Just last month, Secretary of State John Kerry quietly sent Egypt an additional $1.3 billion, even though Egypt has failed to live up to democracy standards. That largesse didn’t stop a prominent Egyptian politician from talking about Egypt’s “enemy” the United States in what some pundits are classifying as a classic and embarrassing “hot mic” moment.
President Mohammed Morsi gathered a group of politicians last week who thought they were speaking privately at a parliamentary meeting. But as seen in an Egyptian television video of the meeting — excerpts of which were later translated by the Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI) — they were actually on live television, cringingly discussing secret ways to stop Ethiopia’s Nile River dam project which threatens water flowing to Egypt.
The New York Times blog reports:
Unaware that their words were being broadcast live on a state-owned television channel, many of those seated around the table said the dam was in fact a secret American and Israeli plot to undermine Egypt that must be stopped at all costs.
The participants learned they were on live TV only after Magdi Ahmad Hussein, chairman of the Islamic Labor Party, suggested that all present vow not to leak any information to the media. Before being told he was on television, Hussein described the U.S. as an enemy [emphasis added]:
I’m very fond of battles. With the enemies, of course – with America and Israel, but this battle must be waged with maximum judiciousness and calm. Even though this is a secret meeting, we must all take an oath not to leak anything to the media, unless it is done officially by sister Pakinam [el-Sharkawy, a Morsi aide]. We need an official plan for popular national security, even if we…
The viewer sees him being handed a note, which presumably points out that his words are not confined to the room. Hussein laughs, then continues with the anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric: “Okay… Fine… The principles behind what I’m saying are not really secret… Our war is with America and Israel, not with Ethiopia. Therefore, engaging in a war… This is my opinion…”
President Morsi says out for the benefit of all in the room, “This meeting is being aired live on TV,” a comment which prompts laughter all around.
In damage control mode, as if he knew all along that he was on camera, Hussein followed up by saying, “I am not presenting a secret plan or anything. All the countries do what I am saying and what has been said by others. All countries with regional conflicts do that.”
“I say to the Egyptian people: Nobody can turn off your water supply – unless they want to turn the Egyptians into the world’s most extremist people. Imagine what this people would do if its water were turned off – what all 80 million of us would do to Israel and America if our water were turned off,” Hussein concluded [emphasis added].