(Photo: Remy Steinegger /
World Economic Forum)
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam al-Eryan said today that Egyptian opposition groups have agreed to back former IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei to negotiate with the government, Al Jazeera reports:
This move by Egyptian opposition groups potentially offers a peaceful path out of the crisis not only for the Egyptian government, but also for the United States government, which is finding itself the object of increasingly bitter criticism from Egyptians who back the protesters' call for Mubarak to step down and see the policy of the United States of backing Mubarak as a key obstacle to the realization of their aspirations for free and fair elections.
Failure to take advantage of this opportunity
could lead to a bloody showdown in the streets - even worse than what we
have seen already - for which the US would bear significant responsibility.
The New York Times reported:
US officials have said that the Egyptian government should engage in dialogue with the opposition.
there's a proposal on the table from opposition parties for such dialogue.
What the opposition parties want to talk about is establishing a path to
free and fair elections - the same thing they have been demanding for
The US could publicly call upon, and privately
pressure, the Egyptian government to respond to the opposition parties' call
The New York Times reported yesterday that the US says it does not want to call for Mubarak to step down because,
Regardless of whether one believes that these
stated reasons are the full story, or whether they are also a cover for
other US motivations - the Times acknowledges that the administration's
"restraint" is also driven by lack of enthusiasm for "dealing with an Egypt
without Mubarak" - these are the stated reasons of the US for not responding
to the protesters' call.
It is a very modest demand, totally consistent
with previous US statements, which would not plausibly lead to "losing all
leverage" with Mubarak; it would not create a "power vacuum"; it would not
reasonably lead to a perception that the US was "engineering" Mubarak's
ouster. On the contrary: the US would be raising the profile of a particular
proposal for negotiations as a way out of the crisis, and increasing
pressure on the Egyptian government to respond to it.
But refusing to support this reasonable,
pragmatic, and moderate proposal, just because the Muslim Brotherhood also
supports it, would be extremely short-sighted. The Brotherhood brings a lot
to the table in its potential to help peacefully establish a consensus
government that could supervise elections that the majority of Egyptians
would see as legitimate.
This is a key asset for ElBaradei, the
Brotherhood, and all Egyptians going forward towards the establishment of
free and fair elections and of a government that the majority of Egyptians
will see as legitimate.