News / Middle East

Egyptians Skeptical About US Mediation Efforts

Egyptians Skeptical About US Mediation Effortsi
August 05, 2013 7:44 PM
U.S. officials, including two prominent U.S. senators, are in Egypt trying to help avert further violence in the showdown between the military and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. As VOA's Elizabeth Arrott reports, however, the U.S. role as honest broker has come under fire from both sides.
Elizabeth ArrottEdward Yeranian
U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are in Egypt, joining efforts by top U.S. diplomat William Burns to broker an end to the standoff between Egypt’s military-backed government and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

The U.S. role as honest broker, however, has come under fire from both sides.

In deeply divided Egypt, Islamists reject the military and the military demonizes the Islamists. The two are united, though, in their anger toward the United States.

Armed Forces Chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi told The Washington Post that America turned its back on Egyptians, and "they won't forget that."

The general played on a common perception that the U.S. was slow to support the ouster of Islamist president Morsi because it backs the Muslim Brotherhood.

US diplomatic view

That isn't how the Brotherhood sees it, however, especially after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry weighed in on the military's intervention.

"To run the country, there's a civilian government," he said last week. "In effect, they were restoring democracy."

The comments elicited contempt from Islamists across Egypt.  
"John Kerry and America are the ones who made the coup, they planned it and carried it out," said prominent cleric Safwat Hegazy. "So what else can you expect from him?"
Even before the recent upheaval, anti-American sentiment was growing.  Hesitation to clearly back one side or the other during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak alienated both protesters and the old guard.

Every ruling group since has warned of "foreign hands" playing a sinister role in Egyptian politics, and by early this year, polls suggested a majority of Egyptians viewed the U.S. unfavorably.

Islamist activists, gathered at a trade union center Monday to discuss the fate of Morsi, blamed the U.S. for what they claim is support for rival secular parties.

One activist said the U.S. administration has been supporting what he calls a “counter-revolution” for the past two and a half years, in addition to backing the overthrow of Morsi. He predicted that Morsi supporters will prevail during Ramadan.

Some Egyptians say there is a lack of understanding and transparency about how the nation conducts its international affairs.
"Under Mubarak that was taboo," said political analyst Hisham Kassem. "You were not allowed to be part of that. That was supposed to be a dialogue that took place behind closed doors. So right now it's natural that the conspiracy theories prevail."

America loses luster
And even as America loses its luster as a champion of Egyptian popular interests, it's role as generous ally also is fading.

For decades, Washington sent more than $1 billion a year to its strategic partner in the Middle East. Then, in early July, Gulf nations pledged $12 billion to post-Morsi leaders, dwarfing U.S. financial leverage.    

Still, political analyst Kassem believes the rough patch in U.S.-Egyptian relations will pass. "I can see this is something that will be repaired, but over a few years, not at present," he said.

In the short run, the U.S. administration seems intent on mediating the crisis.

A British newspaper, The Independent, reports that the negotiations are focusing on a deal that would have Morsi present his resignation on state TV. It was not clear what might be offered in exchange.

Al Arabiya TV reported that Brotherhood negotiators were demanding that the group's deputy leader, Khairat el-Shater, be released from prison as part of any deal.

On Sunday, Egypt's judiciary announced that Shater and the group's spiritual voice, Mohammed Badie, would be put on trial for violence surrounding the storming of Brotherhood headquarters last June.

U.S. diplomat Burns met with Shater early Monday in a Cairo prison after talks with Egypt's interim government leaders over the weekend.

  • People perform Ramadan night prayers in Cairo, celebrating Lailat al-Qadr (the Night of Power), August 4, 2013.
  • A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi prays outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, August 4, 2013.
  • The area around the Rabaa Adiweya mosque has been packed with Muslim Brotherhood supporters sleeping in tents for over a month. Families bring children to protect them from the police forcibly dismantling the sit-in. (H. Elrasam for VOA)
  • A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi prays outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, August 4, 2013.
  • Children have been participating in protests in Egypt since the became widespread and near-constant in 2011. (H. Elrasam for VOA)
  • A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi gets relief from the afternoon heat with the help of water sprayers in front of a poster of Morsi, Cairo University,Giza, Egypt.
  • A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi cries while saluting the Egyptian flag at Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.
  • An Egyptian woman feeds her ducks in front of a barrier recently set up by supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi in their camp in Giza, southwest of Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 1, 2013. 
  • An Egyptian child attends prayers with his father at a protest near Cairo University in Giza, Egypt, August 1, 2013. 
  • Egyptian children wear head bands with Arabic writing: "No god but Allah and Mohammed is the prophet." They attend a protest outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, Cairo, Egypt.
  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi pray at Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where Morsi supporters have installed a camp and hold daily rallies at Nasr City, Cairo, July 31, 2013.
  • "Third Square" actvists, who promote a middle way in the rift between the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of the army's overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, gather at Sphinx Square in Cairo, July 30, 2013.
  • "Third Square" actvists gather at Sphinx Square in Cairo, July 30, 2013.
  • Supporters of Mohamed Morsi during a march from Al-Fath Mosque to the defense ministry in Cairo, July 30, 2013.
  • Flares illuminate the gathering of several hundred activists the "Third Square" in Cairo. (Hamada Elrasam for VOA)
  • A young girl at the Third Square rally in Cairo. (Hamada Elrasam for VOA)
  • A young girl at the Third Square rally in Cairo. (Hamada Elrasam for VOA)
  • A young girl at the Third Square rally in Cairo. (Hamada Elrasam for VOA)

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
August 06, 2013 5:08 AM
Obama administration has no longer the quality of being trusted or believed. America's effort to mediate the opposing groups in Egypt is full of political mischiefs. This mediation effort will further the suffering of Egyptian people. Egyptians ought to resolve their differences peaceful and should not rely on any foreign interventions.

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
August 05, 2013 5:36 PM
How could the Egyptians trust the US in the mediation effort in the Egyptian unrest, if the US politically support the reinstatement of Former Egyptian President Morsi and provide 70% of the expenses of the Egyptian military. The best thing for the US is to stop all military assistance to the Egyptian military and get out of the internal affairs of Egypt.

by: ali baba from: new york
August 05, 2013 3:13 PM
the more American try to mediate the conflict, the more Muslim brotherhood will get stubborn and they think that people are begging them for mercy. the Egyptian army continue to arrest and put pressure in them until they understand that they have to accept the reality and go home otherwise they will have to face the music

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