02.11.11

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Departure Of President Mubarak

President Mubarak’s departure is an extraordinary, epochal event.  It also illustrates the power of social media and modern telecommunications in connecting people in pursuit of their common aspirations.

Egypt’s military leaders have both the ability and the responsibility to support a process that honors the Egyptian people’s yearnings for liberty and opportunity.  That will require a credible and transparent transition to the freedom and open society values voiced by the protestors. 

The respect that the Egyptian people have long had for the Egyptian Army has been crucial in resolving this crisis, and that trust must not be squandered.

Our country has vital interests in the region, and the American people have seen the extraordinary courage and perseverance of the Egyptian people and the peaceful way they have pursued their hopes for their country.  After waiting for decades, with many having known nothing but repression and a stagnant economy, they have come together to reclaim their government.

President Mubarak, Vice President Suleiman and Egyptian military leaders were slow to grasp the intensity of popular discontent in their country.  The government had blamed the international press, when it is the Egyptian people who are fed up.  President Mubarak saw himself as the protector of Egypt, not acknowledging that fellow Egyptians were risking their lives, day after day, for their vision of the modern country they desperately want Egypt to become. 

The challenges now facing the Egyptian people are formidable.  The Army will be decisive.  If it defends the popular will, it will earn its rightful place in history.  If the army violates the public’s trust, it would also be a blow to our relations with Egypt and would put at risk our longstanding assistance.

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