International community urges calm in restive Egypt

Ahram Online, AFP, Reuters , Tuesday 2 Jul 2013

Ahram Online presents international reactions to ultimatum by Egyptian Armed Forces for political forces to 'meet people's demands' within 48 hours or face military-imposed 'road map'

Protesters pray during a demonstration against Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Monday, July 1, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Many countries have issued statements on the political situation in Egypt following a televised statement by the Armed Forces on Monday giving political forces 48 hours to "fulfil the people's demands" or be presented with a military-imposed "roadmap" for Egypt's political future.

United States

US President Barack Obama on Monday called on Morsi's government to work with the opposition and do more to enact democratic reforms, Reuters reported.

Obama stated that the $1.3 billion in annual US aid to Egypt was based on "democracy-based criteria," expressing concern about possible violence and urging all sides to work towards a peaceful solution.

"We don't make those decisions [on aid] just by counting the number of heads in a protest march, but we do make decisions based on whether or not a government is listening to the opposition, maintaining a free press, maintaining freedom of assembly, not using violence or intimidation, conducting fair and free elections," Obama said.

"We press the Egyptian government very hard on those issues," he added.

Moreover, the US Defence Department said it was still reviewing the Monday statement by Egypt's military.

"We're in the process of reviewing that statement. We're not entirely sure what's going to happen one way or the other in the next 48 hours, so I wouldn't engage in any kind of speculation," Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.

"But I would say that we are supportive - as the (US) president has said - of the democratic transition in Egypt and this process requires compromise on everyone's part. And we hope that all Egyptians find a way to work peacefully to address the issues that the country's facing."


Britain's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, expressed on Twitter his concern about the situation in Egypt and asserted that it should be "resolved peacefully" and in a "way that supports the democratic transition."

Also through his Twitter account, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said he is "very concerned" at reported rapes and sexual assaults in Tahrir Square.

United Nations

The UN warned that the result of Egypt's new deadly political turmoil will have a "significant impact" on the transformation of other countries in the Middle East.

"The world is watching Egypt and what Egypt does with its transition will have a significant impact on other transition countries in the region," said deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey, adding that peaceful dialogue and non-violence are keys to solving the crisis.  

"A stable and secure Egypt is crucial for regional stability and security," said the spokesman for UN leader Ban Ki-moon.

The UN is closely following the new protests in which at least 16 people were killed on Sunday, del Buey added.

While stressing that the "vast majority" of the protests appeared peaceful, Del Buey said "the reports of a number of deaths and injuries, of sexual assault against women demonstrators, as well as acts of destruction of property are to be strongly condemned."

European Union

"We call all political forces in Egypt to remain calm, avoid violence and start a political dialogue", Egypt's state-run news agency MENA quoted a brief statement issued by the European Union (EU) on Monday.

The statement pointed out that the EU is "closely following" the current events in the country.

The EU Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held separate meetings with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the secretary-general of Egypt's opposition umbrella group the National Salvation Front (NSF), Mounir Fakry Abdel-Nour, in Cairo last Wednesday.

Ashton's Wednesday meeting with Abdel-Nour, which also included the head of Egypt's liberal Free Egyptians Party Ahmed Said, tackled developments in the internal domestic situation and Egypt's democratic transition, reported MENA.

Ashton was also scheduled to meet with Egypt's largest Salafist party, the Nour Party but the meeting was cancelled after Ashton asked for a last-minute postponement, according to news reports.


The Russian Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said that all parties to Egyptian politics should refrain from using violence as it would "lead to further escalation" in the country, Russia Today's website reported on Monday.

"We are fully aware that Egypt's contemporary issues cannot be solved unless dealt with through a legal context in order to ensure national unity and consensus on needed economic, social and political and reforms," the statement noted.

The statement urged Russian nationals currently in Egypt to avoid visiting places witnessing protests.


The French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot called Egyptian authorities to listen to "the legitimate concerns" of protesters, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported on Monday.

In a press briefing, Lalliot the government should take "strong measures" to create the conditions for a new consensus, backing the right of peaceful demonstration.

However, he condemned violence that occurred during the past days "no matter where it came from."

Arab responses

Dubai’s police chief, Dahi Khalfan, described the statement issued by the Egyptian military as "supportive to the people's demands" on his Twitter account.

"Be with people, not against them, as only they can make the country stable," he added.

Khalfan has repeatedly launched verbal attacks against Islamist leaders in Egypt and Tunisia who came to power after the Arab Spring and accused Egypt's Brotherhood of planning to topple the Gulf monarchies.

Tunisia's a Ennahda member of the National Constituent Assembly Kamel Ammar said that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party differ in implementation of their policies, though they have the "same project."

“We accepted the opposition in our government, however they didn’t. We were more open to dialogue and more progressive,” he told Tunisia Live's website.

Saudi Arabia's 90-year-old King Abdullah did not comment on Egyptian politics

Abdullah, however, spoke to the Saudi permanent representative to the Arab League, Ambassador Ahmed Abdel Aziz Katan over the safety of the Saudi nationals in Egypt. 

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