For the second time in two years, the people of Egypt are rising up against their tyrannical government. Millions of Egyptians took to the streets on June 30th to protest the authoritarian rule and economic mismanagement of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government under Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Some banners carried by the demonstrators denounced the Obama administration for supporting Morsi’s government, like the one below.
The people of Egypt have every reason to be angry: after all, the Obama Administration quietly gave the Egypt another check for $1.3 billion in May, despite their slide towards autocracy. Such actions indicate that the US government financially supports tyrannical regimes and condones their rise to power.
In 1978, the US-brokered Camp David Accords were signed by Israel and Egypt. This was the first peace treaty between Israel and one of her Arab neighbors. Three years later, Islamic fundamentalists assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Vice President Hosni Mubarak succeeded him and he launched a crackdown on Islamic fundamentalists, governing Egypt under emergency law. During this time, the US began a foreign aid program to Egypt (that receives an average of $2 billion annually from American taxpayers). The vast majority of this aid goes to the nation’s military. In 1989, Congress and George H.W. Bush’s administration designated Egypt a major non-NATO ally, giving Egypt special access to American war material, training, and technologies.
Fast forward to the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 when millions of Egyptians demanded the end of the Mubarak regime. President Obama – rightfully, in this case – helped pressure Hosni Mubarak to resign. Mubarak could not remain in power and maintain legitimacy with the Egyptian people. The Egyptian military took over the country and organized elections and an assembly to write a new constitution.
The Egyptian people went to the polls in late 2011 to elect a new parliament. An organization fronted by the Muslim Brotherhood — the poorly named Freedom and Justice Party — won a plurality of the seats. In 2012, Morsi was elected president, defeating Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration did not seem worried about the Muslim Brotherhood taking control of Egypt. In fact, President Obama called to congratulate Morsi on his election victory, and the administration has been full of praise for the Egyptian government. In February 2011, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee that the Muslim Brotherhood was largely secular and non-violent. Later that year, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pointed to the Brotherhood’s alleged commitment to nonviolence as a reason to expand ties with them.
The truth is, the Muslim Brotherhood is violent. Egyptian opposition leader Michael Meunier detailed acts of violence and political intimidation by the Muslim Brotherhood’s militia:
After less than six months in office, President Mohamed Morsi issued an edict exempting his decrees from judicial review, and he is now forcing Egyptians to vote on a constitution that would impose Sharia law, violate human rights and religious freedom of Christians, degrade women, regulate child labor and kill the tourism industry for violating Islamic Sharia.
Youth and large portions of the Egyptian population responded to the president’s new powers and draft of the constitution by taking to the streets and surrounding the presidential palace in protest.
Morsi then sent his own armed militia to attack the protesters with numerous weapons including shotguns, swords and firebombs.
The Obama Administration was repeatedly warned about the true nature of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Meunier claims to have met with numerous State Department officials and warned them about the threat the Muslim Brotherhood posed. A February 2011 web memo from the Heritage Foundation also cautioned the Obama Administration about embracing the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian activists warned the US embassy about the true aims of the Muslim Brotherhood as early as 2007.
Even when the Muslim Brotherhood revealed its true nature starting in 2012, the Obama Administration continued to stand by President Morsi. When Morsi gave himself near dictatorial powers in November, the State Department put out this weak release:
The decisions and declarations announced on November 22 raise concerns for many Egyptians and for the international community. One of the aspirations of the revolution was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution. The current constitutional vacuum in Egypt can only be resolved by the adoption of a constitution that includes checks and balances, and respects fundamental freedoms, individual rights, and the rule of law consistent with Egypt’s international commitments. We call for calm and encourage all parties to work together and call for all Egyptians to resolve their differences over these important issues peacefully and through democratic dialogue.
Since then, several Congressmen have questioned continuing to supply military weaponry to Egypt. Rand Paul called for cutting aid to Egypt altogether. However, the Obama administration continues to praise President Morsi and oppose bills to discontinue aid to Egypt. President Obama, who rightfully condemned the Mubarak regime, refuses to condemn the Morsi’s government — let alone call on him to resign.
All this lends weight to the criticism that the Obama administration is providing de facto support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
So much for the Arab Spring.