Obama Speaks with Morsi, Opposition Boycotts Elections
President Barack Obama spoke with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on the phone yesterday. A White House statement said that the President reaffirmed America’s “strong commitment to the Egyptian people as they continue their transition to democracy,” and that he emphasized Morsi’s “responsibility to protect the democratic principles that the Egyptian people fought so hard to secure.” Obama also encouraged the Egyptian government to work with all political groups “to build consensus and advance the political transition.” President Morsi “confirmed the importance of building a strategic partnership.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s main opposition coalition announced that they will boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections. In a statement released Tuesday, the National Salvation Front said they made the decision because they “were not consulted about the election law.” Reuters reports that the decision “raises the prospect of an election fought mostly between Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood and more hard line Islamist groups.” In response to the calls for boycott, President Morsi invited multiple opposition parties to talks to discuss “propositions put forward by Egypt’s political forces” as well as the role of NGOs in ensuring free and fair elections.
Writing for Foreign Policy, Michael Wahid Hanna calls current U.S. policy towards Egypt “clouded.” Following Mubarak’s demise, Hanna argues that the U.S. focused solely on the Muslim Brotherhood and by doing so “encouraged the very actions that now jeopardize the success of Egypt’s transition from authoritarianism.” He states that this “ narrow and blinkered approach to Egypt misunderstands Egyptian national interests, and undermines the formulation of constructive policies.” Hanna asserts the administration “should reappraise the broader aid relationship and fashion workable conditionality arrangements.” On Secretary of State John Kerry‘s trip to Egypt later this week, Hanna encourages the American delegation to “make clear that under the circumstances the United States is not in a position to host Morsi, as is currently planned for later in the spring.”