FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2011, file photo President Barack Obama, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at right, speaks about Libya in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington. Obama now has a freer hand to deal with a world of familiar problems in fresh ways. That could mean tougher Iran and Syria policies, or new engagement toward countries such as Cuba and North Korea. He could also refocus on the moribund Middle East peace efforts. But a pressing task is assigning a new national security team. Clinton has announced her plans to retire and could stay a few weeks past January to help the administration as it reshuffles personnel. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Obama thanks Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Turkey’s prime minister for their congratulations

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama’s aides are showcasing post-election congratulatory messages from the Islamist leaders of Egypt and Turkey, inadvertently highlighting Obama’s increasing reliance on newly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

“Since Tuesday evening, President Obama has been receiving messages from his counterparts around the world congratulating him on winning re-election to a second term in office,” said a White House statement released on Thursday.

Among the callers highlighted by the administration were the elected leaders of France, Germany, India, Israel, Canada and the United Kingdom.

But the list also included two Islamist leaders, Morsi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.

“This morning the President was able to return some of these messages personally, by phone. In each call, he thanked his counterpart for their friendship and partnership thus far and expressed his desire to continue close cooperation moving ahead,” said the statement.

Obama’s foreign policy has involved cooperating with Islamist leaders in the region, like Morsi and Erdogan. The president’s outreach policy now depends on cooperation from these leaders, who have the power to create or stop TV-ready conflicts in the region — such as demonstrations against embassies, confrontations with Israel’s border forces and colorful protests about Americans’ criticism of Islam.

Obama’s thank-you list also included Saudi Arabia’s king, Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz. The country is considered an ally of the U.S. because of its ability to raise or lower oil prices.

Obama’s policy decision to endorse the rise of Islamist parties has created new risks for his administration. Those risks were highlighted Sept. 11, when Morsi declined to protect the U.S. Embassy in Cairo from Islamist protestors.

Those protestors scaled the wall, burned the U.S. flag and hosted a jihadi flag in the embassy, marking the first stage of a region-wide set of attacks and demonstrations against American embassies and schools.

Morsi’s delayed response was tied to Egyptian politics. He was a leader of the region’s leading Islamist party, the Muslim Brotherhood.