Leading article: A test of faith for the White House

Share
Related Topics

Washington has been sending hopelessly mixed messages about Egypt since the popular revolt against the repressive regime of Hosni Mubarak began. At first the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, declared the Mubarak regime "stable". A few days later she demanded an "orderly transition" of power. This was followed at the weekend by remarks from Frank Wisner, Barack Obama's envoy to Cairo last week, stating that "President Mubarak's continued leadership is crucial".

These muddled messages were widely believed to reflect a conflict between the twin US goals of promoting stability in the region and promoting democracy. But, as we report today, there is a more sinister explanation. Mr Wisner, a former US ambassador to Egypt, turns out to be employed by an American lobbying and law firm, Patton Boggs, which works for the Mubarak regime and several "leading Egyptian commercial families". This is a straightforward conflict of interest.

The generous interpretation would be that the White House called Mr Wisner out of retirement without subjecting him to adequate scrutiny. The less generous interpretation is that the US is, once again, working covertly to serve its own interests in the Middle East. Trust is vital. Ms Clinton and the US Vice President, Joe Biden, are urging the Egyptian opposition to deal with the newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, despite the fact that Mr Suleiman was previously the head of the country's brutal intelligence services and is widely distrusted by Egyptian democracy campaigners. If the opposition think they are being pressured by the US to submit to a second Mubarak, the results will be disastrous.

In the light of this revelation about Mr Wisner's lobbying job, the White House has a clear test. It needs to repudiate Mr Wisner's views and apologise for having sent such a compromised representative to Cairo. If it fails to do this, the Egyptian people are liable to draw the conclusion that the Obama administration, despite its fine words about liberty and democracy, is not on their side.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia  

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Oliver Poole
Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup