Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain didn't manage to end the political unrest in Egypt during an Obama-sanctioned visit this week, the office of the country's current president is expected to announce on Tuesday. The two Congressmen arrived in Egypt on Monday, armed with strong words (and not much else) for the interim military leadership. According to Reuters, the country's presidency will announce the failure of "foreign mediation efforts," and declare the pro-Muhammed Morsi protests in the country non-peaceful.
McCain, for one, was optimistic about the pair's chances for success in the country last week, explaining that they "have credibility with everybody there." The senators, who said today that the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood's elected government there was a "coup," asked the military leadership to release Islamist prisoners arrested after the uprising, set a time table for the adoption of a new constitution (and for new elections), and to refrain from violence in their future crackdowns on Muslim Brotherhood members and loyalists in the country. Graham, speaking with McCain after a meeting with military leaders, said:
"In democracy, you sit down and talk to each other. It is impossible to talk to somebody who is in jail...Some in Congress want to sever the relationship. Some want to suspend the aid. We have to be honest to where the relationship stands. ... We can't support Egypt that is not moving to democracy."
And while the senators, along with the Obama administration, may have acted with the best of intentions, Egypt's response has been lukewarm to downright chilly. Presidential spokesperson Ahmed el-Musalamani told reporters after the senators' visit that "foreign pressure [on the country] has exceeded international standards."
As we've explained before, the biggest (and really, only) bit of leverage the U.S. has against Egypt right now is the $1 billion in annual aid. But the President's non-decision on whether Egypt is a coup or not has rendered any threat that the aid might stop if the country doesn't progress towards democracy once more somewhat toothless in the short term — at the moment, the administration just doesn't seem inclined to go there.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.