Clock ticking against Obama's Mideast
Clock ticking against Obama's MideastIsrael news photo montage

U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday night called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to halt violence against opponents, protect freedoms and introduce reforms, nearly two years after he delivered his “reaching out to Muslim speech in Cairo.”

 In Jordan, protesters called Mubarak a ”traitor and an American agent.”

Egypthas said it has gained control over near-anarchy that spread throughout the country Saturday night, but the groundswell of support for the opposition threatens the regime of Mubarak and could spark copy cat protests in other Muslim countries.

In his statement Saturday, President Obama said, “I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.

“The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights.”

The president's remarks came two weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prophetically warned that "the region's foundations are sinking into the sand," due to the pervasive culture of corruption that discouraged participation and hard work. Two weeks later, she found herself responding to the protest movement in Egypt and "urged Egypt to "to allow people to protest."

President Obama called on Cairo to restore Internet and full mobile phone services, which were cut off in an attempt to prevent opponents from communicating and organizing more demonstrations. More than 100 people have been killed as riot police, aided by prisoners they released, used brute force to try to suppress the demonstrations.

He maintained that “the United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we've cooperated on many issues” but that in the absence of social and economic reforms, “grievances have built up over time.”

The Jordanian protest by Muslim and union activists outside the Egyptian embassy in Amman ridiculed both Mubarak and President Obama.

"Mubarak, you are a traitor and an American agent," the crowd chanted. "Hosni Mubarak, Saudi Arabia awaits you. We say to the Americans, 'do not interfere,’” Muslim Brotherhood leader Hamam Said told reporters. "Your control which has lasted 100 years is finished. We are living in a new era."

He warned the Jordanian kingdom "to draw lessons from the events (in Egypt) and start political reforms.” King Abdullah faces a society torn between native citizens and a growing dominance of Bedouin who do no identify with the king and his government.