Well done, Obama! How's that anti-freedom agenda working out for you?
Anti-U.S. Hostility Ramps Up in Egypt By Maria Abi-Habib and Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2013
Media Outlets Blast American Policies, Further Straining Ties
A headline in a major Egyptian state newspaper this week referred to the proposed U.S. envoy to Egypt as the "Ambassador of Death." Posters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, a center of pro-government rallies, depict President Barack Obama with a beard and turban, exclaiming his "support for terrorism."
Another large Egyptian newspaper alleged Sen. John McCain, who traveled to Cairo this week in an effort to break a deadlock between the government and its Islamist rivals, has chosen sides by employing Muslim Brotherhood staffers in his office.
Egypt's state and privately owned media outlets, already no strangers to demonizing the U.S., have embarked on a particularly critical campaign. The latest salvos have targeted Robert Ford, the likely nominee for American ambassador to a country that is pivotal to U.S. foreign policy.
The moves highlight the depth of public distrust of U.S. policies, and draw from a "reservoir of anti-Americanism and conspiratorial theories," said Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a former senior Obama administration adviser.
America, he says, has few fans in the country after the 2011 overthrow of U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak and last month's military ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi. "We're caught in a situation of having to essentially try to find a balance between our values and our interests. It satisfies nobody," Mr. Nasr said. "The Mubarak people are unhappy with the way he was shoved off without a thank you. The military thinks we coddled the Brotherhood and didn't intervene to control them. And the Brotherhood thinks that we never supported them when they needed support, and then gave the green light to the military."
The latest anti-American hysteria is a throwback to Mr. Mubarak's three decades of rule, when state-owned media fixated on a common enemy such as Israel or the U.S. in what critics called a bid to rally the nation and deflect from government shortcomings. Now, according to several observers, Egypt's new military-backed government is using the same playbook to divert attention from internal tensions toward what newspaper headlines and television anchors call U.S. meddling in Egyptian affairs.
"The state media are programmed to the line of whoever is in power. They don't need instructions or calls to be told what to write," said Hisham Qassem, a founding publisher of privately owned Al Masry Al Youm, a major newspaper. Years of state-cultivated xenophobia have left Egyptians suspicious of foreign policy and America's interests in Egypt, said Mr. Qassem, who is now starting up his own newspaper and news channel.
Egypt's state media acts independently, said a spokesman for the Egyptian military, Ahmed Ali.
U.S. officials say they are used to the onslaught. "There's been a great deal of misinformation out there," State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Thursday. "We've been taking every step possible to convey what our view is."
The spike in rhetorical hostilities only adds to the discomfort in a relationship that has been vital to both countries in recent years. Egypt has come to count on some $1.5 billion in mostly military aid each year from the U.S., while Washington wants Egypt to maintain its peace treaty with Israel and help the U.S. against terrorism.
The Obama administration last month didn't declare the military's ouster of Mr. Morsi a coup. The White House froze the transfer of F-16 warplanes but hasn't cut off other forms of assistance. Based on that, the country's state media has reasoned that the U.S. is unlikely to cut off aid, analysts said.
Hopes that America could reset its relationship with Egypt by appointing a new ambassador are dwindling as well, after the fierce media campaign that has targeted Mr. Ford. Mr. Ford has served as the U.S. Ambassador to Damascus since late 2010.
The White House hasn't formally nominated Mr. Ford for the Cairo post.
A fluent Arabic speaker, Mr. Ford has served in many of the Middle East's toughest spots. In Iraq, he was known for pressing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government to crack down on Shiite militias who were attacking U.S. troops, often in collaboration with Iranian intelligence organizations.
Some in the Egyptian government have voiced displeasure with Mr. Ford's expected nomination. One official in Cairo said he had hoped to have "a fresh face" as the next U.S. ambassador, not a diplomat seen tied to unpopular U.S. policies in the Muslim world.
The campaign against Mr. Ford comes despite requests, according to U.S. officials, from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to intervene to stop the incitement of anti-Americanism.
Mr. Ford's former boss in Baghdad, recently retired American Ambassador James Jeffrey, said the charges in the Egyptian press were "completely unfounded."Read the rest.