- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2011

‘LOUD AND BUMPTIOUS’ EGYPT

The United States will hear “many voices” it doesn’t like from Egyptians on a “loud and bumptious” march toward democracy, a top U.S. diplomat predicted this week at a Senate hearing on her nomination to serve as the next American ambassador in Cairo.

Anne W. Patterson, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Pakistan, outlined the Obama administration’s three top priorities for a new Egypt. The White House will support free and fair elections, promote economic recovery and encourage a new Egyptian government to remain diplomatically engaged with Israel, she said.

“Let me say that democracies can often be loud and bumptious, and I am sure Egypt will be no different,” Mrs. Patterson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“During Egypt’s transition, we will hear many voices that are not to our liking, and Egypt’s democratic process will be difficult at times because of the newness and fragility of its democratic institutions.”

She avoided mentioning the Muslim Brotherhood, a powerful opposition voice that has sent mixed signals about future relations with Israel.

On Feb, 3, Rashad al-Bayoumi, a deputy leader of the Brotherhood, called on the transition government to “dissolve the peace treaty with Israel.” Two days earlier, Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ezzat told CBS News that the group will “respect the peace treaty as long as Israel shows real progress” in negotiations with the Palestinians.

In her testimony, Mrs. Patterson criticized the interim military government for failing to stop violence against women and religious minorities. The transition government took over after massive demonstrations forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign in February.

“We are concerned about arbitrary arrest, overly rapid and nontransparent trials and attacks on religious groups, primarily, but not exclusively, against Christians,” she said.

“Some particularly disgusting abuses against women demonstrators have taken place, and we have called on the authorities to prosecute those who committed them.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Mrs. Patterson would replace Margaret Scobey, who has been ambassador in Cairo since 2008.

While serving as ambassador to Pakistan, Mrs. Patterson refused to provide U.S. security to Benazir Bhutto two months before the charismatic political leader was assassinated in a bomb attack in December 2007.

In a classified cable, the ambassador concluded that assigning a security team to protect Mrs. Bhutto “would not be consistent with the movements of a political campaign.”

GAGA WOWS SECOND ENVOY

Another U.S. ambassador has flipped over Lady Gaga.

The superstar pop singer with exaggerated eyeliner and teal-colored hair is in Tokyo this week to help Japan’s tourism industry recover from the financial disaster of the nuclear reactor meltdown that panicked foreigner visitors.

At a press conference Thursday, she hugged and kissed U.S. Ambassador John Roos, who says Lady Gaga can help coax tourists to return to Japan.

“I had breakfast with some U.S.-Japan think tank experts who said to me, ‘Mr. Ambassador, what can we do in order to strengthen the strategic, economic and people-to-people relations between Japan and the United States?’ ” Mr. Roos told reporters.

“And I had one answer. Lady Gaga.”

Earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador David H. Thorne in Rome was thrilled that Lady Gaga accepted his invitation for her to march in Italy’s gay pride parade.

“Lady Gaga has been a public advocate for LGBT issues, which are very important to us,” Mr. Thorne said, referring to the initials for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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