President Obama on Egypt's Future: "Suppression is Not Going to Work"

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
February 4, 2011
President Obama Speaks About Egypt During Press Conference With Canadian Prime Minister Harper

Earlier today, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada met in Washington. During a joint press conference afterwards, President Obama took a question on the future of Egypt. The President said:

"I have had two conversations with President Mubarak since this crisis in Egypt began, and each time I've emphasized the fact that the future of Egypt is going to be in the hands of Egyptians. It is not us who will determine that future. But I have also said that in light of what's happened over the last two weeks, going back to the old ways is not going to work. Suppression is not going to work. Engaging in violence is not going to work. Attempting to shut down information flows is not going to work.

"In order for Egypt to have a bright future -- which I believe it can have -- the only thing that will work is moving a orderly transition process that begins right now, that engages all the parties, that leads to democratic practices, fair and free elections, a representative government that is responsive to the grievances of the Egyptian people.

"Now, I believe that President Mubarak cares about his country. He is proud, but he's also a patriot. And what I've suggested to him is, is that he needs to consult with those who are around him in his government. He needs to listen to what's being voiced by the Egyptian people and make a judgment about a pathway forward that is orderly, but that is meaningful and serious.

"And I believe that -- he's already said that he's not going to run for reelection. This is somebody who's been in power for a very long time in Egypt. Having made that psychological break, that decision that he will not be running again, I think the most important for him to ask himself, for the Egyptian government to ask itself, as well as the opposition to ask itself, is how do we make that transition effective and lasting and legitimate.

"And as I said before, that's not a decision ultimately the United States makes or any country outside of Egypt makes. What we can do, though, is affirm the core principles that are going to be involved in that transition. If you end up having just gestures towards the opposition but it leads to a continuing suppression of the opposition, that's not going to work. If you have the pretense of reform but not real reform, that's not going to be effective.

"And as I said before, once the President himself announced that he was not going to be running again, and since his term is up relatively shortly, the key question he should be asking himself is, how do I leave a legacy behind in which Egypt is able to get through this transformative period. And my hope is, is that he will end up making the right decision."



Joseph M.
Oregon, USA
February 4, 2011

Joseph M. in Oregon writes:

Madam Secretary:

Welcoming news that President Obama has moved past the rhetoric and is pressuring the Mubarak "Czarist regime" in supporting democratic change in Egypt. This is the Obama administration that I voted for in 2008, I am so proud of our foreign policy team! There is a lot of uncertainty as to what a post Mubarak Egyptian society will look like politically in the near future. But, we must support the democratic process, the Egyptians have a right to engage in choosing their next political leaders and future government. There is too much at stake here for U.S. strategic and foreign policy interests, which will undoubtedly impact the international community and the entire Arab world. Mubarak is using the perception of the Muslim Brotherhood, in presenting their ideological-structure as a radical Islamist group, are simply unfounded, this is a misrepresentation of the Muslim Brotherhood and this is a Mubarak adapted strategy, out of sheer desperation for inciting fear, for justifying in allowing him to stay indefinitely.

The "geopolitical future of the Arab nations and for the Middle-East rely on the U.S. Department of State and the Obama administration "getting Egypt right!" This is a moment, in U.S. foreign policy, equivalent to the fall of the Shah in Iran and the Iranian revolution of 1979. Although, it is unfair to draw this parallel, for the circumstances and demographics are greatly different in Egypt today, but it is imperative for the U.S. that Obama chooses the right side to support and official back during this time of turmoil. That was the greatest error in-judgement during the Iranian Revolution for Jimmy Carter, we back the loosing side at that time. Forty years later, we have a serious diplomatic polarizing situation with our relationship with Iran.

The violence at Tahrir Square may escalate further following the Muslim holy day of prayer on Friday, as the freedom movement remains in Tahrir, throughout next week. Historically, this is uncharted territory for modern day Egyptian society. The Mubarak regime has demonstrated to the world yesterday, by attacking the demonstrators, that they are determined in dissolving this grass-roots peaceful movement who are seeking democratic reform. Mubarak's, Czarist thugs, proved in defying the core principles of democracy, by attacking the demonstrators seeking change. I was absolutely horrified in hearing the first BBC World News reports early yesterday, coming from Tahrir Square, this escalation of violence is unacceptable. I would like to see the U.S. administration, take a very firm stance against the Mubarak regime led violence, resulting in several deaths and numerous casualties. I stand in solidarity with the Egyptians tonight and with their bravery in seeking democracy. Is this the "peaceful transition that the U.S. President Obama spoke of during his address to the nation?"

As reports of more violent clashes broke out earlier this week, igniting Tahrir Square, the U.S. Administration should acknowledge that the immediate resignation of Mubarak, would be in the best interests for the Egyptian people and for the international community. We should view the change of leadership with Mubarak stepping down, as a enormous opportunity for democratic change not only for Egypt but for other Arab nations in the region, representative by a grass-roots movement that began in Cairo and representing the will of Egyptians. The Egyptian people are seeking an immediate change, they have a right to facilitate the process of forming an intern government up until full elections may be held.
The recent political unrest expressed by the Egyptians, the wave of protests and the recent uprising by the people;

"should be viewed as a teachable moment for the Obama administration and his foreign policy team".

The people of Egypt, are exemplifying the process of democracy, they should decide and vote for their next leader and government. They are entitled in having their individual rights, civil liberties acknowledged and their voices heard, by engaging in a newly formulated democratic process. The international community should be closely consulting and listening to the EU member states and Turkey as to what should be next for Egypt after Mubarak resigns, not the Saudi Monarchy and King Abdullah, who are more concerned with the potential future changes for the Middle-Eastern geopolitical landscape resulting from a post Mubarak Egypt. Mubarak as Egypt's leader, should adhere to the will of Egyptians calling for his dismissal.

The sign from last week-end, held by one of the demonstrators and remaining at Tahrir Square pretty much sums it up for the future of Mubarak, it reads: "Game Over".

isabel r.
February 4, 2011

Isabel R. in Argentina writes:

Now the love is the human survival future.

M. T.
February 4, 2011

Owais in Germany writes:

i would like to kindly request president Obama and all western countries that: please do not let that some Islamic fundamentalist groups take the power in Egypt like (MB)Muslim Brothers which is more worst than alqaida in the sens of hating non Muslims and being against the human rights and some other substations which they made under the name of Islamic sharia...

if we go back in the decade of democracy in Afghanistan 1970s, the fundamentalist and Islamic movements which started fights against the Republic president Daud Khan and later Communists, were under the direct influence and were following the MBs of Egypt which was centered in Al Azhar Islamic University, some students and professors of Kabul university were dictating by the MBs like Hekmatyar, Sayaf, Haqani, Mujadedi, Rabbani and etc... and also the initial Islamic movements used to call themselves Muslim Brothers the same name as it is in Egypt, this MB is since then and have no power yet and had no chance of performance in the political ground of the world, but they are much more dangerous than Taliban and Alqaida...

they have destroyed my beloved country Afghanistan and made millions of Afghans like me to leave their country for them to make it a land to plan some international terrorist attacks like 9/11.... if they take the political power in Egypt then believe me that soon they will make a hell out of historical Egypt and the fate of Egypt will be the same as Afghanistan...

we hate terrorism and Fundamentalism, but we love democracy and freedom.

by using the opportunity i would like to thank the Government and the people of the United States for being in Afghanistan and helping Afghans to fight against terrorism and build their country in peace. we love you America and we love the friendship of Afghanistan and America...

god bless all of us from these fundamentalists...

Thomas H.
Pennsylvania, USA
February 5, 2011

Thomas H. in Pennsylvania writes:

President Mubarak's appears to be locking down the country. The police are picking up foreigners off the street. I am not sure he is listening to the message. I have a son and daughter in law caught in this - I pray that his pride does not cloud his judgement.

February 5, 2011

Mahad in Somalia writes:

How are you going to handle Sudan, Yemen, and Saudi.. If Al-Asar falls the rest will fall. Jordan is next..

February 5, 2011

Palumbo writes:

to the President Barack Obama

As I am writing, your middle eastern ally and president of Egypt Hosni Mubarak has just shut all communications throughout the country. There are no phonelines, no sms, no internet. WE CAN'T KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING.

You defended the green Revolution in Iran, you condemned oppression. Yet no one ever dared doing whet Hosni Mubarak just did. And there rest of what he is about to do.

The last communciations we got from Cairo said Special forces were being deployed in the streets.

Dear President, let us be clear: a lot of people are going to die tonight. They will die in silence and darkness. You are the only one who can stop a massacre. Stability in Middle East does not need a blood bath of young democrats.

Dear president, don't let this massacre happen. Your word is the only one that can stop this massacre.

Abdel h.
February 5, 2011

Abdel H. in Egypt writes:

Mr.prisdent Ilike pepol of US. please help egyption pepol to catch ther dreem

demokrasy in egypt is not againist pease

only we want 2 live free please please save

egyptian pepol ineed 2 feel that usa help

demokrasy not a bad dektator

live friendshep egypt & usa

thanks GOD help U

February 5, 2011

Karen in Mexico writes:

I guess this is the beginning of real change, the world is ready for a new way of living and the time for these dictators and regimes around the world has come to an end. We (citizens of the world) demand new technologies, energy alternatives and equal opportunities. Oil cannot be the only resource to keep our engines going, we are all tired to see how this is only making richer the already rich oil companies, while we are all working like crazy to afford it´s product, which by the way is a natural resource and it belongs to all humans... When is this nonsense going to stop?

Donald M.
Virginia, USA
February 5, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

The world is watching how people are standing up to tyrant Governments. How did Mr. Mubarak obtain this power of Prime Minister when Mr. Sadot was killed or assinated by terrorists. The terrorist were not from Isreal, so what does that say? The other point is Osama bin ladens right hand man is from Egypt. I think this is a boiling point, President Barack Obama will walk a tight rope on this one. Middle Eastern countries falling to a Democratic society, offering freedoms. I know people have questioned President Barack Obama religon. He is free to express whatever religon he and his family desires. The only thing I would add is pick one. God will not tolerate anyone pretending to be Muslim one day and christian the next regardless of what Authority they have over people. You can't sit with the Bhudda claiming your a bhudist, next walking in a Church saying your a Christian then give a speech in Arabic saying your like Mohamed. It just wont fly with people. If your true to one religon thats fine, and you can respect other religons. When you start practising other religons and not being faithful to the ONE. Then even God will know the truth. We all have to have faith and resolve that peace and Democracy will come from the Middle East. The Egyptian Government should boot out the existing Prime Minister and take control over its country until the next Prime Minister can be freely elected by its people. Then we would have secuirty on the borders with Isreal. Its alright to communicate in other languages, but is right to apply your religon on anyone? no its not, people should have a choice on religon, they should be allowed to pray or worship without Government telling them to do so. People should be willing to worship, not demanded to worship. People should be free to decide, not having others telling them how to decide to pray. People also should be free to vote in elections not suppressed to vote for tyrant leaders who live like kings while people are starving in the streets. Look around the world, Castro in Cuba, Mr. Chavez in Venzuala, even Mr. Puton in Russia has power still in Russia, or the Communist Leader in China. The previous Pakistan Leader took the country with force. All Tyrants living the good life, while people suffer, and even the North Korean leader added to the list. Using the same philosphy Saddam Hussain used on its people. If you question it, you would be destroyed. This is not freedom, this is pure bullying power by its Governments. Until the people wake up and realize they should have rights, freedoms, and a Democracy. Then peace will follow.

February 5, 2011

Anthony A. in Nigeria writes:

President Obama on Egypt's Future, there is excellent hope, there is excellent glory in entire Egypt and other African Countries in the same shoes which Egypt is today. God Bless President Obama for His intervention to save the future of Africa as I can see it...

New Mexico, USA
February 5, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Rarely if ever does a uprising against oppression ever gain liberty in a peaceful manner due to the violent tendancies of the status quo, which has been deemed by popular demand to be no longer that which serves the people.

New York, USA
February 5, 2011

Ron in New York writes:

Day 12: Keep it Up.....

The wounded protesters now wear their bandages as badges of courage...they carry messages of freedom and peace.

Mubarak is bunkered and might as well be in a hole like Saddam. USG is spot-on in assessment and advice. Let the Group of Ten meet and let the military protect the process.

February 6, 2011

Nicholas writes:

Dear Mrs Clinton, once these protesters crossed the line of achievement it will be jihad, they will be ready to sacrifice their lives to achieve heir aim. They are radicalizing each day and from the Quran its says they should settle their disputes themselves but not a foreigner. So please just ask Mubarak to go or else in anger they will just vote Islamic brotherhood. then the us and Isreal will be in a tough situation.

America is being brought down in many ways but someone is not reading it, the Russians and the Chinese are not talking and the demonstartors leaders are not going to show up up for fear of death before September 2011.

Don M.
Colorado, USA
February 6, 2011

Don M. in Colorado writes:

Dear Mr. President,

First, I acknowledge and applaud you and your administration for all you have done in the delicate handling of the Egyptian situation.

Now, it is time for you to condemn in the strongest possible way the detainment, imprisonment, beating and killing of Egyptians and others which are being conducted by those accountable to Mr. Mubarak. It is also time for you to get behind a peaceful revolution of the people of Egypt. The revolution is happening, a new government will come to fruition and it will occur on your watch.

This may be the defining moment of your presidency and you have the opportunity to be a champion of democratic freedom for the people of Egypt. It's going to happen anyway--better with your leadership than by default with the United States, lover of freedom for all people in the world, watching from the sidelines. We are counting on you.

The whole world IS watching.

Don M.

New York, USA
February 8, 2011

Ron in New York writes:

Bad Behavior......

Rewarding bad behavior (even if you have a rationale to prevent other bad behavior)is bad behavior. Get fully behind the Mid-east reformation and be rewarded with the riches of freedom, security and justice.

Florida, USA
February 21, 2011

Gus in Florida writes:

"Each time I've emphasized the fact that the future of Egypt is going to be in the hands of Egyptians"

Thank you President Obama, Thank you so much for saying that and I hope that you stick to it.

As terrible as the situation is over there I can only hope that America does not become involved. As the President said, their future needs to be in their hands, otherwise it will never work. Please PLEASE keep America's troops away from that country, its time we stop trying to be the world police. Whenever we do try it only ends badly.


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