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Dispatches From Cairo: Ms. Clinton, Kindly Butt Out

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Posted on Jun 23, 2012
AP/Fredrik Persson

A protester in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in May displays a shoe sole covered with pictures of Egyptian and Israeli and other foreign officials or former officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

By Lauren Unger-Geoffroy

(Page 2)

It is not surprising that much of the American press has fallen into the misconception that the Egyptian majority wants the Muslim Brotherhood, and that MB supporters somehow (and this is ironic) represent democracy. However, it must be understood that the Brotherhood backers now occupying Tahrir Square have a common front with democracy-seeking revolutionaries; it is a simple case of “my enemy’s enemy is my ally.” There is no way for liberals and Islamic fundamentalists to happily co-exist in a state run by the Muslim Brotherhood.

In spite of its questionable tactics—such as buying votes and granting positions on the now-disbanded Islamist-run constitutional committee in exchange for political favors—I admire the Muslim Brotherhood, especially its impressive international strength and the depth of its conviction, loyalty and vision.

The power behind the throne in a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government would be Khairat Shater, a brilliant businessman and much-imprisoned MB leader who was disqualified as a presidential candidate before the preliminary election and replaced by the virtually unknown Mohamed Morsi. Shater’s goals as a Brotherhood leader are to bring about a global Islam of the purest kind through strict laws and religious observance. The type of Egypt he hopes for would not contain the free choice, free expression and many other rights championed by the liberals.

On the brink of a confrontation between military fascism and religious fascism, Western powers are turning the tide through their support of religious movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Understandably but myopically, the U.S. thinks that fueling the Islamic trend is the winning formula. U.S. political strategists believe that a Sunni movement would serve as a bulwark against Iranian Shiite movements. But this is the same type of wrongheaded thinking that led to the Western-backed overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh back in the early 1950s.

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The only common desire of all Egyptians right now is that the United States keep out of the current problems. The world does not see the U.S. as a protector of democracy in Egypt; it sees the U.S. as attempting to decide the outcome by supporting Morsi before the show is even over, in a misguided attempt to extract Egyptian promises in regard to Israel. This is a big mistake.

In a thinly veiled strategy to keep the U.S. at the center of power in Egypt, Clinton appears to be trying to nurture a U.S. friendship with the Muslim Brotherhood whether or not that is in the best interests of the Egyptian people.

Meanwhile, those Shafiq supporters who would exchange the revolution and a future freedom from the corruption of the old regime for their own stability tremble between fear and confidence as the SCAF says, in effect, to Egyptians: “We know what is best for you and we will do it. We have the power. Trust us and obey.”

The SCAF’s fateful announcement of who is the winner of the presidential election—promised and delayed so many times—is expected to come Sunday. It will be received with much emotion.

It’s hot hot hot in the desert, even for the people who have lived here for thousands of years. But we all understand the expression “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.” 


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