Egyptian Foreign Minister: US Should Not Impose Will on Egypt; Violence Against Uprising Possible

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PBS NewsHour‘s Margaret Warner has secured very important interviews with Egypt Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
In the five minute clip above, Foreign Minister Gheit is pushing back, telling the US that its expectations are out of line with political and time realities in Egypt. The Egyptian government, including the Foreign Minister in this interview, have forcefully rebuffed Vice President Biden’s and President Obama’s request for the Egyptian government to suspend its stifling Emergency Law.
In this linked one and half minute video clip, the Foreign Minister warns of violence if the protesters don’t back off.
The establishment in Egypt seems to be regaining its balance, pushing back and resisting pressure from those in the street as well as the US government.
This is very problematic, very disconcerting. The three key issues the administration has been calling for is an end to oppression, respect for the rights of protesters, and immediate transition to a new political framework broadly inclusive of the opposition. It is increasingly clear that the Egyptian establishment is not going to move along a course that is acceptable either to the protesters in Tahrir Square or to the broad international community.
The full interview follows on the extended page.
— Steve Clemons


MARGARET WARNER: Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, thank you for having us.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: Thank you, thank you for coming.
MARGARET WARNER: I’d first like to ask you how you see, how you define what’s going on in Egypt right now. Is this an uprising, is this a movement, is this a revolution?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: It is an upheaval, an upheaval that is transforming Egypt from one era to a new era. We’re moving into a new era, no doubt about it and the country has changed tremendously since the 25th of January. That is in a nutshell.
MARGARET WARNER: Now the United States has had a lot to say about this and just yesterday Vice President Biden called your Vice President Suleiman and asked for prompt and meaningful changes, immediate progress. How do you take that, do you regard that as helpful advice from a friend?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: No, not at all. Why is it so? Because when you speak about prompt, immediate, now – as if you are imposing on a great country like Egypt, a great friend that has always maintained the best of relationship with the United States, you are imposing your will on him. Egypt and the president of Egypt, the government of Egypt have already started and the Egyptian president laid down a road map and allowed or asked the vice president to engage in discussions on the road map with the different opposition groups. And the road map is moving forward according not only stages and steps but also according to a time span, specific times to do this, to do this, to do this.
So for Americans to come and say “Change is now,” but already we are changing! Or “You start now,” we started last week. So better understand the Egyptian sensitivities and better encourage the Egyptians to move forward and to do what is required. That is my advice to you.
MARGARET WARNER: The Americans say – and these WikiLeaks cables show – that for years privately they’ve been saying to you all “lift the emergency law, make sure the elections for parliament are fair,” and got stonewalled.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: The issue of the emergency law as Vice President Biden stated yesterday, when I read it this morning I was really amazed, because, because right now, as we speak, we have 17,000 prisoners loose in the streets out of jails that have been destroyed. How can you ask me to sort of disband that emergency law while I’m in difficulty? Give me time, allow me to have control to stabilize the nation, to stabilize the state and then we would look into the issue.
Because you have, you have a country in transformation. What we are in right now – supposedly, imaginary – we imagine ourselves in a boat in the midst of the Nile moving from one bank to the other. Give us the time to row and to go with the current and see how we will reach that point.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you feel you’re getting a consistent message from Washington and do you feel that the Obama administration is standing behind your government’s view that President Mubarak, Vice President Suleiman should manage this process?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: The first four, five days it was confusing message and I was, I was often angry infuriated. But through discussions with the administration, I think now we have an administration that understands exactly the difficulties of the situation and the dangers and the risks that are entailed in a rush towards chaos without end. So the administration’s message now is much better.
MARGARET WARNER: So what is at stake now for the U.S.-Egypt relationship? Do you think that however this turns out, it’s been unalterably changed?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: It shouldn’t. We have to maintain a good relationship, and we have to work together, Egypt and the United States, for a simple reason. The United States is the major power, the global power in the world. But Egypt is one of the most important if not the most important country in the Arab region. We have to help Egypt in order to regain its status and its standing, and then we continue working together to stabilize the region, to stabilize the region.
MARGARET WARNER: You’ve worked closely with the Mubarak government for two decades; you’ve been foreign minister for nearly seven years. Give us a little insight into his thinking, I understand you met with him this morning.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: The thinking of the president?
MARGARET WARNER: Of the president himself.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: The president is an honest person who takes the wellbeing and the stability of the country. He believes strongly in stability – stability that would ensure development and progress.
MARGARET WARNER: Has he even considered stepping down as the demonstrators are demanding?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: He believes and he publicly said so: He believes that if he steps down or relinquishes his authority or nominates somebody else then first that is unconstitutional but second, he thinks that it would entail chaos and it would entail violence and it would entail also opportunities for those who would wish to act in a manner to threaten the state, the stability of the country and society. He has a constitutional responsibility to defend the Constitution and to defend the national security of Egypt.
MARGARET WARNER: Does he feel that he’s indispensable then?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: As a president, not as a person. As a president.
MARGARET WARNER: Was your government caught by surprise by this? I ask because —
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: I think yes, all of us. I think yes.
I have to tell you – Egypt is not Tunisia. Tunisia is a smaller society ruled by strict behavior internally. Egypt was for many, many decades an open society in terms of press and media and TV and discussions and we have the institutions. If it were not so, we would not have that kind of internal discussion among all this for the last two weeks, since the upheaval started.
MARGARET WARNER: All of the world has been watching these pictures on television. What do you think this has done to the image of Egypt. Has it tarnished Egypt internationally?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: For awhile, I think, yes. It looked bad. That Wednesday when two groups, thousands of people clashing with stones, that not only looked bad, it was ugly. That is not the civility of Egypt or the civilized society of Egypt.
MARGARET WARNER: So what explains that day, this was just last week, with camels and horses and thugs going into Tahrir Square into what had really been a peaceful demonstration?
You don’t hold the government responsible for what happened that day?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: I do not think the government was responsible for that, because, as I was telling you, my office overlooks the Nile. I saw them coming, in hundreds and then in thousands and I felt they should be stopped. But we didn’t have enough forces to stop them from coming into the square. And the president yesterday established a commission to investigate particularly that incident.
MARGARET WARNER: Meanwhile, if you go back to the reality in the streets, the reality in the streets is you’ve got hundreds of thousands in Tahrir Square, demanding that Mubarak must go now.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: And then chaos.
MARGARET WARNER: And then chaos?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: Absolutely. Then chaos.
MARGARET WARNER: Explain.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: Because when you have a president who is stepping down, you have one of two possibilities. The demonstrators and the opposition insisting that they compose a government unconstitutional. And then maybe the armed forces would feel compelled to intervene in a more drastic manner. Do we want the armed forces to assume the responsibility of stabilizing the nation thru imposing martial law, and army in the streets. The army is in defense of the borders of the country and the national security of the state. But for the army to rule, to step in, to put its friends on the scene, that would be a very dangerous possibility.
MARGARET WARNER: So each step that Vice President Suleiman makes, and they do appear concessions, are being dismissed by the people in the street as too little and too late. How do you get ahead of this?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: (sighs) There has to be some rationality with the people in Tahrir Square. We have to rationalize their actions, and the wise men of Egypt would have to come together and decide that is the course we will take.
MARGARET WARNER: And by “wise men” you mean these unofficial mediators who have risen up?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: Yes and members of parties.
MARGARET WARNER: And finally though, what is the danger that if this situation continues, this standoff, that something could ignite it again, into violence?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: Very much so, very possible, and stupid fellow would throw a Molotov bomb against a tank or a solider and it explodes. So we have to be careful. This is our country. And not only we have to be careful. We have to move step by step according to a road map where we would reach some time in June, have stabilized, have changed, have transformed, changed the Constitution, changed the parliament or restructured parliament and then we proceed for presidential elections and we allow the new president, who would be appointed sometime in October we allow him to disband parliament, to change parliament, to do whatever with the country.
MARGARET WARNER: And you think the people will accept that?
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: I hope. I hope that we are all rational enough to go on a gradual change. An abrupt sudden change might entail very deep risks for Egypt. Chaos. Violence. I detest, I hate to see the country being engulfed in that kind of violence.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Minister, thank you.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: Thank you very much. Thank you.

Comments

33 comments on “Egyptian Foreign Minister: US Should Not Impose Will on Egypt; Violence Against Uprising Possible

  1. samuelburke says:

    “The new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,
    Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for example, cornered the
    market on incoherence and contradiction when she observed
    that “Mr Mubarak should… immediately schedule legitimate,
    democratic, internationally recognised elections,” adding
    however that “the US should learn from past mistakes and
    support a process which includes candidates who meet basic
    standards for leaders of responsible nations — candidates who
    have publicly renounced terrorism, uphold the rule of law, [and]
    recognise Egypt’s… peace agreement with the Jewish state of
    Israel.”
    In other words, Ros-Lehtinen supports a democracy where we
    (not they) set up the criteria. Not quite “respect for the will of the
    people,” but still better than former Republican speaker of the
    House Newt Gingrich’s partisan tirade.
    Gingrich, who is reported to be considering a presidential run, is
    shallow and remarkably uninformed about most Middle East
    issues. He gets by largely because he sounds so authoritative
    and always has a clever quip or two. In Gingrich’s assessment of
    the current situation, “there’s a real possibility in a few weeks…
    that Egypt will join Iran, and join Lebanon, and join Gaza, and
    join the things that are happening that are extraordinarily
    dangerous to us.”
    Having thus displayed almost no understanding of the Middle
    East, Gingrich goes on to ridicule US President Barack Obama’s
    “naivet

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    The tone of the interview (from reading, not listening) seems to suggest the kind of discomfort a 1950s American DAD might feel when he sees his 1960s son come home with long hair, body piercings, a gay lover, a burnt flag, an iPod and a laptop, friends who aren’t WHITE….
    It seems that everything the regime takes seriously, order, fatherliness, stability, constancy, torture to keep it all together — it seems that it’s all being taken away by unruly children and the dad-types can’t quite fathom why they aren’t appreciated for the ORDER they have maintained against all odds and oddities.
    It’s not hypocrisy as someone above suggested. It’s upset at the ingratitude that the father generation is totally shocked at having to bear after all it’s done for the child generation.
    Isn’t it funny how one can become convinced that the torture one inflicts on another is for that other’s good, and isn’t it funny how this turns the whole situation around, privileges the torturer’s pain over that of the victim.
    And isn’t it funny how when one gives a gift, say of social order to a whole generation of citizens, the citizens might dare be ungrateful enough to reject the gift.
    Maybe next time, Mubarak should give Amazon gift cards? Then the people of Egypt can get whatever the hell they want. The Amazon universe is pretty fucking big at this point, and it’s more fun to buy shit at Amazon than it is to be rounded up and tortured for your own benefit.

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  3. questions says:

    Iran is getting nervous — opposition leader under house arrest…..
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/02/10/world/middleeast/AP-ML-Iran-Opposition.html?ref=aponline

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  4. Dan Kervick says:

    Abdullah can rage against time all he wants, but it was reported this week that the US now thinks Saudi Arabia has significantly misrepresented the size of its oil reserves. An anchor of the US-Saudi relationship is the US belief that the Saudis can always help us regulate oil prices downward by boosting production when needed. If US strategists have to revise this belief, then they will have to revise their estimate of the value of that relationship in its current form.
    Increasingly, our relationships with Middle East leaders are going to have to be evaluated by the ability of those leaders to represent their people, so that immediate and short term gains based on personal relationships and ties with clan-based economic elites are not purchased at the cost of our long-term diplomatic investments in the region.
    And Abdullah might have money, but he doesn’t have the weapons.
    All that is going on now is that the tidal wave that has been predicted for years has finally hit the Middle Eastern shores. A despotic and authoritarian old guard – and these guys truly are OLD – has finally run out of time, and the emerging globalized Arab youth bulge has arrived. Maybe that movement will succeed this year in Egypt, and maybe they won’t – but it’s only a matter of time.
    Nadine, you and your allies really ought to think harder about whom you are empowering in this crisis. No matter what, even if the Egyptian regime manages to reassert its power, crush the uprising, and buy themselves another five years or so against the inevitable march of generational change, their ability to act as an effective international partner with Israel has been permanently impaired. Do you think even the pliant US Congress can now afford to make happy talk with people like Suleiman, whose global and US reputation is now garbage? Do you think the Palestinian people will now come anywhere near accepting a future designed by a PA-Mubarak/Suleiman axis, after the double-whammy of the Egyptian uprising and the Palestine Papers? Do you think even the current Egyptian authoritarians will now be as friendly to Israel, even if they hold on, given that they are going to face intense popular pressure to show their publics that they are not just pathetic and corrupt tools of foreign powers?
    Now the current authoritarian bastards are permanently weakened; and you certainly don’t want the Islamists in power – so who exactly are you aiming to see run the new Egypt? Seems to me it has to be liberal internationalists like Baradei – whom you also don’t like, and are spending a lot of time running down. Why don’t you put 2 and 2 together? I would suggest you pay more attention to major neoconservative figures who are adjusting and recalculating, and get yourself out of the Glenn Beck – Tea Party dunce corner.
    You have a bit of nerve. Yes, the administration is scrambling to catch up to events that are running away outside of anyone’s control, and adapt to those events. But this scrambling is nothing compared to the hysterical breakdown of the loony right and defenders of the octogenarian crowd, running around in decapitated-chicken circles with their panic and their conspiracy theories. You guys have made some very bad bets on some very decrepit and deeply unpopular powers. Now you are running crazy with a lot of bad paper on your hands, and blaming everyone else for your stupid investments.
    The Israleis always try to sell themselves to the world as the lonely outpost of democracy in an anti-democratic Arab world. So why don’t you work on getting the Israeli government to change their tune and back the *democrats* in Egypt? It seems to me that the Israelis could buy themselves a bit of good will, and their best chance of preserving a peace treaty with the new Egyptian regime, if they seize this Battleship Potemkin moment, raise a new flag, and back the Egyptian democrats.

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  5. Dan Kervick says:

    “Funny how the following list of names shows up whenever you find anybody lobbying for Hizbullah, Hamas, or the MB …”
    It’s funny that the same list of names shows up whenever one comes across right wing Islamophobic nutbag conspiracy theories. If you think George Soros is a “lobbyist” for Hamas, you know next to nothing about his philosophy. Only in the demented minds of people like Glenn Beck can one descry any kind of fusion between Soros’s liberal social democracy and open society advocacy and the ideology of Hamas.
    What Soros has advocated, along with lots of other people, is an Israeli-Palestinian peace process that includes Hamas in the discussion, since Hamas happens to be a major political force in Palestinian society.
    What is it about TWN that makes it a magnet for conspiracy theorists.

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  6. questions says:

    Moms:
    “Protest leaders increasingly are using such victims, whom they call “martyrs to the revolution,” and their grieving mothers, to keep passions stoked as Egypt’s tumult enters a third week. Anonymous in life, but venerated nationally in death, the victims serve as reminders of government brutality and rallying cries for each new protest and parade.”
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-egypt-mothers-20110210,0,2796341.story
    If they can keep sympathy, can put human faces on the protesters, if they can make everyone a mom, then maybe they stay effective longer than the regime.
    I wonder if it comes down to Father figures and Mother figures in the end. Really interesting.

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  7. questions says:

    On the emergency law:
    “”The culture that has emerged as a result of this law over three decades is one in which the security forces have a widespread and deeply held conviction that they are above the law and that the constitution is irrelevant,” said Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “Because there is a state of emergency, they can get away with murder.” ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/09/AR2011020906155.html?hpid=topnews

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  8. questions says:

    “In Cairo, masses of demonstrators succeeded in blockading the parliament building, after spilling over from Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests. Elsewhere in the country, labor unrest spread, as thousands of textile, steel and hospital workers staged strikes. In a further break with the government, state-run television and newspapers changed their tone virtually overnight and began reporting favorably about the demonstrations.
    For its part, the government adopted a harder line in its rhetoric, issuing dark warnings and an ultimatum. Vice President Omar Suleiman, in remarks carried by the official Middle East News Agency, said protesters had a choice – either commit to a “dialogue” with the government or face the likelihood of a “coup.” ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/09/AR2011020905656.html?hpid=topnews
    There are so many directions to go here, and so many narratives, and so much vocality that it’s pretty damned hard to know if the military is talking the talk, walking the walk, limping, or what.
    State TV is turning, general strikes really fuck up an economy…. Who has power, does it shift by the day, is the military really merely “tolerating” the flies buzzing around it, or have the “flies” figured out how to amass to the point that they are pretty lethal to the Egyptian military.
    It’s a difficult time for the analysts, for sure. Hope there’s someone around who has a better sense of this than I do!

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  9. Paul Norheim says:

    The revelations in the Guardian that the Army has been
    involved in the detentions and torture in the last weeks,
    gives a more sinister tone to Egyptian Foreign Minister
    Gheit’s threat that the armed forces may “feel compelled to
    intervene in a more drastic manner.”
    The very same army that Robert Gates, Biden, and Obama
    repeatedly have hailed for their “professionalism” during the
    revolution.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    And the NYT has a very interesting story about the driving forces behind the
    revolution in Egypt:
    “They are the young professionals, mostly doctors and lawyers, who touched off and
    then guided the revolt shaking Egypt, members of the Facebook generation who have
    remained mostly faceless

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  11. Paul Norheim says:

    Some terrible news – not only in itself, but also for the future development of the crisis:
    “Egypt’s army ‘involved in detentions and torture’
    (…)
    The military

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  12. JohnH says:

    Looking worse and worse for the US’ public democracy of “freedom, democracy and human rights:”
    “Saudi Arabia has threatened to prop up President Mubarak if the White House tries to force a swift change of regime in Egypt.”
    Nothing like deferring to one brutal tyrant defending another. Kind of shows where the US’ real allegiances are.
    The longer this goes on, the more the US’ phony mantra of “freedom, democracy and human rights” will be exposed to ridicule, vindicating what Iran has been telling the world all along.
    Obama’s slogan of superficial “change we can believe in” is coming apart at the seams. At what point does the phony mantra become so embarrassing that brutal repression seems no more costly? Probably not long.

    Reply

  13. Dan Kervick says:

    “… and see her chances at the White House slipping ever farther away if they don

    Reply

  14. Carroll says:

    Well if you’ve got six decades of US foreign policy that has mainly been one of bloody capitalism, bribery, intimidation and force..what can you do about Egypt? Change your policy, tighten the screws on a corrupt regime?
    Well yes, that’s what we should do but we’d have to have some uncorrupted leaders ourselves to do that.

    Reply

  15. The Pessimist says:

    Off topic, but not by much.
    My prediction:
    The recent events in Egypt will be the final straw that motivates Hillary Clinton to resign her no longer politically beneficial position at the State Department and begin her preparations for a primary challenge against Obama in 2012. I don

    Reply

  16. JamesL says:

    The US was into medieval barbarity well before the GeeWot. What American’s just don’t want to comprehend is the vast number of people worldwide who know America, often from personal experience, for its medieval actions used to support US corporate and military expansionism. Suleiman is just another badly tainted US asset that got an unwanted light shone on him by events. Mubarak’s choice of such a dark figure means both that a dark figure was needed to do whatever bloody quelling was necessary, and that the American cash donors would remain ignorant of his past. Smedley Butler was right. In all of America’s current millions of military industrial types, Butlers are MIA, allegience to the dollar apparently having surpassed allegience to the nation.

    Reply

  17. Dan Kervick says:

    Ron Suskind on CNN letting us know who exactly Omar Suleiman is:
    http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2011/02/09/exp.ps.egypt.omar.suleiman.cnn.html
    One gets the feeling that a decade of evil may be unraveling – Americans are now being forced to confront the wages of “going medieval” in the GWOT, as Suskind puts it.
    It is interesting that re-upping the Patriot Act provisions has come up at this time. After losing on the first parliamentary maneuver, are Republicans going to reintroduce our own “emergency law” for renewal?

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  18. JamesL says:

    By all means support militaries wherever they may be found. Gentle folk, they, quick to please or to lend a hand repairing a bicycle or a village water pump, or building an orphanage to complement their stay; accepting, generous, always looking for the best in people.

    Reply

  19. Don Bacon says:

    Most of the Egypt aid from the US goes to their military and wiser (I hope) heads then us have determined that we need to maintain good relations with the Egypt military.

    Reply

  20. sanitychecker says:

    DB: >> Egyptians have told foreigners to stay out of it
    I agree. And the best way to stay out is to stop sending $1.5b to Egypt.
    Don’t listen to what Obama says and look at what he does. And right now he is funding the counter-revolution to the tune $1.5b a year. Everything else is commentary.

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  21. Dan Kervick says:

    Don Bacon has it exactly right. The Egyptian protesters are constantly accused by their opponents of being foreign patsies, and they are very eager to make sure nobody gets that impression and that they maintain national ownership of their revolution. If you watch the Wael Ghonim interview you will see how important it was to him personally to convince his interrogators that he was a good Egyptian motivated by the good of his country. Any explicit and public connections established between American leaders and Egyptian figures only serves to discredit those figures.
    That said, the US and every other government with an interest in what is happening is surely relying discretely on every contact and asset they have to make connections behind the scene and do what they can to influence the outcome.

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  22. DonS says:

    1) Every petty potentate disses Obama. Therefore to make this about Obama is in itself a tactic.
    2) The US has helped create and enable this monster in so many ways, as it has extended it’s hegemonic footprint across the globe, and specifically, dysfunctionally, in the ME).
    3) The administration, and no less the Congress is in disarray and confusion wherein the rhetoric of America the champion of democracy smashes head on into America the enabler of repression and autocracy. (with the implicit assumption that the extent to which internal American political messaging is discordant there is the hope that itall can be cleaned up, returned to tidy kabuki later). Who will write the story: Fox?
    4) The administration’s tactics and messaging is reactive, though evolving, due to Obama’s style and Americas lack of sound principles and practice of foreign policy; i.e., the military industrial, corporatist fixation is laid bare in it’s impotency to convey actual moral authority — only profits matter, not the human price.
    5) America’s highly expensive post 911 intelligence apparatus? Can’t even predict, shape, take care of this little mess? Conflicting US intelligence/Israeli intelligence priorities?
    etc., etc.

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  23. Don Bacon says:

    Basically, this is an Egyptian matter. Egyptians have told foreigners to stay out of it. That means that any public expressions of support would lead to claims that the revolution is externally-driven. That’s not true, and the US should do nothing to contribute to a misunderstanding. But nobody should take a lack of explicitness as a lack of support, or an indication that actions aren’t being taken behind the scenes, out of the public eye.
    Those who claim that only rhetoric is coming out of Washington and that the US is failing to act have no basis for their claims. Same goes for those who claim that the only outcome will be bad for the Egyptian people.
    We simply don’t know how the US is using its influence on Mubarak, his administration and his military. The US does have a considerable capacity to act. The US has influence through both civil and military channels.
    The current situation is difficult. Using tough love on a friendly ally is never easy, and we shouldn’t expect instant revolutionary changes in Egypt. The demonstrations go on, the Egyptian people haven’t given up, and neither should we.

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  24. Parvin Kouliev says:

    Egypt’s Foreign Minister’s interview is full of hypocrisy. He talks on behalf of Egypt people, while ‘the government’ does not represent them. He uses political blackmail to justify Mubarak’s actions. His answer to interview questions are not sincere and honest, and trying to win time for the corrupt regime. I hope the US government does not accept such an insult coming from Mubarak and his thugs. Since Mubarak’s hardliners are ready to drive tanks through the streets and massacre Egypt people, it is same as terrorism. We don’t negotiate with terrorists and they have to surrender.

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  25. diana Witt says:

    Steve: What significance, if any, do you think the
    strikes now being reported will have? I’m wondering
    if the continuing economic pressures (it’s always
    about money), may do what the protests have not.
    Alternatively, economic forces may mean that Mubarak
    et al, will simply impose a Tien-An-Men-type violent
    crackdown, forcing the protestors out of public
    view. Is there a third alternative? And
    realistically, is there anything the U.S. can do at
    this point? Just wondering.
    Diana Witt

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  26. Don Bacon says:

    The State Department website Background notes is high on Egypt:
    quotes–
    *The United States and Egypt enjoy a strong and friendly relationship based on shared mutual interest in Middle East peace and stability,
    *Egypt is a key partner in the search for peace in the Middle East and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    * U.S. military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually.
    * the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided over $28 billion in economic and development assistance to Egypt since 1975.
    But the State 2009 Human Rights Report isn’t so good.
    quote–
    The government’s respect for human rights remained poor, and serious abuses continued in many areas. The government limited citizens’ right to change their government and continued a state of emergency that has been in place almost continuously since 1967. Security forces used unwarranted lethal force and tortured and abused prisoners and detainees, in most cases with impunity. Prison and detention center conditions were poor. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals, in some cases for political purposes, and kept them in prolonged pretrial detention. The executive branch exercised control over and pressured the judiciary. The government’s respect for freedoms of association and religion remained poor during the year.(end quote)
    So the US put its money, lots of it, on “shared mutual interest in Middle East peace and stability” and looked the other way on Egypt’s poor human rights that were in its own reports.
    The American and Egyptian peoples have paid heavily for “Middle East peace and stability.”

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  27. JamesL says:

    Administration/media leakage in the form of news headline composition is clear that Obama has wimped out, that Egyptian “disappeared’ will join the disgusting ranks of other disappearances in which the US has been complicit around the world. Why do they hate us? Because the people who disappear are friends and relatives of theirs.

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  28. JohnH says:

    Does anybody really believe that the Pharaoh is resisting the US? Even though Mubarak may in fact be resisting, the US has taken no concrete steps to motivate his departure. Instead, the administration offers nothing but noble rhetoric about some unspecified “reforms.”
    If there is bloodshed, will anyone have doubt that the US is involved? Of course not.
    Actions are what count. And the US has done nothing to make Egypt more accountable to its people.

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  29. Dan Kervick says:

    “It is increasingly clear that the Egyptian establishment is not going to move along a course that is acceptable either to the protesters in Tahrir Square or to the broad international community.”
    You know, I hate to give advice to thugs, but why doesn’t the Egyptian government simply get on TV and say, “Alright protest movement – please state your position and demands. We are listening.”
    That would at least put the onus on the protesters to come up with a coherent manifesto or list aims. So far it’s just a wave of emotions and vague aspirations.

    Reply

  30. sanitychecker says:

    The US administration’s “demands” are utterly meaningless if unaccompanied by the threat of withholding US aid. The fact that the subject is not even broached by the administration tells me the US is praying for Suleiman to restore order and move on. This is Honduras on a grander scale: hypocrisy of the highest order.
    But it seems the protestors have finally realized that occupying a square is not enough. They have to coordinate industrial action on a nationwide scale: strikes, boycotts, gvt building occupation, and relentless street action (on the India ’47 model). Their objectives should be to split the elites into those in it for the money and those in it for the power.

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  31. samuelburke says:

    I like this development…now Egypts peaceful revolution
    seemingly has found a face.
    Ghonim played a key role in organizing the protests that have
    convulsed Egypt for more than two weeks. He was the
    administrator of a Facebook page that is widely credited with
    calling the first protest January 25. A Google executive who lives
    in Dubai with his wife and two children, he had returned to Egypt
    for the protests.
    His disappearance January 28 quickly captured international
    attention.
    He showed CNN on Wednesday a power of attorney that he had
    notarized, granting control of all his assets to his wife. Holding it
    up, he said, “I’m ready to die” to bring change to Egypt.
    Ghonim cited as his greatest heroes Mahatma Gandhi, the father
    of India’s independence movement.
    http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/02/09/egypt.protests
    .google.exec/index.html?hpt=T2

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