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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

US senators urge release of Islamists, Egypt unhappy with 'foreign pressure'

Senators McCain and Graham call for release of Egyptian Islamists; Presdiential spokesman El-Muslimani says 'foreign pressure has exceeded international standards'

AP, Tuesday 6 Aug 2013
Interim Vice President Mohamed Elbaradei, center right, meeting with US senators John McCain, center left, and Lindsey Graham, fifth from left, with U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, fourth from left, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)
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Views: 3596

Two US senators urged Egypt's military-backed government to release detained members of the Muslim Brotherhood before starting negotiations with the group, warning of worsening relations "if Egypt is not moving to democracy."

But Egypt's interim presidency denounced "foreign pressure" in a sign of its growing impatience with international mediations.

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham spoke after meeting with top military and civilian leaders in Cairo as part of a flurry of international efforts to resolve a standoff between the government and supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.

McCain said "we urge the release of political prisoners," referring to Brotherhood members who were detained after the military ousted Morsi, an Islamist, a month ago.

"In democracy, you sit down and talk to each other," Graham said, adding, "it is impossible to talk to somebody who is in jail."

Graham warned that US-Egyptian relations might otherwise be harmed.

"Some in Congress want to sever the relationship. Some want to suspend the aid," he said. "We have to be honest to where the relationship stands. ... We can't support Egypt that is not moving to democracy."

McCain and Lindsey Graham have also described the army's removal of Morsi as a coup. 

Egypt's new government has held firm to a political road map announced July 3, when the military ousted Morsi following mass protests calling on him to step down.

US and other international officials have urged the inclusion of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood in the political process going forward.

Top Egyptian officials said reconciliation is a priority but only after the Brotherhood renounces violence. They cite sectarian violence in southern Egypt, cases of torture of anti-Morsi protesters and the blocking of main roads.

Ahmed El-Muslimani, a spokesman for interim president Adly Mansour, told reporters that "foreign pressure has exceeded international standards." He said Egypt will protect "the revolution" — referring to June 30, the day hundreds of thousands of Egyptians revolted against Morsi's rule.

El-Musalamani didn't elaborate. However, his comments came as the country's powerful military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sissi and Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei held separate meetings with Graham and McCain, who arrived in Cairo on Monday at President Barack Obama's request to press senior Egyptians for a quick return to civilian rule.

Egypt's official news agency MENA reported that the two Republican senators and El-Sissi discussed efforts to end "the state of political polarization and stop the violence" while moving forward with Egypt's fast-track road map. The plans calls for amending the constitution and holding new elections by early next year "without discrimination or isolation."

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who arrived Friday, also was meeting with Mansour and ElBaradei.

Early Monday, Burns visited Khairat El-Shater, a top Muslim Brotherhood leader who is held in a Cairo prison. He was accompanied by a European Union envoy and Gulf foreign ministers.

Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president who came to power nearly a year and a half after the ouster of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak in a 2011 uprising, has been held at a secret location since his ouster.

Last week, he was visited by the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and a group of African statesmen, but the administration has said it will not allow any more envoys to visit him.

All talks are centered around averting collision between the military-backed government and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. They have been camping out in Cairo and its sister city of Giza for more than a month demanding Morsi's reinstatement as well as the return of the constitution and the parliament.

The protest camps have been used as a hotbed for street marches that blocked traffic and sometimes sparked street violence either with security forces, or Morsi's opponents.

In two incidents this month, more than 130 people, mostly Morsi supporters, were killed in clashes near their main sit-in in eastern Cairo.

The government said that it has ordered the security forces to clear out the protest camps because they pose "national security threat."

The Muslim Brotherhood publicly says it rejects any concessions and that its starting point would be Morsi's return to power. Privately, though, protesters say that the camp is their last bargaining

chip to press for the release of detained leaders and for guarantees that they will be included in politics.

A European Union official in Brussels has said diplomats were working on confidence-building measures such as releasing detained Brotherhood officials, dropping charges against other group members and dispersing the pro-Morsi sit-ins held at two squares on opposite ends of the Egyptian capital.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to brief reporters on the confidential discussions.

In an official statement after meeting with Burns on Tuesday, ElBaradei stressed that Egypt's "priorities are to secure citizens and protect their lives, their possessions and to preserve security and law ... while moving forward to achieve comprehensive political reconciliation."

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07-08-2013 02:49am
USA mind your own business!
It seems that USA does not really understand the hearts and minds of majority of Egyptians and what is funny is that even in USA they do not agree on whether to call the ouster of Morsi a coup or not a coup. Obama does not want to use this word and yet these two senators whom Obama sent just outright called it a coup. Egypt better handle their own business instead of listening to outsiders. USA has a lot of problems like illegal immigration, unemployment etc instead of meddling with other country's business. USA cannot even fix their own politics!
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06-08-2013 11:02pm
Ashamed of hasty senators
I used to think quite highly of Senator McCain, if not likewise of Graham. These two so-called statesmen come to Cairo, speak to a few dozen upper crust military and society 'leaders' then speak condescendingly about severing aid if Egypt does not move quickly to democracy. What is irritating is that they didn't look before to note that the previous move towards democracy was exceedingly speedy, with election campaigns too short to vet candidates sufficiently. Casting & counting ballots is only one sign of democracy. Campaigns, town halls, consensus building is what real democracy is all about. In a sense, the period from 25 January 2011 through today has been a campaign of consensus building and is showing signs of real success, DESPITE the likes of McCain, Graham & Burns. Funny thing is, a typical American presidential campaign is about two years. If so, it seems to me, Egypt is moving fast if it establishes a viable parliament AND a president who can actually govern in less four years. Egyptians can learn much about establishing a government working with the consent of its governed not by listening to elected American officials, but by listening to its own people and a few of the expats who have chosen to live and work in Egypt.
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06-08-2013 10:40pm
Coup d'etat
According to the news here in USA, Sen. John McCain has called El-Sissi's putsch a military coup.
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06-08-2013 09:19pm
US double standards and duplicity
If the senators are so interested in rights, release Guantanamo prisoners now and pay them restitution. They have been held without charge for a decade. Release prisoners in the Afghan Guantanamo at Baghram. Stop drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. Stop spying in innocent Americans and foreigners. Stop convicting, jailing, and executing people without charge or trial. The Brotherhood members in jail are there on legal charges. Guantanamo's political prisoners have NOT been charged with crimes. Which is more defensible. What a sham. Why is the United States so rabid in its defense of the Muslim Brotherhood? It is also hypocritical for senators Graham and McCain to preach about democracy, dialogue, and inclusiveness when They and their colleagues take orders from paying lobbyists, do not talk to other party members, get nothing done, and are obstructionist and polarized. We can see through the giant glass house.
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07-08-2013 02:19am
Stop using the word "putschists"
@CanuckDriss has spent too much time listening to the Muslim Brotherhood-- why else would he use a word like putschists? The point made by the commentator is that the senators and the United States have little to no credibility at this time. By ousting the devisive ineffective Morsi and rejecting the Brotherhood's thuggish tactics, Egyptians are embracing civility and democracy in its truest sense, even if the process is messy and not ideal. You need to remember that Morsi created sectarian discord in his short year in office. He did nothing to include Egyptians. He cracked down on opponents. He vowed to shed blood against those who oppose him, even the people in the streets. The Brotherhood rejected calls for participation and they have not relented in their outrageous public demand for Morsi's reinstatement. They have called for martyrdom over compromise. If that is not incitement to violence, I don't know what is. Take responsibility for Morsi and the Brotherhood's actions a
06-08-2013 11:07pm
Two wrongs don't make it right!
No one is denying the US is not up to par with human rights or the duplicity of Washington, but that shouldn't be the reason why Egypt should do the same. If everyone models their governance on the US track record on human rights and foreign policy, we will end up with a chaotic world. Stop being an apologist for the putschists!

06-08-2013 08:17pm
If these same people committed the same crimes in the US or any other country they would still be in jail! So what is the difference? They were caught committing the crimes so they are being punished, what don't the US & other countries understand about that? Egypt needs to run its own country & its about time the US & others keep their nose out of things for a change.
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06-08-2013 08:49pm
@Tammy there we go again war mongger like you , all the MB leaders in jail

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