The last article written by the well-known American writer, David Ignatius, and picked up by Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, leaves a lot to be desired. Ignatius is known to be close to American President Barack Obama. Some even consider him to be the White House’s journalistic face. Either way, there is no question that he is recognized as being an advocate of President Obama’s policies. From this standpoint, what he wrote is remarkable.
Ignatius’ article was about the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of the utter chaos that people call the Arab Spring in Tunisia in December 2010 and in Egypt in January 2011. He points out that Mrs. Hillary Clinton, a current presidential candidate and secretary of state for Obama in his first term, had a deeper vision than Barack Obama concerning the correct political stance for events in Egypt — when the Egyptian streets were in a rampage — at first, against the interior minister and later against President Mubarak himself. The Muslim Brotherhood took over the scene next, and we all know what happened from there. Ignatius said in the article, “[Obama’s demand for Mubarak’s immediate departure] was arguably among the biggest mistakes of Obama’s presidency. And, interestingly, it’s an issue where Hillary Clinton was much closer to being right than the president.”* Ignatius quotes Hillary [in her memoir] concerning the Egyptian dilemma, “Senior Cabinet officials, including me, counseled caution. But, other members of the team appealed once again to the president’s idealism and argued that events on the ground were moving too quickly for us to wait. He was swayed.” Ignatius continued, “Obama went on television the night of Feb. 1 and said, ‘the transition must begin now.’” Ignatius added, “Nobody could have forecast the catastrophic chain of events that followed the Tahrir Square uprising.”
This is not true. There were those who anticipated, early on, the consequences of the so-called Arab Spring, which have been documented at the journalistic level. On the political level, the late King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates warned of this fate. They warned President Obama specifically, and this is also documented. It’s nice to see introspection and the moderating of a position. The writer himself was among those promoting chaos in Egypt in the name of the “Spring.” What is not so great, however, is this commandeering and also rejection of positions held by those who saw it from the beginning and to then advertise this with a bullhorn.
*Editor’s note: This quote was paraphrased. The actual quote reads “Obama’s embrace of the Tahrir Square protesters’ demand for Mubarak’s immediate departure was idealistic, popular and understandable at the time. But it was arguably among the biggest mistakes of Obama’s presidency. And, interestingly, it’s an issue where Hillary Clinton was much closer to being right than the president.”