Egyptians on US Policy: Obama, Clinton and Patterson supported terrorism in Egypt
The second House Benghazi Select Committee hearing took place last month. In one notable exchange between Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr, Gowdy asked for the name of the person the Committee needed to speak with to find out what the policy objectives were in Libya.
“How can we judge whether or not a policy has failed or succeeded if nobody tells us what the policy objectives were? Who should we bring in to explain why were we in Libya?” Gowdy asked.
As previously reported, documents confirm “we” were in Benghazi because of MANPADs—Man Portable Air Defense Systems, also known as shoulder-fired-anti-aircraft missiles, and arms trafficking. Weapons that were being “collected” in Libya were being moved into Syria.
Starr, who was not serving in Hillary Clinton’s State Department during the Benghazi attack, directed Gowdy to the Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) and the Near East Asia Bureau to talk about the policy ojectives. Finally, he provided a name: Anne Patterson, the Assistant Secretary of NEA.
Patterson was the US ambassador to Egypt during the Benghazi attacks.
America’s Arab Spring Policy
Let’s answer Chairman Gowdy’s Libya policy objectives question. Unlike what became the violent and deadly 2009 Green Revolution in Iran, where pleas for US help from Iranians were ignored after they challenged the re-election of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Mullah theocracy, the Obama administration’s Arab Spring policy was to support the overthrow of regimes in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Syria.
As President Barack Obama said at the United Nations in 2012, “It has been less than two years since a vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire to protest the oppressive corruption in his country, and sparked what became known as the Arab Spring. And since then, the world has been captivated by the transformation that’s taken place, and the United States has supported the forces of change.”
That support for “the forces of change” translated to America providing concrete backing to opposition forces, also known as “rebels.” Many of the rebels were terrorists and other assorted Islamic extremists. As the New York Times reported in 2012, “The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats.”
That U.S. policy objective of backing the rebels in Libya to topple Col. Muammar Gaddafi was supposed to continue into Syria to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As President Obama said at the UN, “We again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end.”
Egyptians: Obama, Clinton and Patterson support terrorism in Egypt
The Egyptians did not embrace President Obama’s policies or the bad fruits that resulted from them. They viewed it as supporting terrorists. They should know. They had to live with the consequences.
Indeed. As I reported in Obama & Hillary’s Benghazi aftermath: Libya on verge of implosion, “Under Gaddafi extremists and the Muslim Brotherhood were opposed. The same applied for former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who had banned the Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak was also deposed.” Shortly after I reported that story, Libya imploded into civil war.
Under the Obama administration the Muslim Brotherhood was embraced. The administration carried out that policy objective by supporting President Mohamed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt. Morsi had filled the power vacuum that was left after Mubarak was toppled. He was elected Egypt’s president in June 2012—about three months before the Benghazi attack.
About month after Morsi was elected, in July 2012, Egyptians were throwing tomatoes and shoes at Secretary Clinton’s motorcade and chanting “Monica,” as Politico’s Kevin Robillard reported. They also held signs (including the one below) stating that Secretary Clinton was not welcome in Egypt.
Neither was US Ambassador Patterson. The Egyptians loathed and reviled her too. “It didn’t help Patterson’s standing when she met with senior Brotherhood officials, the Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and his deputy Khairat Al-Shater,” reported Foreign Policy’s John Hudson in Knives come out for US Ambassador Anne Patterson, “For some liberal Egyptians, this was seen as nothing less than conspiring with the enemy. Now Egyptian protesters are carrying signs with the ambassador’s face crossed out.”
“Kick this b-tch out of Egypt,” read one of the signs.
By July 2013, almost a year after the Benghazi attack, Morsi “was arrested and removed from office by the Egyptian Army after tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest his rule.” As Josh Rogin and Eli Lake reported in The Daily Beast, “U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson has become the public face in Egypt of America’s policy failure there.”
A former Obama administration official tried to defend Patterson: “She was doing her best to implement a White House policy meant to correct decades where the United States failed to engage the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in Egypt.”
This regime-change Arab Spring policy was also embraced by Republican notables, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and former President George W. Bush. In May 2012, Bush penned a pro-Arab Spring op-ed that argued in defense of the “new order” versus the “old order,” echoing his father, Bush Sr.’s “new world order” theme.
The US policy to arm and train foreign fighters remains intact
Despite the aggressive and heavily armed rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and a deadly “new order” that is expanding there, little has changed policy-wise in the Middle East since the Benghazi attacks.
As the Associated Press reported this week, U.S. Senators are in Saudi Arabia to talk about Syrian rebel training. One of the senators is Sen. McCain.
Recall how the UK’s Independent reported three months before the Benghazi attacks that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were already arming the Syrian rebels. Moreover, according to McClatchy and a PBS documentary that aired last spring, “The weapons are believed to have come from Saudi Arabia, but experts on international arms transfers have told McClatchy that they could not have been given to the rebels without the approval of the Obama administration.”
In addition, the rebels, who were interviewed in the PBS documentary, described how they received U.S.-backed training in Qatar. This is critical because Benghazi was not just about the confirmed arms trafficking and the MANPADs program that I reported here, but also about facilitating the travel of foreign fighters, from places like Qatar and elsewhere, who were flocking to Libya and Syria.
The Egyptians appear to understand the deadly ramifications of the Obama administration’s policies and the monster it had created. It explains why last December Egyptian authorities, now headed by the former leader of Egypt’s armed forces, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, imposed travel restrictions on men between the ages of 18 – 40 wishing to travel to Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Libya. By doing so, they are preventing men, who they fear will join Jihadist groups like ISIS, from joining.
Gowdy’s new interest and desire to speak with former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Patterson, regarding the policy objectives in Libya, was prompted by Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch’s successful FOIA lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00951) forced the release of State Department documents that included then White House Deputy Strategic Communications Advisor Ben Rhodes email. In it, Rhodes erroneously claimed that the Benghazi terrorist attack was “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.”
On September 11, 2012, Ambassador Stevens, information specialist Sean Smith, CIA Global Response Staff (GRS), and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed at David Petreaus’ CIA Annex and Hillary Clinton’s State Department’s temporary mission facility—which is not a consulate or embassy.
Related: Docs: Benghazi was about arms trafficking and MANPADs. Who knew what, when?
Update: August 1, 2016: The citizens using Facebook to report on Egypt’s forgotten war, The Guardian.