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by
Bridget Johnson

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August 7, 2013 - 11:39 am

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)  and John McCain (R-Ariz.), in Egypt as unofficial negotiators, suggested that ousted president Mohamed Morsi, behind bars on charges including murder and collusion with Hamas, should be freed because the American people want a “transition to democracy” inclusive of all parties.

The senators were asked by CNN International yesterday how “concerned” they are that public sentiment is so positive toward Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, considered the “most adored” figure in the country for stepping in and helping the millions of Tamarod protesters get rid of Morsi.

“Well, we appreciate his leadership, and we appreciate many aspects of what he’s done. But we made it very clear to General Sisi that we are here not to negotiate, but to urge a reconciliation, a dialogue, followed by free and fair elections,” McCain said. “Now, General Sisi said to us that he was committed to that process. And so we are, I think guardedly optimistic that he wants the same thing, but guardedly only.”

Graham, who has said political prisoners like Muslim Brotherhood instigators held after the ouster should be released, was asked if Morsi should be among those set free.

“My belief is that the American people through their Congress and this administration is not going to support an Egypt that doesn’t transition to democracy. I believe Morsi was freely and fairly elected, and the way they govern created great upheaval in this country. For the Muslim Brotherhood not to understand that the criticism coming their way is based on what they did, is a huge mistake,” Graham said.

Negotiations toward reconciliation have to include “people who are respected by the Muslim Brotherhood,” McCain said. “We can’t designate who should do the negotiating.”

“There has to be some input from the Muslim Brotherhood, of course, they are part of Egypt. And it’s just impossible and not right to negotiate when somebody is in prison. So, two things have to happen, I think, at the same time. The Muslim Brotherhood has to not only renounce violence, but refrain from it. Using violence as a negotiating tool is unacceptable in democracy, and they have to stop that,” Graham added.

“It’s not that either side has to take the initiative. But I would emphasize that time is not on the side of delay. There are very serious problems in the streets, and we didn’t come here to negotiate, we only came to urge as friends a process of a national dialogue and the new election,” McCain said.

McCain irritated Egyptian leaders by calling the ouster of Morsi a “coup” at a Cairo press conference on Monday.

“John McCain is distorting facts. His clumsy statements are unacceptable in form and substance,” presidential aide Ahmed El-Muslimani told Al-Ahram.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (7)
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I wish the Egyptian people would tell John and Lindsay to f-off. That is the proper response to foreign interference in your country's internal affairs.

On the other hand, when you accept a billion dollars a year in aid from those foreigners, a certain amount of interference is to be expected.

Taking money from the government - any government - is always part of a devil's bargain.

The State giveth and the State taketh away. Blessed be the name of the State.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well said...accurate and succinct. I parrot the idea thusly - who the hell are we to tell the Egyptian people to lie down before tyranny? The vast majority of the Army's senior command has been trained in the U.S. and spent considerable time in our country. They recognize the MOOSLIM BRUTHAHOOD as the TERRORISTS that they are...it is OUR government that supports these OVERT TERRORISTS on the world stage. I concur - the Egyptian people should tell Dear Leader's messenger boys to pound sand.

Remember BENGHAZI!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
McCain can always fall back on senility, what's Graham's excuse?

This is one American citizen who'd rather have the army in charge over the Muslim Brotherhood. The MB is not in favor of democracy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Would you describe our Egypt policy as hopefully naive or naively hopeful?

Or are we just blowing smoke up the world's arse? Making a ritual gesture like we do periodically with Israel and the Palestinians, just to show everybody we're the good guys?

This idea that the leaders of the various factions are men of goodwill who only want peace is complete nonsense. There's a reason why the Egyptian military took over, and it's nothing to do with the evils of militarism. It's because the leaders of the Egyptian military care about Egypt and they don't want to see it falling into the hands of fanatical Islamo-fascists. Evidently, a lot of Egyptians feel the same way.

Now, why can't our people trust the Egyptians to make their own decisions about who's fit to rule? Why can't they just butt out for once?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Naive would be a charitable description. But let's look at Dear Liar's words:
1) He's called the Constitution a "charter of negative rights" and lamented that the S.Ct. didn't "go beyond it" to create a whole bunch of "positive rights" where the government has to provide you with stuff.
2) He's vowed to fundamentally transform the US. You don't "fundamentally transform" something you like and believe in.

He clearly does not believe in the founding ideals of the US.
Given that he sat and listened to Jeremiah Wright (I refuse to call him "reverend") for twenty years and that the LA Times is still sitting on his remarks made to a prominent Muslim (if they were innocuous remarks, they'd have been released) and how quick he was to stab Mubarak in the back, I can't help but believe he actually wants the Muslim Brotherhood to win. Throughout the Muslim world.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I would use "graba$$tically obtuse" to define our foreign policy in general and our strategy in Egypt in particular.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Man, since he's been working with Obama, McCain sure has gotten soft on collaborators with tyrants.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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