- Posted July 15, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The Mideast Watch - Egypt Edition - July 15th
A powder keg waiting to explode is the way many perceive the Mideast. The events in the region could set off in many people's estimates a cascade that could emesh the US of A in more military action.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been meeting with new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi as well as with the Supreme Miliatry Council. Her reception has not been greatly received by all. The prognosis for US-Egypt relations remains guarded for now.
The head of Egypt's military took a tough line Sunday on the Muslim Brotherhood, warning that he won't let the fundamentalist group dominate the country, only hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged him to work with Egypt's elected Islamist leaders.
Clinton's visit to Egypt underscored the difficulty Washington faces in trying to wield its influence amid the country's stormy post-Hosni Mubarak power struggles.
Islamist Mohammed Morsi, a longtime Brotherhood figure, was sworn two weeks ago as Egypt's first democratically elected president. Led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the military handed over power to him June 30 after ruling Egypt for 16 months. The military, however, dissolved the Brotherhood-led parliament and stripped Morsi of significant authorities in the days before his inauguration, while retaining overwhelming powers for itself, including legislative power and control of the writing of a new constitution.
The United States is in a difficult spot when it comes to dealing with post-Mubarak Egypt _ eager to be seen as a champion of democracy and human rights after three decades of close ties with the ousted leader despite his abysmal record in advancing either.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Tel Aviv after ended two days of talks with Egypt's quarrelling civilian and military leaders. She offered them U.S. assistance for the struggling Egyptian economy without publicly taking sides in their ongoing power struggle.
A U.S. State Department official said Clinton discussed U.S. aid proposals at a meeting in Cairo Sunday with Egyptian military chief Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. The official said Tantawi told Clinton that reviving the Egyptian economy is a priority for his country. Clinton revealed details of the U.S. aid pledge on Saturday, when she held talks with Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who took office last month.
"In both her talks with President Morsi and Field Marshal Tantawi, she discussed the U.S. ability to help the Egyptian economy. The political instability here in Egypt has really hurt economic growth and tourism revenue. So U.S. President Barack Obama is proposing a package of debt relief that could go as high as $1 billion. Tantawi said that's really the chief priority now; that's what Egyptians need - a better economy," (VOA correspondent Scott Stearns) said.
Egyptian protesters threw tomatoes and shoes at U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's motorcade Sunday and shouted, "Monica, Monica, Monica" as she left the newly reopened U.S. Consulate in Alexandria.
Clinton said she was in the city to answer critics who believe Washington has taken sides in Egyptian politics. There were already vocal protesters at the start of her visit to the consulate, forcing the ceremony to be moved inside.
"I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which, of course, we cannot," Clinton said at the ceremony to reopen the consulate, which was closed in 1993 because of budget constraints.
"I have come to Alexandria to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and for their democratic future."
The protesters threw the tomatoes, shoes and a water bottle as the staff walked to their vans after the ceremony and riot police had to hold back the crowd. A tomato hit an Egyptian official in the face.
Having pressed the new Egyptian president, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday sought to mobilize what influence the United States still has with the army chief whose key role in post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt is splitting the country between those who see the military as a threat to democracy and those clinging to it as a guarantor of stability.
The United States sees it as a bit of both.
Clinton's demand to the military was simple: Work with Egypt's new Islamist leaders on a full transition to civilian rule.
But with the U.S. having already approved yet another massive delivery of military aid, it was unclear what leverage the Obama administration has as it seeks to stabilize Egypt and build a new relationship with America's once ironclad Arab ally.
Clinton's meeting with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi in Cairo came with Egypt's transformation from dictatorship to democracy in peril. Clinton and Tantawi met for more than an hour.
"They discussed the political transition and the (military council's) ongoing dialogue with President Morsi," a senior State Department official said, providing details of the private meeting on condition of anonymity. "The secretary stressed the importance of protecting the rights of all Egyptians, including women and minorities."
Tantawi, according to the official, focused on Egypt's economic needs and the two discussed U.S. aid plans.
Egypt's top general on Sunday raised the stakes in the military's political standoff with the Muslim Brotherhood, saying the armed forces will not allow a "certain group" to dominate the country.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's tough comments came only hours after he met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who urged him to work with President Mohammed Morsi, of the Brotherhood, on a full transition to civilian rule.
The military, which ruled after the fall last year of Hosni Mubarak, and the Brotherhood, the country's strongest political force, are in a competition over power that has intensified with Morsi's winning of the presidency last month. Days before Morsi was sworn in on June 30, the Brotherhood-led parliament was dissolved and the generals gave themselves legislative and budgetary authority and control over the process of drafting a new constitution, put severe limits on the president's authority.
In his comments Sunday, Tantawi did not specify the Brotherhood, but his reference that the military would not allow the group to hold sway was clear.
"Egypt will never fall. It belongs to all Egyptians and not to a certain group _ the armed forces will not allow it," Tantawi told reporters after a handover ceremony for the transfer of command of the armed forces' 2nd Army in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia.
"The armed forces will not allow anyone, especially those pushed from outside, to distract it from its role as the protector of Egypt," he said. "The army will never commit treason and will continue to perform its duties until Egypt reaches the shores of safety."
From the Cornfield, the US of A presidential election may very well be decided on what happens in The Mideast.