Protests and Bowl Parties
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is off to the Munich Security Conference, where Egypt is likely to be a topic at the front of the agenda as events there continue to hold the world's attention. Special envoy George Mitchell will also make his way to Germany—there will be a meeting of the Middle East Quartet (the United States, the EU, the United Nations and Russia) on the sidelines of the conference.
State Department spokesman PJ Crowley commented yesterday on violence against journalists attempting to report on the situation in Egypt. He called on the Egyptian government to help quell what he said are not “random events.” Secretary Clinton echoed Crowley’s statements yesterday: “There is a clear responsibility by the Egyptian government, including the army, to protect those threatened and hold accountable those responsible for these attacks.” Both Crowley and Clinton also said that Washington wants Cairo to begin serious talks with opposition leaders immediately. As Crowley described them, discussions so far have not been “broad enough, not credible enough.”
Clinton was on the phone with Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, yesterday, speaking to him “about the need for free and fair presidential elections.” She pushed him to make reforms quickly. And Clinton spoke to Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who appointed a new prime minister on Tuesday. His country is also seeing antigovernment protests. Also yesterday, Clinton and President Obama were briefed by Frank Wisner about his trip to Egypt. The seasoned diplomat was called in to try to smooth the situation in Cairo over.
Meanwhile, President Obama called his national-security team to the Oval Office today to talk about the situation in Egypt. He met for forty minutes with Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon among others. And Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said in an interview with ABC News that the administration shouldn’t take any drastic steps to deal with Egypt until everyone fully understands the situation. When asked whether Washington would freeze military and economic aid to the country, he said the choice wasn’t his to make, but that he’d “like to understand a little bit more about what's going on before we took any specifics.” He also spoke about the good relationship the U.S. and Egyptian militaries enjoy.
In other news, the White House is getting together a big Super Bowl party. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will rub elbows with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony.