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Egypt’s Military Remains Neutral, Mullen Says

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2011 – With hope for “an orderly, peaceful, violence-free transition” in Egypt, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today he will continue his discussions with the chief of staff of Egypt’s armed forces.

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning, America,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said the Egyptian military is working hard to remain neutral.

Lt. Gen. Sami Anan has assured him that “he’s not going to fire on his people,” Mullen said.

“They are very focused on the people of Egypt,” the chairman said of the Egyptian military. “They would like this clearly to transition peacefully. There are more army forces out today, and you can see them in the pictures. They work very hard to remain neutral, and they really want to continue to do that.”

Mullen cited the long-standing, strong relationship between the U.S. and Egyptian militaries, noting that Egypt has received $1.3 billion in U.S. funding over the past 30 years.

“Beyond just the equipment and those sorts of things, what that has also done is establish a relationship with the Egyptian military, between our militaries, which is one of great strength,” Mullen said. “There are intangibles associated with that tied to how [Egyptian service members] handle themselves and how they focus and what they understand about who they should be, which are very positive.”

The admiral said the United States has “plenty of military presence throughout the region” and that the Defense Department is in a higher state of awareness but has not increased alert levels or readiness levels there.

President Barack Obama has made it clear that he would like to see the transition sought by many of the protesters in Cairo “move reasonably quickly,” Mullen said.

“But at the same time,” he added, “this is really up to the Egyptian people [and] the Egyptian government.”

The chairman cautioned against rushing into action on the question of whether the United States should freeze or halt funding for Egypt.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there,” he said. “I’d like to understand a little bit more about what’s going on before we take any specific action.”

 

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