BARACK Obama has played down the prospect of the anti-US Muslim Brotherhood taking control in Egypt after President Hosni Mubarak quits office.
The US President yesterday described the Muslim Brotherhood as well organised with strains of anti-US ideology, but dismissed the group as just one faction. “They don’t have majority support in Egypt,” Mr Obama said.
Optimistic about Egypt’s future after days of turmoil, the President said he was confident the US could work with the country’s next government after elections. “What I want is a representative government in Egypt,” he told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. “I have confidence that if Egypt moves in an orderly transition process, we will have a government in Egypt that we can work with together as a partner.”
He stopped short of saying Mr Mubarak should quit immediately, as protesters demand, but insisted transition start now.
With Mr Mubarak agreeing not to stand for re-election, US commentators have raised the spectre of a radical Islamic regime seizing power.
The worst outcome for US policy would be a government openly aligned with Hamas in the Gaza Strip that was hostile to Washington and renounced the peace accord with Israel signed by the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1979.
Mr Obama stressed that many secular groups existed in Egypt.
“Egypt is not going to go back to what it was,” he said. “The Egyptian people want freedom. They want free and fair elections. They want a representative government. They want a responsive government.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rushed to distance the administration from comments by former US envoy to Egypt Frank Wisner, who delivered a message on Mr Obama’s behalf urging Mr Mubarak to step aside only a week ago.
Mr Wisner created confusion when he said Mr Mubarak’s leadership remained “utterly critical” during the transition and that he should remain in office until September. Mrs Clinton said Mr Wisner “does not speak for the American government. He does not reflect our policies, and we have been very clear from the beginning we wanted an orderly transition.”