— The United Nations political affairs chief is in Cairo to meet with and seek reconciliation between the military-backed interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood - the focus of a week long security crackdown.
Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman's challenge is daunting. The Brotherhood's spiritual guide, Mohamed Badie, was arrested Tuesday, and his temporary replacement, Mohamed Ezzat, has an arrest warrant out for him as well.
Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president ousted by the military last month, has been remanded for another 15 days of custody in an undisclosed location. Hundreds of other Brotherhood members have been detained in recent days.
In another blow to the 85-year-old organization, Egypt's interim leaders are working on a new draft constitution, one that would explicitly ban religion-based political parties.
The move would likely be welcomed by many in Egypt, who felt Morsi failed to keep his pledge to move beyond a Brotherhood agenda and build an inclusive government. Political analyst Hisham Kassem.
“They need to play according to the rules of politics, not as the representatives of God on Earth,” he said.
But after the violence of the past week, political reconciliation seems still far away.
Along with the arrests, hundreds of people have been killed - most of them anti-government protesters, but also dozens of security personnel. Christians are also under attack, with dozens of their churches burned. Even moderate politician, Nobel-prize winning Mohamed ElBaradei, who resigned the interim vice-presidency over the bloodshed, is facing a court appearance for “breaching national trust.”
An Egyptian man pushes a wheelbarrow with debris from inside the Rabaah Al-Adawiya mosque in Nasr city, Cairo, August 21, 2013.
A ripped poster of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi lies on the ground in the courtyard of the Rabaah Al-Adawiya mosque in Nasr city, Cairo, August 21, 2013.
An Egyptian holds Al-Ahram newspaper with a picture of the arrested leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Cairo, August 20, 2013.
Police stand outside of their vehicle in Cairo, August 20, 2013.
Security officers attend a funeral prayer over coffins covered with national flags of bodies of police who were killed near the border town of Rafah, North Sinai, at Almaza military airport in Cairo, August 19, 2013.
Soldiers and medical workers check the bodies of police officers killed on a highway in Rafah city, about 350 kilometers northeast of Cairo, August 19, 2013.
The border area between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip is seen in this general view, August 19, 2013.
People gather at the Zenhoum morgue to identify loved ones and retrieve their bodies for burial following the deaths of hundreds of people in violence over the last week, in Cairo, August 19, 2013.
Egyptians remove a body for burial from the Zenhoum morgue in Cairo, August 19, 2013.
Egyptian army soldiers and armored personnel carriers deployed near Tahrir Square in Cairo, August 19, 2013.
An Egyptian Army soldier takes his position on top of an armored vehicle as he guards in front of the Supreme Constitutional court in Cairo, August 19, 2013.