The Edge: Want a Friend in Egypt? Hire a Camel

National Journal Staff

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Want a Friend in Egypt? Hire a Camel.

Let's not kid ourselves: America will likely have no "allies" in the new Egyptian government, no matter who emerges on top.

Even Mohamed ElBaradei, the Westernized former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency who could be interim prime minister, will never be "Washington's guy." During his 12 years as IAEA chief, ElBaradei proved a constant irritation to Washington (though he was often right about Iraq and Iran).

As the future of Egypt hangs in the balance, neither ElBaradei nor the odd mix of authoritarian-democratic voices emerging has any patience for Washington's meddling. They are largely beyond our control and will stay that way.

So don't get caught up in the debate over what President Obama could do to shape the outcome. Though U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson presciently warned ousted President Mohamed Morsi in a February speech that he was on the verge of failing economically and politically, she also became the Messenger of Hedged Bets, finding herself blamed by both the secular and Islamist sides for trying to work with both.

It's a no-winner, folks.

Michael Hirsh


CONSERVATIVE ISLAMIST GROUP RETREATS FROM NEGOTIATIONS IN EGYPT. The ultraconservative Al Nour party said today it was stepping away from participation in talks to form an interim government in Egypt following the military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, creating new challenges for the country's effort to transition to a new political order, The New York Times reports. A spokesman for the party said the decision was prompted by a "massacre" earlier at an officers' club where more than 30 people were reportedly killed. Meanwhile, violence in the country continued to build: More than 50 people were killed in Cairo in a clash between the army and Morsi supporters today, reportedly during morning prayers. Read more

  • Want to follow Egypt closely? Al Jazeera's live blog is writing all day long. Read more

RICK PERRY WILL NOT SEEK ANOTHER TERM AS TEXAS GOVERNOR IN 2014. Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced today he will not seek an unprecedented fourth full term as governor next year, the Associated Press reports. "The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership," Perry said at a news conference, adding that he will "pray and reflect and work to determine my own future path." Perry's decision leaves open the door for another White House run in 2016 and clears a path for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to run for governor. Perry is the longest-serving governor in Texas history, having taken over for George W. Bush in December 2000. Read more

WIKILEAKS URGES CUBA TO HELP SNOWDEN. WikiLeaks has called on Cuba to publicly offer asylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden after Raul Castro stated his support for the other Latin American nations that have offered Snowden help, Politico reports. While not supporting Snowden directly, Castro's comments bode well for Snowden's chances of finding a home, The Atlantic Wire's Connor Simpson reports. The biggest obstacle Snowden still faces is making it from the Sheremetyevo airport transit zone, where he has spent roughly two weeks, to one of the countries that have offered him asylum. Thus far these include Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. Read more

  • Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, backed Snowden's decision to flee the United States in a Washington Post op-ed, saying that Snowden would be "incommunicado" in a prison cell had he stayed. Read more

NTSB STILL INVESTIGATING SAN FRANCISCO CRASH. Investigators said Sunday that the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed at the San Francisco airport descended at a dangerously slow speed, prompting questions as to whether pilot error may be to blame, The Wall Street Journal reports. The pilot at the controls was still in training to operate the Boeing 777 and had just 43 hours of experience flying the jet, according to the South Korean airline. National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Deborah Hersman on Monday called the possibility that one of the two deaths resulted from the victim being run over by an emergency vehicle a "very serious issue" and added that the agency will interview today all four pilots who were on board the plane. Read more

  • The frantic evacuation of 305 people from Asiana Flight 214 was rife with drama, harrowing personal stories, and acts of heroism, the Associated Press reports. Read more

OBAMA WANTS SMARTER, REORGANIZED GOVERNMENT. President Obama said today that he wants his government to be more efficient and called on Congress to authorize him to reorganize executive branch agencies, Politico reports. Obama said new budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell will lead the effort to promote a "smarter government" and listed three goals: faster delivery of government services, reduction of waste and fraud, and provision of more government data to help business owners solve problems. Obama also said that the new class of 43 Presidential Innovation Fellows will help deliver a smarter, cheaper government. Read more

LAUTENBERG FAMILY ENDORSES PALLONE IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY. The family of late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., announced its endorsement of Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., in the Aug. 13 special Democratic primary election, Roll Call reports. The family chose Pallone over Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., state House Speaker Sheila Oliver, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the well-known favorite in the race. "Most of the candidates in the Democratic field have proven themselves as hardworking, progressive leaders who care deeply about New Jersey," the family said in its statement. "But only one of them stands out as ready to continue Frank Lautenberg's progressive leadership in the U.S. Senate. That candidate is Congressman Frank Pallone." Read more

DEMOCRATS AIM TO REVIVE ABORTION FIGHT IN 2014. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y., hopes to capitalize on the recent revival of the debate over reproductive rights by targeting GOP House members in upcoming Congressional elections, The Washington Post reports. Israel has identified 16 male House Republicans who comprise what he calls "the out-of-touch caucus" for their views on abortion and other issues. Eleven of the 16 represent districts won by Obama in 2012 and are seen as vulnerable. A National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman suggested that Democrats will be vulnerable among women voters due to concerns over Obamacare. Reproductive rights are less likely to impact close Senate races, but could influence the campaigns in Georgia and Kentucky, if candidates raise the issue. Read more

ELIOT SPITZER DRAWING ON 'WILLPOWER' FOR NYC COMPTROLLER BID. Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced Sunday his plan to run for New York City comptroller in this year's election, a decision he said he made as recently as this past weekend, CNN reports. Spitzer, who resigned as governor in 2008 following revelations about his involvement in a prostitution ring, attempted to brush off comparisons to political comebacks being made by similarly scandal-plagued politicians like former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who is running for New York City mayor. Spitzer said he would use "willpower" to overcome the jokes and scrutiny. "You need skin as thick as a rhinoceros." Spitzer told CBS. "And you need a desire to serve the public." Read more

  • Eliot Spitzer's relationship with former New York Gov. George Pataki shows that Spitzer is anything but a docile underling, National Journal's Matt Berman writes. Read more

TEXAS SENATE TO TAKE UP ABORTION RESTRICTIONS AGAIN. The Texas state Senate resumed its battle over proposed abortion restrictions this morning with a public hearing, as crowds on both sides of the issue were expected to rally outside the capitol, Reuters reports. Democrat Wendy Davis helped kill a bill with a filibuster last month that stalled the Republican efforts for passage until after the closure of the 30-day special session, prompting Republican Gov. Rick Perry to call another special session. Republicans in the state legislature resumed their effort to pass a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and tighten regulations for abortion clinics. Read more

  • Wealthy trial lawyer Amber Mostyn is Wendy Davis's most powerful political patron, but she may soon turn her attention to fundraising for Hillary Rodham Clinton, The New Republic reports. Read more


CONFIRMATION HEARING FOR COMEY AT FBI. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of James Comey Jr., to be director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 10 a.m. in 226 Dirksen. Comey is likely to face tough questions over his time in the Bush administrations, including his stances on torture and the Patriot Act.

KIDS' 'STATE DINNER.' The White House will hold a kids' "State Dinner" to honor the 54 winners of a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches as part of the first lady's "Let's Move!" initiative. The winners represent all U.S. states, three territories, and the District of Columbia.


"Super PACs may be bad for America, but they're very good for CBS." -- Leslie Moonves, the chief executive of the CBS Corporation (The New York Times)


BARACK'S NOT THE ONLY POLITICIAN IN THE FAMILY. Though Barack is likely the first name that comes to mind when thinking of politics and the last name Obama, he isn't the only politician in the family. GQ's Marshall Sella profiled Abon'go Malik Obama, President Obama's older half brother, during his bid to be the governor of Siaya, a county in Kenya—an effort he lost. Unlike his brother in 2008, Malik frequently refers to their father, touting their similarities, but simultaneously ties his decision to run to his brother. As Sella writes, Malik, "in the primal calculus of patriarchy ... has been cheated," with his younger brother garnering more fame, leaving him to shape "himself as a leader on his side of the planet—the non-Western Obama franchise." Read more


HOW HE SEES THEM. In a review of This Town, the new book from journalist Mark Leibovich, The New York Times' David Shribman highlights the author's descriptions of several senators: Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is "harshly judgmental of fat people"; Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is "a blister on the leadership of both chambers, or sometimes something more dangerous"; and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is "lens-happy, even by senatorial standards." Read more


ALTERNATE FLIGHT PLAN FOR SNOWDEN. Former CIA analyst Allen Thomson used Google Earth to map a route Edward Snowden could take from Moscow to Caracas without crossing into the airspace of U.S.-friendly countries. The lengthy "scenic route" would make for an expensive flight, but would allow Snowden to skirt Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Canada, and Florida, all of which are part of the standard commercial flight path between the two cities. See it here

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