Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Situation in Egypt may compromise Middle East peace process

The US has voiced disapproval over Egypt's Vice-President Omar Suleiman's comments about the country being unready for democracy, and called on the government to lift its 30-year-old state of emergency.

After numerous calls from the demonstrators and the opposition for President Hosni Mubarak to step down, Mubarak has said he plans to do so come September election time.

US Vice-President Joe Biden urged that the transition should produce, "Immediate, irreversible progress that responds to the aspirations of the Egyptian people…The real test of the revolution's success or failure is whether it changes Egypt permanently.”

Biden also called on the Egyptian government to cease arresting and abusing demonstrators and journalists, adding that the interior ministry should be under strict instruction and there should be a policy of no reprisals.

Speaking about Suleiman's remarks, US President Barack Obama's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, deemed them "particularly unhelpful", and added that they were unconstructive and in opposition of progress. The US has ordered Egypt to make “concrete changes”, but the Egyptian government has met the idea of change grudgingly, and has showed little inclination to take any action.

As the protests enter their third week, many of Western powers are starting to voice concern that the turmoil sweeping MENA States will compromise the ongoing Middle East peace process. Britain's Foreign Minister William Hague said:"Amidst the opportunity for countries like Tunisia and Egypt, there is a legitimate fear that the Middle East peace process will lose further momentum and be put to one side, and will be a casualty of uncertainty in the region.”

Hague voiced his concerns after Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded aggressively to the calls for change in Egypt, pledging to "reinforce the might of the state of Israel" regardless of how the situation is resolved.

Sources: BBC News, The Telegraph, Jerusalem Post, The Guardian

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

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