Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller tells Newsmax TV that the Obama White House “is not in a position to influence the outcome of things either in Egypt or Syria.”
“We’re in a very, very desperate state when it comes to the Middle East now,” Miller, formerly of the New York Times, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “We have Islamist-leaning governments or Islamist governments in power in virtually every country that used to be aligned with the United States, and that’s why President Obama has drawn the line for Egypt.
Watch the exclusive interview here.
“His red line for Egypt is continued support of the Arab-Israeli Peace Treaty,” Miller continued. “As long as President Morsi is willing to abide by the terms of that treaty, the United States will support him.
“The administration has been very, very cautious to criticize President Morsi. What they have said has been very, very mild. There’s only been a kind of mild rebuke of what he has done — even when he grabbed extraordinary powers, which he has now had to relinquish.
“Even when he did that, the outcry from the Obama administration was really muted.”
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Monday gave sweeping arrest powers to the military to quell opposition protests until after Saturday’s vote on a draft constitution is completed. “President Morsi, clearly, overreached,” Miller said.
“He thought after he was winning all of these plaudits and kudos from the Obama administration after his role in helping to negotiate a cease fire between Gaza and Israel that he could do what he wanted. And, as a result, he overreached and he gave himself powers that even Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s last pharaoh, would have relished.
“Much to the surprise of perhaps even the secular groups and Christian Egyptians themselves, they were able to do something they haven’t done to date: to organize and to get people out not only in Tahrir Square, but in cities and squares throughout Egypt to mobilize, to demonstrate their absolute refusal to accept such an overreach by their new president.
“And, as a result, President Morsi was forced to step back and to scale back the decree that gave him almost unlimited power,” Miller added. “But President Morsi has still not compromised on the secular opposition’s main demand, which is to postpone the referendum that is scheduled for Saturday and to revisit this issue of what kind of constitution Egypt is going to be governed by.”
Miller — who also is an author, Fox News commentator, Newsmax contributor, and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York — described the proposed constitution to be voted on Saturday as “vague but a step in the direction toward an Islamist government for all of Egypt.
“And when you have a large percentage of a minority, but still a large percentage — between 10 and 20 percent of the country — that is not clearly Muslim or subscribing to that, the exact level of opposition means that President Morsi really has to rethink his strategy,” she said. “But so far, he’s not backing down on that key demand.”
Despite the National Salvation Front declaring last week that Morsi was not Egypt’s “legitimate” leader, “President Morsi remains the elected official, even though it took two rounds to get him elected,” Miller said. “What he doesn’t have is the kind of mandate that can authorize and legitimize the powers that he has claimed.
“The problem with Egypt and the problem with its situation right now is that, since the Muslim Brotherhood has won the election, they can do things like appoint a majority of the members to the constitutional writing panels. They can appoint people to the military who are more sympathetic to their goals of creating an Islamic state in Egypt. They can do many of the things that they’re doing.
“President Morsi made promises to the Egyptian people, almost all of which he’s proceeded to break,” she added. “That may make him illegitimate in the minds of the opposition, but it’s not clear that the opposition can overturn or unseat the president.”
The continued unrest has decimated Egypt’s economy — and that’s clear to Morsi, Miller said.
“That’s why he worked so hard to secure the American assistance of roughly $2 billion, and the $4.5 billion in loans and guarantees from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank,” she said. “And both of those things, the American assistance and the international assistance, are in jeopardy because of the continued instability and the protests against his more recent power grab.
“That’s the challenge he faces — and it’s a very severe one.”
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