US statement on events in Egypt

Again, just putting up this statement to make it easy for people to find. I liked Obama's mention of Sudan and Tunisia in the SOTU. I don't expect much more than this from State. It's now up to the Egyptian people to show take to the streets again and make their voice heard. People in the comments think I'm too positive about these US statements, but perhaps you don't understand my perspective: I have low expectations, which is only normal when the US (and every other major Western country) has supported dictators in the Middle East for fifty years.

It's not up to the US to dislodge dictators, I am happy when it just doesn't support them the way France recently supported Ben Ali in Tunisia. The US is in a position where it is increasingly difficult to support Egypt publicly at this point, and that's because the world just saw tens of thousands fighting off the police. Keep pushing, and the US (and others) will adjust, as they did in Tunisia. When you get to the "we're not taking sides" statement that we saw from Clinton, you'll know a tipping point will have been reached, after all that implies abandoning a long-standing ally. I know that's a minority interpretation, but it's the way I see it.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                    January 25, 2011

2011/105

STATEMENT BY PHILIP J. CROWLEY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE

FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Situation in Egypt

We are monitoring the situation in Egypt closely.  The United States supports the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people.  All parties should exercise restraint, and we call on the Egyptian authorities to handle these protests peacefully.  

As Secretary Clinton said in Doha, people across the Middle East – like people everywhere – are seeking a chance to contribute and to have a role in the decisions that will shape their lives.  We want to see reform occur, in Egypt and elsewhere, to create greater political, social, and economic opportunity consistent with people’s aspirations.  The United States is a partner of Egypt and the Egyptian people in this process, which we believe should unfold in a peaceful atmosphere.  

We have raised with governments in the region the need for reforms and greater openness and participation in order to respond to their people’s aspirations – and we will continue to do so.

Also, from Obama's State of the Union speech tonight: 

"Recent events have shown us that what sets us apart must not just be our power — it must be the purpose behind it. In South Sudan — with our assistance — the people were finally able to vote for independence after years of war. Thousands lined up before dawn. People danced in the streets. One man who lost four of his brothers at war summed up the scene around him: "This was a battlefield for most of my life. Now we want to be free."

We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people."

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.