This is an update to my post on Egypt and Obama's response to the nascent revolution occurring there, A 3 A.M. Phone Call From Egypt.
Egypt's dictator Honsi Mubarak appeared on Egyptian television a few moments ago, declaring that he was replacing his cabinet, promising to improve the economy, and that he would restore security. Walid Phares commented afterwards on Fox that he doubted it would be enough to quell the uprising. I concur. Listening to the list of particulars being expressed by the rioters, their passion and numbers, and noting the utter economic basket case that is Egypt, it is safe to forecast that this will have no impact on the rioting.
Moreover, the seminal issue in any modern grass-roots revolution is what will the security forces and the military do. There is a report coming out of Egypt of at least some police changing sides, but it does not yet appear widespread.
According to the Telegraph:
The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.
On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011. . . .
Fair enough, but "secret" promotion of democracy is not enough. As I pointed out below, Obama backed off promoting democracy throughout the Middle East when he took over the presidency. It was a mistake then, and Obama's silent impotence is a mistake now. He needs to get in front of the unrest in Egypt - and more particularly the Muslim Brotherhood - and act with more boldness if he is to have any impact on the situation. Instead, the only thing of note to come from the administration is an announcement that it would review the U.S. aid package for Egypt. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. The President is supposed to issue a statement shortly. We will see if he is going to be impotent or important to the resolution of this Egyptian uprising.
And here is Obama now. First concern is loss of life - don't use force against the protesters. Mubarak must reopen means of communication and internet. Protesters have a right to assemble but need to be peaceful. Now Obama is claiming that he has always been strongly for Democratic reforms in Egypt. I guess that is why he dismantled Bush's programs for promoting democracy there. Obama is now offering to "work with" the government and the protesters over the next several days. The sum of his statement is that Obama is staying the course with Mubarak. This is a mistake, and it means that Obama is impotent.