Thursday, November 22, 2012

Obama and Morsi Working Together

This is a picture of Israelis watching a Palestinian attack. The photo is by Lefteris Pitarakis.
There is good news on Thanksgiving morning: Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease fire.

There had been widespread fighting for 8 days after Israel began bombing Gaza in retaliation for periodic rocket attacks.

Hillary Clinton has been in Egypt the past couple of days working on the cease fire, and it sounds like she has continued to do a good job as Secretary of State. And a significant back-story is that President Obama and Mohamed Morsi are developing a positive working relationship. 

Here's an excerpt from Peter Baker and David Kirkpatrick in this morning's Times:
The cease-fire brokered between Israel and Hamas and on Wednesday was the official unveiling of this unlikely new geopolitical partnership, one with bracing potential if not a fair measure of risk for both men. After a rocky start to their relationship, Mr. Obama has decided to invest heavily in the leader whose election caused concern because of his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, seeing in him an intermediary who might help make progress in the Middle East beyond the current crisis in Gaza.  
The White House phone log tells part of the tale. Mr. Obama talked with Mr. Morsi three times within 24 hours and six times over the course of several days, an unusual amount of one-on-one time for a president. Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader’s pragmatic confidence. He sensed an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology. Most important, Mr. Obama told aides that he considered Mr. Morsi a straight shooter who delivered on what he promised and did not promise what he could not deliver.  
“The thing that appealed to the president was how practical the conversations were — here’s the state of play, here are the issues we’re concerned about,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “This was somebody focused on solving problems.”  
The Egyptian side was also positive about the collaboration. Essam el-Haddad, the foreign policy adviser to the Egyptian president, described a singular partnership developing between Mr. Morsi, who is the most important international ally for Hamas, and Mr. Obama, who plays essentially the same role for Israel.
This is encouraging news.
One of Obama's great first term achievements was reaching out to other countries to re-establish a positive role for America in the world (notwithstanding his bad decisions on the war in Afghanistan), and I hope that he will continue to make these relationships a priority.
563. How is the cease fire -- and Morsi's working together with Obama -- being received in Egypt, especially among the more hard-line members of his party?

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