He stopped in Amman first, where he met with King Abdullah II and Jordan's Defense minister Lieutenant General Meshaal al Zabn. That nation, long an important U.S. ally, has experienced anti-government protests as well. He will also visit with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country's military leaders, Defense officials said. The Egypt-Israel relationship has been a key to regional peace since the Camp David accords of the late 1970s. Egypt's revolution has disquieted Israeli officials. Mullen will reassure them of U.S. support, an official said.
CIA Director Leon Panetta established a 35-member task force to look at where the uprisings might spread next. He said the revolution in Egypt took the world by surprise, despite over 400 reports issued by analysts last year describing problems in the Middle East. The group will be charged with making judgments about where disruptions might spread and which nations could see their governments toppled.
Dominoes continued to teeter, if not yet fall, throughout the Islamic world Saturday.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Algeria's main cities demanding President Abdelaziz Bouteflika leave office. Protesters chanting, "No to the police state!" and "Bouteflika out!" according to news reports.
And anti-government protesters flooded the streets of Yemen's major cities as well. That country's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been a key U.S. ally in the fight against al Qaeda. He has been in office for more than three decades and US intelligence officials fear chaos in that country could benefit strong al Qaeda cells there.
A Yemeni diplomat told The Examiner that the situation across the Middle East and North Africa is haunting every Arab leader, including his own. "(Saleh) needs to be more forceful in implementing reforms - he has no choice," the Yemeni official said. "Any leader in our region who does not listen to the people will face termination."
Yemeni Embassy spokesman Mohammed Albasha said in a statement that Yemen respects "the choices and the will of its fraternal Egyptian people and is confident in the ability of the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces to manage the affairs of the nation during the difficult circumstances."
Some U.S. officials were wondering if any actions by local leaders could stem the revolutionary tide. "Where Egypt goes the rest will follow," a serior U.S. official told The Washington Examiner. "It's an old saying but it holds true."
Sara A. Carter is The Washington Examiner's national security correspondent. She can be reached at email@example.com.