President Barack Obama made some curious comments on Wednesday about the current relationship between the United States and Egypt. In a sit-down with the Spanish-language channel Telemundo, he responded to the violent anti-American attacks taking place in the Middle East. He also delved into his views on whether Egypt is still a U.S. ally — and his answer may surprise you.
When asked by a reporter if the U.S. still considers the Middle Eastern nation a key supporter, Obama attempted to stay neutral in his assessment. But his response, regardless, paints a picture of a strained relationship that was not-so-long-ago in a much better standing.
“I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy,” the president proclaimed.
This assessment is starkly different than the one that former Vice President Dick Cheney gave back in 2011. During a speech to conservatives, he discussed former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was, at the time, being urged to resign.
“He’s been a good friend and ally of the United States,” Cheney said of Mubarak.
Considering the ongoing fallout and political transformation following the Arab Spring last year, the loss of Egypt as a U.S. ally in a region that is anything but friendly to Western interests is noteworthy. After all, Mubarak supported the U.S. for decades.
Additionally, during the Telemundo interview, Obama discussed the notion that the U.S. is in a waiting and assessment period, as the country waits to see what Egypt’s response to the U.S. embassy attack will be. The president also reiterated his belief that the nation’s leaders need to protect U.S. interests there and that he’s hopeful that the Egyptian government, led by President Mohammed Morsi, will respond in a manner that is favorable to the American government.
According to the Associated Press, Morsi did come out today against the attacks. The leader has vowed to prevent other atrocities on foreign embassies in Cairo and claimed that the Egyptian people reject such “unlawful acts.” During a conversation with Obama, Morsi said that he condemned “in the clearest terms” the Libyan attack in Benghazi that led to the deaths of four Americans as well.
MSNBC has Obama’s words on the matter, below: