Lalit K Jha
Washington, Feb 7 (PTI) Backing a move for a"representative and responsive government" in Egypt, USPresident Barack Obama has played down the prospects of MuslimBrotherhood taking a major role in the new set up in thestrife-torn Arab nation.
In clear indications that US feels there is no rolefor embattled President Hosni Mubarak, Obama said that therecan be no going back to pre-protest era in Egypt.
"I think that the Muslim Brotherhood is one faction,"Obama said. "They don''t have majority support in Egypt."
Even so Obama, appearing in Fox television,acknowledged that the outlawed Brotherhood was well organizedand had "strains of ideology that are anti-US".
But he exuded confidence that a representativegovernment would emerge in Egypt from the ongoing turmoil andWashington could work with it.
"What Egypt needs is a peaceful and orderlytransition," he said.
"But here''s the thing that we have to understand,there are a whole bunch of secular folks in Egypt, there are awhole bunch of educators and civil society in Egypt that wantsto come to the fore as well," he said in his first comments onthe role of Brotherhood, long dubbed a extremist organization.
"It''s important for us not the say that our only twooptions are either the Muslim Brotherhood or a suppressedEgyptian people," Obama said.
Elaborating on the banned Egyptian group, Secretary ofState Hillary Clinton said she would not pre-judge who shouldor should not participate in the political process.
"They have to decide who is going to be eligible torun. What we want is to see an inclusive process," she saidwhen asked about Brotherhood joining the political process, onher way back from the Munich security conference.
Obama, in his interaction with Fox TV, also refused tobe drawn into predicting whether Mubarak would step down andsaid "only he knows what he is going to do."
He said US cannot forcefully dictate in Egypt, but"what we can say is that the time is now for you to startmaking changes in your country. Mubarak has already said he isnot going to run again."
But in a turnabout, Clinton said "forcing Mubarak toleave in a hurry could complicate the already enormouschallenges Egypt faces in transforming itself from autocracyto democracy."
Obama said Mubarak has been a good partner when itcomes to the peace with Israel.
"There have been counter-terrorism efforts that he''sbeen very supported of. But we''ve also said consistently saidto him both publicly and privately is that trying to suppressyour own people is something that is not sustainable. And partof the message that I think we''re seeing all around the worldis, when you resort to suppression, when you resort toviolence, that does not work," he asserted.