Top U.S. senators urge Egyptians to ‘come together’

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U.S. senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham advised Egyptians to “come together for the sake of their country” in an opinion piece for the Washington Post published on Saturday,

The Republican Senators, who described themselves as “longtime friends of Egypt and its armed forces,” visited Cairo this week on a diplomatic mission to end the political crisis in the country.

The senators met with leaders from the interim government, the armed forces, the Muslim Brotherhood and other political and civil groups in an attempt to resolve the weeks-long stand-off.

While they reiterated their support for Egypt and condemned “Mursi’s abuses of power,” they went against the official U.S. line in the article, writing that it was “difficult to describe the circumstances of Mursi’s removal from office as anything other than a coup.”

Their central message was one of inclusivity and proper democratic process.

“Democracy is the only viable path to lasting stability, national reconciliation, sustainable economic growth and the return of investment and tourism in Egypt. And democracy means more than elections. It means democratic governance: an inclusive political process in which all Egyptians are free and able to participate,” they wrote in the newspaper.

McCain and Graham warned of the risks in Egypt’s future if a path of unity were not pursued, pointing out Egypt’s strategic importance for security in the region and beyond.

“Extremist and reactionary forces, some in the Egyptian state and some among Mursi’s supporters in the streets, want to drag the country down a dark path of violence, oppression and revenge.

“It is worth remembering — especially when the American mind has refocused on the real and persistent threat posed by al-Qaeda — that its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is a former member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who was radicalized during the violent crackdowns and detentions of Brotherhood leaders by previous Egyptian regimes. Repeating the worst mistakes of the past now will only condemn Egypt to a future of protracted instability and stagnation, while creating a new generation of radical recruits for terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.”

The U.S. senators said they spoke in Cairo on the importance of compromise in a real democracy.

“It is essential for Mursi’s supporters, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to accept that his actions generated massive public discontent and that he will not be reinstated as president of Egypt,” they wrote.

“At the same time, it is essential for the civilian government and armed forces to recognize that, no matter how much they may dislike Mursi’s supporters, they are Egyptians, too.”

Despite these warnings, their message was hopeful for Egypt’s future.

“We believe there are still many people of goodwill and patriotism on all sides who want a better future for Egypt. We heard much that was encouraging in our meetings…

“We still believe Egypt can serve as a model of inclusive democracy that can inspire the region and the world, and, in this great endeavor, the United States must continue to offer its support.”

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