As Egypt Votes, Muslim Brotherhood Vows It Won't Bow to U.S.

May 24, 2012 - 3:27 AM

Mohammed Morsi

Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi casts his vote on Wednesday, May 23. 2011. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

(CNSNews.com) – The Muslim Brotherhood has unveiled the outline of the foreign policy its candidate will pursue if he wins the first competitive presidential election in Egypt’s modern history.

The document released by Mohammed Morsi’s campaign pledges a reworked relationship with the United States based on “independence of decision” and an end to “subordination.”

It refers to specific countries and regions around the world, but on the subject of a Brotherhood-ruled Egypt’s future relations with Israel, the 1,536-word text is completely silent.

Egyptians on Thursday are holding the second and last day of voting in an election still viewed as wide open race between four frontrunners among 13 candidates – two Islamists and two holdovers from the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak. If no candidate wins a majority, a run-off is scheduled for mid-June.

The Brotherhood, which took the biggest share of votes in parliamentary elections late last year, is confident Morsi will win, dismissing the accuracy of opinion polls that give the edge to the other Islamist, former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, or former foreign minister Amr Moussa.

Morsi’s foreign policy platform overall looks to boost Egypt’s place on the world stage, envisaging leadership in Africa, among the Arab nations, and in the wider Islamic world. It speaks of the need to restore the “power and prestige” that had been lost during decades of “lost and confused” Egyptian foreign policy.

On relations with the U.S., it says he will “reshape” the relationship “on the basis of independence of decision, to build on mutual interests in the near term, and seek to replace all political, economic, military and other forms of subordination in the longer term, with new forms of relationships based on balanced joint gains.”

“Subordination” appears to refer in part to the $1.3 billion Egypt gets each year in U.S. military aid, assistance that explicitly linked to the U.S.-brokered 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

A number of opinion polls since the end of the Mubarak era have found the aid to be highly unpopular among Egyptians.

A recent Pew Global Attitudes Project survey found only 19 percent of respondents have favorable views of the U.S., and that 61 percent see U.S. military and economic aid as having a “mostly negative” impact.

Similarly, a Gallup poll earlier this year found that 71 percent of Egyptians oppose U.S. aid, while about half of the respondents said they supported Egypt receiving aid from international institutions, and 68 percent were in favor of aid from other Arab countries.

In line with the anti-“subordination” theme, the Morsi foreign policy platform also suggests that Egypt’s bilateral relationships with other countries will no longer be impacted in any way by the United States’ relationships with those countries.

A Brotherhood-ruled Egypt would “make a distinction between the Egyptian-American relations and U.S. positive or negative relations with other states in a manner that should not impose on Egypt any specific agenda in its foreign policy as it seeks to open up to all countries that can help achieve the objectives of its foreign policy,” it states.

Egypt will reserve the right “to evaluate its relationship with all parties based on Egyptian interests.”

The platform does not elaborate, but this could refer either to Cairo’s future relationships with countries that are important to the U.S., such as Israel, or to its future ties with countries hostile to America, such as Iran.

The anticipated rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been viewed positively – in public at least – by Iran, which had chilly relations with Mubarak and loathed his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, for signing the peace treaty with Israel.

On a more positive note, the platform does also call for the development of Egypt-U.S. relations “in economic, scientific, tourism, and technological fields.”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland Wednesday called the election “a very important milestone for Egypt’s transition.”

Asked whether “cordial, friendly relations” between the U.S. and Egypt will continue irrespective of the choice of president, she replied, “We will work with whomever the Egyptian people elect.”

‘Powerful player on the international scene’

Other elements of the platform include:

--Support for the Palestinians “in their legitimate struggle to restore their rights, establish their own state and liberate their land; to support their cause on the international scene; and to coordinate with countries that adopt policies in favor of Palestinian rights irrespective of their geographical locations or political orientations.”

--Working to boost the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and coordinating “with Muslim countries of political economic weight to lead the organization’s activity in an effective manner to support the position of Muslim countries as a powerful player on the international scene.”

--Coordinating “foreign policy and security and military cooperation” with Turkey.

--Encouraging the formation of an Arab common market and reforming the Arab League.

--Restoring an Egyptian leadership role in Africa, including increasing trade and humanitarian assistance and helping to mediate an end to conflicts.

Encouraging increased trade with Europe, reviving “stagnant relations with countries of the Asian continent” and developing economic and other relations in Latin America.

Strengthening partnerships with Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the “BRICS” group) “as a rising international actor on the international scene.”