Mullen: Egypt’s Military Promises to be Stabilizing Influence

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2011 — The Egypt­ian mil­i­tary has per­formed excep­tion­al­ly well in its country’s recent cri­sis, the top U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cer said today in a pod­cast for ser­vice mem­bers world­wide.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke about the sit­u­a­tion in Egypt, where an enor­mous wave of demon­stra­tions has the gov­ern­ment in tur­moil. The demon­stra­tors are call­ing for Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak to step down.

Mullen said he spoke with his Egypt­ian coun­ter­part, Army Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, by phone and received an update on the sit­u­a­tion.

“He assures me that they’re very focused on this, and they will con­tin­ue to be a sta­bi­liz­ing influ­ence with­in their coun­try,” Mullen said. “So again, [it’s a] very tough sit­u­a­tion. There’s great uncer­tain­ty right now, and we cer­tain­ly are look­ing for a future which sta­bi­lizes, we hope, as fast as pos­si­ble.”

The sit­u­a­tion is very volatile, and no one knows how it will turn out, the chair­man said.

“So far, the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary have han­dled them­selves excep­tion­al­ly well,” he said. “You can see that just from the pic­tures that have been dis­played, in terms of how they have been accept­ed by their peo­ple.”

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs reit­er­at­ed the administration’s posi­tion that there must be an order­ly tran­si­tion in Egypt.

“A whole range of issues … have to be addressed. … There has to be mean­ing­ful nego­ti­a­tions with a broad cross-sec­tion of the Egypt­ian peo­ple, includ­ing oppo­si­tion groups, that go to answer­ing the very core of the free­doms that peo­ple desire,” Gibbs told reporters at today’s White House press brief­ing.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma told Mubarak in a Jan. 28 phone con­ver­sa­tion that the demon­stra­tions are “an oppor­tu­ni­ty that should be seized … to bring about sig­nif­i­cant demo­c­ra­t­ic change,” Gibbs said.

“We have said all along that there are … legit­i­mate con­cerns and griev­ances had by the Egypt­ian peo­ple for a long time – the need for free­dom to asso­ciate, free­dom to com­mu­ni­cate over the Inter­net, free­dom to assem­ble, the free­dom of speech – and that those must be addressed in a sub­stan­tive way by the Egypt­ian gov­ern­ment,” Gibbs said.

Mullen stressed the impor­tance of Egypt’s mil­i­tary as a sta­bi­liz­ing force. The Unit­ed States mil­i­tary has had a close and con­tin­u­ing rela­tion­ship with Egypt­ian offi­cers and non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers since the Camp David Accords in 1978, he not­ed.

“We’ve had a very strong rela­tion­ship with the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary for decades,” Mullen said. “And as I look to the future, I cer­tain­ly look to that to con­tin­ue.

“I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work with the Egypt­ian mil­i­tary,” the admi­ral con­tin­ued. “We look to a future that cer­tain­ly, we hope, is sta­ble, with­in Egypt as well as, obvi­ous­ly, in the region.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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