So, who after Hosni Mubarak? That’s the question troubling the US the most while it outwardly seems distressed about choosing between a staunch ally and a stated American dream, the freedom to chose your despot every five years.
The Muslims Brotherhood, Al-Ikhwan, is a factor the US fears the most.
This 80-year-old banned outfit, which counts al Qaeda No 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri among its alumni, is the US’s worst nightmare, but one that it might well be ready to engage with — in Americanese, cut a deal with.
“It is clear that increase in democratic representation has to include a whole host of important non-secular actors," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday, seventh day of the Egyptian unrest.
But he wouldn't name the Brotherhood. Not even to a direct question.
Questions about the Brotherhood have been raised with US officials every day, since the crisis rolled over into Egypt from Tunisia. Every commentary had the brotherhood standing close or far behind, but there.
Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency who returned home recently to put put himself in the race, gave the brotherhood a clean chit saying it's not an extremist organisatgion.
He told the ABC News the Muslim Brotherhood is is no different from orthodox Jews in Israel or evangelical Christians in the United States. ElBaradei is a player and he knows the other players in the game.
But its past makes its present supsect in the eyes of the Americans.
“I think there are certain standards that we believe everybody should adhere to as being part of this process,” Gibbs said to an pointed question about the Brotherhood's role and its endorsement by ElBaradei.
To put things in perspective, ElBaradei is not a Washington favourite. In fact, many in the previous Bush administration, carrying over into the present dispensation, thought he was not touch enough on Iran as IAEA chief.