It’s official, now. The Obama administration’s admiration for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is indisputably mutual.
The Egyptian English-language newspaper, Daily News Egypt, reported on Wednesday that the MB “hails” its new ties with the United States after a meeting between the head of the MB’s political arm, Mohamed Morsi, and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at the MB’s Cairo headquarters. After the Wednesday meeting, Morsi said relations between their two countries “must be balanced” and, in apparent reference to Israel, stated past US behavior has been “biased and not in its interest.” The MB, Morsi maintained, wants Washington to adopt “a positive position concerning Arab and Muslim causes.”
“It [the meeting] was an opportunity to hear from and to reinforce our expectations that all major parties will support human rights, tolerance, rights of women and will also uphold Egypt’s existing international obligations,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
This top-level diplomatic meeting occurred almost simultaneously with the news that the MB has swept approximately 25 of the 50 individual seats up for grabs in the third round of voting for Egypt’s parliament, which the MB is expected to dominate. In this final round, the MB received 35.2 percent of the votes, while the hard-line Salafist Al-Nour Party got 27.5 percent and seven seats. Between them, the two Islamist parties captured 70 percent of the vote in the election’s first two rounds.
The results of the Burns-Morsi get-together actually contained no great surprises for those who believe the Democratic Party’s support of the Arab Spring is opening doors for the Islamists to seize power and establish sharia law in countries across the Middle East and North Africa. The Obama White House has been “reaching out” for several months now to the MB (Some believe his outreach started in the earliest days of his presidency when he invited MB members to his Cairo speech). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has admitted the White House has been in contact with the MB since last June.
Last November, Clinton, in an address to the National Democratic Institute, stated the US would be willing to work with any party in the Middle East that supports fundamental values such as “freedoms of speech, religion, association and assembly.”
“In other words, what parties call themselves is less important than us than what they actually do,” Clinton stated.
Clinton also said it was “insulting, dangerous and wrong” to suggest that Muslims would not thrive in a democracy. And, in what was truly a classic example of leftist relativism, she said all religious and secular parties “must reject violence.” In case Clinton hadn’t noticed, one would be hard-pressed to find in the Middle East secular or Christian terrorist groups endangering Muslims, governments and the region’s general stability.
Only days before the Clinton speech, Obama’s newly appointed special coordinator for Middle East transitions, William Taylor, was even more explicit. When speaking at a Washington think-tank, he said the Obama administration would be “satisfied” with a MB victory in the Egyptian elections as long as it is the result of “a free and fair election.” Taylor also echoed Clinton when he said: “We need to judge people and parties on what they do, not what they’re called.”
If that is the case, as Clinton and Taylor maintain, that it is actions and not names that matter, then one must ask: why US officials have also met with the Salafist al-Nour party? Nuland was almost apologetic when she said Burns did not have time on this trip to meet with al-Nour members, but said US embassy personnel does meet with party officials.
“It’s not a matter of excluding them. He [Burns] was not able to meet with all of the parties,” Nuland said.
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