Easy To Have Respect For Egypt’s President, Mohamed Morsi
Of all the countries that experienced the Arab Spring, none has produced more interest or fascination than what took place in Egypt. The land charms the reader of history, and demands to be understood.
Watching former President Mubarak fall from power was a joy, seeing recent elections produce the first democratically elected leader lifted the hopes of those all over the world who also want to have the right to express themselves at the polls.
I have watched and read much about Mohamed Morsi, the new Egyptian President. I must say, while not agreeing with everything he has stated or believes, I have respect for this leader.
In Sunday’s New York Times comes the most revealing interview yet concerning the start of a new alignment of interests that Morsi will be forging with the United States. Gone are the days of Egypt being servile to the whims and needs of the United Sates. Money is not going to buy off the people who have been freed of an autocratic leader.
That is how it should be.
Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region,” he said, by backing dictatorial governments over popular opposition and supporting Israel over the Palestinians.
With passion, and a desire to see history move forward Morsi laid open in the interview the needs of Palestinians.
If Washington is asking Egypt to honor its treaty with Israel, he said, Washington should also live up to its own Camp David commitment to Palestinian self-rule. He said the United States must respect the Arab world’s history and culture, even when that conflicts with Western values.
Arabs and Americans have “a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion,” he said, adding that he hoped for “a harmonious, peaceful coexistence.”
But he also argued that Americans “have a special responsibility” for the Palestinians because the United States had signed the 1978 Camp David accord. The agreement called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and Gaza to make way for full Palestinian self-rule.
“As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled,” he said.
There is a need to recalibrate our relations with the Middle East. The fact that American money was used to buy autocratic leaders over the decades has not allowed for the best interests of the people who live there to be realized. If there is contempt for the United States in the way we conducted our foreign policy card we can only look in the mirror to see who should be blamed.
No matter if one views Morsi as good or bad, there is no way to escape the fact he has to be respected for standing up on behalf of a nation that for too long was taken advantage of for our strategic needs.
While America has legitimate reasons to be engaged in the Middle East, and there are countless reasons our foreign aid dollars are meaningful and required, it is also a fact that our interests are not the primary ones.
The people who live in the Middle East come first.
And Egypt’s President, Mohamed Morsi, is reminding us of that fact.
Yes, he deserves our respect.
It is easy to see why there continues to be utter fascination with this historic land.