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What to make of Mohammed Morsi

Newly elected Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi gave an interview to The New York Times ahead of his scheduled trip to the United Nations this week.  According to the article, President Morsi said ‘the United States needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values and helping build a Palestinian state, if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger.’  Also, ‘the United States must respect the Arab world’s history and culture, even when that conflicts with Western values.’

Question:  does that include stonings and beheadings?

Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi

He goes on to speak about the recent US Embassy violence:

“We took our time” in responding to avoid an explosive backlash, he said, but then dealt “decisively” with the small, violent element among the demonstrators.”

“We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely,” he said, noting that the embassy employees were never in danger.

What is troubling about that comment is the lack of understanding, or is it disregard, for international law and policy.  A country’s embassy is its sovereign soil outside its territorial borders.  That embassy, and the people who staff it, are entitled to the protection, if not the respect, of the foreign host.  The fact that  the US Embassy walls were breached, the US flag torn down and replaced with the Islamic jihadist flag, without any Egyptian government interference until well after the fact, indicates that the new Egypt and its president will test and push the boundaries, and not only with the US.

Perhaps that’s why Morsi’s government is also quietly pushing the US to transfer custody of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing in ’93, now serving a life sentence.  Investors Business Daily, in their September 21 article states the following:

June 2012: Clinton grants visa to banned Egyptian terrorist who joins a delegation of Brotherhood officials from Egypt to meet with Obama’s deputy national security adviser to demand the release of the Egyptian Blind Sheik terrorist imprisoned for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

July 2012: Pledging “a new partnership,” Obama invites Egyptian President and Brotherhood hardliner Mohammed Morsi to visit the White House in September. Morsi is expected to demand Obama free the Blind Sheik, who happens to be a key Brotherhood leader, as well as the hero to the lead 9/11 hijacker and the current al-Qaida kingpin, both Egyptians themselves.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., is investigating what could be the biggest scandal of Obama’s presidency. He says federal agents recently approached his staff to complain that Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are actually considering Morsi’s request to free the Blind Sheik, as Omar Abdel Rahman is known, from a maximum security federal prison in North Carolina.

Note, there is a parsing of the terms, “release” and “transfer” by government agencies.  Depts of Justice and State use “release” and issue denials, while “release” elicits silence.

Morsi, admittedly, is walking a fine line.  Both the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party and the more extremist Salafist Al Nour party seek an Islamist state.  The former’s is a more gradual approach, while the latter wants the new Egyptian constitution based upon Sharia law.  Morsi did not include any members of the Salafist party when choosing his Cabinet, for now.

Despite Morsi’s graduate school work at USC, and his fondness for Walter Cronkite, the US is faced with another Middle East conundrum.  Disengage, cut off billions in aid, and who/what fills the vacuum.  Continue to funnel billions to a government who plays us for a sap, and ……?

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