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World Hopes For Both Stability And Reform In Egypt

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Nations throughout the world are offering either support or condemnation to tens of thousands of protesters who have been demanding change from the Egyptian government for the past week.

Most countries are teetering on the line of backing the opposition while attempting to continue promoting stability in the region.

Here’s a look at reactions from governments around the world.

United States

The Obama administration has trod a fine line on Egypt thus far, making clear its support for free assembly and democracy, but not wanting to rile longtime ally President Hosni Mubarak.

On Friday, President Obama called on the Egyptian government to lift its restrictions on social media and other means of communication. But he also warned protesters that they could not achieve their goals through violence.

Instead, administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are calling for a “transition to democracy.”

“I know that everybody wants a yes or no answer to what are very complicated issues,” Clinton said Sunday on ABC’s This Week. “We have been consistent ... in arguing that real stability only comes from the kind of democratic participation that gives people a chance to feel that they are being heard.”

Clinton stressed that the U.S. would like to see a “real democracy” — not one that gives way to a military dictatorship after a few months or the rise of a theocracy, as happened after the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979.

Egypt’s neighbors and other nations around the world have also weighed in on the situation.


Following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also stressed his fears that what happened in Iran could be replicated in Egypt.

Israel allowed Egypt to send troops into Sinai Monday for the first time since the 1979 peace accord between those countries. Israel ceded the territory to Egypt on condition that it not be militarized. Egypt has sent about 800 soldiers into a southern portion of Sinai, far from the Israeli border. But Israeli officials are worried that Palestinian militants may take advantage of the unrest to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip, according to Associated Press reports.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has instructed its embassies to underline the importance of Egypt’s stability.

“The peace between Israel and Egypt has lasted for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these relations will continue to exist,” Netanyahu told a Cabinet meeting Sunday.


Iran has expressed support for the uprising in Egypt.

“The voice of the brave people of Egypt is the voice of revolution,” Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said, according to IRNA, the official news agency.

A statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry said, “The demonstrations by the Muslim Egyptian nation are a movement seeking the realization of justice and the Egyptian people’s national and ideological demands.” It advised the Hosni Mubarak regime to listen to “this Muslim nation’s voice,” accept the “Islamic awakening” and submit to people’s demands.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi added, “Today, Egypt and its people are drawing on the invaluable experience of the Middle East’s contemporary history and getting ready to determine their own fate and reclaim their influential status in the region.” He told the Majlis, “Vigilant regional nations inspired by religious teachings and Islamic awakening are seeking to free themselves of the domination of hegemonic powers and gain real independence.”

Arab Neighbors

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that the Middle East is entering “a new era” but that it’s not clear whether that would mean “more chaos or more institutionalization.”

And King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has condemned the protesters as “infiltrators” and called Mubarak to express support.

The oil states along the Persian Gulf are hoping to insulate themselves from unrest through subsidies and direct giveaways. On Wednesday, the Kuwaiti Parliament approved a plan to give each citizen 1,000 dinars, or a little more than $3,500, per month for the next 14 months.


Like the Obama administration, European leaders have reacted cautiously to the protests, expressing support for democratic aspirations but also highlighting the need for stability.

The European Union issued a statement Monday calling for “free and fair elections” but did not call for Mubarak to step down.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said that repression “is the wrong choice. ... There needs to be a proper, orderly transition to a more democratic situation, where there are greater rights, greater freedoms, better rule of law.”

Other Western leaders have similarly stated their support for democracy and civil rights, as well as their hopes that Egypt can avoid what Italy’s foreign minister called “extremism” and “radicalism.”

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is now an international envoy to the Israel-Palestinian peace process, said in Israel on Monday, “Change is going to happen, but it should be the right type of change and that process of change needs to be managed with order and stability so that you don’t end up in a situation worse than the one we have and destabilizing the region.”


The foreign ministries of China, Japan and India have each issued statements calling for order and stability to be restored soon to Egypt.

China has called for a return to “social stability and normal order,” while Japan encouraged Egypt to promote reforms in a manner that wins wide support and achieves “stability and progress.”

India’s Ministry of External Affairs also issued a statement, saying it was closely watching “with concern” the developments in Egypt.

“We are closely following with concern, the developments in Egypt. India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly relations. We hope for an early and peaceful resolution of the situation without further violence and loss of lives,” the ministry said. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


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