Don't expect Egypt to live by America's rules
September 24, 2012
CAIRO - On the eve of his first visit to the United States as Egypt's president, Islamist Mohammed Morsi said he will demonstrate more independence from the U.S. in decision-making than his predecessor Hosni Mubarak and told Washington not to expect Egypt to live by its rules.
Morsi sent that message in an interview with the New York Times after a wave of violence erupted across the Muslim world over an amateur film produced in the U.S. that was deemed offensive to Islam and its prophet Muhammed. The film raised news tensions between Washington and Egypt.
Morsi criticized U.S. dealings with the Arab world, saying it is not possible to judge Egyptian behavior and decision-making by American cultural standards. He said Washington earned ill will in the region in the past by backing dictators and taking "a very clear" biased approach against the Palestinians and for Israel.
"Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region," he told the paper in the interview published late Saturday, drawing a clear distinction between the American government and the American people. Those administrations "have taken a very clear biased approach against something that (has) very strong emotional ties to the people of the region that is the issue of Palestine."
He stressed that unlike his predecessor, Mubarak, he will behave "according to the Egyptian people's choice and will, nothing else."
Morsi, who was sworn in on June 30 after the first democratic elections in Egypt's modern history, has been cautious not to sharply depart from Mubarak's foreign policy path, particularly the longstanding alliance with the United States.
But with an Islamist president at the helm of the Arab world's most populous country, there are already differences and changes of focus. Morsi has been expected to distance himself from what many Egyptians saw as Mubarak's compliance with Washington's agenda in the Middle East, especially because his Muslim Brotherhood group has been a vocal critic of U.S. policy in the region and in the Muslim world.