There must be consequences. It’s time to meet escalation with escalation and lay out, in private and public, that the Egyptian military now faces a clear and painful choice: push Mubarak out now and begin a meaningful transition, or else face international isolation and a major rupture with the United States. – Marc Lynch
WASHINGTON — Even after the violence earlier this week, Egyptians came today to celebrate the “day of departure.” It’s peaceful so far, because Mubarak’s thugs aren’t being allowed to crash the anti-regime rally.
A week after Clinton’s January 25th “stable” comment for the Obama administration about the Mubarak regime, Sec. Clinton stood in front of a nearly complete gathering of all U.S. Ambassadors, minus Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey who couldn’t be there, among others, to deliver a sobering message.
“It goes without saying — but I will say it anyway — that this is a critical time for America’s global leadership,” Clinton told the ambassadors. “From the theft of confidential cables to 21st-century protest movements to development breakthroughs that have the potential to change millions of lives, we are all in uncharted territory, and that requires us to be more nimble, more innovative, and more accountable than ever before.”
During the Green Revolution in Iran, some of you may remember my taking on the State Dept. and their Dipnote blog, because back in the summer of 2009 they never once mentioned what was happening over Twitter. Back in 2009 she said “I wouldn’t know a Twitter from a tweeter,” but the Administration still fought for Iranians to have access to the platform. However, on State’s blog it was silence.
If the Obama administration had taken seriously what happened in Iran on Twitter and allowed the State Dept. to be part of the dialogue, Sect. Clinton might have been a little more prepared for what’s played out the last week in Egypt, with Al Jazeera English upping the stakes because they have eyes and ears inside Cairo and across the Arab world.
In less than a week Sec. Clinton has seen her world accelerate and alter in a manner for which no one in Washington, D.C., especially Pres. Obama, was prepared. This is in evidence after their week-long shifting, changing and calibrating a strategy that has left them at a standstill with Mubarak and the NDP who’s running the show, very likely through the long reach of Gamal Mubarak, who still has dreams of succeeding his father, which Steve Clemons offered this week with Rachel Maddow.
The unofficial contacts have taken place sporadically since the 1990s but became more frequent after members of the Brotherhood were elected to the Egyptian Parliament in 2005. Afterward, U.S. diplomats and lawmakers held several meetings with Brotherhood leaders, including at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
U.S. officials justified the meetings by saying they were merely speaking with duly elected members of the Egyptian legislature.
“I do think that having contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood was not a bad idea,” said Robert Malley, a Clinton administration official who directs the Middle East and North Africa program for the International Crisis Group. “They are an important constituency in Egypt. They’re very likely to play a role in any future arrangements there.”
Some U.S. officials and analysts have long urged the State Department to reach out even further to the Brotherhood.
“If we are truly going to engage with the 99 percent of Muslims who do not support terrorism or violence, then we’ve got to engage indigenous groups, including Islamic political parties,” said Emile Nakhleh, a former CIA official who directed the agency’s political Islam analysis program.
Although the Brotherhood is Egypt’s best-organized opposition group, with an active charitable arm that dispenses social services nationwide, Nakhleh said it would not necessarily win a majority of votes in an open election. “They would be a hefty minority,” he said, predicting that it would receive support from about 25 to 30 percent of the Egyptian population.
As we saw Wednesday after Pres. Obama’s statement on Tuesday night, the Administration has no power in Egypt at this point unless they up the pressure significantly.
The partnership we’ve had with Mubarak also coming at a huge price, which I wrote about last week.
The one thing George Soros does not mention in his article is that lurking in Egypt’s police and intelligence files are mountains of materials on significant human rights abuses — disappearances, political detentions, torture, and summary executions. In some of these cases, the United States government knew what was going on or had agents in the room. This will come out, and America’s historical complicity in Egypt’s nightmares will become clear. – Steve Clemons
Sect. Clinton spoke with Vice President Omar Suleiman over the phone this week, asking for accountability for the violence that took place on Wednesday, with Egypt’s PM Ahmed Shafiq offering empty platitudes to do so today.
It’s this type of outreach that makes Pres. Obama and the administration look feckless. Mubarak and his thugs are responsible for the violence that was stirred this week.
The embarrassing “immensely courageous and a force for good” comment of Tony Blair singing Mubarak’s praises is simply ridiculous. Clinton’s relationship with Mubarak and his wife is part of the problem in all of this.
It should be remembered that Egypt’s elite of multi-millionaires has benefited enormously from its set of corrupt bargains with the US and Israel and from the maintenance of a martial law regime that deflects labor demands and pesky human rights critiques. It is no wonder that to defend his billions and those of his cronies, Hosni Mubarak was perfectly willing to order thousands of his security thugs into the Tahrir Square to beat up and expel the demonstrators, leaving 7 dead and over 800 wounded, 200 of them just on Thursday morning. – Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu, by Juan Cole
It’s long past time the U.S. quit playing this ridiculous kabuki and have a foreign policy that represents American values.
Taylor Marsh is a political analyst, writer and commentator on national politics. A veteran national politics writer, Taylor’s been writing on the web since 1996. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her blog.