Middle East
US calls for 'orderly transition'
Reaction is mixed, with the US calling for reform and Saudi Arabia condemning the protests.
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2011 20:25 GMT
Egyptian protesters have repeatedly demanding an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30-year presidency [AFP] 

International reaction to the ongoing protests in Egypt has been mixed, with Barack Obama, the US president, voicing support for an "orderly transition" in Egypt in phone calls with foreign leaders.

Obama spoke by phone on Saturday with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish prime minister and Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister. He also spoke to David Cameron, British prime minister, on Sunday.

"During his calls, the president reiterated his focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association, and speech; and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people," the White House said.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera's Rosalind Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said that Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, would "not favour any transition to a new government where oppression ... would take root."

 It's unclear if that includes if such a government would, in the US's view, include the Muslim Brotherhood party.

Jordan noted that in making the rounds on Sunday television shows, Clinton sidestepped the question of whether Mubarak would be given asylum in the US or in another allied country.
Clinton also pressed Mubarak to ensure that the coming elections are free and fair and to live up to his promises of reform but insisted Egypt must avoid a result like that of Iran, which she called a "faux democracy."

 US remains non-committal

Clinton kept up the US's  cautious balancing act. It is trying to avoid abandoning Mubarak - a strategic ally of 30 years - while supporting protesters who seek broader rights and demand his ouster. But Washington has limited options to influence the situation.

From the US 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.

Go to our spotlight page for Al Jazeera's complete coverage of the recent events unfolding in Egypt.

Barack Obama, the president, gathered his national security team at the White House on Saturday for a session lasting over an hour on latest developments in Egypt.

There was no specific US government reaction to personnel changes by the Egyptian president after he sacked his government on Friday.

But PJ Crowley, a state department spokesman increased US pressure on Mubarak, a staunch US ally for 30 years, warning that the people of Egypt "no longer accept the status quo".

"They are looking to their government for a meaningful process to foster real reform," Crowley wrote on Twitter.

However, the Saudi government has condemned the protests, saying many of them were "infiltrators" who seek to destabilise their country.

King Abdullah called Mubarak and, according to the Saudi Press Agency, "was reassured" about the situation in Egypt.

"During the call, the king said, ‘Egypt is a country of Arabism and Islam. No Arab and Muslim human being can bear that some infiltrators, in the name of freedom of expression, have infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilise its security and stability and they have been exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction, intimidation, burning, looting and inciting a malicious sedition,’" the news agency said.

Saudi Arabia "strongly condemns" the protest, it said.

'Solidarity with Egypt'

Mubarak also assured the Saudi king "that the situation is stable" and that the protests "are merely attempts of groups who do not want stability and security for the people of Egypt, but rather they seek to achieve strange and suspicious objectives".

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, called Mubarak and "affirmed his solidarity with Egypt and and his commitment to its security and stability," according to state media.

In Iran, meanwhile, Ramin Mehmanparast, a foreign ministry spokesman said Egyptian authorities should respect the demonstrators.

"Iran expects Egyptian officials to listen to the voice of their Muslim people, respond to their rightful demands and refrain from exerting violence by security forces and police against an Islamic wave of awareness that has spread through the country in form of a popular movement," state media quoted him as saying.

The British government has also weighed in, with William Hague, the foreign secretary, saying: "He [Mubarak] must seize this moment to make these reforms real and visible and to base them on the universal values that are the right of people in all countries."

"We are working with our EU partners and other allies on the latest developments to deliver a clear coordinated message about our expectations of President Mubarak and in particular the need for him to take responsibility to deliver change. Peaceful reform not repression must be the way forward."

Al Jazeera and agencies
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