February 8th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

White House criticizes Egyptian government and vice president

Tom Cohen

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's spokesman criticized the Egyptian government on Tuesday for arresting and harassing journalists and rights activists, and called comments by Vice President Omar Suleiman that Egypt is not ready for democracy "particularly unhelpful."

The remarks by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reflected a growing U.S. dissatisfaction with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Suleiman, the intelligence officer Mubarak chose as his deputy to bring about reforms demanded by protesters who have convulsed Cairo and the Egyptian economy for more than two weeks.

In another sign of U.S. frustration with the pace of reform in Egypt, Vice President Joe Biden, in a phone call Tuesday with Suleiman, pushed for more progress, according to a White House statement.

So far, the Obama administration has been careful to call for democratic reforms in Egypt while also trying to maintain stability in a key Middle Eastern ally that is a vital Arab partner to Israel through the Camp David Accords of 1978.

With detentions, beatings and harassment of journalists and rights activists continuing, and the weekend comments by Suleiman that signaled a shaky commitment to the reforms offered by Mubarak, Gibbs made a point of directly criticizing both the vice president and the Egyptian government in a briefing with White House reporters.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. LC

    Anderson Cooper is doing an awesome job reporting on Egypt daily. I can't wait to get home from work to learn more about the Middle East since it is almost impossible to get Aljhazeera in the United States. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity!

    February 9, 2011 at 5:24 am |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    Mubarak and Suleiman are effectively no change.
    Egypt is Military dictatorship whose face is Mubarak and Suleiman.
    The changes required and the Protesters know is first Mubarak has to go this gives a symbolic defeat.
    Then they need changes to the constitution that rescind the emergency powers and allow for elections with Multiple party participation including for the office of President. Importantly, separation of powers of the Military from political positions, and under the control regardinf appointments of the congress or Parliament of Egypt.

    February 9, 2011 at 2:57 am |