U.S. and allies were near a deal for peaceful end to Egypt crisis

The Washington Post reports: Two weeks before the bloody crackdown in Cairo, the Obama administration, working with European and Persian Gulf allies, believed it was close to a deal to have Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi disband street encampments in return for a pledge of nonviolence from Egypt’s interim authorities.

But the military-backed government rejected the deal and ordered its security forces to break up the protests, a decision that has resulted in hundreds of deaths and street clashes that continued Friday in the capital.

The agreement nearly brokered two weeks ago sought statements of restraint from both sides and an inquiry into competing claims of violence and mistreatment, said Bernardino León, the European Union’s envoy for Egypt. That was supposed to be a prelude to talks between the Muslim Brotherhood and the government.

Former Egyptian vice president Mohamed ElBaradei appeared to back the deal but could not convince Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, the head of the military, León said. ElBaradei resigned after violence erupted.

What this report neglects to make clear, is that the agreement referred to by León had already been accepted by the Muslim Brotherhood.

General Sisi, most likely with the full support of the military, was the primary obstacle to a path that would avoided this week’s massacre.

It’s also noteworthy that just a week ago, Israel’s former prime minister and defense minister, Ehud Barak, appeared on CNN, saying: “the whole world should support Sisi.” With an expression of support like that from an Israeli leader who is more closely aligned with the Obama administration than anyone in the current Israeli government, it’s hard not to wonder whether Sisi felt that any criticism he might later provoke from Washington would be of little consequence.

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