Sunday

25th Aug 2019

EU diplomat: Egyptian army rejected peace plan

  • Muslim Brotherhood protester in Cairo on Thursday. Reports indicate some deaths were caused by snipers (Photo: Globovision)

The EU's special envoy to the Middle East, Bernardino Leon, has said the Egyptian army rejected a peace deal with the Muslim Brotherhood a few hours before the killing in Cairo began.

He told Reuters that he and US diplomat William Burns in recent days brokered an agreement between the military and the brothers on how to end their month-long sit-ins in two city squares.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We had a political plan that was on the table, that had been accepted by the other side [the brotherhood] … They [the army] could have taken this option. So all that has happened today was unnecessary," he said.

He noted that he made a final appeal on the peace plan to military chiefs "hours" before they ordered the assault, at 7am local time on Wednesday (14 August), using armoured bulldozers and live ammunition against people in tent camps.

For her part, EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton made three statements as events unfolded.

The first one, issued by a spokesman at noon, called on all sides to show restraint.

The second one, a few hours later, urged "security forces to exercise utmost restraint" and told protesters to "avoid further provocations and escalation."

The final statement, on Wednesday evening, called on the army to "exercise utmost restraint," with no mention of the protesters' role.

By the time the third one came out, 638 people, including 43 policemen, were dead, and 3,572 people were injured, according to Egyptian authorities. More than 2,000 protesters had been killed, according to a pro-brotherhood group, the Egypt Anti-Coup Alliance.

The dead include Asmaa el-Beltagy, the 17-year-old daughter of a Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohamed el-Beltagy, who was himself arrested the same day. They also include Mick Deane, a 61-year-old British cameraman for Sky News.

The army later imposed a state of emergency which is to last one month. It also imposed a curfew, which expired at 6am on Thursday.

Reports indicate that Cairo is calm on Thursday morning.

But Anu Pulkkinen, Finland's top diplomat in the city, told Finnish press the atmosphere is "extremely unstable" and that it is hard to move around due to army checkpoints.

More violence?

Despite the crackdown, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, another pro-brotherhood group, has called for fresh, nationwide, protests.

The brothers' el-Beltagy, shortly before his arrest, compared the situation to the civil war in Syria.

The resignation from government of Mohamed ElBaradei, the leader of Egypt's liberal movement, which had previously backed the army, also signals a splintering of political forces.

"The beneficiaries of what happened today are the preachers of violence and terrorism, the most extremist groups," he said in an open letter.

With some Muslims attacking Christian churches in the belief that Christians and Western states are in league with the army, ElBaradei added that Egypt's "social fabric [is] in danger of tearing."

Washington has echoed the EU in criticising the Egyptian military.

"The United States strongly condemns the use of violence against protesters in Egypt … We have repeatedly called on the Egyptian military and security forces to show restraint," a White House spokesman said.

But neither the US or the EU has spoken of suspending financial aid to the post-coup state or of other action.

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said, while visiting Tunisia, it is too early to create a new EU policy.

Britain's William Hague "condemned the use of force in clearing protests," but said nothing on funding.

France's Laurent Fabius appealed to "all parties" to end confrontation. Italy's Emma Bonino called on the military to avoid another "bloodbath." But neither one said what their governments might do.

Denmark blocks aid

Meanwhile, Denmark and Norway took the lead in terms of reactions.

Denmark suspended two bilateral aid programmes worth €30 million and Norway has halted arms sales to Egypt.

The strongest statements came from two Islamic powers in the region.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Thursday's deaths on Western "silence" about the Egyptian army's unseating of brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in July and on earlier killings of Muslim brothers.

"It is clear that the international community, by supporting the military coup, and remaining silent over previous massacres ... has encouraged the current administration to carry out today's intervention," he said.

Echoing the brotherhood's el-Beltagy on Syria, Iran's foreign ministry said: "Undoubtedly, the current approach ... strengthens the likelihood of civil war in this great Islamic country."

This story was updated to cite Egypt's latest official figures on the death toll

EU diplomat: Both sides guilty in Egypt

The EU's envoy to north Africa has said events in Egypt are "more complex" than a simple story of the army killing Muslim protesters.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us