Robert Fisk: Baroness Ashton's low-key approach gets her all the way to Mohamed Morsi’s secret location

The 2011 Revolution showed how mature Egyptians were, even after dictatorships

Related Topics

What is Catherine Ashton for? She couldn’t even tell us what Mohamed Morsi said to her. Or even if she called him “President Morsi” or “Mr Morsi”. Or maybe just “Sir”.

And why, by the way, is she called a “High” Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU? I seem to recall that the EU chaps in Bosnia were always “High Representatives”. At least Baroness Ashton saw General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Vice-President ElBaradei. And Morsi, of course.

Yet given the number of power-folk who jet into the Middle East from America – Hillary Clinton comes to mind – maybe Lady Ashton’s mumsy approach and non-powerful appearance will have endeared her to Egypt’s leaders. And to be fair, she was a lot less pompous than Mohamed Morsi in his pre-coup speech when he talked about his legitimacy 15 times. General Sisi seemed to like Lady Ashton and – Egyptians being very intelligent people who don’t like being lectured by Americans – our “High” Representative might have gone down rather well in Cairo.

Obviously Morsi – or “President Morsi” or “(President) Morsi” – has not withdrawn his claim to the presidency, but as the days pass, a question has to be asked. The Muslim Brotherhood is not going to get back into power. Not unless it is voted-in in new elections. Is that what Lady Ashton told Mr/President Morsi? That it’s all up for the lads in Nasr City and Giza? That the army is still popular and that most Egyptians probably don’t want a return to the chaos and killings and economic collapse which – let us face it – symbolised Morsi’s rule? Somebody I trust very much watched Morsi’s speech that night and said that he sounded like Mubarak.

Which was true. But then General Sisi sounded a bit like Nasser the other day and Lady Ashton sounds a bit like my late Mum, down-to-earth, home-grown, not-there-to-preach; and she did – unlike anyone else – get to Morsi. She certainly presented a more active person than any of the Americans, though that is no great shakes. Obama has more or less packed up on Morsi, though this has less to do with any political wisdom than the fact that the US really has no foreign policy left in the region. And we shall soon see how Mr Kerry’s latest “peace process” forges ahead with the Israelis and the Palestinians, along with Martin Indyk who has never failed to fail in the region.

But back to Egypt. The 2011 Revolution – and its comparatively peaceful outcome (compared, for example, with Syria) – showed how mature the Egyptians were, even after decades of dictatorship. But the Muslim Brotherhood did not show the same maturity, which is why – let us remember – it was chatting to Mubarak rather than standing in Tahrir Square. But it did seize on that word legitimacy. So did the Egyptian army. Was that a word that Lady Ashton mentioned? I bet Morsi did.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’  

Children's TV shows like Grange Hill used to connect us to the real world

Grace Dent
An Indian bookseller waits for customers at a roadside stall on World Book and Copyright Day in Mumbai  

Novel translation lets us know what is really happening in the world

Boyd Tonkin
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine