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News, August 2013
US Senators McCain and Graham Arrive in Egypt for Intensified Effort in Managing the Military Coup Crisis
August 6, 2013
ألف في مسيرة بالإسكندرية بمليونية
"الصمود" ضد الانقلاب
US senators arrive in Egypt for fresh diplomatic push
By FRANCE 24 (text), August 6, 2013
US senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham arrived in Cairo Monday as part of a fresh diplomatic push to find a peaceful solution to Egypt’s ongoing political crisis sparked by the military's overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
The two senators were asked by US President Barack Obama to travel to Egypt to meet with its military leaders and members of the opposition, with talks due to start on Tuesday.
Before leaving, Senator Graham said in a television interview that Egypt’s military must move “more aggressively” to hold elections and that future US aid will hinge upon a return to civilian rule.
“The military can’t keep running the country. We need democratic elections,” he told CNN’s State of the Union programme on Sunday.
Almost 300 people have been killed in political violence since the military ousted Morsi on July 3 and the US has been grappling with how to respond to the situation amid increasing political turmoil.
The White House and US lawmakers are also struggling with how to handle the $1.55 billion in mostly military aid that Washington sends each year to Egypt, a key ally in the Middle East.
US law bars sending aid to countries in which there has been a military coup, and Obama administration officials have been strenuous in their efforts to to talk about events in Egypt without using the word.
“I want to keep the aid flowing to Egypt but it has to be with the understanding that Egypt is going to march toward democracy, not toward a military dictatorship. And that’s the message we’re going to send,” Graham said.
EU and US envoys meet with jailed Muslim Brotherhood leader
Graham and McCain’s trip is just the latest effort to find a diplomatic solution to the Egypt crisis.
EU envoy Bernardino Leon and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns were also in Egypt Monday, where they met with the number two of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, Khairat al-Shater, in prison, officials said.
According to Egypt’s official MENA news agency, Burns and Leon were accompanied by top diplomats from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates during the visit to Shater at Cairo's high security prison in Tora.
But Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad al-Haddad said Shater refused to speak to the delegation, saying only that the Brotherhood's position on defending Morsi's legitimacy is "unchanged".
The powerful Shater, one of the main financiers of the Muslim Brotherhood, is due to face trial on August 25 along with senior Brotherhood leader Rashad Bayoumi and Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, who is currently in hiding.
The three are accused of inciting the killing of protesters during clashes outside the Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo in June.
Morsi himself has been formally remanded in custody on suspicion of offences committed when he escaped from prison during the 2011 revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
Supporters of Morsi - Egypt's first freely elected president- see his ouster by the military as a violation of democracy and have held numerous protests and sit-ins since his overthrow, insisting on nothing short of reinstatement
The interim leaders, however, say there is no turning back on the army-drafted roadmap announced after Morsi's removal on July 3 and which provides for new elections in 2014.
Days of heated diplomatic activity in Cairo have also seen visits by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Arab diplomats and an African Union delegation.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Int'l mediation intensifies in Egypt
CAIRO, August 5, 2013 (Xinhua) --
Intensified international mediation efforts are underway in Egypt to find a solution to the political standoff and achieve national reconciliation in the deeply-polarized country.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, along with a European envoy and foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, met Monday with Khairat al-Shater, detained deputy chief of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is affiliated with deposed President Mohamed Morsi.
The visit was reported by the state-run news agency MENA.
With permission of the prosecution, the diplomats headed amid intensive security measures to Tora prison, where al-Shater is waiting for trial for inciting violence against protesters and illegally possessing weapons, MENA said.
Ahmed al-Mislimani, Egypt's presidential media advisor, also said Egyptian authorities gave permission to Burns and other envoys to visit Mohamed Saad al-Katatni, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's once ruling Freedom and Justice Party, at prison. But the Islamic movement rejected the visit, arguing that they should visit Morsi instead.
"Those who want to speak with Egyptians about any issue should meet with Morsi, the elected legitimate president and the only representative of the nation," the movement said on its official Facebook page.
Gamal Heshamt, a leading figure of the movement, said the mediators' request to meet the group's top leader Mohamed Badie was also rejected.
The Western-Arab delegation came within the framework of the political leadership's efforts to deal with pro-Morsi protests, MENA quoted a high-ranking source as saying.
The meeting with al-Shater, which lasted almost an hour, was aimed to reach a consensus over ending the protests without bloodshed.
The meeting was arranged upon request of the international community to resolve the political crisis peacefully, especially after the newly-formed cabinet ordered the interior minister to take legal measures to end the protests, the source said.
The delegation that met with al-Shater also comprised members of the African Union's Wisemen Panel, according to Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper.
"Several members of the (Egyptian) armed forces attended the meeting, which aimed to discuss methods for ending pro-Morsi sit-ins," the paper said, adding that al-Shater asked his visitors to talk with Morsi instead as the country's "legitimate president."
Egypt has become a popular destination for Arab and Western mediators after Morsi's ouster amid massive protests on July 3. Morsi's supporters have staged open-ended sit-ins to demand Morsi's release and reinstatement.
No referendum over Egypt's roadmap: presidential media advisor
CAIRO, Aug. 5, 2013 (Xinhua) --
Egypt's presidential media advisor Ahmed al-Mislimani stressed that no referendum will be held over the roadmap announced by the armed forces after ousting President Mohamed Morsi a month ago, official news agency MENA reported Monday.
In a press statement, Mislimani said "there (is) no referendum over the roadmap, or any steps to change it."
He also said the Egyptian authorities have given permission to William Burn, visiting U.S. deputy secretary of state, and some other Arab envoys to visit Mohamed Saad al-Katatni, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, in al-Aqrab prison in Tora prisons area, where he is waiting with other Muslim Brotherhood members for trial slated for Aug. 25 over inciting violence against protesters.
Earlier Monday, Burns, along with UAE and Qatari foreign ministers Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed and Khalid bin Attiyah, met Khairat al-Shater, deputy general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt-U.S. ties remain stable despite current tension
by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Aug. 5, 2013 (Xinhua) --
The relations between Egypt and the United States are expected to remain firm despite the ongoing tension over the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, said Egyptian analysts.
Since Morsi's ouster in early July, Washington has been reluctant whether to label what happened in Egypt a popular uprising or a coup, threatening sometimes to halt a 1.3-billion-U. S. dollar annual military aid and some other times to suspend delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt.
Egypt's Armed Forces Chief and Defense Minister General Abdel- Fattah al-Sisi has recently lashed out at Barack Obama's administration for "disregarding the Egyptian popular will" that toppled Morsi.
"The relations between Cairo and Washington remain firm because they are based on mutual interests despite the ups and downs," said Emad Awwad, a political science professor at Cairo University.
Awwad told Xinhua that neither Egypt nor the United States would risk undermining such relations although they might be " temporarily cold," describing the current tension as "a stage of reassessment for both sides."
The professor underscored the significance of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns' current visit to Cairo as "a major link in the chain of the relations, through which Washington tries to find out the reality of the situation on the ground."
The soft tone at other times reflect both sides' keenness not to lose each other as partners and strategic allies.
After Washington's threats about withholding annual aid, the White House later on said "it would not be in the best interest for the United States."
Further, U.S. Secretary John Kerry, during his recent visit to Pakistan, made supportive comments to the Egyptian army, saying it ousted Morsi for "restoring democracy." Gen. Sisi also softened his tone, after firing sharp criticism to Obama's administration, when he urged Washington to use its " leverage and influence" with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to resolve the conflict.
Ayman al-Sayed Abdel-Wahhab, expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that the Egyptian-U.S. relations are currently "swaying" but they would not reach a conflict.
"The United States is a big power and Egypt is an important regional ally, so none of them would take the relations to a no- return point," Abdel-Wahhab told Xinhua.
He added that the U.S. position greatly developed from rejection to acceptance of Morsi's ouster as a reality, with some reservations, noting that Western pressures are meant to secure " safe return for the MB to political scene with the least losses to the group."
Burns' ongoing visit to Egypt coincides with the presence of United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Qatar's new Foreign Minister Khalid bin Attiyah, who came to Cairo a few days after departure of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
"The U.S., EU and Qatari efforts have the same purpose, namely a safe exit for the Brotherhood, but the UAE diplomatic efforts are only meant to enhance bilateral ties," Abdel-Wahhab said, arguing that the Gulf states in general, excluding Qatar, are not enthusiastic about the MB's return to the political scene."
There has been news reports about U.S. intention to replace outgoing ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson with former ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford, which did not appeal to Egyptians.
"The coming ambassador is merely a mirror of U.S. policies in Egypt. The bilateral relations are governed by major interests and issues rather than an ambassador's profile," Abdel-Wahhab explained.
For his part, Salah Fahmy, former assistant foreign minister, said that the Egyptian-American relations are undergoing "a very difficult stage" and a state of "unbalance and confusion."
"The United States is not willing to lose Egypt as a friend and a regional strategic ally, yet it is still unable to crystallize a decisive position and determine the winning party in the Egyptian conflict that would maintain its interests," the ex-diplomat told Xinhua.
"Like all bilateral relations, those between Cairo and Washington are governed by interests," Fahmy said, noting that Israel's security is an important factor in the relations.
He believes that the two basic parties in the political equation in Egypt, the army and the Brotherhood, are also keen on keeping the door open with Washington regardless of their criticism of U.S. administration.
"Despite any political disagreements, both Egypt and the United States are keen on maintaining strategic relations and avoiding tension," the former diplomat told Xinhua.
Editor: Yang Yi
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