Egypt: Army Chief Meets Islamist Leaders

Sisi meets Islamist groups in an attempt to find a "peaceful solution" to escalating crisis.

Ari Soffer ,

Muslim Brotherhood supporters
Muslim Brotherhood supporters

Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Islamist leaders last night in a bid to calm the growing crisis between supporters and opponents of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

Sisi "met with several representatives of the Islamist movements" to seek "a peaceful solution" to his country's crisis, according to army spokesperson Colonel Ahmed Aly.

But supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have vowed to continue their protests until the Morsi's reinstatement as president, and have refused to back down despite threats by the interim government to dismantle their protest camps, and in spite of concerted US and EU efforts to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis

The meeting came shortly after Sisi harshly criticized the US government for failing to back Morsi's removal.

In a rare interview with the Washington Post, Sisi, addressing the Obama administration, remarked: "You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won't forget that. Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians?"

The Post noted that Sisi's remarks came on the same day as US Secretary of State John Kerry gave the administration's most open signal of support for the Egyptian interim government yet.

“The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people,” Kerry said during a visit to Pakistan. “The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment - so far.”

In general, the US has not taken a strong stance either way regarding Morsi's overthrow - and in doing so has drawn ire from both sides of the political chasm in Egypt.

On the one hand, prior to Kerry's comments, the administration avoided open displays of support for the ouster, fearing accusations that it was essentially supporting a military coup against a democratically-elected leader.

On the other hand, the fact that the US government has avoided labeling Morsi's removal as a "coup" is significant: legally, the U.S. government cannot transfer non-humanitarian assistance to a state where a democratically-elected government has been forced from office in a military coup. In avoiding the use of such terminology, the Obama administration effectively prevented a cutoff of the $1.3 billion that the U.S. government sends to Egypt annually - much of which goes to the military.

More than 100 people have been killed since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi by the military on July 3rd. He is currently being held in custody at an undisclosed location, and facing charges for offenses related to his role in a prison break during the 2011 revolt which toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, in which Morsi himself was freed.