Tags: miller | morsi | power | grab | egypt

Judith Miller: Morsi’s ‘Blatant Power Grab’ Will Be Hard to Undo

Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012 08:40 PM

By Todd Beamon and Kathleen Walter

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller tells Newsmax TV that the “blatant power grab” by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi that has residents protesting in the streets “make the powers of President Hosni Mubarak pale by comparison.”

“President Morsi’s election is the result of the Arab Spring,” Miller, a contributing editor to Newsmax magazine and adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said in an exclusive interview. “Everyone knew from the beginning that the organized parties were likely to do better and the supremely organized party was the Muslim Brotherhood.

“That being said, President Morsi did not win an overwhelming mandate. He barely squeaked through as president. It took two rounds to elect him – and now he’s claiming pharaonic-like powers that make the powers of President Mubarak pale by comparison.

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“I’m greatly encouraged by the Egyptian people, who have turned out in great numbers and with great ferocity to challenge what President Morsi has done, his blatant power grab,” Miller said. “That being said, given Egypt’s history, it’s going to be very hard to undo.”

While President Barack Obama’s administration has criticized Morsi, Miller said the condemnation has not been strong enough.

“They have been critical. President Obama, his Secretary of State, all official statements have reflected displeasure with what President Morsi has done. That being said, this has not been a very forced response – and it needs to be more forceful.

“However, in the administration’s defense, I will say this,” she continued. “The most important goal for the administration is to keep Egypt on track and committed to the peace process and the peace treaty that it signed with Israel ever so long ago. And to the extent that President Morsi is willing to maintain his adherence to that treaty, that’s the administration’s primary goal.

“This administration, previous administrations, lived with Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship for a long time because of the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement – and this administration is not going to be any different from those that have preceded when it comes to its strategic priorities.”

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The Morsi move brings a hard, cold reality to Israel – particularly amid its fragile cease-fire agreement with the Palestinians over the shelling in Gaza.

“I don’t think that the Israelis have any illusions about the man with whom they’re dealing as President of Egypt,” Miller said. “Nor do they have any illusions, unlike many Americans, about the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a very difficult organization that, until very recently, was committed to Israel’s destruction and to a one-state solution in the Middle East. Israel is going to be as pragmatic as the Muslim Brotherhood enables it to be.

“What Israel wants out of the Brotherhood is a continuation of the peace treaty and its relationship with Egypt. Israel is very aware that it will not have the close working relationship on terrorism, on drugs, on smuggling that it had with Hosni Mubarak’s regime. That being said, they’re prepared to find a modus vivendi, if they can, so that the area can calm down.

“One thing of great concern to Israel – and this has been a concern from the beginning – is the smuggling of weapons from Libya, from Sudan, from Iran through the Sinai tunnels into Gaza – and that’s what really precipitated the most-recent round of violence,” Miller added. “That must stop. Israel has made it very clear. Whether President Morsi chooses to hear that message is yet uncertain.”

And how Iran might interpret all of what has happened in Gaza remains unclear at this point, she said.

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“There are both things that are encouraging and discouraging to them,” Miller began. “For one thing, the Iranians saw that the Iron Dome anti-missile shield worked extremely effectively, and that must give them great pause in the event of an armed conflict between Iran and Israel.

“If Israel’s actually able to protect its population and its population centers – its settlements, its cities – that would make a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities more likely, and the Iranians have to be very concerned about that.

“On the other hand, they also saw that, when push came to shove, the Israelis were not willing to commit ground troops to Gaza. They were not willing to incur the casualities that would be necessary to uproot some of the Hamas and Iranian-supplied infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

“So, given how little we know at this point about how the Mullahs make decisions in Tehran, it’s very hard to understand initially the lessons they will draw from the eight days of violence between Israel and Gaza,” she concluded. “What you have to avoid is believing everything that the Iranians say right now. They’re making a lot of different statements, some of them are very provocative, but a lot of that is just kind of rhetoric.

“When the Iranians look at what happened, and when they look at the effectiveness of the Iron Dome system and other anti-missile systems that the Israelis are beginning to put in place, that has to be a little disconcerting for them.”

Turning to the possibility that President Obama may nominate U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Miller said GOP senators face a tough challenge.

“The issue that they will have to decide is whether Susan Rice was just delivering talking points that she actually believed or whether she had reason to know that what she was saying was not true. In other words, whether she was in a position to verify the information that she had been given.

“The burden will be on the Republican senators who are in the minority to block her – and it’s not clear that President Obama will want this fight,” Miller added. “But to the extent that he does want to nominate and he does make an issue out of this, it will be hard for the Republicans to stop her.

“They’re going to have to force the administration to be forthcoming. There has been just nothing but a series of obstacle courses put in the way of Republican and Democratic senators who are trying to get to the bottom of this.

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“The American people, at this point, expect an explanation – and they expect to be told precisely why the security situation on the ground was what it was, precisely why the administration said what it said about that, and the extent to which the administration is prepared to take steps to ensure that it does not happen again.

“It’s not often that four American diplomats and security people are killed in the line of duty – and we can’t just brush it aside and pretend it didn’t happen,” Miller said. “And people who say that this is entirely political and politically motivated are way off base.”



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