News / Middle East

Obama, Pentagon Praise Egypt’s Military Rulers

US President Barack Obama during a news conference at the White House, February 15, 2011
US President Barack Obama during a news conference at the White House, February 15, 2011
Al Pessin

President Barack Obama has praised Egypt’s new ruling military council, and the Pentagon says the Egyptian military continues to play a positive role in the country’s transition.

At a White House news conference, President Obama offered a concise assessment of the military council that took power in Cairo on Friday.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in Egypt itself, but what we have seen so far is positive,” said Mr. Obama.

The president said the council has reaffirmed Egypt’s commitments to Israel and the international community, and that opposition leaders believe the council is serious about democratic reforms. But Mr. Obama said the country will need help in building democratic institutions, after decades of severe limitations, and also in rebuilding its economy, which is based largely on tourism devastated by the three weeks of street protests.

President Obama also defended his handling of the Egypt crisis, saying he knew the United States could not determine the outcome but that he was “on the right side of history” in supporting the demonstrators’ calls for more freedom and democracy - aspirations he said he supports throughout the region and the world.

“We sent out a very clear message that we believed in an orderly transition, a meaningful transition, and a transition that needed to happen not later, but sooner. And we were consistent on that message throughout,” he added.

The president came under some criticism for not supporting now-former-President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime U.S. ally. Mr. Obama acknowledged he is concerned about stability in Egypt, and elsewhere in the region where protesters are demonstrating. But he said he believes that in the long term, reforms and what he called “messy” democracy will lead to less radicalism and better outcomes on Middle East peace talks and other issues.

He says so far his view has been borne out in Egypt.

“Part of the test is that what we ended up seeing was a peaceful transition, relatively little violence and relatively little, if any, anti-American sentiment,” said Mr. Obama.

The president also noted there was little anti-Israel or general anti-Western sentiment in the protests.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Colonel David Lapan said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates still believes the Egyptian military is playing a constructive role, even though its takeover happened outside the country’s constitutional process.

“It is the fact that this has been done with relatively little violence, that the military continues to play a stabilizing influence on the situation there,” Lapan said. “So, it is in that context.”

Lapan said Gates spoke to the Egyptian military council chairman, Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi, on Saturday, the day after he took power. It was their sixth reported conversation since the crisis began, but the Pentagon has not provided any details. Secretary Gates has not commented on Egypt since before the power change, although he was asked about it three times during a news conference Monday.

 

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs