Egypt is experiencing a rough transition from dictatorship to democracy, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has had to proceed with care during her visit there.
Several Egyptian Christians boycotted a meeting with Secretary Clinton in Cairo on Sunday, charging that the United States helped the Muslim Brotherhood gain power in the fledgling democracy.
Christian leaders who did attend the meeting argued that the United States is supporting the new president, Mohammed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The United States is carrying no torch for President Morsi, or the Islamists. But Secretary Clinton is pressing for a transition to civilian rule. Currently Mr. Morsi is engaged in a power struggle with military leaders reluctant to hand over the reins to a civilian leader.
A military council took power last year after the Egyptian revolution forced President Hosni Mubarak from power. The militarys presence is felt in the countrys legislative and executive branches.
Secretary Clinton has met with most of the principal leaders in Egypt, including Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military council. They discussed the political transition and the militarys ongoing dialogue with President Morsi.
The military council has stripped Mr. Morsi of some of his powers and assumed legislative powers after parliament was disbanded by court order. Egypt has no constitution. A new government has yet to be named.
Mrs. Clinton said that the United States favors the military returning to a purely national security role. She encouraged the generals and the Brotherhood to settle their differences through talks. She called for an inclusive and transparent process to draft a new constitution that upholds universal rights and the rule of law, a constitution for all Egyptians.
While expressing the Obama administrations ideas, she provided incentives of a $1 billion aid package and U.S. support for financing from groups such as the International Monetary Fund.
I have come to Cairo to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition, Secretary Clinton said Saturday. As you move forward, we will be there with support. Your choices will decide the future of this country.
Her visit has sparked protests and criticism. Yet she has struck the right balance in her comments and encouraged Egypt to move forward in its journey to democracy.
Egypts decisions will have important ramifications for the region and the world.