As the world watched events unfold in Egypt late last week, the U.S. Department of State moved quickly to warn Americans about the growing violence and unrest there.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a travel warning for Americans planning trips to Egypt. The public unrest and violence between the Egyptian people and the armed forces of President Hosni Mubarak facilitated Clinton’s actions.
Riots and protests broke out in the north African state on January 25. The country has been under the solitary and oppressive rule of Mubarak for nearly 30 years. The Egyptian people are fighting for basic human and economic rights, including the right to free expression, more jobs, cheaper food, and fair prices. Observers believe that the public protests have been fueled by the ousting of the president of Tunisia earlier in January.
Per the State Department’s website, “U.S. citizens currently in Egypt should consider leaving as soon as they can safely do so.”
“In the event of demonstrations, U.S. citizens in Egypt should remain in their residences or hotels until the situation stabilizes. Security forces may block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, and U.S. citizens should not attempt to come to the U.S. Embassy or the Tahrir Square area at such times,” the alert also stated.
The travel alert explained that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo is now open only for emergency visits by U.S. citizens.
At the same time, Secretary Clinton appeared in the media on Sunday to announce that Americans stranded in Egypt would soon be flown out of the country. On Monday, the first two flights of American passengers headed to Cyprus and Athens, Greece, respectively. The flights contained 219 people in total.
The State Department reminded travelers that it is going to be a long wait to evacuate the 2,400 Americans seeking an escape from the country. There are an estimated 52,000 Americans in total in the country.
The United States joins Canada, Australia, Thailand, Turkey, Israel, and Mexico in either urging citizens to leave or planning evacuations.
President Obama and his administration have taken a cautious stance on the political and social turmoil rocking Egypt. Their initial stance down the middle of the road has leaned more toward the will of the people and their longing for more democratic freedoms. The American government obviously supports democracy, as it continually pushes the ideal in countries around the world.
As of Monday, President Mubarak reshuffled his highly-unpopular cabinet under the pressure of protesters. He has not yet said whether or not he will step down from power.