Former first lady begged for US help during uprising, activist says

Egypt's former first lady begged the US government to save then-President Hosni Mubarak during the uprising last January that ended his rule, reform advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim said in an article published Wednesday.

Ibrahim told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in an interview that Suzanne Mubarak cried and begged US President Barack Obama's administration to save her and her husband to no avail. Ibrahim said countries like the US are driven by interests, not emotions.

Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American sociologist and a long-time critic of the Mubarak regime, is the founder of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, an organization that promotes democracy. He said he was at the White House when the revolution broke out and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton believed it was necessary for the administration to back Mubarak so as not to lose the confidence of other regional allies or compromise US interests. Clinton saw the ousted president as a loyal and strategic ally, he said.

But according to Ibrahim, Mubarak lost support from Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden on 2 February, when pro-Mubarak horse and camel riders staged a bloody attack on protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square that became known as the "Battle of the Camel."

Ibrahim claimed Mubarak was supposed to announce his resignation in a speech on 10 February after approval by the US administration, but said the text was amended shortly before he delivered the speech.

Ibrahim said that during that time, Egypt's military had two main priorities: making the protests a pressure tool to foil Mubarak's plans to transfer power to his younger son, and stopping him from giving orders to fire at protesters, stressing that the White House was aware of this and was monitoring the situation.

The reform advocate said that Mubarak lost all sympathy from the US administration after he stubbornly rejected its advice to resign and save his family's life.

Ibrahim alleged Mubarak lost US support after his second speech — not his third, as widely thought. Ibrahim told the newspaper the US administration saw him at the time as a man who does not honor his promises, which prompted Obama to demand that he leave.

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