Firebombs, rape-for-hire, and other tools of Egyptian statesmanship

The HUMAN EVENTS International Bummer Desk turns its attention from Syria, where the winter air carries the crisp scent of sarin gas, to Barack Obama’s awesome foreign policy triumph in Egypt, where five people died in clashes with the Muslim Brotherhood supporters of the new dictator:

The Egyptian army deployed tanks outside the presidential palace Thursday  following fierce street battles between supporters and opponents of Mohammed  Morsi that left five people dead and more than 600 injured in the worst outbreak  of violence between the two sides since the Islamist leader’s election.

The intensity of the overnight violence, with Morsi’s Islamist backers and  largely secular protesters lobbing firebombs and rocks at each other, signaled a  turning point in the 2-week-old crisis over the president’s assumption of  near-absolute powers and the hurried adoption of a draft constitution.

Opposition activists defiantly called for another protest outside the palace  later Thursday, raising the specter of more bloodshed as neither side showed  willingness to back down.

One of the Brotherhood supporters quoted by the Associated Press explained, “I don’t want Morsi to back down.  We are not defending him, we are defending Islam, which is what people want.”

Now, hold on a second!  We were assured by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, that the Muslim Brother is a “very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a peversion of Islam.”  But here they are defending Islam, while insisting they are not beating up and firebombing protesters on behalf of the secular government.  Oh, well, they might still be willing to decry al-Qaeda in their spare time.  And don’t worry, the same Administration that got the Muslim Brotherhood so horribly wrong, and collectively hallucinated video protests outside the American consulate in Benghazi, will know to the microsecond when Iran is ready to launch nuclear weapons.  Joe Biden said so.

As to the Brotherhood’s heterogeneous diversity, it’s apparently broad enough to include hired rapists, as the UK Daily Mail reports “Egypt’s ruling party is paying gangs of thugs to sexually assault women protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square against President Mohamed Morsi, activists said.”  The activists in question, from the Nadeem Center for Human Rights, said the same sort of thing happened under the Mubarak regime.

This is not to say that the protesters are entirely angelic in their behavior.  A group of them beat the stuffing out of a senior Muslim Brotherhood official in Alexandria, and they’ve set fire to Brotherhood offices in a few other cities.

The Egyptian military, long viewed as a respectable force for stability, is trying to disperse protesters from both sides, and has announced a ban on demonstrations outside all of the presidential palaces.  Nevertheless, plans for more protests in the days ahead have been announced.

Meanwhile, four of President Mohammed Morsi’s top advisors have resigned in protest of his power grab.  Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei says the Morsi regime is “perhaps even worse” than Mubarak was.  The Muslim Brotherhood, in turn, accused ElBaradei and other opposition leaders of “inciting their supporters” and producing an “escalation of violence.”  ElBaradei says the opposition is willing to sit down for talks with Morsi… provided he renounces his dictatorial powers and scraps the proposed Islamist constitution.  Morsi’s willingness to do so may depend on how the next week of street theater plays out.

And still President Obama, who was so quick to install the Morsi regime after running Mubarak out of Cairo on a rail, has nothing to say about any of this.  The closest we’ve gotten was a tepid, studiously non-judgmental statement from White House press secretary Jay Carney: “The president has an important relationship, well, the United States has a very important relationship with Egypt.  The president has worked effectively with President Morsi on key issues, including recently the negotiated ceasefire in Gaza.  We are monitoring the situation.”

Carney added that the Administration wants “two-way dialogue that includes a repsectful exchange of the concerns of the Eyptian people themselves about the constitutional process and the substance of their constitution” between the Morsi regime and its opponents.  He also assessed the demonstrations thus far as “generally peaceful.”  At least nobody in the Administration is hallucinating any “spontaneous video protests” in Cairo yet.