All Egypt, All the Time

The tumult in Egypt continues as nearly everyone in the U.S. administration has something to say about it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came very close on Sunday to directly calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down. She said that there needs to be “an orderly transition” in the country “that will lead to greater political and economic freedom.” And that Washington has “made very clear that the concrete steps for democratic and economic reform that President Mubarak mentioned in his speech have to be acted upon.”

State Department spokesman PJ Crowely, also on Sunday, mirrored Clinton’s remarks, saying that the Egyptian government needs to follow promises of reform with distinct action. As he put it, “The Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat.” And in his first interview yesterday, the new White House chief of staff, William Daley, said that Washington is behind the “basic human rights of the people of Egypt,” but that all parties involved—the government, the military and the protesters—need to show restraint in their actions.

On that front, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke on the phone with the Egyptian and Israeli defense ministers on Sunday, but the Pentagon is keeping details close. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen also spoke yesterday with his Egyptian counterpart. Mullen’s spokesman said that the admiral “expressed his appreciation for the continued professionalism of the Egyptian military.”

Secretary Clinton made a quick trip to Haiti over the weekend and is now very worried about presidential elections there. The Organization of American States said that the current president’s preferred candidate, Jude Celestin, did not get enough votes to make it into the runoff election. Clinton called on the administration to honor the OAS’s ruling and move forward with the runoff vote because “it is important that the election go forward so there can be a new president.” She met with current President Rene Preval as well as all three presidential hopefuls.