Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood government is set to receive additional equipment from the U.S.
Egyptian army tanks, center, secure the perimeter of the presidential palace while protesters gather, chanting anti president Mohammed Morsi slogans, in Cairo on Dec. 7, 2012. (Hassan Ammar / AP Photo)
Dec. 9, 2012 – Washington (Moriches Daily) — How did Washington and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood become best buddies, even as President Mohamed Morsi is asserting dictatorial powers and his followers were beating up protesters in the streets of Cairo?
It’s a question many Americans and Arabs are asking these days and it deserves an answer.
After all, Cairo’s military link to Washington has remained intact, meaning the U.S. continues to modernize the biggest military in Africa — even as President Mohammed Morsi has decreed near-absolute power for himself and his supporters and opponents battle outside his palace.
President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood followers have been on a power trip after decades of isolation and persecution. You could see a prime example of that when Morsi visited the United Nations in September, and even more in the diplomacy that led to last month’s cease-fire in Gaza, brokered by Morsi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Brotherhood leaders had gone from outcasts to superstars, and they were basking in the attention.
If we are being honest: The Obama administration has been Morsi’s main enabler. American officials have worked closely with him on economic development and regional diplomacy. Visiting Washington last week, Morsi’s top aides were touting their boss’s close contacts with President Obama, and describing phone calls between the two leaders that led to the Gaza cease-fire.
Is the Obama administration sending the wrong signal?
Some of the military equipment being sent includes 200 M1A1 Abrams battle tanks and “a squadron of F-16 Falcon” fighters. The same mechanized firepower manned by American soldiers.
Aside from the obvious problems associated with sending weaponry to a government-run by the Muslim Brotherhood, one must also consider the precarious position the U.S. will find itself in should war break out between Israel and Egypt.
This concern becomes paramount when one considers how the billions in aid provided annually by the U.S. have enabled Egypt to develop “far and away the largest army in Africa.” Egypt is also the “fourth largest F-16 operator among 25 countries.”
On Thursday, the Pentagon said it is constantly reviewing the foreign assistance policy to make sure “U.S. objectives” are being met and that the equipment is used “for the right purposes.”
President Morsi’s unlikely role as a peacemaker is the upside of the wager Obama has made on the Muslim Brotherhood. But will it ultimately prove wise that the administration kept its channels open to the Islamist group over the past year?
Power corrupts, and this is as true with the Muslim Brotherhood as with any other group that suddenly finds itself in the driver’s seat after decades of ostracism. Likely thinking Egypt had America’s backing, Morsi grabbed power on Nov. 22 by declaring his presidential decrees were not subject to judicial review.
His followers claim he was trying to protect Egypt’s revolution from judges appointed by Hosni Mubarak. But that rationale has worn thin as members of Morsi’s government resigned in protest, thousands of demonstrators took the streets and, ominously, Muslim Brotherhood supporters began counterattacking with rocks, clubs and metal pipes.
Through the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power, Obama and his administration have been oddly restrained. After the power grab, State Department official Victoria Nuland said: “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.” Not exactly a strong denunciation, to say the least.
Analysts say Egypt’s military buildup presents risks for Washington — and Israel — with the growing influence of the Brotherhood, whose overriding goal is to establish Shariah, or Islamic, law worldwide.
A referendum on the constitution is scheduled for Dec. 15, and the Muslim Brotherhood is strongly advocating its ratification.
Meanwhile, Frank Gaffney, a senior defense policymaker in the Reagan administration, has been warning about the rise of the Brotherhood as it relates to the U.S and a Pentagon statement to The Washington Times on Thursday said: “We are always reviewing our foreign assistance to make sure foreign assistance advances U.S. objectives and is being used for the right purposes.”
So what will the U.S. do if American tanks are used to trample down or fire upon protesters in a desperate march for freedom rather than bow to Morsi’s power grab? What if Morsi’s Islamist government turns on Israel?