Quotes of the day

“In the streets of Cairo, many protesters are now openly denouncing the United States for supporting President Hosni Mubarak, saying the price has been their freedom. They say the Obama administration has offered only tepid criticism of a regime that has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid…

“‘We believe America is against us,’ said Emad Abdel Halim, 31. ‘Until now, Obama didn’t talk to the Egyptian people. He didn’t support the Egyptian people.’

“‘Tell Obama to forget about Mubarak,’ said Islam Rashid, 26. ‘He is done.'”

“‘The USA does not support democracy, they’re supporting Israel, which is like their baby,’ said Ahmed, a 26-year-old Cairo resident. ‘They think Egypt is functional because it’s in favor of their considerations.’…

“Demonstrators are relying on the foreign press to get their message to Obama. ‘Isn’t this democracy?’ they asked me over and over when I said I was a journalist from America, incredulous that the country held as the pinnacle of world democracy could ignore such widespread popular sentiment.

“‘Obama has to be on our side, where is your democracy?’ asked Osam L, who works at a foreign bank in Cairo.”

“Now, a final word about America’s power in this situation. We haven’t got any power to shape events. But that does not mean we are without influence. We have influence by virtue of the billions in aid we provide annually, by dint of years of positive contacts with the Egyptian government and business people, and the like. This means something. If the Obama administration leans to the protesters, that would embolden the protesters and demoralize Mubarak supporters. And mind you, those Americans screaming to support ‘the people’ should understand that no matter how much President Obama sides with ‘the people,’ few of them will thank him or America for it. And our soothsayers should also understand that when our other Arab friends watch us help remove Mubarak from power by not backing him, they’ll believe that they’ll be next on the list if they run into trouble. U.S. power would crumble in the region.”

Pew, June 17, 2010:

“One former senior administration advisor said he had spoken to his old colleagues inside the Obama administration in recent days about the unrest in Egypt. As early as last Wednesday, the Obama administration recognized that they would not be able to prop up the Mubarak regime and keep it in power at all costs, the former official said.

“‘They don’t want to push Mubarak over the cliff, but they understand that the Mubarak era is over and that the only way Mubarak could be saved now is by a ruthless suppression of the population, which would probably set the stage for a much more radical revolution down the road.'”

“While President Obama is publicly shying away from specifics, the Obama administration is behind-the-scenes conveying to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak some specific steps President Obama feels he needs to take, administration officials tells ABC News…

“a. Dialogue between the government and opposition groups as well as ‘Civil Society’ (democratic reform groups, human rights organizations and so on) needs to begin immediately.

“b. Freedom of information needs to be fully respected — cell phone service is back but access to the internet is still sporadic, and satellite access for Al Jazeera has been blocked.

“c. The emergency law, in place since 1967 — which gives the government far-reaching powers at the expense of judicial review and civil liberties — needs to be lifted.”

“By far, the Brotherhood represents the most powerful force, but Mr. Beltagui and another Brotherhood official, Mohamed el-Katatni, said the group understood the implications of seeking leadership in a country still deeply divided over its religious program.

“‘We’re supporting ElBaradei to lead the path to change,’ Mr. Beltagui said as he joined Mr. ElBaradei in Liberation Square. ‘The Brotherhood realizes the sensitivities, especially in the West, towards the Islamists, and we’re not keen to be at the forefront.’…

“‘We’re trying to build a democratic arena before we start playing in it,’ he said.”

“‘We’re not advocating any specific outcome,’ she said…

“We have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy, and we want to see the kind of steps taken that will bring that about. But we also want to see an orderly transition,’ she said [on Fox News Sunday]. ‘There are many, many steps along the journey that has been started by the Egyptian people themselves.'”