On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly called his counterpart in Egypt, Mohamed Kamel Amr. He had a question: was Amr still foreign minister? Kerry didn’t know the answer. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Amr “had tendered his resignation hours earlier but agreed to stay on.” Kerry wanted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to call new presidential elections, replace the prime minister, and bring others into his government. When Morsi said no, the coup was on.
The Journal notes, “The moment served to underscore the Obama administration’s limited ability to steer events in a Middle East still being swept by political upheaval. A reconstruction of how the U.S. handled Egypt in recent months suggests that U.S. officials saw the standoff building but were unable to persuade Mr. Morsi to pull back.”
Now, the United States is viewed by the Muslim Brotherhood as the force behind Morsi’s ouster, and is viewed by the Egyptian military as an obstacle to that ouster. “We’ve managed now to alienate both sides in Egypt,” former State Department official Michele Dunne said.
The Obama administration had backed Morsi because it was under the misimpression that Morsi had been the moving force behind a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. “Privately that November,” the Wall Street Journal reported, “Mr. Obama said he believed he had made a connection with Mr. Morsi.” When Morsi began curbing constitutional rights, the Obama administration did nothing, with then-White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon toning down criticism of the regime.
On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi not to initiate a coup. So much for that.
America was unclear about its relationship with Morsi, unclear about its relationship with the military, and unclear about its goals in Egypt. The result: a complete failure of America’s Egypt policy.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).