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US military chief acknowledges surprised by events in Egypt

Posted by seumasach on February 6, 2011

We’ve got our military ready should any kind of response or support be required and that isn’t the case right now,’ Mullen said Thursday night on the Daily Show.

Monsters and Critics

4th February, 2011

 

Washington – The top US military officer has acknowledged the United States was caught off guard by the uprising in Egypt and that the armed forces are closely monitoring developments in the country and region.

In a series of interviews with US media, Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US military in the Middle East is in a higher state of alert following the unrest in Egypt and other Arab countries but that there are no plans to intervene.

‘We’re in a higher state of awareness,’ he told ABC News Friday. ‘But we haven’t increased our alert levels or our readiness levels. We’re obviously very focused on this throughout the region.’

‘We’ve got our military ready should any kind of response or support be required and that isn’t the case right now,’ Mullen said Thursday night on the Daily Show.

The US and Egyptian militaries enjoy close relations. They conduct joint exercises and Egyptian officers receive training in the US. Washington provides the Egyptian military 1.3 billion dollars in annual aid.

Mullen said the rapidly unfolding events in Egypt and the region ‘has taken not just us, but many people by surprise.’

‘To a great degree, I think the timing of it caught us (by surprise), as it moved from Tunisia and sort of across to the really difficult challenge that sits there right now in Egypt.’

Mullen said he has spoken regularly to Lieutenant General Sami Enan, the chief of staff of the Egyptian armed forces and received assurances that ‘they have no intent to fire on their own people.’

‘The outcome there is really up to the Egyptian people, and also their leadership, including the army,’ Mullen said.

Meanwhile, the CIA has taken criticism for not predicting the unrest in Egypt that has forced President Hosny Mubarak to announce he will end his 30-year rule and leave office in September.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, grilled a CIA official in a hearing Thursday over when it informed the White House of the emerging crisis.

Stephanie O’Sullivan, the CIA official, responded the agency had concluded the political stagnation in the region was ‘untenable.’

‘We have warned of instability. We didn’t know what the triggering mechanism would be for that,’ she said.

 

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