Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat – Following White House silence on the controversial constitutional declaration issued by Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi on Thursday, a US State Department source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that President Barack Obama is “betting” on Mursi not just to emerge from the current crisis with the Egyptian opposition, but to help bring together the Arabs and Israelis.
The US State Department source revealed that “during the war of the rockets between Israel and Hamas, presidents Obama and Mursi spoke on numerous occasions over the telephone for long periods of time. It appears that Obama is not only grateful to Mursi for his role in mediating between Hamas and Israel, but he want him as an ally over the next 4 years.”
The source added “don’t forget that Obama’s dealings with former president Hosni Mubarak were not enthusiastic because he knew that he did not represent the true desires of the Egyptian people. And do not forget the contradiction in Obama’s 2009 speech about freedom and democracy for the Arabs which took place in Mubarak’s Egypt. However today, following the revolution in Egypt and the rise of the Islamists to power, Obama is also not enthusiastic, fearing Egyptian Islamist hostility towards Israel and the abolition of the Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel. However Obama is optimistic regarding Mursi’s role in Gaza. I believe that Obama liked what he saw of Mursi in terms of viewing him as a moderate Islamist figure, a doctor in engineering in America, whilst some of his children are American citizens.”
As for the official US State Department response to Mursi’s controversial constitutional declaration, this drew fire from both sides, with some criticizing it for being too soft, and others viewing it as interference in Egyptian affairs. The US State Department announced that Mursi’s decisions and declarations “raise concerns for many Egyptians and for the international community” adding ‘we call for calm and encourage all parties to work together and call for all Egyptians to resolve their differences over these important issues peacefully and through democratic dialogue.”
For his part, Daniel Greenfield of the Freedom Center linked Mursi’s decision to the ceasefire the Egyptian president mediated between Hamas and Israel, saying “a day after the ceasefire, Mursi assumed near-dictatorial powers in Egypt. The timing of that is not likely to be a coincidence.”
He opined that “either Mursi had cleared the assumption of such power beforehand with Obama or assumed that he had demonstrated his importance to such an extent that Obaam would not dare protest this action” adding “the Jan 25 Revolution is now becoming more and more explicitly an Islamic Revolution, just like Iran.”
Whilst Bernard Avishai, a visiting professor at Dartmouth College, wrote “Our working hypothesis must be that Mursi, like the Nasserite Sadat in 1974, sees himself not only as a nominal leader of a pan-Arab movement and advocate for Palestinian grievances, but as the president of a poor, difficult, yet central country, with interests that go beyond any ideology.”
An Egyptian court received 12 legal challenges to President Mursi’s decree which prompted violent clashes across the country and a sharp drop in the country’s stock market. The legal challenges claimed that Mursi’s decree was unconstitutional and illegal.
For his part, Chaiman of Egyot’s Islamist-dominated Shura Council, Ahmed Fahmi, also criticized the Egyptian president, saying “we had hopes that President Mursi would put the constitutional declaration before a national referendum.” He called on Mursi to conduct a national dialogue with all forces to put an end to the crisis.