From an editorial published Thursday on Bloomberg.com:
It so happens that this was the week Egypt hosted the biggest U.S. trade delegation ever to tour the Middle East.
On the final day that Egyptian authorities courted 100 senior business executives exploring investment opportunities, a mob overran the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, defacing American flags, painting bin Laden on a gate and occupying the grounds for hours. The crowd was angered by a U.S.-produced video mocking the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi focused his ire on the makers of the video, asking U.S. officials to prosecute them. It took a full day for Morsi to say his government was committed to protecting foreign missions, and that happened only after President Barack Obama described Egypt, which is technically a major non-NATO ally, as neither an ally nor an enemy of the United States.
Compare that reaction with that of the government in Libya, which responded with alacrity following an attack hours later on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, in which four U.S. diplomats, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed. Its leaders pledged to work with the U.S. to track down the killers. The president of Libyas National Congress apologized to the U.S., if not the whole world, for the atrocity.
Morsi had an opportunity, at the start of events, to dampen the risk of trouble spreading. Egypt, after all, aspires to be the political leader of the Middle East. Instead, his too-little, too-late responses left the ground fertile for further unrest.
Morsi is no longer a leader of a religious movement. As the president of Egypt, hes a statesman, with responsibilities that go beyond pandering to his supporters. Egypt wont rise above its current economic travails crippling unemployment, sputtering growth, rapidly depleting reserves without significant help from abroad.
The U.S. alone supplies Egypt $1.5 billion in annual assistance, has pledged $1 billion in debt forgiveness and has supported a proposed $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. This is not the kind of largesse the U.S. government extends to a country that isnt truly an ally. Nor are those 100 business execs likely to return home eager to invest in Egyptian enterprises given the callousness of the countrys response to the weeks events.
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