Egyptians suspicious of US motives

The US Deputy Security of State is in Egypt to hold talks with the interim government.

FILE: Supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi (on the poster) flash the sign of victory atop a wall during a rally outside the headquarters of the Republican Guard in Cairo on 9 July 2013. Picture:AFP

CAIRO - US Deputy Security of State William Burns official to visit Egypt since the army toppled the country's elected president will hold high-level talks on Monday in Cairo, where thousands of supporters of the ousted Islamist leader are expected to take to the streets.

Egyptians have been shocked by violent protests in which 92 people have been killed.

However, despite deep divisions between those who supported and those who opposed overthrown President Mohamed Morsi, they are united by their suspicion of Washington's motives.

Burns may face awkward questions when he visits Cairo, where portraits of the American ambassador, Anne Patterson, have been overwritten with the words "Go home, witch."

His visit will include talks with the military and comes as Egypt's interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi finalises his cabinet.

El-Beblawi filled senior posts on Sunday in a Cabinet that will lead the country under an army-backed "road map" to restore civilian rule.


The crisis has alarmed allies in the region and the West.

In a statement, the US State Department said Burns would "underscore U.S. support for the Egyptian people, an end to all violence, and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government."

The US has avoided calling Morsi's overthrow a coup, because, under US laws dating back to the 1980s, to do so would mean stopping the $1.3 billion in military aid it gives Egypt each year.

The Brotherhood said it was a coup, but the head of Egypt's armed forces, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said the military was enforcing the will of the people.

Its not clear whether Burns would meet members of the Brotherhood during his visit, which is scheduled to end on Tuesday. The country's biggest Islamist force has said it wants nothing to do with the political transition.

The second main Islamist movement, the Nour Party, broke ranks with the Brotherhood and supported the military's political "road map", although it has distanced itself somewhat since shootings of Brotherhood members last week.

On Monday, a senior party official said Nour had turned down an invitation to meet Burns because of what he called "unjustified interference in Egyptian internal affairs and politics" by the US.


In a speech to a hall full of military officers on Sunday, Sisi justified the takeover.

He said the president had lost legitimacy because of the mass demonstrations against him.

The general said he tried to avert the need for unilateral action by offering Morsi the option of holding a referendum on his rule, but "the response was total rejection".

Sisi also insisted the political process remained open to all groups though Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has shunned dealings with "usurpers".

Morsi has been held incommunicado at an undisclosed location since he was removed from power. The authorities have not charged him with a crime, but said on Saturday that they were investigating complaints against him over spying, inciting violence and wrecking the economy.

The public prosecutor said it had ordered the freezing of the assets of 14 Brotherhood and other Islamist leaders.

Thousands of Morsi's followers have maintained a vigil at a crossroads near a mosque in northeast Cairo, where they have braved brutal summer heat and daytime fasting during Ramadan to push their demand for the leader to be reinstated.


Meanwhile, at least three people were killed and 17 wounded when suspected militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at a bus carrying workers in Egypt's North Sinai province early on Monday, security and medical sources said.

Egypt's army said a terrorist group had meant to hit a police vehicle but missed and hit the bus instead.

Hardline Islamist groups based in North Sinai, a lawless region bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip, have intensified attacks on police and soldiers over the past two years, exploiting a security vacuum following the 2011 uprising that ousted autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.

The violence has spiked again since Morsi's overthrow, and militants have attacked security checkpoints and other targets on an almost daily basis, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens.