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As a someone who has been critical of the Obama administration's response to the events in Egypt (I've called it "muddled" on more than one occasion), this comprehensive statement is a welcomed step forward.

I've added my emphasis below:

The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.

As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the United States has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy. To that end, we believe that the emergency law should be lifted. We believe that meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society should address the key questions confronting Egypt’s future: protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointly developing a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.

We therefore urge the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek.  Going forward, it will be essential that the universal rights of the Egyptian people be respected. There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard.

The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people. Those who have exercised their right to peaceful assembly represent the greatness of the Egyptian people, and are broadly representative of Egyptian society. We have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian join together, and earn the respect of the world through their non-violent calls for change. In that effort, young people have been at the forefront, and a new generation has emerged. They have made it clear that Egypt must reflect their hopes, fulfill their highest aspirations, and tap their boundless potential. In these difficult times, I know that the Egyptian people will persevere, and they must know that they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America.


This is what I've been asking for: a definitive statement on what, exactly, the US government's view is on the events in Egypt. President Obama has said encouraging statements before in the last few weeks, only to have them be contradicted, most infamously by diplomat Frank Wisner (see links here: and here: for some examples and analysis of muddled messaging).

This statement, however, is clear, concise and finally gives a view of where the US government officially stands on this conflict and how it should be resolved.

The following questions have yet to be answered by the Obama administration, and in my estimation these are the elephants in the room:

  1. Do we still support Omar Suleiman both as Vice President and as the man to lead this transition to democracy?
  1. If so, how can we be sure that necessary reforms will be enacted and protesters will not be rounded up after the protests end and the international media leaves the country, given Suleiman's past? (for history on Omar Suleiman, see links here: and here: )
  1. Where are the lines on US intervention in this crisis drawn? Journalists have been attacked and detained, a Google executive who was secretly jailed at the beginning of the protests has now become a prominent face of the uprising (link: ), and a US Embassy employee who was detained by the security forces has now been found dead (link: ). At what point do we take action, and what does that action look like? Do we pull aid? Do we call for sanctions? What are we willing to do to punish the Mubarak regime, and at what point do we do it?

The elephants in the room need to be addressed. That being said, this new statement from the White House tonight is a promising step forward.

UPDATE: Thanks for the recs, everyone. And a reminder to please support your local Mothership:

Originally posted to grannyhelen on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 05:54 PM PST.

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