Hadassah representatives have been closely following the unrest in Egypt and throughout the Middle East, participating in conference calls and engaging with partner organizations. The Advocacy Department will continue to monitor the transition of power in Egypt and its potential impact on the region, Israel and the United States. For additional background information on the current situation please read below.
In response to a week of demonstrations by thousands of Egyptian citizens, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election this fall. President Barak Obama and Rep. Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, both urged Mubarak to start transitioning to a new government immediately, though neither outwardly requested his resignation. Israel has been watching the developments intently, increasing its military presence on the southern border but limiting public statements so as not to attract negative attention.
The discontent of the Egyptian citizens—over a sharp rise in food prices, unemployment, political oppression and government corruption—is also pervasive throughout the region. Tunisia’s president fled his country last month after similar protests and demonstrations recently broke out in Algeria, Jordan, Syria and Yemen. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced that he will not run for re-election in 2013 and Jordanian King Abdullah initiated administration changes due to ongoing pressure.
On Saturday, President Mubarak tried to respond to the protesters’ concerns—he named a vice president, dissolved the government, proposed government reforms and agreed to dialogue with political rivals—but tensions continued to mount. Today, clashes started in Tahrir Square between demonstrators and Mubarak supporters. In total, at least 300 demonstrators have been killed, more than 3000 injured and hundreds arrested. Looting and vandalism have occurred throughout the country, including at the National Museum. While Egypt’s Jewish community is virtually non-existent, police and military officers are guarding some of Egypt’s synagogues for their historical and archaeological significance. The United States and Israel have both begun evacuating their citizens and the families of diplomats who wish to leave.
Following the recent collapse of Lebanon’s coalition government and the appointment of a new Hezbollah-backed prime minister, many are concerned about the potential involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas’s parent organization) in Egypt’s new regime. The Egyptian military has always played a central role in the government, but it is becoming more likely that a civil leader could rise for the first time. No local opposition leader has emerged, though Egyptian expatriate Mohamed ElBaradei—former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—continues to gain attention. Some see ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, as a prime successor given his long career as a diplomat and western education. However, many others are alarmed by his connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and complicity to the growing Iranian nuclear program while at the IAEA. Date: 2/2/2011