My article from today’s issue of FrontPage magazine:
Obama’s Enforcer in Egypt
By Matthew Vadum
When Egyptians contemplate the abysmal failure of the Obama administration’s policies toward their country, they picture the face of the hapless American envoy to Egypt.
U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, who has shamefully collaborated with the theocratic totalitarians of the Muslim Brotherhood, has continued to stand by Egypt’s Islamofascists even as they bring their nation ever closer to civil war. The Brotherhood refuses to accept the military-led ouster of its leader Mohammed Morsi as that nation’s president a fortnight ago. Its supporters are spilling blood in the streets as they target members of the armed forces, police, and their political opposition in an effort to restore Israel-hating Morsi to power.
Patterson is helping the Muslim Brotherhood. A week ago she reportedly threatened Supreme Council of the Armed Forces chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The envoy demanded that the general order the release of all Brotherhood members being detained for questioning and warned that failing to do so could lead to civil war.
Al-Sisi reportedly refused to be bullied, answering, “Neither you nor your country can overcome Egypt and its people.”
Understandably, those who are delighted that Morsi’s drive to transform Egypt into the new Iran was halted earlier this month, are mightily aggravated with Patterson, now inextricably linked in their minds to Obama’s reckless, pro-Islamist foreign policy. Critics complain that as Morsi’s short-lived government became increasingly repressive, Patterson held her tongue, refusing to encourage the authorities to back off.
As immense, widespread demonstrations rocked the Arab republic, Morsi was evicted from the presidential palace on July 3 and Patterson became a reviled figure. Protesters correctly accused Patterson of supporting terrorism by backing the Muslim Brotherhood and carried signs calling her hayzaboon, Arabic for ogre.
As Raymond Ibrahim notes, millions of Egyptians consider Patterson to be the Muslim Brotherhood’s “stooge.” Egyptian politician Mustafa Bakari opined that the ambassador “is a member of the sleeper cells of the Brotherhood, likely recruited by Essam al-Erian or Muhammad al-Baltagi.”
“She’s being lambasted because she’s the face of America,” said Vali Nasr, a former State Department official who worked with Patterson when she was U.S. envoy to Pakistan. “But the fact that she’s being excoriated instead of the [U.S.] president only represents the fact that the rest of the American administration is absent.”
A speech the ambassador delivered on June 18 won the United States no friends in the anti-Morsi community and helped to solidify Patterson’s image as a villain. In it she discouraged the street protests that in the end helped to remove Morsi from power. “Some say that street action will produce better results than elections,” she said. “To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical.”
Patterson also did damage control for the Muslim Brotherhood. “The fact is they ran in a legitimate election and won,” she was quoted as saying.
Talk about bad timing.
Patterson’s remarks about the Muslim Brotherhood “were seen as an unbalanced and ill-timed American intervention into Egyptian domestic politics,” said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a former State Department official who runs the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the liberal Brookings Institution.
Patterson has been talking out of both sides of her mouth ever since in what is probably a futile effort to win back Egyptians’ trust.
The ambassador was born Oct. 4, 1949 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College, graduating in 1971, two years after her future boss at the State Department, Hillary Clinton.
According to the New York Times, Patterson, who has served in many hotspots around the globe is well respected and “has been widely expected to be nominated as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs.”
Patterson joined the Foreign Service in 1973 and was promoted to Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the career Foreign Service, in 2008, her official biography states. She also served as Ambassador to Pakistan (2007-2010), Ambassador to Colombia (2000-2003), and Ambassador to El Salvador (1997-2000).
She did a stint as Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as Assistant Secretary of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, and as Deputy Inspector General of the Department of State. Patterson was economic counselor in Saudi Arabia (1984-1988) and deputy assistant secretary for Latin America.
Patterson is reportedly a skilled schmoozer with high-powered contacts throughout Washington, D.C., including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and former CIA directors David Petraeus and Leon Panetta. Her political connections helped the Obama administration secure $1.3 billion in military aid for Egypt from Congress, which many lawmakers now say should be suspended because Morsi, at least in theory an elected president, was overthrown.
The stage in Egypt was set two years ago.
At the beginning of 2011, the Obama administration was sending signals to those opposed to the rule of then-President Hosni Mubarak to rise up. Patterson’s predecessor, Margaret Scobey, reportedly told now-Prime Minister Mohamed ElBaradei the U.S. “is interested in a political change in Egypt, but that the U.S. government won’t dictate the path which Cairo must follow.”
Mubarak, who had been a loyal ally of the United States for three decades, was forced out as Egyptian president on Feb. 11, 2011, after weeks of massive, violent protests against his government.
Patterson took over the reins at the embassy in Cairo on Aug. 1, 2011. She worked with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which ousted Mubarak, to schedule elections. After Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohammed Morsi won the presidency in that dubious electoral contest, Patterson met regularly with both the new president and the Brotherhood. She succeeded in getting then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to pay an official visit to Egypt but — inexplicably — failed to get Morsi an appointment in the White House.
When a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, came under Islamist attack on Sept. 11, 2012, the eleventh anniversary of the original 9/11 attacks, Patterson’s embassy issued a statement on Twitter apologizing for an obscure YouTube video about the prophet Muhammad that Muslims deemed offensive. The tweet was taken down but the matter became an issue in the presidential election when Republican candidate Mitt Romney ever so briefly gained the courage to call out Obama for his failings. The Obama administration has been trying to cover up its misdeeds committed in the Benghazi affair since it happened, even going so far as to make the director of the video a real-life political prisoner for exercising his First Amendment rights.
Before that, while Patterson was envoy to Pakistan, ousted prime minister Benazir Bhutto begged the U.S. for help with her security arrangements two months before she was assassinated Dec. 27, 2007, according to aleaked diplomatic cable. Patterson and the Bush administration turned her down cold, taking the position that her personal security was not an American responsibility.
“Ambassador strongly recommends against a U.S. Government evaluation, which would inevitably identify gaps (by American standards) in both equipment and training of personnel,” the cable read. “The [U.S. Government] should either undertake full responsibility for Bhutto’s personal security or not.”
Described by some as a straight-shooting realist, Patterson said in 2009 that she hoped the Pakistani armed forces would eventually be able to get a handle on areas in the country controlled by Taliban militants. The military has been frequently criticized by American commentators upset that Pakistan hasn’t done enough to crack down on terrorist organizations operating on its soil.
To date, the U.S. has conducted more than 350 drone strikes against targets on Pakistani soil since 2004. More than two dozen al-Qaeda operatives and hundreds of anti-U.S. militants have been incinerated.
But “you can’t kill your way out of this,” she said. “That’s not the option. There might be other alternatives — reconciliation process, offering job opportunities, I don’t know. But it’s not just by force.”
Today, Patterson appears to be a career diplomat following the orders given to her. Of course they’re stupid, dangerous orders, calculated to undermine Israel’s security and advance Islamism, a cause near and dear to the heart of President Barack Hussein Obama. Few of Obama’s critics have forgotten that the chief executive isn’t terribly convincing when he professes his belief in Christianity. He can ably recite the Muslim call to prayer, which he calls “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset,” in Arabic with an impressive native-sounding accent.
Obama’s official representative, Anne Patterson, will be held accountable, in this life or the next, as the Egyptians might say.