President Trump’s defense secretary wants the Pentagon’s top civilian job to go to a onetime prominent supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, a group Trump may designate as a terrorist organization.
Not surprisingly, the White House is resisting the choice by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, of Anne Patterson to be undersecretary of defense for policy — the Pentagon’s fourth most powerful position.
While Patterson’s bona fides are not in question – she has served as an ambassador to Egypt, Pakistan, Colombia, El Salvador and the United Nations, along with being President Obama’s assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs – there is widespread concern, both at home and abroad, about her close ties to ousted Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Patterson’s support of Morsi and his Islamist government – and her denunciation of the 2013 protests against the Egyptian leader as mere as “street protests” – saw herself become the target of widespread criticism. Demonstrators plastered her face on signs and banners and made her the public face of the Obama administration’s policies in the North African nation.
“President Trump must go ahead with his listing of the Brotherhood.”– Sheikh Mohammed el Hajj Hassan, American-Muslim Alliance
The biggest pushback [from the White House] is that she was ambassador to Egypt immediately before and after the Morsi presidency,” a person familiar with the conversations told Politico. For Mattis’s part, he has “put her name forward and he doesn’t quite understand why people have an objection,” the person said.
Her poor standing among the Egyptian public seems to have rubbed off on President Trump and others within the White House at a time when the president is considering declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
Trump himself was often critical of President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has proposed a bill to call for declaring the Brotherhood a terror organization. In the past, it has been accused of supporting terrorist groups around the world, and several countries, including Muslim nations, have banned them.