Meeting between Brotherhood deputy leader and mediators may generate deal
Envoys from US, EU, UAE and Qatar visit Khairat el-Shater in Tora prison in Cairo
Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi wear headbands with Arabic writing that reads “No god but Allah and Mohamed is the prophet”, as they pray outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where protesters have installed a camp and hold daily rallies at Nasr City in Cairo. Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP
A meeting between US, EU, and Arab envoys with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy leader Khairat el-Shater may generate a deal that could reduce tension, avert fresh bloodshed and provide an exit from the crisis, Ahram Online reported yesterday, quoting Egyptian sources and foreign diplomats in Cairo. The overnight meeting at Tora prison, where Mr Shater is being held on a charge of inciting murder, involved US deputy secretary of state William Burns, EU envoy Bernardino Leon, United Arab Emirates foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed and Qatari foreign minister Khaled al-Attiyah.
The diplomats told Mr Shater, the Brotherhood’s strongman, that deposed president Mohamed Morsi will not be reinstated. Consequently, the Brotherhood has to disperse two sit-ins it has maintained in Cairo over the past five weeks and reach an accommodation with the interim authorities.
The presence of the Qatari minister was significant as his country is the Brotherhood’s sole external backer. The Brotherhood could be offered three cabinet posts, unfreezing of its assets and the release of several officials in exchange for ending sit-ins and agreeing to dialogue. Mr Burns also met Saad Katani, head of the Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, in Tora.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people marched to the state prosecutor’s office, chanting “Morsi, Morsi” and calling for the dismissal of army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who brought about his downfall.
Dozens were injured in the Nile delta city of Damietta when residents tried to prevent pro-Morsi activists from staging a sit-in at the local Islamic centre. Clashes also took place in other provincial cities, giving impetus to negotiations. While the Brotherhood intends to maintain pressure with street protests today, the caretaker government has reiterated its determination to end the mass sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya in Nasr City and the smaller encampment at Cairo University in Giza.
The original deadline for dispersal was the close of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on Wednesday evening. Interim president Adly Mansour says the authorities are still seeking peaceful resolution, but it will act “at the right moment,” adding that those involved in crimes will be prosecuted. “No one is above the law.”
In Cairo, US senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have arrived to urge army chief Gen Sisi to hold early elections and warn that $1.3 billion in military funding could be halted, if the army takes power. However, since the aid funds purchases of US military hardware and training, a cut is unlikely.