(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has demanded daily briefings from his staff on the unrest in Egypt, which puts the U.S. in the awkward position of standing with a repressive yet key U.S. ally that is the target of a pro-democracy movement.
Each day an interagency task force at the White House -- with officials from the State Department, intelligence community, National Security Staff and the like -- will hold a meeting to discuss the situation on the ground, with U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey participating via video teleconference, White House officials told ABC News.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been a critical ally for the U.S. in standing against Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, in recognizing the Iraqi government, and in trying to broker peace between the Israelis and Paliestinians. Behind the scenes, officials said, the Obama administration has pushed Mubarak to get ahead of the strengthening democracy movement in his country.
Recent cables obtained by Wikileaks seem to back up claims of pressure, U.S. concerns about Egypt, and a strong alliance. An anecdote-filled January 2009 missive from Scobey detailed how police brutality in Egypt is "routine and pervasive," including brutality against "demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders."
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