President Obama on Egypt

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  My administration has been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, and I know that we will be learning more tomorrow when day breaks.  As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life.  So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors.

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal.  That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny.  These are human rights.  And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.

I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.

At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully.  Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek.

Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise.  The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we’ve cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region.  But we’ve also been clear that there must be reform — political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time.  When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity.  I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.

Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people.  And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.  What’s needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people:  a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.

Now, ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people.  And I believe that the Egyptian people want the same things that we all want — a better life for ourselves and our children, and a government that is fair and just and responsive.  Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization.

The United States always will be a partner in pursuit of that future.  And we are committed to working with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people — all quarters — to achieve it.

Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens.  That’s true here in the United States; that’s true in Asia; it is true in Europe; it is true in Africa; and it’s certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard.

When I was in Cairo, shortly after I was elected President, I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion.  That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserve.

Surely there will be difficult days to come.  But the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful.

Thank you very much.

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Bito– I’m confused. The text is not the same speech on the video you posted. Which speech is the above?


I thought he said all that he could say. I am just amazed at some people and some so-called pundits screaming for him to say or do more, for him to actively espouse the protestors.

First, there is no organised opposition in Egypt. I was watching Al-Jazeera last night. Scores of the people protesting in the street don’t want a government led by ElBadarei – they remark upon the fact that he’s spent most of his adult life outside Egypt, and only returned a couple of years ago. They regard him as an opportunist. Then there’s the Muslim Brotherhood, who seem to be the biggest organised group within the protestors. There’s always a danger that Egypt, post-Mubarak, that the government will be taken over by religious extremists.

But the real question, post-Mubarak, is if Egypt is prepared to continue the policy it’s followed for the past 30 years regarding Israel; because that’s the seed in all this, planted all those years ago by Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. Sadat was assassinated for that.

Another figure to emerge from the protestors is Gamal Nasser’s son, Khaled. That’s something to ponder.

I simply can’t get my head around people like Ed Schultz or Jon Snow (on British television) hectoring politicians and the President to DO SOMETHING more directly, when they were the very ones screaming (and rightly so) at Bush for interfering and nation-building in Iraq.


Absolutely, Marion. I read comments from people on the Left who simultaneously criticize US meddling around the world and in the next breath insist that Obama somehow force Mubarak out. It’s the same impulse as hating the way Dubya ruled– executive orders, his contempt for half of the electorate, e.g.–but demanding that Obama behave the same way.


Thanks so much for this Bito, missed it.

It is a fine line he has to tread, supporting the revolt and democracy but not be seen by those who may take power as meddling in what’s going on in Egypt.

I think this speech is on the money,


There is a reason. There’s always a reason. A good one I’m sure too. Still, one wonders why Obama didn’t just announce that it would be in the best interest of Egypt and it’s people if it’s 82 year old President didn’t just BOOK, you know?


Not to make our other tyrannical frienemies in the region nervous, for one.


Hey VB! I just don’t think that he wants America to be seen by Egyptians as interfering and trying to control what’s going on in Egypt…even though it’s beyond our control anyway.