By Ted Belman
The NYT leads with an article West Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition. The title says it all. You don’t have to read the article.
So Obama has backed off his rhetoric about immediate change and important non-secular groups taking part. Sober minds have prevailed.
Mrs. Clinton’s message, echoed by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, and reinforced in a flurry of calls by President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to Egyptian and regional leaders, appears to reflect an attempt at balancing calls for systemic change with some semblance of legal order and stability.
Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Mubarak, having taken himself and Gamal out of the September elections, was already effectively sidelined. She emphasized the need for Egypt to reform its Constitution to make a vote credible. “That is what the government has said it is trying to do,” she said.
She also stressed the dangers of holding elections without adequate preparation. “Revolutions have overthrown dictators in the name of democracy, only to see the process hijacked by new autocrats who use violence, deception and rigged elections to stay in power,” she said.
Her emphasis on a deliberate process was repeated by Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Cameron. Mrs. Merkel mentioned her past as a democracy activist in East Germany, recalling the impatience of protesters after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, to immediately join democratic West Germany. But the process took a year, and it was time well spent, she said.
“There will be a change in Egypt,” Mrs. Merkel said, “but clearly, the change has to be shaped in a way that it is a peaceful, a sensible way forward.”
Mrs. Clinton highlighted fears about deteriorating security inside Egypt, noting the explosion at a gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula, and uncorroborated news reports of an earlier assassination attempt on Mr. Suleiman.
Now will they go so far as to legitimize the Brotherhood. Both Hamas and the Brotherhood have to remain outlawed.
There is no way that Egypt will be ready to have elections in September. A new constitution must be drafted and agreed upon. Parties have to form and organize. It will take time. Lots of it.