Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, former Ambassador to Israel, Russia and the United Nations and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, joined HuffPost Live's Ahmed Shihab-Eldin to discuss Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's many mistakes and to assess who's to blame for the country's current instability.
Ambassador Pickering described Egypt as "a singularly important player" in the Middle East, and said that the problems facing Morsi and his government only add to the region's growing instability.
Inside Egypt, he said, the emergence of a Tahrir Square third force and lack of any cohesive leadership from the electoral process — in addition to what he described as "egregious" errors of the "present ruling arrangements and some of their putative and nonputative partners on the religious side" — combine to make it "very difficult to be positive now about what's going on," both inside Egypt and within the wider region.
Pickering doubts that outside players such as Germany, where Morsi visited Wednesday, can have much influence, but gave the Obama administration three pieces of advice for dealing with the instability.
"First, do no harm," he said. "Secondly, seek to cultivate opportunities with all of the players that are out there. Thirdly, I think an early jump in one direction or another, very much parallel to what happened two years ago as Mubarak faded from the scene, has to be watched very, very carefully."
While he cautioned that the United States has "almost no capability...to give [Morsi] very useful advice," he said that the Obama administration should "focus very hard on the kind of advice that would hopefully, even at this late date, help to pull him in a direction which would be closer to where the street is going to push him in any event, and closer to where we would like to have him go."