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Opinion: Obama and the lesson of Egypt - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Some in Egypt are quite convinced that the current US administration formed an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood and contributed to their rise to power—that is, until the military stepped in and ended an era of Brotherhood monopolization of power. Such suspicions are confirmed by the confused stance the US has taken towards the events in Egypt since the fall of the Brotherhood and the ouster of Mursi.

However, the US secretary of state John Kerry eventually issued a remarkable and significant statement on the events in Egypt. On Thursday, he announced that the Egyptian army had been “restoring democracy” when it toppled President Mursi. He told Pakistan’s GEO TV: “The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descent into chaos, into violence,” adding,”The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment—so far.”

How are we supposed to understand this statement? Does this mean the end of the US alliance with the Brotherhood in the entire region, particularly in light of what is happening in Tunisia and Libya?

I think the easiest answer to these questions is that the current US administration did not have a genuine picture of the region and its problems. The situation worsened After the Arab Spring, whether we are talking about Egypt, Syria or the region as a whole. The Arab Spring came at a time when the US administration was preoccupied with its own domestic affairs and financial woes, not to mention the fact that it was in the middle of pulling out of the real war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, the Obama administration used to think that simply by taking a course that is different from that of George W. Bush towards the region, the most complicated of files could be resolved.

Of course, this is completely wrong. And now, Obama and his administration are learning a hard lesson. But this comes at the region’s expense, with Egypt being the most prominent example. It is enough to consider and compare the way the Obama administration deals with Egypt today to its stance when it said that what happened in Bahrain was a revolution.

All of this tells us that Washington did not have clear policies towards the region and the Arab Spring. In fact, it was confused and delusional and did not understand the true nature of the region and its major players. It would suffice to consider the US stance towards the Syrian crisis from the time it erupted until today to confirm this analysis.

On the other hand, I have frequently advised [Arabs] to act as if US does not exist. For example, had the military not intervened, the US alliance with the Brotherhood would have continued at the expense of Egypt and the Egyptians.

Thus, it could be said that perhaps Washington has made up its mind and formulated a clear policy on the Egyptian file. The reality is, however, that, particularly with the Obama administration, the countries in the region have to act—in a manner of fait accompli—as if the US does not exist. Do what is right, and the US will pragmatically follow you. In fact, this is what happened and will happen in Egypt.

Although no one can ignore US power, it is no longer possible to always bet on the awareness and understanding of the current US administration.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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