Open Letter to Obama

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An Open Letter to President Barack Obama, as Egyptians Herald a New Dawn

Dear President Obama:

Since 1953, when Irans democratic movement was suppressed and the Shah restored to power, the United States has often aligned itself with repressive autocrats in the Middle East. The current uprising in Egypt presents a test of Americas commitments as consequential as the Iranian crisis fifty-eight years ago. Therefore we, the undersigned, academics and researchers in the fields of Middle East Studies and US Foreign Policy, and U.S. citizens, call upon you to use all the powers of your office to stand unequivocally behind the January 25th Movement, withdraw US support from Hosni Mubaraks security state, and establish 2011 as a watershed in US relations with the peoples of the Middle East. You have rightly recognized: "The Egyptian people want freedom, they want free and fair elections, they want a representative government, they want a responsible government. These basic rights cannot be achieved without moving to replace the current regime, and the transition process must include real representation, including youth, from the pro-democracy movement.

You also correctly noted that "it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypts leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that." But Egyptians' right to self-government has been obstructed for thirty years by a military and intelligence apparatus that is trained and funded by Washington, fiercely loyal to Mubarak, and inimical to popular sovereignty. Vice president Omar Suleiman, widely known as Cairo's renditions czar, provides a constant reminder of American complicity in Egyptian repression --- as do the F-16s cracking sonic booms above Tahrir Square and the tanks that stood passively while Mubarak's goons roamed freely. There is no need to intervene in or instruct the January 25th Movement, which has bravely shown the world what real democracy looks like. It is imperative, though, that your administration rescind support from all Egyptian forces opposing democracy and civilian control.

The demonstrators have called for democratic regime change, not a US-facilitated transition to another despot. We urge you to help ensure that their demands are met, their rights are honored, and the Egyptian government ceases its attacks on journalists and peaceful protestors.