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Egyptian Opposition Groups Uniting Behind Mohamed ElBaradei

4 years ago
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Opposition groups in Egypt calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak have begun to unify behind Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace laureate and former head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, according to news reports.

ElBaradei, who returned to Egypt only last week, briefly joined an estimated 50,000 protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square who have defied curfews and clashed with the military. "You are the owners of this revolution," he told the crowd. "You are the future. Our essential demand is the departure of the regime and the beginning of a new Egypt in which each Egyptian lives in virtue, freedom and dignity."

At least 100 people have died in the protests, according to BBC News.

"Mr. ElBaradei's endorsement by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and best-organized opposition force, amounted to a historic display of unity between the country's secular and Islamist opposition forces," The Wall Street Journal said. "The umbrella organization that organized the protests formed a steering committee on Sunday under Mr. ElBaradei to pressure the regime for more political concessions, according to senior Brotherhood leaders."

The demonstrators have called for a general strike on Monday, as the protests enter their seventh day. Meanwhile, the police have returned to the streets after being absent for two days, BBC News reported.

The U.S. State Department is urging American citizens in Egypt to "consider leaving as soon as they can safely do so," Assistant Secretary Janice L. Jacobs said on Sunday. The United States is providing transport to a safe haven for Americans whose travel arrangements have been disrupted. The travelers will be required to reimburse the United States for the cost of their flights.

Over the weekend, President Obama telephoned the leaders of Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom to reiterate "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 in a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke in similar terms on Sunday news programs.

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" whether the "Obama administration still backs Mubarak as the legitimate president of Egypt," Clinton said: "We have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy. And we want to see the kind of steps taken that will bring that about. We also want to see an orderly transition."

She added: "What President Obama and I have been doing is sending a very clear message about where the United States stands. We want to see an orderly transition to a democratic government, to economic reforms, exactly what the protesters are seeking.

ElBaradei, who also appeared on the Sunday news programs, urged Obama to press Mubarak to give up power and said that failing to take more forceful action to make that happen will cost the United States "whatever is left" of its credibility.

"People expected the U.S. to be on the side of the people ... and to let go of a dictator, " ElBaradei said on ABC's "This Week."

ElBaradei said the response of Mubarak so far to the protests and calls for reform by the United States "doesn't even begin to address people's concerns. Peoples' concerns right now is Mubarak has to go, immediately. The first step, if we need to get out of this mess -- and it's total mess, security is not there, it's a total chaos situation right now -- first step, he has to go."

ElBaradei said, in his interview with ABC, that Obama's public statement, calling on Mubarak to undertake reforms, fell short of what was needed. "To ask a dictator to implement democratic measures after 30 years in power is an oxymoron," he said.

"They need to side with the people," ElBaradei said. "They need to go for ... transition, smooth transition, through a government of national salvation. This is only way out."
Speaking on the CNN's foreign affairs program "GPS," ElBaradei called Mubarak's response to the protests "a hopeless desperate attempt ... to stay in power."

Mubarak appeared on television Friday, promising reform, firing his cabinet and naming a vice president for the first time since he took power. But at the same time, he said he needed to protect the stability of the country and has deployed troops in the streets and cut off cell phone access, and access to the Internet.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the White House "has refrained from calling publicly for Mr. Mubarak to step down ... because it worried about losing its leverage over him and about contributing to a political vacuum in Egypt, which could be filled by extremist, anti-American forces."

However, ElBaradei said on CNN that "it is loud and clear from everybody in Egypt that Mubarak has to leave today, and it is non-negotiable for every Egyptian."

Asked about Obama's statements so far, he said, "I can tell you in honesty, as a friend of the U.S., that your policy right now is a failed policy, it is a policy that is lagging behind" and that the U.S. is "losing whatever is left of [its] credibility."

He said Mubarak will inevitably have to give up power and that "It's better for President Obama not to appear he is the last one to say to President Mubarak, 'It's time for you to go leave in dignity before things are going out of hand.'"

ElBaradei said that the fear a post-Mubarak Egypt would turn into another Islamic fundamentalist country like Iran "was a myth that was sold by the Mubarak regime" to keep the support of Western governments.

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The real difference between the Eastern block and egypt is HISTORY. The eastern block was always an abberation caused by WWII. Before that these coutries were part of Europe and democracies or monarhies but certainly going back 400-500 years. (Think austro-hungarian empire etc, etc. After the Berlin wall came down Eastern Europe had 500 years of 'western' tradition behind it and carried on from where it was 50 years before.

Lets get real, the past [500 years] of history of Egypt reflects none of this and it ain't gonna go that way either.

January 31 2011 at 7:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

How the marginally-educated Egyptian masses will be able to govern themselves democratically when communications are cut off by the government is problematic. Why is it the Obama administration wants to gain control of an internet "kill switch" in defiance of our first amendment rights to a free flow of information? I for one am scandalized by the suggestion this might even be under consideration.

January 31 2011 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While I agree with a great dealm of what has already been said, we are (the US) of continuing the sins of our past foreign policy errors. We forget that the Shah of Iran (like Mubarak) was one of the most brutak rulers in the Middle East. Mubarak is not any better,and has been supported in a similiar fashion as the Shah. This is another damned if we don't damned if we do scenario. I believe the military would not support an ultra extremist regime,however, the potential for unrest is great because the amount of time the people have been oppressed, and the rampant poverty in this country. The danger exists that other countries (particularly Israel) might feel compelled to act to support the status quo. As usual what appears to be simple on the surface is complicated by the history both internally, and externally involving this country.

January 31 2011 at 5:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

and what "for life" leader will they "elect"?

January 31 2011 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ElBaradei is supported by the fanatical Muslim Brotherhood: what better reason to listen to NOTHING the man says?

January 31 2011 at 4:09 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

This guy better go back and work for the U.N. This is NEVER going to be a democracy What it will be is a muslim state run by Iran

January 31 2011 at 4:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Moslem Brotherhood in control of Egypt? Scary, Scary.
Will the military intefere? Stay tuned.

January 31 2011 at 4:01 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Is Baradei a good go, or a no. Does anyone know at this point? One thing we do know, the Egyptian majority want Murbarak out, and the US has to help find a replacement that will not allow the "brotherhood" to gain a stronghold. Of course, whatever we do, it will have to be on the down-low.

January 31 2011 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

rrboyle: I just have to disagree, with this observation: The Egyptian military, which is the largest, most organized and powerful in the entire Middle East, is NOT "fundamentalist Islamic" oriented. It has always been closely allied to the West, and especially to the USA (from which is gets over a $1 billion a year). In any "final confrontation" with a threatened "takeover" by the Muslim Brotherhood (or any other "extremist" group), it will simply move to crush it. The Egyptian military structure is, IMO, the BEST hope for a "smooth transition" from Mubarak to a stable future for Egypt.
you know rrboyle, you have a good point here; I like this concept because it can be done. The military is their best defense.

January 31 2011 at 3:29 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

This is a never ending situation that we seem to get ourselves into. When other countries get into a mess, why are we the first to go bail them out? Now if that were us, how many other countries would come to our rescue? Think about it. And those people that chose to go live in those countries that have no stablity, they should not depend on the rest of us to get them out. It's think before you do here people!!!!

January 31 2011 at 2:44 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to latinanlace's comment

latinlace, we haven't made a move yet; but if the brotherhood takes root and power you can bet your bottom that not just our government will act covertly but I fear, others will also. Obama's aware and consensus seems to be: working to help the Iraqi's and afghani people rebuild and re-educate. If we can re-educate and help them they in turn (I HOPE!) will back us when needed... but we need to make sure that they can sustain their own governments and not collapse agin.

January 31 2011 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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