Egypt: Obama’s Honduras Re-dux?

By Ben Barrack

Four years ago, almost to the day of the removal of Mohammed Mursi as president of Egypt, another head of state whom Obama sided with, was removed by his country’s military. On June 28, 2009, the president of Honduras – Manuel Zelaya – was abruptly awakened, put on a plane, and exiled to Costa Rica. Does that sound like a coup?

Roberto Micheletti of Honduras and Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt

Roberto Micheletti of Honduras and Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt

It wasn’t; not in the slightest. It was actually the exact opposite. Everything that happened – right up until the point where Zelaya was kicked out of Honduras – was done to prevent a coup and to preserve the Honduran constitution. The only thing arguably done wrong was putting Zelaya on that plane; the constitution called for him to be tried for treason.

Nonetheless, Obama did what his emissary to Egypt – John McCain – did this week. He called it a coup:

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed the sentiment:

The Honduran constitution makes it very clear that no president may run for re-election. Even a suggestion or attempt to do so is considered a serious offense. Zelaya, a very close ally to the deceased Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, was in the process of attempting to follow his mentor’s model for grabbing power.

What prompted Zelaya’s removal was a slick attempt on his part to issue a referendum under the guise of it being a survey, that proposed changes to the Constitution that would allow him to remain on as president. This was a no-no and the support for his removal was overwhelming:

In the case of Zelaya, the Supreme Court ruled that the military should forcibly remove him from office. The vote was unanimous. Once Zelaya’s removal was complete, the constitution called for the head of the legislature to replace him. That man’s name was Roberto Micheletti. – Unsung Davids, p. 66

When it comes to Mursi’s removal in Egypt, the people there did what the government of Honduras did in 2009; they demanded it. The military – in both cases – acted. After being sworn in on June 30, 2012, Mursi never stopped pushing for an Islamist state. During the Christmas season, Mursi essentially did what Zelaya tried to do. He forced himself onto his country against its wishes by signing a constitution based on Sharia law.

In Honduras, Micheletti proved to be a very formidable opponent for Obama, the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), and others. He never buckled. In fact, he ultimately won and Obama clearly lost.

Forces outside of Honduras made the situation worse in much the same way that Senators McCain and Graham did in Egypt. They demanded that Micheletti reinstate Zelaya. The forces arrayed against Micheletti were incredible. At one point, it was reported that the only two nations which supported him were Israel and Taiwan.

The only justifiable thing Micheletti’s opponents could point to when arguing against Zelaya’s removal was sending the latter into exile. Yet, even that seemed to work in Micheletti’s favor but only because he didn’t back down. The longer Micheletti stayed strong, the more the world got to see just how nutty Zelaya was:

…Zelaya was being deliberately provocative, literally walking into Honduras from Nicaragua to make a very dangerous political point. It was extremely reckless with potentially disastrous consequences for the region. – Unsung Davids, p. 73

Micheletti did not take the bait. Instead, he wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal.

This move by Zelaya was so brazen that it proved to be a reflection of the Obama administration’s poor judgment. Even then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to begrudgingly denounce what Zelaya had done, calling it “reckless” when forced to address it:

As foolish as that move was, Zelaya doubled down on the behavior when he returned to Honduras under cover of darkness and surfaced in the Brazilian embassy. The unflappable Micheletti didn’t take this bait either:

In an attempt to reassure Brazil that the Honduran military would not storm the embassy to arrest Zelaya, Micheletti said of Zelaya’s presence at the the embassy: he “can stay five to ten years” if he wants to. – Unsung Davids, p. 77

Here is an obviously biased report from Al-Jazeera on Zelaya’s visit to the embassy:

The lesson of Honduras is that courage triumphed; Obama lost to a much smaller opponent. Micheletti held down the fort for just over six months before gladly handing the reigns over to his successor. Unlike Zelaya, Micheletti was a reluctant leader and is almost sure to go down in history as Honduras’ best for one simple reason; he fought the good fight, stared down the world, and won. It may take time but people always admire that very rare trait.

In this parallel between Honduras and Egypt, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi is playing the role of Micheletti. The latter is facing tremendous international pressure with the added element of Muslim Brotherhood forces and much more at stake for the world. Both he and Micheletti were / are on the side of nationalism and to this point, al-Sissi is following Micheletti’s playbook in that he’s not backing down in the face of this pressure.

Via the Washington Post:

In his first interview since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi last month, Egypt’s commanding general sharply criticized the U.S. response, accusing the Obama administration of disregarding the Egyptian popular will and of providing insufficient support amid threats of a civil war.

“You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won’t forget that,” said an indignant Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, speaking of the U.S. government. “Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians?”

Zelaya was a hard-core leftist and Marxist who was a protege stooge of Hugo Chavez. Mohammed Mursi is a hard-core Islamist who wants to impose Sharia law on Egyptians.

The Barack Obama administration has supported both men. In Honduras, Obama lost.

If el-Sissi follows the same formula Micheletti did, Obama could very well lose again. However, this time, the loss would be much more significant, in part, because the truth about Benghazi involves Egypt and the odds of that truth coming out increase the longer el-Sissi remains in power.

If that happens, Obama will have a major problem on his hands.


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