During the so-called “Arab Spring,” the Obama administration insisted that the United States risked being on the “wrong side of history” if it remained aligned with secular despots like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Recent events have made it clear there is a wrong side for freedom in the Middle East and, thanks to Team Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, we’re on it.
Take, for example, the cease-fire between Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian franchise, the designated terrorist organization Hamas. Mohamed Morsi, the man the Muslim Brotherhood selected to replace Mr. Mubarak as president of Egypt, brokered the deal and has been lionized for doing so.
Far from representing a real contribution to peace, this truce is a coup for the Islamists. It blocked Israel from launching ground operations aimed at cleaning out terrorist strongholds, weapons caches and infrastructure in Gaza. Pursuant to the cease-fire’s terms, the Jewish state is even supposed to refrain from continuing to target Hamas leadership figures from the air.
Yet the Morsi-brokered cease-fire imposes no impediment to the jihadists in the Gaza Strip rearming for the next round of attacks on Israel. The deal creates the expectation that the only practical bar to such rearmament — namely, the Israeli blockade of Gaza — will be eased.
The credit given Mr. Morsi by the Obama administration and others for engineering so manifestly one-sided an accord ignores a central reality: The Brotherhood is simply buying time to achieve what the Soviets would call “a more favorable correlation of forces.” Once that is accomplished, the mother ship in Egypt and its affiliates in Gaza and elsewhere will be delighted to abandon the latest truce and renew their decades-long effort to “drive the Jews into the sea.”
The over-the-top endorsements of Mr. Morsi also may have encouraged him to announce immediately thereafter sweeping political changes in Egypt that suggest he is not interested in a functioning liberal democracy in his own country any more than he wants a durable peace with Israel.
Team Obama claims to have been “dismayed” by this second Morsi coup — in this case, effectively a coup d’état — in Cairo. It should not have been surprised. Mr. Obama, after all, has been engaging and emboldening the Muslim Brotherhood from early in his presidency. This was one purpose of his much ballyhooed June 2009 visit to Egypt, in which he insisted that its representatives be allowed to attend the first Obama “outreach to the Muslim world” speech.
Moreover, in the months since, the Muslim Brotherhood has engineered Mr. Mubarak’s overthrow with almost immediate and strong support from the U.S. administration and has worked assiduously to take control of all of the reins of government in Egypt and to make Shariah the law of the land.
The problem for Team Obama is that Egyptians who did not intend to have a secular tyrant replaced by an Islamist one are beginning to find their voice.
It is far too early to say whether the fractious Egyptian opposition that has just begun to coalesce under the banner of the National Salvation Front will be able to pose a real challenge to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafists. With luck, they will do so, starting with large public demonstrations this week that could make possible a systematic rollback of the Islamists and their efforts to dictate Egypt’s future.
Unfortunately, if experience in Iran is any guide, the Obama administration will align itself with the jihadist oppressors rather than their anti-Islamist opponents. It will try to thwart any congressional effort to restrict further engagement with the Morsi regime, for example, by cutting off or conditioning foreign aid and military sales. Team Obama probably also will try to protect the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s bids for additional financial assistance through billions of dollars’ worth of international loans and debt relief.
To what extent are individuals with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood who are working in or serving as advisers to the Obama administration contributing to these clearly counterproductive national security policies?
Five Republican members of Congress — Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Trent Franks, Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland and Rep. Thomas J. Rooney — presciently raised this concern last June and were roundly criticized for doing so (including by some in their own party). They appear to have been vindicated in their warnings that such influence operations are putting us on the wrong side of history. We cannot afford to remain there, to the benefit of our enemies and their jihadist agenda.