What Obama’s Failure on Egypt Means for Israel, America, and the World

August 30, 2013 6:57 am 1 comment

President Obama speaks in Cairo in 2009. Photo: Chuck Kennedy.

To date, US President Barack Obama’s efforts to appease or engage Islamists have either failed or backfired. US influence in the Mideast is at an all-time low and Islamic fundamentalism continues to gain strength at an alarming pace.

Egypt, which until a year ago was regarded by the US as an ally, is perhaps the most dramatic example of Obama’s complete failure to understand the nature of the region and the steps that must be taken to stabilize it. The current horrors and barbarism in Syria should not divert attention from events in Egypt, the outcome of which is likely to have a major impact on the entire region.

Obama’s first blunder in Egypt was the antagonism he displayed toward President Hosni Mubarak. Immediately following his first election, Obama insisted on inviting members of the outlawed Moslem Brotherhood to his Cairo address. As a result, Mubarak boycotted the event.

Obama displayed the full extent of his contempt for Mubarak when the public riots first erupted against the Egyptian regime when he called on him to step down immediately. This provided an opening to the Islamists and sent shock waves throughout those Arab regimes that regarded themselves as US allies.

While there is no disputing that Mubarak was an odious authoritarian leader, he was considered a moderate within the context of the Arab world, a loyal ally of the US, and a combatant of Islamic terrorism — facts whose implications Obama either inexplicably failed to grasp or naively chose to ignore.

The Obama administration’s greatest failure with regard to Egypt has been its inexcusable and naive mischaracterization of the Moslem Brotherhood. The Moslem Brotherhood is a fanatical Islamist organization, established in 1928 with the objective of imposing medieval Islamic sharia law throughout the world, employing violence and terror to achieve the goal. The organization was suppressed for most of its 85-year history, and many of its leaders were jailed in Egypt during the Mubarak era.

The Brotherhood opposes freedom of religion and incites hatred against Christians and Jews, demanded the death penalty for apostates, homosexuals and adulterers and has relegated women to third-class status. It engineered the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Despite this damning record, the Obama administration has inexplicably characterized the Moslem Brotherhood as a moderate movement and suggested that it could become part of a multicultural, Egyptian democratic government that could collaborate with other secular, liberal political streams.

Obama could not have been more wrong. When Mohamed Morsi, one of the Moslem Brotherhood’s leading members took over the reins of government (gaining just 25% of the electoral vote due to the organizational chaos of his opponents), he began purging non-Brotherhood government officials and replacing them with Islamists and their cronies.

Instead of focusing on stabilizing the economy and reaching out to other factions, his new parliament concentrated on outlawing foreign languages in state schools and sanctioning female genital mutilation. During Morsi’s brief tenure, Islamists made major inroads in the Sinai and the provinces where radical elements succeeded in killing Egyptian military and police, murdering Christian Copts, who comprise 10% of the population, and burning and desecrating more than 50 of their churches.

President Morsi would have confronted the US and introduced amendments to the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, had Egypt’s economic crisis not demanded his full attention. Much like Hitler, Morsi moved determinedly toward dictatorship.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of Egyptians became enraged. More than 30 million people signed a petition calling for Morsi to step down. Minister of Defense, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who Morsi had appointed, demanded that the government be more inclusive. But Morsi ignored the calls, and the army intervened. Violence erupted, he and other Moslem Brotherhood leaders were arrested, and more than a thousand Brotherhood supporters were killed in riots. Egyptians strongly supported the army and its imposition of martial law. As of now, the military has the upper hand and violent resistance from Brotherhood elements has apparently been suppressed.

Throughout this period of chaos and collapse, the Obama administration did nothing more than call for a re-instatement of a democratic government that never existed. In their last conversation, Obama assured Morsi that he continued to regard him as the democratically elected President of Egypt. While Obama hitherto had avoided severing relations with Egypt, he outraged many Egyptians by criticizing General El-Sisi, but supporting the repressive and murderous Moslem Brotherhood, whose stated objective is the transformation of Egypt into an Islamist state.

In contrast to Obama’s fantasies, Israeli leaders are focused on realities and fully aware of the risks that Egypt’s instability poses to Israeli security. They recognize that a fanatical Islamic dictatorship allied with an organization that created Hamas and utterly committed to the elimination of Jewish sovereignty, is a disastrous scenario.

However, Israel has also learned from experience that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend. Mubarak had exploited anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism amongst the Egyptian people in order to divert attention from economic and domestic problems.

There is thus always a remote possibility that a desperate Egyptian military government could turn on Israel to divert attention from domestic problems. (Indeed, some elements within the Tamarod movement, which facilitated the military coups, have displayed anti-Semitic tendencies and called for an end to dependence on the US and the severing of ties with Israel, and Al Ahram, the most widely circulated Egyptian daily newspaper, has warned of a “Zionist-American-Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy against Egypt.”)

Nonetheless, we recognize that a military regime is far preferable to a Moslem Brotherhood dictatorship that created Hamas, considers Israel Moslem territory that must one day be regained, and is notorious for its feral anti-Semitism, with its leaders continuously referring to Jews as “the descendants of apes and pigs” and “vampires”.

However, the Egyptian military has already reined back Hamas and closed many of the tunnels through which arms were being transferred to Islamic extremists in Sinai. There are also reports of close cooperation between Israeli and Egyptian military authorities in neutralizing threats from terrorists in Sinai.

In Egypt today the choice between the Egyptian army and the Moslem Brotherhood is clear. Despite the justifiable repugnance of military juntas, there should be no equivocation. While the Obama administration obsessively attempts to impose democracy on a society that lacks democratic political experience, it is potentially enabling the most populous Arab state to be controlled by tyrannical, Jihadist autocrats.

By failing to support the Egyptian military, the US may also be fostering Egypt’s economic and social collapse. That Obama is considering abrogating economic aid to Egypt suggests that the US has not absorbed the lessons arising from Jimmy Carter’s naïve and disastrous approach to Iran, which paved the way for the ayatollah’s takeover. Without urgent, remedial aid to Egypt, which depends on imports for the bulk of its food and is rapidly running out of hard currency, total economic meltdown, hunger, riots and even civil war are likely.

In addition, ongoing US pressure to “democratize” Egypt could enable Putin to restore the Russian-Egyptian nexus which prevailed prior to Sadat’s break with the Soviet Union.

Instead of seeking to impose democracy from without, the US should support Egypt’s military government as a mechanism for forestalling the transformation of Egypt into a breeding ground for Jihadists and Al Qaeda.

Democracy is a gradual process which can only be developed from within and only after the formation of a functioning government authority. The majority of the Egyptian people are clearly totally opposed to an extremist Islamic takeover. The US and the West should welcome the collapse of the Moslem Brotherhood regime, as it represents a major blow to the globalization of Islamic fundamentalism — the greatest threat to the Western world and international stability.

The writer’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at ileibler@leibler.comThis column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom

1 Comment

  • TO THOSE THAT VOTED FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA, THIS IS WHAT YOU GET

    ATTACK IRAN NOT SYRIA. CAN ISRAEL RELY ON OBAMA? RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG, FORMERLY CHAIRMAN RABBIS FOR ROMNEY. I WARNED YOU.

    President Obama made a statement about not allowing Syria to go past a red line. I am not judging whether Syria should be bombed or not, but I am saying that when the president of the United States speaks the credibility of the country is at stake. We are the laughing stock of the world as our President daily changes his mind.

    To those who voted for President Obama, this is a man who cannot make up his mind. He has now thrown the issue to congress, which he said he would not do.

    Iran is the cancer, Syria is the symptom. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home give dating advice to a young Jewish man in a comedic video posted Monday on YouTube just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jonathan, an associate at the Jewish home, quizzes the senior citizens on an array of topics including having sex on the first date, kissing a girl, who should pay for dinner and whether online dating is a good idea. When the 28-year-old asks a male resident named Lee about his experiences [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Anyone who spent time in the Jewish Catskills hotels – especially those like me, who returned for decades – must see the new documentary,”Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort.” Not only will the film transport you back to the glory days of your youth and thousands of memories, but it will also make you long for a world that is now lost forever. I returned to Kutsher’s one last time in the summer of 2009, but by then, the [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Jewish Identity Lifestyle Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    JNS.org – Amid the numerous studies and analyses regarding Jewish American life, a simple fact remains: part-time Jewish education is the most popular vehicle for Jewish education in North America. Whenever and wherever parents choose Jewish education for their children, we have a communal responsibility to devote the necessary time and resources to deliver dynamic, effective learning experiences. The only way we can do this is by creating space for conversations and knowledge-sharing around innovative new education models. That also [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.