Embassy Row: Make peace with the past

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The U.S. ambassador to Egypt was alarmed as she watched Egyptians mark the second anniversary of the ouster of an autocratic leader with riots in the streets against the new Islamist-led government.

“This is the last thing Egypt needs,” Ambassador Anne W. Patterson said this week in a speech to the Rotary Club in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city.

Mrs. Patterson urged President Mohammed Morsi to respect civil rights as he tries to deal with the turmoil that broke out two weeks ago, when demonstrators accused his government of abusing civil rights and failing to revive a tottering economy.

The strife spread this week when hundreds of riot police on Tuesday shut down Interior Ministry offices in seven provincial capitals and claimed Mr. Morsi’s government had ordered them to break up demonstrations for political reasons.

In her speech, Mrs. Patterson noted that many Egyptian Christians, Jews and other religious minorities are worried about restrictions on their freedom to worship under Mr. Morsi’s government, which is backed by the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Many are now frightened that they have no role or even that they will be unsafe in Egypt’s future,” she said. “That is a tragedy.”

She also urged Mr. Morsi to work with the International Monetary Fund to underpin Egypt’s economy, which she noted is propped up by cash infusions from Turkey and Qatar.

Egypt’s numbers paint a bleak picture,” she said.

Mrs. Patterson expressed her sadness with the condition of Egypt two years after demonstrators forced Hosni Mubarak out of office on Feb. 11, 2011, ending three decades of his autocratic rule.

“What should have been a day of celebration was marred instead by violence in the streets,” she said. “Two years ago, the world stood by in amazement, as the people of Egypt took control of their future. This year, they watched rock-wielding youths face off police armed with truncheons and tear gas.”

CANADA SUSPICIOUS

U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson unnerved Canadians with comments that some suspect link U.S. approval of a major oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas to some undefined Canadian “progress” on the “environment and climate change.”

His comments this week to a reporter from The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto were a bit vague, but his words were specific enough to anger the newspaper’s editorial board.

Mr. Jacobson, the ambassador to Canada since 2009, talked of the need for Canada to make “more progress” on the control of greenhouse gases.

He also said such progress could help “an awful lot of folks” make up their minds about the Keystone XL Pipeline, an environmentalist flash point, especially for Democrats and President Obama, who has been blocking the proposed extension. Mr. Obama is expected to make a final decision soon, as activists, including actress Daryl Hannah, get arrested for protesting outside the White House. Pipeline opponents are planning a major demonstration in Washington on Sunday.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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