WASHINGTON - The United States and its European and Gulf allies were close to a peace deal two weeks ago between Mohamed Morsi supporters and Egypt’s military, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
The deal called for supporters of the ousted president to abandon their street camps in exchange for a promise of non-violence from the authorities, the Post said, citing Bernardino Leon, the European Union’s envoy for Egypt.
The peace deal, which also included a probe into competing claims of violence, was supposed to lead to talks between the interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood, but former vice president Mohammed El-Baradei apparently could not convince army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to agree, Leon told the paper.
El-Baradai resigned in protest on Wednesday as the government unleashed a bloody crackdown on the protesters.
The proposed deal, according to the Post, came after weeks of visits to Cairo and lobbying by diplomats including Leon, US deputy secretary of State William Burns, and the foreign ministers of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
“It was a quite simple package the four of us were supporting,” Leon told The Post. The two Gulf states, along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are sending more money to Egypt than the United States is, officials told the newspaper. Qatar has especially emerged a leading supporter of the Brotherhood, according to the Post.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International called for a full and impartial investigation into the bloodshed in Egypt, saying the authorities’ response to the protests has been “grossly disproportionate”. The London-based human rights organisation also appealed for United Nations experts to be allowed to investigate the crackdown.
Turkey’s prime minister lashed out Saturday at the international response to the escalating crisis in Egypt, saying organisations including the UN and EU should be ashamed of their inaction.
“Let me say very clearly, the United Nations Security Council no longer has the right to look at itself in the mirror, it’s so ashamed, because it couldn’t condemn what’s happening in Egypt,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Some 4,000 people gathered at a mosque in Istanbul shouting “Down with (army chief Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi” and “Morsi in power!”
Meanwhile, thousands of Arab supporters of the Islamic Movement in Israel demonstrated on Saturday in support of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, an AFP correspondent said.
Around 4,000 people led by firebrand preacher Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, took part in the protest in the northern city of Nazareth, the correspondent said.
The demonstrators marched holding Egyptian flags as well as pictures of Morsi and chanting against Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who led the overthrow of Morsi, claiming he was “taking orders from the US.”
Meanwhile, a small explosion rocked the Egyptian consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Saturday, blowing out its windows and those of adjacent buildings, witnesses said.
A policeman at the scene said an Egyptian security guard was injured in the explosion, apparently caused by a small bomb hidden in a briefcase. At least five cars were damaged, a Reuters witness said. Police closed off the area and were collecting evidence.
Germany’s foreign minister and his Qatari counterpart on Saturday condemned the spiralling violence in Egypt, urging political dialogue to avoid further bloodshed.
“We are deeply distressed by the ongoing and brutal violence in Egypt,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told journalists after meeting his Qatari counterpart Khaled al-Attiyah.
“There is no other solution... for Egypt but dialogue, including all political forces. Otherwise there is great danger that more blood will spill... which indicates the danger of civil war,” he said.
Westerwelle renewed an early call for “effective protection of the Christian community” after a rise in attacks in recent days.
Qatar is a key supporter of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, whose protests against the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi on July 3 have turned deadly amid clashes with security forces.
“We in Qatar are extremely concerned about the high number of victims. We are devastated by the violence,” Attiyah said.
He called for an “end to violence and dialogue between all parties” as well as the freedom of political prisoners.
At least 173 people have been killed in Egypt in the past 24 hours alone, bringing the death toll to more than 750 people since police cracked down on two camps of Morsi loyalists in the capital on Wednesday.