Egypt’s acting president announced Wednesday that diplomatic efforts to resolve the nation’s political crisis have failed, raising the prospect of renewed violence and a crackdown on thousands of Islamist protesters supporting deposed president Mohammed Morsi.
The statement by President Adly Mahmoud Mansour followed days of intense efforts by the United States, Europe and Arab states to end the standoff between the military-backed government and Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, which for weeks has staged a sit-in at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo.
“The diplomatic phase has ended,” said Adly’s statement. He blamed the Brotherhood for continued bloodshed and chaos, adding that international efforts “have not fulfilled the hoped-for success, despite the full support of the Egyptian government to facilitate the path to a stable and safe” political transition.
The tone of the statement indicates that Egypt is sliding deeper into crisis. The Brotherhood has refused to recognize the new government, saying the coup that overthrew Morsi last month shattered the country’s pretense of democracy. The government has jailed much of the Brotherhood’s leadership and is adamant about keeping to a “political roadmap” to amend the Islamist-drafted constitution and hold parliamentary elections early next year.
The president’s announcement comes the day after Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined a number of diplomats seeking a way out of a political stalemate that has gripped the Arab world’s most populous country and raised new concerns about the future of democracy in a region where Islamists and secularists are vying for power.
Egypt should release “the political prisoners as soon as possible because they are the key to unlocking this crisis,” Khaled al-Attiya, Qatar’s foreign minister and a Brotherhood ally, told al-Jazeera. “Without a serious dialogue with all the parties, and, most importantly, with the political prisoners because they are the main element in this crisis, I believe things will be difficult.”
Cairo has bristled at foreign efforts to end the crisis, suggesting that diplomats overstepped their bounds while failing to persuade the Brotherhood to soften its demands and accept a political reconciliation. The ordeal has highlighted Egypt’s intensifying political divide and left the army, which has called Brotherhood supporters terrorists, as the arbiter of what happens next.
Adly’s statement came a day before the Eid feast, ending the fasting month of Ramadan. He said that in the spirit of the celebration, the government was willing to accept Brotherhood supporters “with forgiveness and peacefulness” if they ended their protests.