U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s upcoming meeting with Egypt’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, is a golden opportunity to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to defend women’s rights not only in Egypt but around the world.
However, the meeting could be challenging as some of the attitudes from the political and religious organization known as The Muslim Brotherhood towards women are extremely conservative. This has put pressure on the young administration of President Morsi for drafting a new and modern constitution which emphasizes the rights of women and ethnic and religious minorities in Egypt.
And that’s why Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person for the job. Clinton’s clout and credibility in the world stage will permit her to negotiate with Morsi in friendly but resolute terms. Though the United States was supportive of the democratic uprising that ended the decades-long rule of previous Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, it’s not a secret that the outcome of the election – which swept the Muslim Brotherhood into power – was not the one desired by the U.S. State Department.
However, since this was the outcome desired by the Egyptian people, the United States as well as the international community must respect the results, and try their best to build a cordial relationship with the young Morsi Administration. Edward Walker, a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel said it best: “This was never our favorite result, but on the other hand Secretary Clinton has been at the forefront of our urging Egypt towards democracy, so it would be hard to say now that we aren’t going to recognize the democratic result.”
The challenge for Hillary – as well as for the United States’ Middle East policy, is – as Walker said – “to understand [and put behind] the problematic history with The Brotherhood, and see how can we move forward,” not an easy task and one that – according to State Department officials – one that Secretary Clinton was reluctant to deliver herself. However, Clinton has never been known for shrinking in front of daunting challenges. Millions of Egyptan women will be grateful and thrilled of having a strong ally in America's favorite secretary of state.