Violence yesterday involving opposition protesters and pro-government supporters in Egypt’s streets show the volatility of a crisis that continues to unfold. And the dueling public statements of Presidents Barack Obama and Hosni Mubarak the night before indicate that we are in the early stages of a crisis over how political power is distributed and shared inside Egypt.
Mubarak’s announcement that he will not run in presidential elections slated for this fall has not satisfied the opposition. The opposition views the roadmap for political reform outlined in his speech as insufficient. The unmistakable result: Egypt is now entering a complicated and quite likely protracted period of crisis-driven negotiations between the old order centered in Egypt’s security establishment that has run the country for decades, and a diverse and fractious political opposition to that order.
The changes underway in Egypt will have wide-ranging implications for America’s broader policies in the Middle East. How the Obama administration continues to manage its approach to Egypt will shape America’s position in the region for years to come.
Most of the analysis on how the Obama administration has handled the crisis in Egypt in its first week focused on surface-level assessments of the administration’s public statements. But it’s important to dig a little deeper to assess how the Obama administration is handling what’s happening in Egypt. Just as the changes in Egypt are probably in their early stages, the Obama administration’s policy approach continues to evolve, centered on four main pillars:
- A diplomatic full court press with Egypt
- A road map for a full political transition in Egypt
- Managing the new regional security landscape
- A new strategic communications plan with Egypt and the region
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