Why won't Obama read the writing on the wall? Mubarak must go.
President Mubarak staying in power fuels instability in Egypt, jeopardizes the region, and threatens the process of free elections to come. After delayed statements of US support for freedom in Egypt, Obama can no longer afford to equivocate on Mubarak.
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A transitional government and free elections
What the Obama administration needs to do is privately ask Mubarak to step down. There is now potential for a representative transitional government to fill the vacuum before free elections. Newly-appointed vice president Omar Suleiman is beginning dialogue with the various opposition groups. Though still jockeying, a loose coalition (including the Muslim Brotherhood) has banded together in support of Nobel laureate and Mubarak-critic Mohamed ElBaradei.Skip to next paragraph
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It remains to be seen whether Mr. ElBaradei will remain a central figure for the opposition. But the role of another key player in the conflict has been made clearer. The Egyptian military – whose role was for a time the great-unknown factor in the chaos – has taken the position that it will not intervene in the protests. With this apparent siding with the Egyptian people, the military might well become a vital support to any transitional government before elections.
When elections come, they would need to be transparent and internationally monitored. If the democratic process is allowed to take hold, the United States may find that it has a credible partner, rather than a passive conduit of American foreign policy.
Muslim Brotherhood not a true threat to US
Of course, underlying US hesitation in Egypt is the concern that the Muslim Brotherhood may come to power, even through free elections. But fearing the party’s unchecked ascent to power over an Islamic state is largely unfounded. Such a fear misunderstands the largely secular nature of much of Egyptian society, and the nature of a democracy that would include not just the Brotherhood, but other opposition members as well.
It is clear that US will be better served in the long run by supporting real democracy in Egypt, whether it likes every aspect of the outcome or not.