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Obama takes flak over foreign policy

| Saturday, July 6, 2013, 4:48 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The military overthrow of the democratically elected government in Egypt, for decades America's most important Arab ally, has spurred a fierce debate about whether the Obama administration's Mideast policy has been too passive and ineffective.

President Obama declared that U.S. allegiance was to “democratic principles” when Egypt's military ousted President Mohamed Morsy on Wednesday, but critics charge that the White House made only halfhearted attempts to steer Morsy's increasingly authoritarian government toward democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights.

“They've been late and slow, and not taken these problems seriously,” Michele Dunne, a former State Department official and administration adviser on Egypt who heads the nonpartisan Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, said on Friday.

Obama repeatedly failed “to use leverage to ensure that Egyptian authorities adhere to democratic principles,” said the Project on Middle East Democracy, an advocacy group in Washington.

The critics, who include Democratic foreign policy stalwarts as well as Republicans, say the upheaval in Egypt, on top of the administration's inability to stem the civil war in Syria or persuade Iran to curb its nuclear program, adds a blot to Obama's foreign policy record.

President Obama on Saturday reiterated that the United States is not aligned with and is not supporting any particular Egyptian political party or group and again condemned the ongoing violence across Egypt.

Obama made those points during a telephone conference with the National Security Council about developments in Egypt, according to a statement issued by the White House.

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