The New York Times reports: Western governments took a wait-and-see approach even after the military committed its first mass killing, shooting more than 60 supporters of Mr. Morsi at a sit-in on July 8. Western diplomats did not engage in earnest until July 24, when General Sisi, in dark sunglasses and military regalia, delivered a fiery speech asking the public to turn out for demonstrations giving him a “mandate” to take on the Islamists. Security forces killed 80 more Morsi supporters in their second mass shooting on the day of the demonstration.
The next morning, Morsi aides and Brotherhood leaders say, their phones began ringing with American and European diplomats fearing an imminent blood bath.
The administration enlisted players on opposite sides of the contest playing out in Egypt. Diplomats from Qatar, a regional patron of the Muslim Brotherhood, agreed to influence the Islamists. The United Arab Emirates, determined opponents of the Islamists, were brought in to help reach out to the new authorities.
But while the Qataris and Emiratis talked about “reconciliation” in front of the Americans, Western diplomats here said they believed the Emiratis were privately urging the Egyptian security forces to crack down.
Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the Emirati foreign minister, came to Washington last month and urged the Americans not to cut off aid. The emirates, along with Saudi Arabia, had swiftly supported the military takeover with a pledge of billions of dollars, undermining Western threats to cut off critical loans or aid.
The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.
When Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, proposed an amendment halting military aid to Egypt, the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee sent a letter to senators on July 31 opposing it, saying it “could increase instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally.” Statements from influential lawmakers echoed the letter, and the Senate defeated the measure, 86 to 13, later that day. [Continue reading…]