"This could have very serious consequences," Sen. Patrick Leahy, a
Vermont Democrat, said. "They run the risk, if they overreact, of cutting
ties with a country they need."
On Jan. 30, Obama again telephoned Mubarak and the two men discussed the
anti-regime protests in Egypt. Obama has called for democratic changes in
Egypt, and over the last two days expressed dissatisfaction with the Cabinet
shakeup by Mubarak.
Earlier, Egyptian defense and military leaders met the Obama
administration to discuss both programs as well as American concerns over
the pro-democracy demonstrations. In late January, Egyptian Defense Minister
Hussein Tantawi was said to have briefed Pentagon chiefs on the unrest as
Egyptian Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sami Einan discussed training and exercise
"At each of these meetings, the administration urged the military not to
attack civilians," an official said.
The Pentagon addressed the anti-Mubarak unrest on Jan. 28 as
the Egyptian delegation concluded its visit to Washington. Gen. James
Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S.
military was monitoring the situation and planning for a range of scenarios
"We're a military, so we plan, and we go through all sorts of
contingencies," Cartwright told a briefing. "But the key activity here, I
think, that's really important is to exercise restraint and to do so both on
our part but also on the part of our counterparts in the Egyptian military."
Officials said the administration would have to review a range of
military options with Egypt over the next few months. They included whether
Washington should suspend Egypt's order of 20 F-16 Block 52+ fighters from
Lockheed Martin as well as delay major exercises and strategic dialogue.
Still, Cartwright stressed that the Egyptian unrest did not comprise a
formal subject on the agenda of annual U.S.-Egyptian military talks. The
general said the U.S. military did not advise its Egyptian
counterpart over how to handle the anti-government demonstrators.
"We didn't say anything to them about how they should handle it, and
they didn't tell us how they were going to handle it, because at the time
that they were here, it really hadn't emerged," Cartwright said. "It's
spiraled up very quickly."