An initiative on Thursday by former prime minister Hisham Qandil to free ousted president Mohamed Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders who have been arrested for alleged charges of incitement of violence in return for an implicit commitment to end the pro-Morsi demonstrations and sit-ins all but fell on deaf official ears.
According to two officials of two state bodies who spoke on Thursday evening to Ahram Online the proposal made through the media by Qandil amounts to a non-starter as it assumes an “impossible” scenario by which an easy exit could be granted to Morsi and other leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood “against who the state has compelling evidence for wrongdoing that goes beyond the illicit acquisition of arms and the explicit incitement of violence and terror” to “much more consequential charges of breaching national security.”
Neither sources shared much of what they both qualified as “compelling evidence of documents and recordings” against many senior Brotherhood figures. They equally declined to answer questions on the assumed involvementof Morsi in the more serious charges – suggesting that “it could be the case.”
As one informed political source told Ahram Online, hours before an Egypt court ordered Morsi's detention over Hamas collaboration “there is already a case that has been litigated during Morsi’s rule of an illegal breakout by Morsi and other Brotherhood leadership from Wadi Al-Natroun prison a few days after the start of the 25 January revolution; then there are other cases that are currently being investigated and that could lead to making official charges. This is a matter that is likely to take some time,” he said. A Cairo court on Friday morning ordered the detention of Morsi for 15 days in this case.
The outcome of these investigations is what would decide the fate of Morsi, said the same source, “not the initiative of Hisham Qandil.” He added similar ideas had been proposed previously by some foreign officials who had proposed a mediation but they were all declined by the armed forces “with the support of the interim president who agrees that all wrongdoers should be brought to justice and who is well aware of the kind of charges that could actually be leveled against Mohamed Morsi.”
Cairo-based Western diplomats acknowledged that some influential capitals have been encouraging Cairo to set Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership free – with some offering to host them overseas. They admit that “so far” their proposals have not been met with any serious enthusiasm from the concerned bodies.
According to the informed political source two key Western capitals have been particularly involved in putting pressure to release Morsi and to drop all investigations and charges “as they have both been involved in accessing what should otherwise be off-limit national security information during talks with some of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership who should not have been privy to this information in the first place.”
He added that “Morsi could have agreed to early presidential elections when it was demanded by the people and he could have had a graceful exit but he declined and now his fate is his doing – it will be judged by the findings of the investigations and the decrees to be issued by the court of law.”
Qandil’s initiative was made on the eve of what is expected to be large demonstrations on Friday. Head of the army and defence minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on Wednesday for the demonstrations in what he said would amount to “an authorisation” from the people to the army and police to act promptly to deter terror.
The call has been widely perceived as a warning to the Muslim Brotherhood to end the sit-ins and demonstrations they have been holding since Morsi was ousted on 3 July.
“Now with the Qandil proposal it could be safe to say that the Muslim Brotherhood leadership to whom Qandil is very close has come to realize two things; that the presidency of Morsi is something of the past and that there is no serious chance to impose any deal on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood through the pressure of the demonstrations and sit-ins,” said senior commentator and analyst at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Hassan Abou Taleb.
According to informed sources, Qandil’s proposal came after Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Ali Bishr was told on Wednesday evening when he suggested possible negotiations that the state would not bypass the judiciary. “He was told we did not do it or Mubarak.”
A few months after his removal, Hosni Mubarak was put under house arrest and eventually prosecuted. He was sentenced to life in prison for turning a blind eye for the killing of demonstrators during the 25 January demonstrations - a decree that he is now appealing.
Morsi, too, the same sources say, could face charges of turning a blind eye to the killing of demonstrators during his rule.
Some of the sources who spoke to Ahram Online said that eventually there would be political considerations and compromises to help ease the fears of the rank and file of the Muslim Brotherhood who feel they are under attack. However, as one of them said, “all the leaders who are involved in serious legal violations would have to be brought to justice – some of those are already arrested and others are still chased by the law enforcement.”
Western diplomats in Cairo say that they have “issues” with what may amount to politicised persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership but state officials say that the rules that were applied to Mubarak and his aides would be also apply “more or less” to Morsi and his “aides.”
In the reading of Abou Taleb there is enough public support to make possible the pursuit of legal measures against ousted President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership. “The Muslim Brotherhood lost most of the sympathy they had enjoyed during the rule of Morsi due to his poor performance and they have lost more with the violent shades that overshadowed their protests against his ouster,” he concluded.