Support of Egypt's dissident groups is coalescing around Mohamed Elbaradei as their leader. That includes support from Egypt's influential Muslim Brotherhood. Now Elbaradei is demamding that Egyptian President Mubarak leave the country immediately:
FAREED ZAKARIA: Mohamed, what do you make of the most recent moves by President Mubarak, appointing Omar Suleiman as his vice president, appointing another former army officer as the prime minister, the former aviation minister. What is your reaction?
MOHAMED ELBARADEI: Well, Fareed, I think this is hopeless, desperate attempts by Mubarak to stay in power. I think it is loud and clear from everybody in Egypt that Mubarak has to leave today, and it is non-negotiable for every Egyptian. People have been saying or demonstrating for his - for him to leave. Today, the demonstrations say that he should be put to (inaudible). If he wants to save his skin, if he has an iota of patriotism, I would advise him to leave today and save the country.
While Elbaradei is a friend of the United States he is harshly critical of recent U.S. statements of support for the Mubarak, and that the U.S. has been reticent to put more pressure on President Mubarak to step down and leave the country.
ZAKARIA: You've heard President Obama's statements in which he says he has asked President Mubarak to act on his promise to change, to bring democracy to Egypt. Do you think - do you want him to do more than that?
ELBARADEI: Of course I do. I have, as you know, the utmost respect for President Obama as a person. I worked with him during my time at the IAEA. I have a lot of admiration for him. But I can tell you, honestly, as a friend of the U.S., that your policy right now is a failed policy, is a policy that is lagging behind, is a policy that is - is - having the effect here in Egypt that you are losing whatever left of credibility.
People need to see that you not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, and people need to understand and believe that you really seriously take democracy, rule of law, freedoms seriously. And to say we have a tight rope that - and between the people and the dictator, to say that we are asking a dictator who's been in power for 30 years to implement democracy is an oxymoron, frankly.
And - however, this is - this has been - will be overtaken by events, and I want to be on top of things. Your policy right now - and this is an honest advice, Fareed - is absolutely has no credibility here in Egypt. That is - that is coming from a friend of the U.S., somebody who lived in 15 years in the U.S. and worked for throughout my life in the U.S. I would like to see a democratic Egypt, continued - a democratic Egypt that is able to have a friendly relationship with the U.S. We have always had a lot of common interests, and there is not even the belief that a democracy here will not lead to a better relationship with the U.S., based on respect and on equity.
Why does the U.S. always have to be behind the curve on these kind of situations? Our State Department with its long standing in bias in favor of stability, over democratic reforms, seems stuck in its status quo. That bias leaves our diplomats ill equipped to adjust to rapidly moving events like the ones in Egypt.
As for the U.S., ElBaradei said the leadership had fallen short of Egyptians' expectations.
"What is ... very disappointing to the Egyptian people is the message coming from the U.S., which is saying that we are going to work with the Egyptian people and with the government," he said. "Well, you have to make a choice. This is an authoritarian government and on the other hand the people have been deprived of their freedom for 58 years."
In general, ElBaradei predicted the situation would worsen before it got any better. "Things do not look good here," he said. "People are very frustrated and I think the situation will escalate in my view."
As night falls in Cairo Mohamed ElBaradei has joined the demonstrators in Tahrir square who are defying the curfew.
"During his calls, the president reiterated his focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association, and speech; and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people," the White House said.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera's Rosalind Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said that Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, would "not favour any transition to a new government where oppression ... would take root."
This sounds like the U.S. is sending a not too subtle signal, while publicly still trying to straddle the issue for the time being.
The White House stance has been even-handed as officials have suggested President Hosni Mubarak might stay in power if freedoms, competitive elections are allowed. But an insider says the U.S. is not ready to keep Mubarak in power at all costs.
Reporting from Washington —
A tight-lipped White House is taking an even-handed approach to the crisis in Egypt, suggesting that President Mubarak might be able to hold onto power if he allows competitive elections and restores individual freedoms. But inside the Obama administration, there are signs that officials are preparing for a post-Mubarak era after three decades.
"They don't want to push Mubarak over the cliff, but they understand that the Mubarak era is over and that the only way Mubarak could be saved now is by a ruthless suppression of the population, which would probably set the stage for a much more radical revolution down the road.''
Uncle Sam's shoe is the one everyone has been waiting to drop, and now it looks like its about to:
President Obama should see the time has come to walk the talk. Here's an excerpt of President Obama's Cairo speech:
Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
For a little more backround about Egypt:
The new business class was quickly and widely seen by Egyptians as a corrupt and greedy elite created by the regimes and under its watchful eyes to take ownership of the country's newly and chaotically privatised economy and to support the regime in return.
Egyptians widely feared that the new business elite were given a lot of advantages by the regime. They were sold large public sector companies for below market values. They were granted huge bank loans, massive tax cuts, and large pieces of land to buy their loyalty and support.
In return, the ruling National Democratic Party has been increasingly counting on the new business elites as its base for financial and political support.
After privatisation, the new business elite gained control over millions of workers or potential voters who used to work for the public sector in the past. The new wealthy elites can now buy the loyalty and votes of millions of private sector workers through wages and other economic benefits. They also have much needed cash to support their political campaigns and their parties if needed.
We Americans shouldn't tolerate censorship, especially right here at home.
@jeffjarvis If Egyptians can demand freedom from dictatorship surely Americans can demand Al Jazeera from their cable providers
I couldn't agree more. How can we be self-righteously outraged about Egyptian Authorities cutting off Al Jazeera, when private American Authorities took it apron themselves to bar Al Jazeera from viewers in the Unties States for the last 4 years.
Cable companies: Add Al Jazeera English now
What the Gulf War was to CNN, the people’s revolutions of the Middle East are to Al Jazeera English. But in the U.S., in a sad vestige of the era of Freedom Fries, hardly anyone can watch the channel on cable TV.
Sign the Petition: STAND WITH THE PEOPLE OF EGYPT
Lets hope that with the U.S. statement President Mubarak will step down, that he will do so soon. And that a peaceful transition can get under way in the near future. I expect Mubarak will leave Egypt sometime in the next 36 hours.