Rebuffed U.S. turns to Egypt military in the crisis

Thursday, February 3, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has stepped up its contacts with the Egyptian military to try to exert influence over events rocking a key ally.

With lines of communication between Washington and Cairo badly frayed, American officials say they believe the best channel for persuading Mubarak to leave may be through the Egyptian military.

So far, the army has played an opaque role in the clashes between pro- and anti-Mubarak crowds, the Los Angeles Times reports.I think our sense is that the military, on balance, is still serving as a buffer between both sides and they likely still hold the key to a peaceful transition,” said one senior U.S. Defense official, who spoke, as did others on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive diplomacy involved.

The strategy is predicated on a White House belief that there is now some separation between the Egyptian military and the Mubarak government.

“They [the military] are positioning themselves as the guardians of the Egyptian state - not the guardians of Mubarak’s rule,” said a senior administration official.

U.S. policy in this crisis now appears to ride on that bet. It is still uncertain whether the military leadership will abandon one of their own.

American officials are also stepping up their contacts with other political leaders in the region to try to persuade Mubarak to leave office. (ANI)

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