‘So what are the differences between Tunisia and Egypt?’

For those following events in Egypt, this al-Jazeera interview with the US State Department’s PJ Crowley is essential viewing. I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing some of the highlights:

AJ: ‘But we’re not talking in general terms here. Egypt is not letting its people protest peacefully. It’s deploying the full ranks of its US-backed $1.3 billion backed security forces to beat up those protesters.’

US State Dept: ‘Absolutely. We want to see restraint on both sides.’

AJ: ‘So what specifically are you asking? A transition to democracy, a dismantling of the secret police, an end to torture, a national unity government? Because these are the things the protestors are asking for.’


Jacinda Woodhead

Jacinda Woodhead is a former editor of Overland and current law student.

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  1. ‘Tis, and Joe Biden repeated it verbatim in his PBS interview:

    Asked if he would characterize Mubarak as a dictator Biden responded: “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

    Biden urged non-violence from both protesters and the government and said: “We’re encouraging the protesters to – as they assemble, do it peacefully. And we’re encouraging the government to act responsibly and – and to try to engage in a discussion as to what the legitimate claims being made are, if they are, and try to work them out.” He also said: “I think that what we should continue to do is to encourage reasonable… accommodation and discussion to try to resolve peacefully and amicably the concerns and claims made by those who have taken to the street. And those that are legitimate should be responded to because the economic well-being and the stability of Egypt rests upon that middle class buying into the future of Egypt.”

    Egypt’s protesters, if they’re paying attention to Biden at all, will certainly be wondering which of their demands thus far have been illegitimate.

  2. Crowley: Egypt should allow its citizens to protest peacefully
    AJ: If it doesn’t, will your funding to the Egyptian forces be in jeopardy?
    Crowley: Well I don’t see this as an either or proposition. *raves about how wonderful Egypt’s government is*.

    AJ: What are you calling for? An end to secret police? An end to torture? (etc) Because that’s what the protestors are calling for.
    Crowley: Again, there’s a fascinating process in the Middle East…

    1. The state department official was playing the usual politician’s trick: asking the questions he would like to be asked – thus the nonsense about ‘taking a cookie cutter approach’ to the region – rather than answering the specific questions, e.g. about the huge US aid programme for the repressive security forces.

  3. Meanwhile the Australian Government has (that I’m aware) maintained total silence on the issue of the repressive measure being used by Mubarak’s forces to maintain his dictatorial machine including cutting the internet/SMS and killing protestors.
    Aligning ourselves with tyranny (as we surely have via our US/Israel/Egypt alliances) makes Australia a less safe place in the world – and it undermines our moral voice in the arena of diplomacy.

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