It was revealed on Aug. 6 that international mediation in Egypt has been unable to achieve a breakthrough in the country's escalating political crisis, with each party digging in its heels. This is especially true despite the ongoing meetings taking place in Cairo over the past few days.
The Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, supporting ousted President Mohammed Morsi, clung to its decision to take back the reins of power. Meanwhile, the interim authorities emphasized the road map drawn up by the military, which guarantees “a solution to the crisis.”
The situation escalated with the public prosecutor’s decision to detain and investigate the head of Morsi’s office, Ahmed Abdul Ati, and his security and crisis response adviser, Ayman Hudhud, for 15 days. They were accused of being involved in killing and torturing protesters around the Presidential Palace at the end of last year. Pro-Morsi protesters continued to stage sit-ins in the capital’s major traffic junctions.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Egypt to “protect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Egyptians, including freedom of expression and assembly.” In an Aug 6. telephone call with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Ban stressed that "an inclusive and peaceful political process is the only viable way forward in Egypt."
He also called for “an end to all forms of violence,” and reiterated his call for Morsi's release. Ban urged political leaders to “begin the process of a credible national reconciliation and assume their responsibilities to determine the direction of the future of Egypt.”
Meetings between international envoys lasted all day in Cairo. US Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham met with Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and then-Prime Minister Hazem el-Biblawi, before meeting with Vice President for Foreign Affairs Mohamed ElBaradei. ElBaradei also met with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and EU Special Representative for the Southern Mediterranean Bernardino Leon.
According to a military statement, the meeting of Sisi, McCain and Graham addressed “the efforts that have been made to put an end to the political polarization ... and to move forward in the implementation of the road map of the transitional period with the participation of the entire political spectrum, without any discrimination or exclusion.”
In an Aug. 7 press conference, McCain and Graham called for national dialogue that includes the Brotherhood and urges the protection of the rights of all Egyptians. They further called for the establishment of a clear schedule for the parliamentary and presidential elections. However, they underlined the importance of "releasing the political prisoners immediately," in a reference to Brotherhood leaders.
Moreover, they called for “abstaining from violence and allowing for peaceful protests,” while confirming that their visit “is not for the purpose of negotiation, but is aimed at taking a close look at what is going on.” McCain considered the ouster of Morsi to be a “coup,” but he indicated that “cutting off the military aid to Egypt will give the wrong signal at the wrong time.” Graham warned against violence, saying that he believes “regaining legitimacy through violence is a huge mistake that will marginalize the Brotherhood across the world.”
McCain and Graham asserted that they did not come to Egypt to negotiate or impose a road map, but they came as friends who are worried about the future of the country and the prospects of Egypt turning into a “failed state,” in addition to their concern about the historic relations between Egypt and America.
Mohamad Hassan, spokesperson of the Islamic Group (Gamaa Islamiya) that is allied with the Brotherhood, told Al-Hayat, “The mediation efforts did not bear fruit after we had clung to the return of legitimacy and the constitution.”
“The international delegations transmitted messages that the government is ready to offer guarantees for releasing some detained Brotherhood leaders and not to pursue them in the future, in addition to promising to unfreeze funds and allow us to participate in the political process — something we rejected, considering it not to be in line with our demands that are increasing by the day,” he said.
However, Mostafa Hegazy, Egyptian presidential adviser for strategic affairs, implicitly denied Hassan's story. He confirmed that dealing with Morsi and the Brotherhood leaders “will happen by law and not through politics.”