President Obama finds himself in yet another foreign policy conundrum. Last week while Americans were preparing for the 4th of July weekend and President Obama was on yet another vacation in Africa, US-supported President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, was unseated in a coup d’etat. The post of Egyptian Head of State is again up for grabs. As it turns out, Morsi wasn’t Islamic enough to suffice his Muslim Brotherhood compatriots.
So President Obama is now in the contentious position of choosing a figurehead du jour to support. The idea that Egypt follows a democratic process to elect its leadership is fallacy. As Egypt’s secular military leadership and its Islamic factions scramble to determine who will be seated in power, Obama may have to reach for his binder full of Muslims to examine his possible choices:
Hosni Mubarak – Soviet-trained military strategist and former director of the Egyptian Air Force, former Egyptian Vice President rumored to be complicit in assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, governed under a policy of “positive neutrality” toward Israel and neighboring Arab nations. As long as he kept the peace, both Democrat and Republican leaders supported him for thirty years. In 2011, was overthrown as a casualty of the Arab Spring when the Muslim Brotherhood took over leadership of Egyptian military. Suffered a health crisis (dead) and is presently unavailable for the opening.
Mohamed Morsi – US-educated Islamist, former assistant professor at California State University – Northridge, deemed ideologically rigid by his Brotherhood peers, leading member of Muslim Brotherhood, installed as Muslim Brotherhood figurehead for the purpose of invoking Islamic caliphate in Egypt. Failure to deliver on his campaign promises led to his coup d’etat July 3rd.
Mohamed ElBaradei – lawyer, adjunct professor of international law at the New York University School of Law, career UN bureaucrat/diplomat whose storied legacy as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General include calling for international criminal investigations of former Bush administration officials for their roles in planning the war on Iraq who was hence awarded the title of Nobel Peace Laureate for efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy, for peaceful purposes, is used in the safest possible way by essentially stalling US national security efforts against her enemies. Present leader of the National Coalition for Change in Egypt.
Binder notation: Sure he hates Bush, but is he Islamic enough to appease the petulant Muslim Brotherhood?
ElBaradei is quite a secular choice given Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr Ahmed El Tayyib prefers the more low profile choice of Supreme Constitutional Court head, Adly Mansour, to act as interim leader. (Interim leader to whom?)
Binder notation: Mansour must not be well liked as the position of interim president tends to end in coup’d etat, imprisonment or health crisis.
With the Middle East in turmoil once again, what other options does the Obama administration have available?
Option one: diplomacy. Diplomacy first, second and seventy time seven. Unfortunately simply conducting seminars will not resolve centuries old tribal factions and regional animus.
Option two: appeasement and deferment. The UN Security Council can be trusted to self-police their Middle Eastern neighbors. Who is the US to interfere?
Option three: military involvement. Any multi-lateral NATO troop deployment to the region would be seen as US aggression further inflame Arab sensitivities. Unfortunately the self-imposed sequester backfired and the gifted $1.5 billion in Egyptian military aid has left the US with precious little to combat Middle Eastern instability. (Perhaps the Commander in Chief should reinstate those much maligned horses and bayonets that he sneered about in the debates.)
When all else fails, he could try talking them to death on state-run media. But alas, there aren’t enough batteries to keep the teleprompter running that long.