The Cable

Dominican Republic Says It's Always Been Cool With Gay Ambassadors

Last week, the Dominican Republic kept quiet after President Obama's nomination of a gay U.S. ambassador triggered intense condemnation from religious groups in the country. But now the island nation tells The Cable it's totally fine with gay ambassadors.

On Friday, religious leaders called on Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina to reject Obama's appointment of James "Wally" Brewster as U.S. ambassador to the country. Brewster, who would be the seventh U.S. ambassador in history to be openly gay, was a fundraiser for Obama and currently works at the Chicago consulting firm SB&K.

"If he arrives, he'll suffer and will be forced to leave," warned Vicar Pablo Cedano, who told the AP the nomination showed "a lack of respect, of consideration, that they send us that kind of person as ambassador." Rev. Cristobal Cardozo, leader of the Dominican Evangelical Fraternity, said the appointment was offensive. "It's an insult to good Dominican customs," he said. "You can expect anything from the U.S.," added a similarly miffed Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, president of the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate.

At the time, Dominican officials declined to comment, telling the AP "It would be in bad taste for the state to comment on this nomination." But the country's embassy in Washington tells The Cable that Brewster has been accepted and his sexuality is no big deal.

"We can confirm that Mr. Brewster has already been accepted by the Dominican Republic as the next United States Ambassador to the country," reads a statement from the embassy. In fact, the embassy says officials accepted the pick from the get-go even though the government previously declined to defend Brewster. "Indeed, the standard procedure is for a Government to grant the agreement for a proposed Ambassadorship before the nominating country announces its decision."

The embassy added that it represents a tolerant government and looks forward to working with Brewster. "The Dominican Republic is a democracy with a vibrant media and a wide diversity of opinions on every conceivable topic," the statement read. "However, it is the position of the Government of the Dominican Republic that a person´s sexual preference is strictly a personal matter and it looks forward to working constructively with Mr. Brewster in his official capacity once his nomination is approved by the US Senate."

 

The Cable

GOP Hammers Obama for 'Supporting the Wrong People' in Egypt

As Egypt's top brass flirts with a military coup, the Obama administration's reluctant support of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood is exposing it to attacks from the right.

For months, liberal Egyptians have complained that the United States treated President Mohamed Morsy's government with kid gloves as it implemented increasingly authoritarian reforms, from delaying parliamentary elections to forcing through a new constitution. Now, as the Muslim Brotherhood refuses to back down, Republicans are hammering the Obama administration for its Egypt policy. But they're hitting from different angles: some don't like what they see as administration support of an increasingly-authoritarian government in Cairo; others want to increase the amount of military aid to Egypt; while a third, fringe faction is sure that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the White House.

For a number of top Republicans in the House, it's the White House's tacit support of Morsy. "The Egyptian turmoil stems from the Morsy government's predictable power grab, which the Obama Administration has been far too accepting of," Rep, Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, tells The Cable. "U.S. aid has failed to compel the Morsy government to undertake the political and economic reforms needed to avert this crisis."

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, offered a similar condemnation. "Unfortunately, the Obama administration thinks it can woo Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood just as it thinks it can negotiate with Iran's Ayatollah," he told The Cable. "The United States must stand firm on its values and make clear our objectives in the region."

An early target in this week's turmoil is U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, who was denounced by anti-government activists last month after criticizing street protests and defending U.S. relations with Morsy.

"Some say that street action will produce better results than elections. To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical," Patterson said at a seminar in Cairo. "Egypt needs stability to get its economic house in order, and more violence on the streets will do little more than add new names to the lists of martyrs."

On Sunday, demonstrators held signs of Patterson's face crossed out with red lines with the word "Hayzaboon," an insult akin to the word "crone." Now miffed Egyptian protesters aren't the only ones Patterson will have to contend with. Republicans are sounding off too.

"The Ambassador's remarks [were] a reflection of President Obama's complete disregard for political reality and his administration's failure to leverage our contacts within Egypt's military and support efforts to steer Egypt away from Islamist radicalism," McCaul told The Cable.

Patterson, who is reportedly in line for a promotion as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, also came under criticism from Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), who said she appeared to "offer support for a regime with a rather checkered record of support for democratic processes and institutions."

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment, but at Monday's daily briefing, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell acknowledged the anti-Patterson protest signs. "We find it abhorrent and reprehensible," Ventrell said. "The ambassador has very much stated U.S. policies." He added that "we don't take sides," and that U.S. policy is "focused on the broader goal of reconciliation between the two groups."

Since Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, the U.S. has committed to a $1.3 billion annual package of military assistance to Egypt.  Increasingly, this long-standing relationship has divided the neoconservative and anti-interventionist wings of the Republican foreign policy establishment. On the one side is Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who just months ago lobbied for an additional $480 million in budget assistance to Egypt. On the other side, is Sen. Rand Paul and a growing cadre of Republicans advocating for deeper cuts to foreign aid, with Egypt at top of the list.

"How can we have influence in troubled parts of the world when we cuddle up to regimes responsible for much of the trouble?" Paul said in a statement Monday. "The Obama administration announced in March that we no longer had enough money to continue giving White House tours due to the sequester. That same month, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Morsy and pledged $250 million in additional aid to Egypt." 

Lastly, a fringe element of the Republican Party is opposed to Obama's Egypt policy for a third reason: The insidious influence of Muslim Brotherhood "advisors" inside the White House. "Since this administration is advised by Muslim Brothers then of course they're going to promote those in the Muslim Brotherhood," Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert told The Cable. Gohmert did not recycle his discredited allegation that former Clinton Aide Huma Abedin is in cahoots with the Brotherhood, but he did mention others who allegedly explain why the "government is supporting the wrong people." Some conspiracy theories die hard.