Egypt political crisis: Washington-Mubarak relationship mulled

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Leader of the Egyptian revolution has called for the United States to end its “life support for the dictator” President Hosni Mubarak, demanding that Washington support the people of Egypt in ousting Mubarak rather than support Mubarak’s initiated reforms.

Mohamed ElBaradei who returned to Egypt on Thursday night to lead the democratic revolution in Egypt has urged the United States to take a stand as Washington continues a two-faced approach the crises.

So far, Washington has been cautious to avoid deserting Mubarak — an important U.S. strategic ally of 30 years – while backing protesters who seek change, political rights and a more democratic government.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama urged an “orderly transition” to democracy in Egypt, but did not call on Mubarak to step down. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that Mubarak must ensure coming elections are free and fair and live up to Mubarak’s promises of reform, and that the process should be carried out to prevent a power vacuum that could be filled by extremists.

Elbaradei who is well known figure in Washington dismissed U.S. calls for Mubarak to enact sweeping democratic and economic reforms in response to the protests.

“The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years would be the one to implement democracy. This is a farce,” ElBaradei said on CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Although Mubarak had been an important partner over the years in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts as well as the fight against terrorism in the Middle-East, Elbaradei’s expects Washington to abandon their support for him.

Egypt plays an important role in Middle East peacemaking — it was the first of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel — and is also seen by Washington as a crucial counterweight to Iran’s regional clout.

“The first thing which will calm the situation is for Mubarak to leave, and leave with some dignity. Otherwise I fear that things will get bloody. And you (the United States) have to stop the life support to the dictator and root for the people.”

However, human rights groups have accused successive U.S. administrations of being too tolerant of Egyptian rights abuses, and Elbaradei who disputed the U.S. rationale for the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the administration of former President George W. Bush demands an end to the Washington-Mubarak relationship.

Washington, which has supported Egypt with annual aid of about $1.5 billion per year, has been caught off guard by the political upheaval that has rocked the Middle East in recent days, from Egypt to Tunisia to Lebanon to Yemen, is now scrambling to craft a sound regional strategy.

From the U.S. perspective, the worst-case scenario in Egypt’s crisis would be the rise of an Islamist government potentially aligned with Iran. But so far there has been no sign of Muslim fundamentalism driving the protest movement. In the meantime, Clinton has cited Egypt’s presidential elections set for September, as a critical juncture to the democratic revolution blowing in the country.

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