Washington, Feb 11 (IANS) Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s refusal to quit has led to what many US media reports are portraying as a sense of confusion in Washington, leaving the Obama administration unsure of its response.
ABC World News, for example, said: “The chaos and confusion that so permeated throughout Egypt made its way to the White House,” where officials are “poring over Mubarak and Vice President (Omar) Suleiman’s statements, trying to figure out what went on,” and “there is no concrete reaction”.
“When Mubarak finally spoke, Washington just froze. Even State Department and intelligence analysts were not sure just how to interpret his remarks,” commented NBC Nightly News.
The CBS Evening News was more circumspect, saying: “It seems the administration was a bit taken by surprise by the events of the day.”
“Not only did US officials expect Mubarak to step down…they said so publicly,” noted NBC Nightly News describing it as “a case of terrible timing for the nation’s top intelligence leaders”.
They were, the channel noted, “delivering their annual report to Congress, just as most of the world thought that the revolution was reaching the peak in Cairo”.
The Washington Post noted CIA Director Leon Panetta’s comments about the “strong likelihood” of Mubarak quitting “helped touch off an avalanche of erroneous expectations”, but “within minutes”, senior aides to the director “sought to tamp down the impact, saying he was merely referring to media reports”.
Mubarak’s refusal to step down, the New York Times in a separate front page article warned, “confronts the Obama administration with a stark choice: break decisively with Mubarak or stick to its call for an ‘orderly transition’ that may no longer be tenable”.