Obama Releases First Public Statement On Egypt

From President Obama:

As I have said since the Egyptian revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people. The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties, but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law. Since the current unrest in Egypt began, we have called on all parties to work together to address the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people, in accordance with the democratic process, and without recourse to violence or the use of force.

The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the government of Egypt.

The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties – secular and religious, civilian and military. During this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts. Moreover, the goal of any political process should be a government that respects the rights of all people, majority and minority; that institutionalizes the checks and balances upon which democracy depends; and that places the interests of the people above party or faction. The voices of all those who have protested peacefully must be heard – including those who welcomed today’s developments, and those who have supported President Morsy. In the interim, I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt’s democracy.

No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve. The longstanding partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.

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Obama, in Situation Room, meets with national security team to discuss situation in Egypt, via NB


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Meanwhile, in simpler days:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Egypt on Saturday for meetings with its newly elected Islamist president and the chief of its still-dominant military council, declaring that the United States “supports the full transition to civilian rule with all that entails.”


But after weeks of internal debate across the Obama administration over how to respond to the ongoing struggle between the president and the generals, Mrs. Clinton touched on it only lightly, saying she looked forward to working “to support the military’s return to a purely national security role.”


State Department officials said the meeting itself sent a historic message. Seated in an ornate room in the presidential palace, Mrs. Clinton smiled for cameras and traded pleasantries with President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist jailed more than once by the American-backed autocracy overthrown 18 months ago. She became the highest ranking United States official to meet Mr. Morsi since he was sworn in two weeks ago as Egypt’s first democratically elected president.


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The generals, who seized power last year after the ouster of the strongman Hosni Mubarak, have repeatedly rebuffed American pressure. The new president, Mr. Morsi, and the other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood still harbor deep doubts about Washington’s agenda and have repeatedly surprised American officials in Washington with the accelerating pace of their moves to take power.


Implausibly, some of the Brotherhood’s secular opponents have even accused the United States of conspiring with the Islamists to push them to power. By nightfall Saturday, hundreds of protesters had gathered outside Mrs. Clinton’s hotel to protest against the claimed conspiracy. Using a transliteration of the Arabic word for the Brotherhood, one sign read: “If you like the Ikhwan, take them with you!”


“In some ways, all the talk in Washington about what to do in Egypt is incredibly inefficient,” said Peter Mandaville, a political scientist at George Mason University who until recently advised the State Department on Islamist politics in the region. “At a time of virtually zero U.S. influence, we don’t need to waste so much time figuring out how to try to get the Egyptian people to like us.”


The Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi, meanwhile, remain deeply wary of Washington’s goals even after a year of mutual outreach, diplomats say, while Brotherhood leaders appear still convinced American policy makers see Egypt exclusively through the prism of Israel’s security.


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“Every bone in the body of the U.S. foreign policy establishment is going to feel more comfortable with the idea that there is still a strong military looking over these guys,” said Mr. Mandaville, the former State Department adviser, “and looking out for U.S. interests in Egypt and the region.”


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