Obama’s Egypt Response: Is He Ignoring Islamist Danger?
It is a shocking contrast: When Iranians protested an American enemy — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime — President Barack Obama said nothing for days and refused to intervene. Now, when Egyptians protested an American ally — Hosni Mubarak’s regime — Obama quickly and forcefully intervened, calling for the man’s resignation, which has now occurred.
We are fully aware that Mubarak has been an oppressive dictator. But he was also a U.S. ally, maintaining peace with Israel, albeit a cold one.
Therefore, are there indications that Obama ignores the dangers and ideology of extremist Muslims, who stand to gain by this development?
We see the former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs calling on “a host of nonsecular actors” — a clear allusion to the extremist Islamist Muslim Brotherhood — to be part of a future government, while Obama’s National Intelligence director James Clapper said that the group is “largely secular” and not particularly extreme. Another Obama adviser, Bruce Riedel, argues that America “should not be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, which collaborated with Nazi Germany, was the precursor of Al Qaeda. Last year its leader, Muhammad Badi, spoke enthusiastically of jihad and called for a state based on Islamic law. He also spoke optimistically about the United States heading for a collapse. His second-in-command, Rashad Al-Bayoumi, last week emphasized abrogating the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
The Muslim Brotherhood platform, leaked in August 2007, states that the president and legislative branch will be advised by clerics, who must approve decisions; non-Muslims will be barred from the presidency, which is also held to be unsuitable for women.
Could the Egyptian population vote in the Muslim Brotherhood? Polls show it could. A 2007 University of Maryland survey shows that 67 percent of Egyptians favor all Arab countries united as one Islamist state. A 2010 Pew poll indicates that 74 percent of Egyptians favor the imposition of strict Sharia (Islamic) law. Eighty-four percent of Egyptians support the death penalty for those who convert out of Islam. So a Muslim Brotherhood takeover is possible.
This is even more frightening because such a regime would take control of a massive Egyptian army — twice the size of Israel’s; trained by the United States; possessing ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, hundreds of U.S.-made warplanes, thousands of tanks and dozens of ships; and purchased with more than $40 billion of U.S. military aid. What does it tell us when Iran and Syria welcome the current turn of events, while Israel and Jordan are deeply concerned?
Despite the evident danger, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has raised no objection to its participation in transition talks, saying “the Muslim Brotherhood has decided to participate, suggesting they, at least, are now involved in the dialogue that we have encouraged.”
In June 2009, when Obama delivered his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, he invited the Muslim Brotherhood leadership to attend, including Mohammed Saad el-Katatni, the head of its parliamentary bloc.
He has also appointed Islamist apologists and extremists within his administration, including Rashad Hussain, the U.S. envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, who once denounced what he called the “politically motivated persecution” of Sami Al-Arian, the Florida professor found to have been illegally funding the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Obama condemns Israel, but almost never the Palestinians. In March 2009, he approved a major increase to $900 million in aid to them, including $300 million for Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Before he was elected president, he said Hamas and Hezbollah had “legitimate claims,” even as he criticized violence as hurting their cause.
Why does he seem to ignore the dangers and ideology of extremist Muslims? Why did he say almost nothing in support of protesters of the anti-American Iranian regime, but strongly supported those of the U.S.-allied Egyptian regime? The public deserves an answer.
Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Daniel Mandel is director of the group’s ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy.