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Entries in Cairo (9)

Sunday
Sep162012

Ambassador Susan Rice: Libya Attack Not Premeditated

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was not premeditated, directly contradicting top Libyan officials who say the attack was planned in advance.

“Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo,” Rice said Sunday morning on This Week.

“In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated,” Rice said, referring to protests in Egypt Tuesday over a film that depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud. Protesters in Cairo breached the walls of the U.S. American Embassy, tearing apart an American flag.

“We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to – or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo,” Rice said. “And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons… And it then evolved from there.”

Ambassador Christopher Stevens, along with three other Americans, were killed in Libya following the assault on the American consulate in Benghazi, on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.  Rice said the FBI is examining the attack, saying their investigation “will tell us with certainty what transpired.”

Rice’s account directly contradicts that of Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf, who said this weekend that he had “no doubt” the attack was pre-planned by individuals from outside Libya.

“It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival,” he told CBS News.

Rice said there were no Marines present to protect the consulate in Libya, saying the U.S. presence there is “relatively new” since the revolution that overthrew former dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

“There are not Marines in every facility. That depends on the circumstances. That depends on the requirements,” Rice said. “Our presence in Tripoli, as in Benghazi, is relatively new, as you will recall. We’ve been back post-revolution only for a matter of months.”

But Rice said there was a “substantial security presence” at the consulate in Benghazi, noting that two of the four Americans killed there were providing security.

“We certainly are aware that Libya is a place where there have been increasingly some violent incidents,” Rice said. “The security personnel that the State Department thought were required were in place… It obviously didn’t prove sufficient to the nature of the attack and sufficient in that moment.”

“But the president has been very clear. The protection of American personnel and facilities is and will remain our top priority,” Rice added. “That’s why we’ve reinforced our presence in Tripoli and elsewhere.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar162011

Clinton Visits Epicenter of Egypt's Revolution

PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a surprise visit Wednesday to Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt's uprising earlier this year.

Clinton spent about 10 minutes walking around the square with officials from the US Embassy. A crowd soon formed around her and she greeted them with handshakes.

"To see where this revolution happened and all that it has meant to the world is extraordinary for me. It's just a great reminder of the power of the human spirit and universal desire for human rights and democracy. It's just thrilling to see where this happened," she said while walking around the square.

Clinton arrived in Egypt Tuesday and is the highest level US official to visit Egypt since protests ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, who was a close ally of the United States. During her two day visit she met with both civil society leaders and top officials from the interim government. During her meetings she urged Egyptians to continue on the path towards democracy.

Secretary Clinton's close relationship with former President Mubarak (she once called him and his wife "friends of my family") emerged Tuesday as a point of contention with some leaders she sought to meet with.

While some youth leaders participated in her civil society meeting on Tuesday evening, others refused to meet with her citing the Obama administration's perceived support for Mubarak as the protests began.

"Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people," Clinton told reporters when first asked about the unrest on January 25.

"There was an invitation for members of the coalition to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but based on her negative position from the beginning of the revolution and the position of the US administration in the Middle East, we reject this invitation," the January 25 Revolution Youth Coalition said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Biden: US Has 'Largely Spoken with One Voice' on Egypt

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Vice President Joe Biden called President Hosni Mubarak’s departure from the Egyptian government on Friday “a pivotal moment in history -- it’s a pivotal moment not only in Mideast history but in history, I would argue.”

The vice president was speaking before a crowd of students at the University of Louisville.

“You may remember that all this began when a fruit vendor in Tunisia,” -- protesting that nation’s “corrupt government and stagnant economy -- literally set himself on fire,” the vice president said, “and in doing so ignited the passions of millions and millions of people throughout that region. Word spread across national boundaries and movements emerged, led by people no older than some of the students in this room, using some of the same social media tools that the students in this room, many of you, use.”

He said “what is at stake in Egypt and across the Mideast is not just about Egypt alone. It will not just touch Egypt.”

Biden reiterated the administration’s “set of core principles:” the unacceptability of “violence and intimidation against peaceful demonstrators;” that the “universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected and their aspirations must be met;” and that “the transition taking place must be an irreversible change on a negotiated path towards democracy.”

“Even in this contentious political climate in which we work, on this issue, the United States has largely spoken with one voice, Democrats and Republicans alike,” Biden said. “This unity has been important and it will be even more important in the delicate and fateful days ahead.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb082011

Gates Urges Middle East Reforms, Praises Egyptian Military

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In his first public comments on the situation in Egypt, Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised the Egyptian military for exercising restraint and urged other countries in the Middle East to note the “spontaneous manifestations” in Egypt and take on political and economic reforms.

Gates made his comments after a signing ceremony with visiting French Defense Minister Alain Juppe on an agreement between the two countries to enhance situational awareness in space.

Gates has made at least four calls to his Egyptian counterpart Field Marshal Tantawi in the two weeks since Egyptians took to the streets to call for President Mubarak to step down, but few details have been provided about what they have discussed.  On Tuesday, Gates provided a little clarity about those calls when he said the Egyptian military has “acted with great restraint and frankly they’ve done everything that we’ve indicated we would hope that they would do.”

He added that he felt the Egyptian military “made a contribution to the evolution of democracy” with their restraint.  Gates reiterated Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments about the need for an orderly transition in Egypt, “but it needs to be a transition that continues to move forward and where people can see steady pace in implementing the number of reforms that have been announced and to which the Egyptian government has committed to.”  He said moving forward and fulfilling those promises “is quite critical.”

Asked about a possible domino effect in the region, Gates described the events in Tunisia and Egypt as “a spontaneous manifestation of discontent on the part of people who feel they have both economic and political grievances.”  He said U.S. officials have long pointed out these grievances to other governments in the region and urged them to address these issues.   He said, “My hope would be that other governments in the region, seeing this spontaneous action in both Tunisia and Egypt, will take measures to begin moving in a positive direction toward addressing the economic and political grievances of their people.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb062011

Sarah Palin Blasts Obama's Handling of Egypt

Photo Courtesy - Allison Shelley/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sarah Palin blasted the Obama administration's handling of the Egypt crisis on Saturday in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"This is that 3 a.m. White House phone call, and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House, it seems that that call went right to the answering machine."

Palin's reference to a 3 a.m. phone call referred to the 2008 bruising primary battle between now-President Obama and now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over responsiveness to unexpected foreign policy crises.

In the interview, the former Alaska governor questioned who might lead Egypt after President Hosni Mubarak if he were to resign.

"Is it going to be the Muslim Brotherhood?" Palin asked. "We should not stand for that, or with that, or by that. Any radical Islamists. No, that is not who we should be supporting and standing by ... we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support."

Palin suggested in the interview that the Obama Administration is keeping such information from the American public.

"Nobody yet has explained to the American people what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know, who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak and I'm not real enthused about what it is that, that's being done on a national level and from D.C. in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt.

"And in these areas that are so volatile right now because obviously it's not just Egypt but the other countries too where we are seeing uprisings, we know that now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House."

Palin is one of several potential candidates for the Republican 2012 primary who have criticized the White House's handling of the Egypt situation, although Republican leadership from Congress have been more supportive of the policy thus far.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

rah Palin blasted the Obama administration's handling of the Egypt crisis on Saturday in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"This is that 3 a.m. White House phone call, and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House, it seems that that call went right to the answering machine."

Palin's reference to a 3 a.m. phone call referred to the 2008 bruising primary battle between now-President Obama and now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over responsiveness to unexpected foreign policy crises.

In the interview, the former Alaska governor questioned who might lead Egypt after President Hosni Mubarak if he were to resign.

"Is it going to be the Muslim Brotherhood?" Palin asked. "We should not stand for that, or with that, or by that. Any radical Islamists. No, that is not who we should be supporting and standing by ... we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support."

Palin suggested in the interview that the Obama Administration is keeping such information from the American public.

"Nobody yet has explained to the American people what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know, who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak and I'm not real enthused about what it is that, that's being done on a national level and from D.C. in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt.

"And in these areas that are so volatile right now because obviously it's not just Egypt but the other countries too where we are seeing uprisings, we know that now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House."

Palin is one of several potential candidates for the Republican 2012 primary who have criticized the White House's handling of the Egypt situation, although Republican leadership from Congress have been more supportive of the policy thus far.

Thursday
Feb032011

White House Condemns Latest Violence in Egypt

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration suggested that pro-government forces in Egypt were “thugs” after the streets of Cairo were turned into a battlefield Wednesday between those who support President Hosni Mubarak and their adversaries, who are demanding the leader’s immediate ouster.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called on both sides to quickly end the violence, which came one day after Mubarak announced that he would not seek reelection in September.  However, Mubarak did not give an indication when he would step down.

Gibbs admitted that the turmoil that has enveloped Egypt since anti-government demonstrations began over a week ago “is not all going to be wrapped up in a matter of hours.  It's going to take some time.”

While Gibbs did not overtly suggest who was at fault for the fights in Tahrir Square, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the attacks were perpetuated by thugs that others have identified as “supporters of the government.”

There are suspicions that it was loyalists inside Mubarak’s inner circle who gave Mubarak supporters the green light to create havoc, even as a majority of Egyptians seem to endorse his ouster.

After Mubarak announced his decision not to seek reelection, President Obama called for an “orderly transition” that Gibbs emphasized must begin “now.”  The press secretary added that the transition process “must include opposition voices and parties being involved in this process as we move toward free and fair elections.”

Meanwhile, one Egyptian government official said that the White House is trying to give the impression that the U.S. was instrumental in forcing Mubarak’s hand after decades of oppression and unrelenting poverty.

The official insisted it was Mubarak’s decision to make changes, including dissolving his Cabinet and appointing Omar Suleiman the new vice president and possible successor.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan302011

Hillary Clinton on the Crisis in Cairo: 'We Want to See Reforms'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Obama administration is trying to send a clear message to the Egyptian government as tens of thousands of demonstrators have flooded the streets of Cairo demanding change: "We want to see reforms."

"We are monitoring Egypt's military," Clinton told ABC News on Sunday. "They are demonstrating restraint, trying to differentiate between peaceful protestors -- who we support -- and potential looters and other criminal elements who are a danger to the Egyptian people."

"There is no discussion of cutting off aid and we are trying to convey a message that is clear -- no violence, no provocation that results in violence, and that we want to see these reforms so that the people of Egypt can see their legitimate grievances addressed," she added.

On the topic of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's appointment of intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his first vice president, Clinton said that this has been on a list of reforms the administration wanted to see in Egypt for some time. She said that it is the first of several concrete steps necessary for the country to achieve democratic reform.

"I'm hoping that the government will be able to maintain a peaceful relationship with peaceful protesters," she said. "We can see a national dialogue begin, where the government of Egypt must take concrete steps for democratic and economic reform. That is the best way to navigate through this."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan302011

Obama Administration Conveying Specific Reform Ideas to Mubarak

Photo Courtesy - Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- While President Obama is publicly shying away from specifics, the Obama administration is behind-the-scenes conveying to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak some specific steps President Obama feels he needs to take, administration officials tell ABC News.

Mubarak needs to outline a “concrete process” for political and social progress, a senior administration official says, including:

a. Dialogue between the government and opposition groups as well as “Civil Society” (democratic reform groups, human rights organizations and so on) needs to begin immediately.

b. Freedom of information needs to be fully respected -- cell phone service is back but access to the internet is still sporadic. Al Jazeera has been shut down.

c. The emergency law, in place since 1967 -- which gives the government far-reaching powers at the expense of judicial review and civil liberties -- needs to be lifted.

The senior administration official says Mubarak needs to commence at once with democratic, economic and social reforms.
“They’re going to have to do that,” the official said. “Their people are fed up.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan282011

Obama Asks for Daily Briefings, Meetings on Egypt Protests

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(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."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio