More than 300 U.S. political scientists, historians and researchers have signed a letter – authored by a University of Texas professor – urging President Obama to move beyond rhetoric in support of the democratic uprising in Egypt.
Jason Brownlee, a UT associate professor of government and Middle Eastern studies whose expertise includes Egypt, initiated the open letter to the president. Brownlee told The American Independent that he expects the number of letter signers to reach 1,000 by Wednesday, Feb. 2.
In the letter, the hundreds of college and university scholars call on Obama "to embark on a new course toward peace, democracy and prosperity for the people of the Middle East."
"The U.S. is very much a part of what is going on in Egypt," Brownlee told The American Indepedent. "Through years of military aid, we have helped keep the military loyal to the Egyptian president, although they should be loyal to the citizens who are trying to catalyze real change. The U.S. now needs to side with the demonstrators in the street, the young disenfranchised people, not the guy who put them in that position."
Brownlee, who has been traveling to and studying Egypt for more than 15 years, currently is a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.
Aside from Brownlee, who is working on a book about U.S.-Egyptian relations, UT representatives who have signed the letter include Emma Deputy, a graduate student in government who is concentrating on Middle Eastern studies; Clement Henry, a professor of government whose specialties include Egypt; and Rebecca Hopkins, a graduate student in public affairs and Middle Eastern studies.
For 30 years, the U.S. government "has spent billions of dollars to help build and sustain the system the Egyptian people are now trying to dismantle," the scholars wrote.
The political scientists, historians and researchers said Obama should reject policies that led to the Egyptian crisis and should launch a review of the U.S. stance on major grievances lodged by Egyptians and other Middle Easterners who are pursuing democracy.
The letter signers said the message of tens of thousands of protesters in Egypt is "bold and clear" – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should resign, allowing Egyptians to set up a new government free of influence by Mubarak and his family.
The letter to Obama said: "It is also clear to us that if you seek, as you said Friday 'political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people,' your administration should publicly acknowledge those reforms will not be advanced by Mubarak or any of his adjutants."
The scholars said that for the United States to truly stand with the Egyptian people, it must approach the Middle Eastern country "through a framework of shared values and hopes, not the prism of geostrategy."