Gibbs: “It is imperative that the violence...stop.”

by Matthew Shaffer

 

In today’s White House press conference, press secretary Robert Gibbs was once again vague and evasive about Obama’s specific hopes for change in Egypt, and the United States’ intended course of action. But he was most clear in condemning the violence that broke out on the streets today. “It is imperative that the violence that we’re seeing stop.” Gibbs said the White House was “very concerned about violence in Egypt,” from both sides, and that “it is within the power of all those involved to step away from violence.”

Gibbs also seemed to imply that Mubarak’s currently stated plan to step down in September was simply not enough: “If you’re asking me if now is September – it is not September. Now means now.” He added, “What the people of Egypt want to see is not a process that starts a week a month or several months from now.” He said the U.S. would not interfere with Egyptians’ autonomous resolution: “Only those in Egypt can determine when those demands have been satisfied. But it is clear that Egyptians need to see change immediately.”

He reiterated the administration’s call for Mubarak to “respect the rights of the Egyptian people and turn on social networking and [the] internet.”

Otherwise, Gibbs was evasive. He would not answer questions about whether the administration as willing to accept the possibility that open elections in Egypt would lead to a fundamentalist Muslim regime. And he would not discuss what steps the administration would take if Mubarak did not bring “meaningful change…now” as the president had demanded last night.

Right now, he hinted, the administration is mostly watching and waiting: “Events have moved enormously quickly in a very volatile region of the world. That demands that we just continue to watch and ensure that we are taking steps to communicate with all levels of their government. “ 

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