome in Egypt? No, The Obama administration did not have much choice in the outcome up until now.  The Muslim brotherhood was the only organized party when the regime fell in February 2011 and was the only party who was willing to provide both concessions and guarantees to the US government and the Egyptian military.  Also the Obama administration stayed away from changing the outcome because it did not wish to repeat the mistakes of the past both in Iran when they supported the brutal Shah regime up until he fled the country and gained an unrelenting enemy and in Algeria when the US government supported an army overthrow of an elected Islamists party resulting in a bloody decade long civil war with an estimated 200,000 casualties.
Does the Obama administration know if the Muslim brotherhood is bound to fail in running Egypt as a country? Yes, I need to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt in this and assume that the administration is fully aware of the abilities of the Muslim brotherhood as an organization who operated underground for over 80 years and recruits members not based on talent or merit but based on obedience to the internal hierarchy of the brotherhood structure all the way to their supreme Guide Mr. Mohammed Badie and his more influential deputy Mr. Khairat El-Shater.  The Muslim brotherhood organization has proved so far to lack the human and financial resources to run the country and will fail both politically and economically. Right now the Obama administration is trying to change the outcome of these events by controlling the flow of aid and loans from the US, The European union, the IMF and also from the rich Arab Gulf States and tying this flow of aid to insure a solid democratic transition. Even Qatar who appears to be backing the Muslim Brotherhood only contributed $1B to the regime in the form of a certificate of deposit which can be withdrawn upon demand. The path to the Muslim Brotherhood demise is very clear however the price that the Egyptian people will pay will be very dear both human and financial. The Brotherhood is now fighting a war of survival, they know very well that if they lose this round there is virtually no chance they will be able to recover because the Egyptian people this time will defeat their ideology. As for the Obama administration the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood will come at almost no cost and without US army involvement in the conflict. Obama also predicted the following in his speech when describing the path to democracy “There is no straight line to realize this promise”. Was he telling the Egyptian people your path from dictatorship to democracy is not straight and will unfortunately have a Muslim Brotherhood stop along the way? Only time and the Egyptian people will tell how this Obama experiment will end.