News / Middle East

Analyst: State Department's Response to Egypt Demonstrations 'Underwhelming'

An Egyptian anti-government activist shakes hands with riot police officers after the police pulled back following clashes with protesters in Cairo, Egypt, Jan 28, 2011
An Egyptian anti-government activist shakes hands with riot police officers after the police pulled back following clashes with protesters in Cairo, Egypt, Jan 28, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Paul Westpheling

Stephen Cook is an expert on Middle Eastern affairs for the Council on Foreign Relations based in Washington.  Late Thursday he returned to Washington from Cairo and he discussed the causes of the demonstrations in Cairo and other cities with VOA's Paul Westpheling.

COOK: "This is the result of many years of pent up anger and frustration.  There have been demonstrations going on in Egypt regularly throughout the last five or six years.  It happens to be sparked by planned demonstrations on January 25 for police day and the Tunisian situation only gave those protests momentum and a sense among the protestors there was a real possibility that an Arab leader can be dislodged from office by people power."

Q: Why do these demonstrations seem to be gaining traction while other demonstrations have been short-lived and quickly ended by the government?

COOK: "I think the regime in Egypt was expecting that they would have one day of protests and everything would go back to the way it had been.  Obviously the Tunisian situation, which occurred over an entire month, has taken hold of Egyptians who are seeking the same thing."

Q: There have been similar demonstrations against poverty, high unemployment and rising prices in Jordan, Yemen and we're seeing demonstrations in Lebanon.  What has caused this sudden outpouring of protests?

COOK: "Let's just take Lebanon aside, because I think the situation in Lebanon is very Lebanon-specific.  Across the region, like in Yemen, people are tired of authoritarian regimes and have disdain for their leaders.  In Egypt, it is less about the economy - although there are economic grievances - but it is more a fact that people want to live in free societies."

Q: In Egypt, an outspoken critic of the government, Mohammed El Baradei, has returned.  Is his presence fueling the anti-government protests?

COOK: "El Baradei's return is absolutely critical.  If he can lead the this very disparate group of activists who have called the Egyptian people into the streets he can give this movement some political coherence and be a focal point for opposition to the regime and a focal point for reform and change which presents a very significant challenge to the regime which has suggested that this was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood and it is going to be harder for them to garner the support of the United States when they're [the government] cracking down on a movement led by a secular lawyer who's calling for reform.  It's a very significant development that he returned to Egypt."

Q: Would it be fair to say that the United States finds itself caught between support for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the protesters?

COOK: "I think for the [Obama] administration this is much more difficult for them than it was in Tunisia, but at some point principle has to come into play here.  The way in which the State Department, in particular, first handled this situation has been underwhelming.   Urging restraint by all parties when clearly only one party is not using restraint and calling for reform seems irrelevant at this point."

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid