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Hillary Clinton Traveling to Egypt, Tunisia, Will Meet With Libyan Rebels

It’s hard out here for a news reporter. There’s just too much happening. Aside from Wisconsin and Libya, protests continue to rage in the Middle East and North Africa. And the ruling regimes are getting trigger happy. Yemeni police fired on protesters yesterday, killing at least three. Coptic Christians and Muslims clashed in Egypt, killing at least thirteen. As Mohammed ElBaradei announced his intention to run for President, women’s rights marchers in Egypt were sexually assaulted, showing the many unresolved difficulties in that country. And today we learned that protesters were shot in the eastern city of Qatif in Saudi Arabia, and the big mobilization isn’t even planned until after Friday prayers tomorrow.

This is an extremely troubled time in that part of the world, and into this situation steps Hillary Clinton, who will go to Tunisia and Egypt next week.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to travel to Egypt and Tunisia next week, becoming the most senior American official to visit the region after popular revolts toppled U.S.-allied governments in both countries.

“I intend to convey strong support of the Obama administration and the American people, that we wish to be a partner in the important work that lies ahead as they embark on a transition to a genuine democracy,” Clinton told a congressional panel Thursday […]

Clinton’s Mideast tour will allow her to assess firsthand the situation in Egypt, where the United States gave strong support to protesters who ultimately forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime U.S. ally, in February.

She will also talk to transitional government officials in Tunisia, which launched the wave of political turmoil sweeping the Arab world in January with mass protests that toppled President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Egypt and Tunisia both border Libya, where leader Muammar Gaddafi’s increasingly bloody battle against rebels seeking to end his 41-year rule has spurred rising calls for international action.

Clinton will reportedly also meet with Libyan rebel leaders on this tour. France has become the first country to recognize the Libyan rebels as an official government.

Obviously shuttle diplomacy does little in the face of mass violence, but Clinton needs to be in the region right now, bearing witness to events and making them well-known. In a sense, it’s not the importance of Clinton so much as who will follow her on the trip.

The United States shouldn’t control world events but it has enough power and influence to speak out about them.

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David Dayen

David Dayen