Fresh diplomatic drive to defuse Egypt crisis
06 August 2013, 15:40
Cairo - Two high-profile US senators were Tuesday to hold
talks in Cairo, the latest push in a growing diplomatic flurry to defuse a
crisis sparked by the military's overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed
Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham arrived on Monday
evening for talks with main players in the stand-off between Morsi's supporters
and Egypt's army-appointed new authorities.
Egypt's political crisis, sparked by the military's 3 July
ouster of Morsi, has paralysed the country and deepened political polarisation
and social divisions.
Morsi loyalists, mostly members of the Muslim Brotherhood,
say the removal of the country's first freely elected president is a violation
of democratic principles and nothing short of his reinstatement would end their
The interim leadership says there is no turning back on the
army-drafted roadmap that provides for new elections in 2014.
More than 250 people have been killed since Morsi's ouster.
As tensions mounted over the looming break-up of two major
sit-ins staged by Morsi loyalists, Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei urged the
Brotherhood to find a peaceful way out of the crisis and appealed to Egypt's
media to stop "demonising" the group.
He called on the Brotherhood "to join the peaceful
solutions. Don't count on the security forces dispersing the sit-ins by force,
causing a massacre and turning you into victims."
Such a scenario "would only increase the people's anger
But the Brotherhood is standing its ground.
"Only a political solution to restore continuity of
constitutional legitimacy will end crisis," said the group's spokesman
Gehad al-Haddad on Twitter.
In recent days, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns,
EU foreign policy supremo Catherine Ashton, EU envoy Bernardino Leon, Arab
diplomats, an African delegation and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
have all travelled to Cairo in a bid to defuse the crisis.
Leon met Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi on Monday after he
and Burns met the day before with the number two of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood
movement, Khairat al-Shater, in prison.
A spokesperson for the State Department in Washington said
that Burns and Leon had visited Shater on Sunday, accompanied by the foreign
ministers of regional US allies Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said the visit was intended to
"prevent further violence, calm tensions and facilitate an inclusive
dialogue among Egyptians that can help the transition to a democratically
elected civilian government".
However, Morsi's deputy gave the delegation a cold shoulder,
Shater refused to discuss the situation with the envoys,
saying only that the Brotherhood's position on defending Morsi's legitimacy was
Authorities have promised demonstrators a safe exit and said
an end to their protests would allow the Muslim Brotherhood to return to
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.
No desire to use force
State department spokesperson Harf said that "as of
now", Burns had no plans to meet Morsi.
Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also met with several
influential Islamist leaders on Sunday to mediate a solution with the
But Yasser Ali, a spokesperson for the pro-Morsi
demonstrators, said the clerics had met Sisi "without having been
Sisi, who also met Burns during the envoy's visit, has urged
Washington to use its "leverage" with the Muslim
Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy has stressed that authorities
have "no desire to use force if there is any other avenue that has not
But the violence continued on Monday, with a soldier shot
dead and two others wounded in two separate attacks in the Sinai Peninsula.
Gunmen shot at an army checkpoint outside a military
building in the north Sinai town of El-Arish, killing one soldier, security
The two other servicemen were wounded when gunmen attacked
another checkpoint outside a bank.
Security in Sinai has deteriorated since Morsi's overthrow
and the latest death brings to 32 the number of security forces killed in the