The “New Democratic Normal” – The Muslim Brotherhood

By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Friday, August 9th, 2013 @ 2:32AM

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As with so many other issues, U.S. policy and diplomacy (“dim-plomacy”?) of the handling of post-Morsi Egypt is reaching to a new low.

The Jerusalem Post reported on August 6, that President Obama will meet with representatives of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood at the White House sometime this month, ostensibly, to “hear their opinion.”  The JP also says that Turkish diplomats will attend the meeting, most likely to reinforce the Brotherhood’s demand for reinstating Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s president.

While the White House didn’t publicly invite Egypt’s interim government, or the organized opposition to the Brotherhood, or Tamarrod, which represents the people on the streets, it is hard to imagine that the Obama administration considered Morsi’s re-instatement a viable enough option to occasion a White House hearing. Whatever Obama’s purposes in having the Brotherhood come around to see him, there is little doubt that White House’s goal is to assure the Brothers’ role in Egyptian politics.

Anyone who thinks Barack Obama is the only supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood’s return to political influence has to think again after recent events.  The first Western office holder to visit Mohammed Morsi in his Cairo jail was the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton. Her two-hour visit with Morsi was purportedly to assure the world that he was being treated humanely. Ashton also met with General Sisi, members of the interim government, and representatives of the Freedom and Justice Party (the Brotherhood’s political wing) in an attempt to negotiate a place for the Brothers in the next Egyptian regime.

Professor Emad Shaheen of the American University in Cairo interpreted Ashton’s “message from the West” correctly: “Practically they are with the coup–but emotionally they are with democracy.” By this, he means that the EU is clinging to the dubious belief that Morsi represents legitimate democracy. Of course, Morsi claimed to usher in an “Islamic Democracy” (an oxymoron).

Astonishingly, Obama’s traditional political opponents John McCain and Lindsey Graham are on board with the White House and the EU.  Some of the things the two of them said during and after their trip to Egypt bear repeating.  For example:

“My belief is that the American people through their Congress and this administration is not going to support an Egypt that doesn’t transition to democracy. I believe Morsi was freely and fairly elected, and the way they govern created great upheaval in this country. For the Muslim Brotherhood not to understand that the criticism coming their way is based on what they did, is a huge mistake,’ Graham said.

“Negotiations toward reconciliation have to include “people who are respected by the Muslim Brotherhood,” McCain said. ‘We can’t designate who should do the negotiating.’

“‘There has to be some input from the Muslim Brotherhood, of course, they are part of Egypt. And it’s just impossible and not right to negotiate when somebody is in prison.'” (Graham)

Just in case, in typical Obama administration mixed-messaging, Secretary of State John Kerry defended Morsi’s removal on Pakistan’s Geo TV. “Egypt’s army was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people,” said Kerry. The military “did not take over to the best of our judgment,” and by replacing Morsi with a civilian government “in effect they were restoring democracy.”

The Senators and the administration seem married to the notion that “democratic” election is enough to justify the end of democracy.

Do the senators think the way the Morsi governed didn’t effectively invalidate his election?  Also, why should the misdeeds and failure of a totalitarian political actor be rewarded by the return to political influence of any sort? Is Obama’s, Graham’s, McCain’s and Ashton’s logic here to be part of “the new democratic normal?”

Where and when has there been proper acknowledgement from the U.S. and the West that the Muslim Brotherhood was never an exponent of “democracy” as we traditionally understand the word or a democratic practitioner in any real sense during its year in power?  Under the cover of pleas for “reconciliation” and “inclusiveness” (purportedly in the cause of promoting democracy), we seem to have caved in to such cretinous notions that elections automatically create democracies and that there is no real standard of what’s democratic beyond that.

Realpolitik has its place, but covering it over by ideas and language that the democratic peoples of the West surely don’t believe in is embarrassing and may even assure not only the defeat of new and struggling democratic regimes and but also the decline and fall of the old ones.

By current U.S. and EU standards, Obama and the others could likely opt next to negotiate with Hamas because it was, after all, “democratically elected” and is “part of Gazan and Palestinian society.”  

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Categories: ACD/EWI Blog, Middle East Conflicts, Muslim Brotherhood, U.S. Policy

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