Reuters reports: Western allies warned Egypt’s military leaders right up to the last minute against using force to crush protest sit-ins by supporters of the ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, arguing they could ill afford the political and economic damage.
A violent end to a six-week standoff between Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood and the armed forces that toppled Egypt’s first freely elected president seemed likely once the new authorities declared last week that foreign mediation had failed.
But the United States and the European Union continued to send coordinated messages to army commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei during the four-day Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday that ended on Sunday, pleading for a negotiated settlement, Western diplomats said.
“We had a political plan that was on the table, that had been accepted by the other side (the Muslim Brotherhood),” said EU envoy Bernardino Leon, who co-led the mediation effort with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
“They could have taken this option. So all that has happened today was unnecessary,” Leon told Reuters in a telephone interview. The last plea was conveyed to the Egyptian authorities on Tuesday, hours before the crackdown was unleashed. [Continue reading…]