Opinion Brief

Egyptian uprising: Is Obama trying to force Mubarak out?

After a special visit from an Obama envoy Tuesday, the embattled Egyptian leader said he'll step down in September. Is the U.S. elbowing its longtime ally out of power?

The Obama administration sent former Egypt ambassador Frank Wisner to Cairo with a message for embattled President Hosni Mubarak: It is time to start your exit. Later Tuesday, Mubarak said on national TV that he would step down at the end of his term in September, and hours after that, following a 30-minute phone conversation with Mubarak, Obama said Egypt's "orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now." Obama was careful to say that "it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt's leaders," but is he trying to push its current leader out the door? (See Obama's comments)

Obama's handprints are all over this: So much for all the talk about not meddling in Egypt's affairs, says Keith Koffler in White House Dossier. By sending Wisner to "tell Mubarak he was finished," then calling himself to up the pressure," Obama interfered in the most dramatic way possible." Sure, "Obama made the right move," but his involvement contradicts what the White House said as recently as Monday."Obama pushes Mubarak out"

Obama didn't push hard enough: If Mubarak thinks he can stay on until September, he's "clueless," says Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. And if Obama blew his "political capital" on that "vague promise" of a future exit, "there's a measure of cluelessness on both sides." The protesters already think we're "in bed with Mubarak," and the "choreography" of sending Wisner in just "comes across as collusion." If Mubarak doesn't quit, now, the U.S. will get the blame."Clueless in Cairo"

Obama's shoving, but Mubarak isn't moving: Obama made it "crystal clear he's on the side of the street, not the weakened strongman," says Mark Mardell in BBC News. Not only that, he "sounded as if he wanted to join the Egyptians on the streets" himself. The president has dropped the "law professor" demeanor and practically become "the guarantor of a successful revolution." But there's only so much Obama can do, and the "defiant" Mubarak seems to be studiously ignoring the "tough" nudges."Obama gets tough on Egypt's weakened strong man"

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