Politics
Egyptian protesters gather outside the country Egyptian protesters gather outside the country's high court in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad)  

White House downplays Egyptian protesters

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Until he took power in June, Morsi was a top leader in the Islamist political party established by the international Muslim Brotherhood group. The group’s affiliates include Hamas, the Gaza-based jihadi group that has launched hundreds of rockets at civilians in Israel.

Since Nov. 22, Egypt’s secular democracy advocates — free-market advocates, Christians and left-wingers — have protested the Morsi takeover, but they have received little public support or political power against Moris and his allies Islamists. Collectively, non-Islamist parties won only one-quarter of parliamentary seats in elections held in 2011 and 2012.

“The westernized pro-democracy activists play a tiny, tiny role” in Egyptian politics, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told Fox News on Nov. 26. The country’s politics are dominated by competition between Islamists and the economically-powerful military, he said.

So far, the police have followed Morsi’s orders, and the military has not publicly protested Morsi’s declaration.

The country’s judiciary has rallied against the coup, but does not have the power to reverse Morsi’s takeover.

Morsi’s power-grab came one day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised him for helping force an end to Israel’s counterattack against rocket attacks launched from the Gaza enclave by Hamas.

“This is a critical moment for the region,” Clinton said on Nov. 21. “Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”

Clinton’s statement reflects the administration’s strategy towards Arab Muslim countries.

That strategy was outlined by Obama in his 2009 “new beginning” speech in Cairo. It calls for the use of elections to show Islamists that they can achieve their goals via the ballot box, rather than via jihadi attacks on American targets.

“It is the national interest of the United States and the American people that that [Egyptian democracy] process continue and that the government in Egypt reflect the will of the people, and respect the right of minorities, and give voice to Egyptians so they can help their economy grown and help their culture flourish,” Carney said.

That strategy also calls for the exclusion of Egypt’s military from civilian politics.

In July, Clinton met with Morsi, and warned Egypt’s military against intervention in civilian politics. “The United States supports the full transition to civilian rule with all that entails,” she said.

Follow Neil on Twitter