US Downplayed Early Warnings on Egypt

Wednesday, 16 Feb 2011 04:01 PM

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As far back as 10 months ago, a group of Middle East experts explicitly warned the State Department that Egypt was on the brink of turmoil and that the U.S. must prepare for sweeping change there or miss the chance to promote peaceful reform, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Egypt, Tahrir, Mubarak, early, warning
Protests in Egypt
The bipartisan Egypt Working Group — comprised of human-rights activists, conservative policy makers, and others familiar with Egypt’s inner workings — wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton twice last spring. The message was simple: By rigging elections and attempting to cement his rule, the country’s longtime autocratic ruler, U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak, was on a collision course with an increasingly restive population of young Egyptians.

Still, the Obama administration chose to lobby Egypt's government quietly for more political freedoms, in contrast to President George W. Bush’s very public calls for democracy across the region. The epic demonstrations that did finally erupt in Egypt, and which have succeeded in forcing out Mubarak, appeared to catch the White House by surprise.

“The Cairo uprising has so far had a more orderly outcome, and one better for U.S. interests, than might have been the case,” the Journal reports. “But the U.S.’s hesitant initial embrace of the revolt could reverberate as a democratic wave surges across the Arab world.”



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