EU, US wake up to drama in Egypt

EU, US wake up to drama in Egypt

EU, US wake up to drama in Egypt

A man walks outside the burnt Rabaa Adawiya mosque, the morning after the clearing of a protest camp around the mosque, in Cairo August 15, 2013. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood called on followers to march in protest in Cairo on Thursday, after at least 421 people were killed in a security crackdown on the Islamist movement that has left the most populous Arab nation polarised and in turmoil. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Major European powers summoned Egyptian ambassadors today over Aug. 14’s deadly crackdown as the United States’ top diplomat said the violence was deplorable and a “serious blow” to reconciliation efforts.

Britain summoned Egypt’s ambassador to express its “deep concern” at the deadly violence in the country and urged the authorities to act with “the greatest restraint,” the Foreign Office said Aug.15.

“[Wednesday] we called in the Egyptian ambassador to express our deep concern at the escalating violence and unrest in Egypt,” a spokesman said. “Simon Gass, the Foreign Office political director, condemned the use of force to clear the protests and urged the Egyptian authorities to act with the greatest restraint.”

French President François Hollande said “everything must be done to avoid a civil war” in Egypt. Hollande called for an immediate halt to the bloodshed, his office said in a statement. He summoned the Egyptian ambassador to convey France’s “great concern over the tragic events,” the statement said, adding that the president urged Egypt’s rulers to swiftly end a month-long state of emergency imposed in the wake of the crackdown.

“France is committed to finding a political solution and calls for elections to be held as soon as possible, in line with the commitments made by Egypt’s transitional authorities,” it said.

Germany also summoned the Egyptian ambassador over the deadly crackdown, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

“On the orders of Foreign Minister [Guido] Westerwelle, the ambassador was told the position of the German government in no uncertain terms,” she told Agence France-Presse. Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino summoned the Egyptian ambassador because of the “very grave” developments and “dramatic” violence. The Danish government announced that it has halted aid to Egypt worth 30 million kroner ($5.3 million), which is channeled through agencies including the World Bank and the International Labor Organization. Norway also said it had “recently” frozen export licenses for military equipment to Egypt.

In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry said Aug. 14 the escalating violence throughout the country had dealt a “serious blow” to political reconciliation efforts between the military-backed interim government and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Still, Barack Obama administration officials signaled no change in U.S. policy toward Egypt or clear consequences for the mounting violence. The U.S. has avoided declaring Morsi’s ouster a coup, a move that would force the administration to suspend $1.3 billion in annual military aid. Kerry condemned the violence which he called it “deplorable” and urged Egypt’s interim leaders to take a step back and calm the situation. “It’s a serious blow to reconciliation and the Egyptian people’s hopes for a transition toward democracy and inclusion,” he told reporters.

Kerry said he and other administration officials had for the past week been urging the military and interim government to respect freedom of speech and assembly. But neither he nor other officials could or would outline or even hint at any consequences the failure to heed those calls would bring.