(JTA) -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reportedly is leaving Cairo, but who is in control remains unclear.
Media on Friday afternoon said Mubarak was on his way to the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheik.
There were conflicting messages, however, about whether Mubarak remained in control, or whether his vice-president, Omar Suleiman, or the military had assumed control. State TV said an announcement was imminent.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Egyptian ambassador to the United States says President Hosni Mubarak has relinquished his powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice president.
"President Mubarak transfered the powers of his presidency to his vice president," Sameh Shoukry told CNN in a phone call he said he made to clarify its reporting of Mubarak's speech Thursday night. "We can say the president is the de jure president and the vice president is the de facto president."
HERZLIYA, Israel (JTA) -- In the sleek, blue auditorium filled with spotlights and large video screens at Israel's premier annual national security policy conference, all eyes were fixed on the revolution next door, in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
From the Israelis among the experts, diplomats and security officials assembled for the 11th annual Herzliya Conference near Tel Aviv, there were dark assessments and discussion of preparing for worst-case scenarios.
The Muslim Brotherhood is trying its best to put a positive spin on its goals, and an Op-ed piece in today’s New York Times by Essam El-Errian, a member of the guidance council of the Brotherhood, makes the group sound like America’s Founding Fathers.
“Moving forward,” he writes, “we envision the establishment of a democratic, civil state that draws on universal measures of freedom and justice, which are central Islamic values.”
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in Washington meeting top administration officials and Congress members.
Barak is meeting Wednesday with Dennis Ross, the top Iran policy official in the White House; Tom Donilon, the national security adviser; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, as well as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee and other Congress members.
Washington is buzzing with talk that Congress may cut off Egypt's big foreign aid allocation – the second biggest in the U.S. foreign aid program, behind Israel's. Members of Congress, in particular, are making noise about cutting or ending aid going back to the Camp David peace agreement.
Think it's going to happen? Don't bet the kibbutz. In the past, Egypt has had some mighty important lobbyists who pulled out all the stops to ensure that the aid to Cairo continued – and I'm not talking about million-dollar-a-year K Street hired guns.
I've been writing off and on that the Obama administration inherited a situation in Egypt that was bound to go bad, but today's Jackson Diehl column in the Washington Post suggests there's a lot more culpability at the Obama White House than I assumed.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The consensus on U.S. assistance to Egypt is that it has delivered bang for its buck: The $1.3 billion in annual defense aid has stabilized a key ally and strengthened America's profile in the Middle East.
But in the wake of massive unrest that could unseat Egypt’s autocratic leader, the question now emerging is whether sustaining the aid to the current regime would advance a democratic agenda or squelch it -- or whether that should be an American concern at all.
Show a Jew a silver lining, the old saying goes, and he looks for the cloud.
Or, more immediately, show Israelis scenes of Cairo, where tens of thousands are protesting each day for their freedom and human rights, and rather than exalt, Jerusalem worries that the result will be not be a new age of democracy next door but a takeover by radical Islamists determined to end Egypt’s peace treaty with the Jewish state, and worse.