Way to go, Egyptians!!
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed at Ben-Gurion Airport Sunday night for a two day visit. During her stay, Clinton is expected to meet with top level officials. Clinton arrived on a flight from Egypt shortly along with US Middle East envoy David Hale and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who represents Washington at the talks between world powers and Iran.
Before arriving in Israel, Clinton held her first visit to Egypt since the election of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. Earlier on Sunday, Egyptian protesters threw tomatoes and shoes at Clinton’s motorcade. A tomato struck an Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle landed near the armored cars carrying Clinton’s delegation in the port city of Alexandria.
A senior state department official said that neither Clinton nor her vehicle, which were around the corner from the incident, were struck by any of the projectiles.
Clinton and Morsi (Photo: AP)
Protesters chanted: “Monica, Monica”, a reference to Former President Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affair. Some chanted: “leave, Clinton”, Egyptian security officials said.
It was not clear who the protesters were or what political affiliations they had. Protesters outside Clinton’s hotel on Saturday night chanted anti-Islamist slogans, accusing the United States of backing the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power.
The assault on her motorcade came on a day Clinton spoke at the newly re-opened US consulate in Alexandria, addressing accusations the United States, which had long supported former President Hosni Mubarak, of backing one faction or another in Egypt following his ouster last year.
“I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which of course we cannot,” Clinton said.
Clinton also met the country’s top general, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, on Sunday to discuss Egypt’s turbulent democratic transition as the military wrestles for influence with the new president.
In their hour-long meeting, Clinton and Tantawi discussed Egypt’s political transition and the military’s “ongoing dialogue with President Morsi,” a US official travelling with Clinton said in an email brief.
“Tantawi stressed that this is what Egyptians need most now – help getting the economy back on track,” the official said.
Clinton “stressed the importance of protecting the rights of all Egyptians, including women and minorities”.
The talks also touched on the increasingly lawless Sinai region and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Speaking after the meeting, Tantawi said the army respected the presidency but would not be deterred from its role of “protecting” Egypt.
Ties with the United States, which provides Egypt with an annual $1.3 billion in military aid, were strained this year when Egyptian judicial police raided the offices of several US-backed non-governmental organizations on suspicion of illegal foreign funding and put several Americans on trial.
The spat ended when Egyptian authorities allowed the US citizens and other foreign workers to leave the country.
During her speech, Clinton said: “When we talk about supporting democracy, we mean real democracy.”
“To us real democracy means that every citizen has the right to live, work and worship as they choose, whether they are man or woman, Christian or Muslim.”
“Real democracy means that no group or faction or leader can impose their will, their ideology, their religion, their desires on anyone else.”
That was a message she is likely to have repeated in meetings on Sunday with women and Christians, both groups that fear their rights may be curtailed under a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government.
“She wanted, in very, very clear terms, particularly with the Christian group this morning, to dispel that notion and to make clear that only Egyptians can choose their leaders, that we have not supported any candidate, any party, and we will not,” a senior US official told reporters.