2 Senators Visit Egypt With Threat on U.S. Aid

Al-Sisi did not take this well. He immediately requested a call with Sec Hagel to determine whether this was USG policy. Hagel was good – said that these two held sway, but that USG thought that Morsi did not hold the support of the majority. Nevertheless, the Eid weekend would be a prime time to show some mercy and let the MB members out to participate in elections.
August 6, 2013

2 Senators Visit Egypt With Threat on U.S. Aid

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

CAIRO — On a visit at the request of President Obama, two Republican senators warned Egypt on Tuesday that the United States would cut off aid if the new military-appointed government failed to move rapidly toward democracy, including releasing the ousted president,Mohamed Morsi, and other leaders of his Islamist party from detention.

“We are hopeful that the direction of the transition will be going back to democracy; that is the only one we can support,” said one, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who made the trip with Senator John McCain of Arizona.

While they have been fighting a Congressional push to restrict the $1.5 billion a year in American aid to Egypt, both have argued publicly that Washington should call the ouster of Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s first elected president, a coup, even if the overthrow did follow huge street protests. The administration has avoided that term, to sidestep a legal requirement to restrict the aid. Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham said they were not speaking for the president or the administration, but Mr. Obama’s request that they visit offered its own message.

“We share the democratic aspirations and the criticisms of the Morsi government that led millions of Egyptians into the streets,” Mr. McCain said. But “the circumstances of the former government’s president’s removal were a coup, and we have said that we cannot expect Egypt or any other country to abide by its laws if we do not abide by ours in the United States.”

The new government rebuffed them. The Web site of the flagship Egyptian newspaper, Al Ahram, said Tuesday night that a top government spokesman had accused Mr. McCain of “falsifying the facts” and said his “foolish statements are unacceptable.”

The two American lawmakers were the latest foreign officials to try to ease the standoff between the government and the Muslim Brotherhood. Tens of thousands of Morsi supporters are maintaining two sit-ins here in the capital, defying threats to remove them by force. And a growing number of Islamist leaders have been detained, some slapped with politicized criminal charges.

Soldiers and the police have killed more than 140 Morsi supporters and wounded hundreds more in two mass shootings. The largest sit-in for Mr. Morsi has remained predominantly nonviolent, and the Muslim Brotherhood says it rejects violence, but Egyptian news media have focused on Islamist statements characterized as inciting potential violence.

Al Ahram’s report said a statement was imminent from the interim president that would condemn the foreign attempts at mediation because they had failed “to persuade the Muslim Brotherhood on a peaceful solution.”

It said the statement would conclude that the sit-ins were not peaceful and that the Brotherhood was “responsible” for any violence. But the report also said the statement was delayed because an “assessment of the situation” was continuing. That could mean talks continue with the Islamists or Western diplomats.

Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham repeatedly called on the Islamists to renounce violence, and appeared to urge them to give up hope for Mr. Morsi’s reinstatement. They recommended a timetable for the ratification of constitutional amendments, credible parliamentary elections and a new presidential vote.

But they also argued for inclusive democracy and called for the swift release of the detained Islamists so that they could rejoin the political process.

“We are hoping and begging and pleading with the people of Egypt that they will look forward and not backward; that means releasing people so that they can negotiate,” Mr. Graham said, adding, “It is impossible to talk to somebody who’s in jail.”

Mayy El Sheikh contributed reporting.

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