U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the White House in Washington September 1, 2010
While not objecting to Hosni Mubarak’s government reshuffle, a senior Obama administration official says far more change is needed, including giving opposition groups and activists more freedom. What the U.S. wants to avoid is a repeat of Iran’s 1979 revolution.
By Paul Richter, Washington Bureau
January 29, 2011
Reporting from Washington —
U.S. officials didn’t object Saturday to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government reshuffle but made it clear they want to see far more change in the days ahead.
A senior administration official said the United States is looking for “‘managed change’ – adjustments over a fairly extended period of time that allows you to manage it in a fairly orderly way.”
While the administration is pressing for the opposition groups and civil activists to be given more political influence, “that doesn’t necessarily mean the governing coalition will be swept away, not at all,” the official said.
Does this old Disney colonialist cartoon still reflect the Washington view of Arabia?
He constrasted managed change with what happened in 1979, when the U.S. backed the shah of Iran until his government was swept away and it produced “something that was unexpected and in many respects much worse than what it replaced.”
The official, who said he was not authorized to speak publicly, said it remained unclear where the Egyptian military is coming down in the contest between Mubarak and the opposition.
While Washington has been sharpening the pressure on Egypt – including a threat to withdraw its $1.5 billion in aid – the dialogue between the two sides “is not disagreeable. We’re a friend of Egypt,” he said.
Publicly, the Obama administration called for Mubarak to make “real reform” in his government, but voiced no objection to his decision to appoint a new vice president and Cabinet.
The State Department’s chief spokesman, Philip Crowley, said in a Twitter message Saturday morning that the Egyptian government “can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat. President Mubarak’s pledging reform must be followed by action.”
Soon afterward, Mubarak named his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as vice president, a post that has been vacant during his 29-year tenure. Continue reading →