NYT editorial: Obama made a big mistake backing Suleiman

The United States and the European Union may not have been able to wheedle or push President Hosni Mubarak from power. Still, they badly miscalculated when they endorsed Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, to lead the transition to democracy…

And while Mr. Suleiman was conciliatory in the early days of the protests, his recent public statements have been chilling. He said he does not believe it is time to lift the three-decade-old emergency law that has been used to suppress and imprison opposition leaders. Most alarming, he said the country’s “culture” is not yet ready for democracy.

Mr. Suleiman is not going to do what’s needed on his own. So the United States and its allies will have to lay down a clear list of steps that are the minimum for holding a credible vote this year and building a democracy.