The most important statement from the White House on Wednesday in response to the clashes in Egypt that have left at least 278 dead "was what the Obama administration did not say," Middle East expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller tells Newsmax TV.
"They did not say they were going to cut off aid to Egypt or that the nature of the relationship with Egypt would change," Miller, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. "You didn't hear either of those two things from the White House spokesman.
"That indicates that, despite the denunciation of what was done today, the United States understands that it has a long-term stake in not only the survival of this military-backed civilian government, but also the restoration of peace and security in Egypt."
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Deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Wednesday the Obama administration "strongly condemns" Egypt's violent crackdown on protesters and would demand proof that the interim government is moving toward democracy.
"The violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy, and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation," Earnest said.
"Egypt is Israel's first and longest standing peace partner," Miller tells Newsmax. "Peace talks have just begun between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem. This is a very bad time to be distracted and to lose focus on America's strategic interests in the survival and prosperity of Egypt.
"The Obama administration's lack of significant action indicates what its real policy is, as opposed to its rhetorical denunciation today."
On Wednesday, the interim Egyptian government declared a monthlong state of emergency, ordering the armed forces to support the police in efforts to restore law and order and protect state facilities. A nighttime curfew for Cairo and 10 provinces also took effect.
Clashes also broke out throughout the capital and other provinces across Egypt, killing at least 278 people and injuring more than 1,400 nationwide, as Islamist anger spread over the crackdown on the 6-week-old sit-ins of those supporting ousted President Mohammed Morsi that have divided the country.
Police stations, government buildings and Coptic Christian churches were attacked or set ablaze, according to news reports.
Egyptian Vice President Mohammed ElBaradei resigned to protest the bloodshed.
"This clash was virtually inevitable despite the resignation of Mohammed ElBaradei, who declared that he didn't want to do with the killing and that this confrontation was unnecessary," Miller tells Newsmax. "Most Egyptians think that it was inevitable."
But ElBaradei's resignation was expected, she says.
"This is a Nobel Prize winner — and he's been saying in Arabic broadcasts that he believed there was a peaceful way to solve this. Most people think there wasn't a peaceful way to solve it, that the military had a choice.
"You could either go in and do what the military soldiers did today, and the police, or you could establish a cordon around those encampments and starve out people," Miller adds. "But, either way, it was going to be ugly and violent."
Miller, too, is concerned that Egypt could become like Syria and become engulfed in a huge civil war.
"We know that, today, the fighting seems to be over. But we don't know what the Muslim Brotherhood's next act is going to be.
"Will they try and establish encampments someplace else?" she asks. "Will they resort to even greater violence to convince the military that they will not make a deal until President Morsi is released?
"We don't know what their plan B is going to be, but we do know that, for the moment, what has gone on now for the past several weeks, which is a large part of Egypt being controlled by people who were camped in the streets of the city and refusing to leave, that part's over.
"I don't think they're going to be able to do that in that part of Cairo again," Miller tells Newsmax. "This is one small tactical victory for the military and its civilian-appointed government, but we don't know what lies ahead."
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