Egyptian Council on Foreign Affairs – Official Statement

Cairo, 15 August 2013

Dear Sir/ Madam,

As a follow-up to our previous communications on recent developments in Egypt, and at this critical time for all Egyptians concerned with their country’s transition to democracy, I am writing to share further thoughts on on-going developments.

Following massive demonstrations by millions of Egyptians on 30 June, it was clear that a great majority of the population demanded an end to the Presidency of Mohamed Morsi. Departing from the aspirations Egyptian expressed in their revolution of 25 January 2011, the previous President had lost legitimacy through a series of blunders including repeated infringements on the judiciary, journalists and political opponents. It became clear that his primary loyalty belonged to the dream of transforming Egypt into an Islamic state based on the vision of the Moslem Brothers Movement (MB), disregarding the country’s civic traditions of co-existence between all creeds, its tolerance and openness to the world. Mr.Morsi proceeded to issue legislation giving himself extensive powers, signed a constitution that did not reflect the consensus of all Egyptians, and allowed repeated transgressions on the rights of Christians, women and children. On several occasions, including important National Day celebrations, the previous President associated with terrorists and extremists with complete disregard for the country’s national security or its international status. His administration displayed incompetence in managing the challenge of rising terrorism in Sinai, responding to the need to negotiate issues related to the Nile waters or arresting rapid economic decline. In the absence of a mechanism to impeach or recall the President, and to avert wider civil conflict, Egypt’s armed forces were obliged to intervene combined with a massive popular demand for drastic changes.

In early July, Egypt’s Provisional Government announced a road map for drafting a new constitution and holding parliamentary and presidential elections over the next 6-8 months, together with initiatives for political reconciliation and transitional justice. However, the MB remained insistent on returning Morsi to power through mobilising their supporters to camp in several locations, particularly two vital junctions in Cairo. This was followed by six weeks of unsuccessful negotiations and mediation through the good offices of a multitude of foreign visitors (EU, US, UAE, and Qatar). An African Union High Level Panel visited Cairo and met with the different parties and civil society, and several Foreign Ministers were received and briefed in addition to two prominent US Senators. Many Egyptians were concerned at the level of international intervention tolerated by the Provisional Government, particularly as this was coupled with several statements that disregarded the clear will of Egyptians to correct the course of their transition to democracy. There was also concern at the lack of balance shown by some segments of Arab and international media.

On 24 July, the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA) noted an escalating trend towards armed violence in the MB sit-ins. In response to photos of children being used as human shields, UNICEF condemned exploiting children for political ends while Amnesty International noted incidents of MBs torturing their opponents. Media reported that arms and ammunitions were finding their way into the hands of the demonstrators. Apart from contributing to traffic congestion, inhabitants of the two areas were being harassed and preparations were inhibited for the new term at Cairo University. More important, the authority of the state was being undermined in a manner that was inconsistent with Egypt’s regional and international position. Thus, yesterday, following repeated warnings over the previous days, security forces moved in to clear the demonstrators.

ECFA deeply regrets the loss of lives and injuries on all sides. It trusts that such cases will be thoroughly and impartially investigated and that, where appropriate, the culprits will be brought to justice. ECFA also strongly condemns deliberate attacks by the dispersed demonstrators and their supporters on churches, public buildings, homes, shops, including hospitals, police stations and the Ministry of Finance, which provoked the declaration of a state of emergency. We trust this will be a temporary measure. We urge the government to issue a law organising peaceful assembly and protests.

However costly and painful this experience has been, it is clear that Egypt has entered a new phase in its political development and there cannot be a turning back to the situation before 30 June. Meanwhile,there remains a need to re-establish an environment of order and stability, together with an inclusive dialogue open to all parties, to allow the country to move forward with the roadmap, particularly taking the essential of drafting the new constitution followed by legislative and presidential elections.. There are also vital security and economic challenges that demand urgent action from the Provisional Government. Egypt must return to business.

ECFA notes a series of unfortunate statements by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, Senators McCain and Graham, Qatari officials and the Hamas Movement. Rather than increasing disagreements and tensions, ECFA calls for recognising the current moment for solidarity with the efforts to strengthen transition towards genuine and sustainable democracy in Egypt, and refraining from ill-considered statements, proposals and actions that reflect a lack of understanding of the delicate phase currently underway.

Ambassador Dr.Mohamed Ibrahim Shaker

Chairman of the Board of Directors

Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs

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