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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Surprise: Obama revises history on his relationship with Morsy

Anyone who has been watching the Obama administration for the last four years cannot be surprised that Obama is now trying to revise history to make it sound like he pressed for human rights reforms in Egypt.
In nearly every confrontation with Congress since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the White House has fought restrictions proposed by legislators on the nearly $1.6 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt. Twice in two years, the White House and the State Department fought hard against the very sorts of conditions for aid that Obama claimed credit for this week. When President Mohamed Morsi used the power of his presidency to target his political opponents, senior administration officials declined to criticize him in public. Many close Egypt observers argue that the Obama administration’s treatment of Morsi has been in line with the longstanding U.S. policy of turning a blind eye to the human-rights abuses of his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

But don’t tell that to Obama. On Monday he said, “The way we make decisions about assistance to Egypt is based on are they in fact following rule of law and democratic procedures.” The president made these remarks in Tanzania, as millions of Egyptian street protesters demanded Morsi’s ouster.
Hillary Clinton, the secretary of State in his first term, described the Egypt aid process during a September 2011 visit to Cairo that took place after Mubarak’s resignation, but before the powerful Egyptian military acceded to the drafting of a new constitution and the free elections held in June 2012, when Morsi won office.
"We believe in aid to your military without any conditions, no conditionality,” Clinton said. "I’ve made that very clear. I was with the foreign minister, Mr. Amr, yesterday, and was very clear in saying that the Obama administration, and I personally am against that. I think it’s not appropriate."

(Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Mohamed Kamel Amr on Tuesday, a day after the foreign minister announced his own resignation in response to the massive street protests and the military announcing a 48-hour ultimatum for the president to respond to those protests.)
"This is simply an inaccurate description by the president of his administration's decision-making process with regard to U.S. assistance to Egypt,” says Stephen McInerney, the executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy. “The administration's decisions about U.S. aid to Egypt have been based primarily on short-term conceptions of preserving security. There is no evidence that such decisions have ever been made based on whether the Egyptian government is following the rule of law and democratic procedures, as the president claims."

Michele Dunne, the executive director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, says that since 2011, U.S. policy has reverted to a traditional pattern of cooperation with the host government, and now the administration is embarrassed and is trying to pretend it used its influence to pressure Morsi.
“Obama’s statement constitutes a revisionist history of what they have been doing over the past two years,” she says. “We have not exercised the kind of support for democratic progress that we should have. That’s why people still think to this day that the Obama administration is just fully in support of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
If this sounds familiar... it should. You may recall that President Obama first opposed sanctions against Iran, then tried to weaken them, and then tried to take credit for them when they passed with a veto-proof majority in Congress.

Read the whole thing.

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