CAIRO — Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is currently in Egypt, making him the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit since Mohamed Morsy was ousted from power earlier this month. But the activists who organized the massive protests that helped force Morsy from office are pointedly refusing to meet with him.
Mahmoud Badr, the co-founder of the Tamarod movement, publicly declined an invitation to participate in a roundtable discussion with Burns and U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson today in a post on the group’s website. Badr said that his refusal was because the United States "supports the Zionist entity" and "currently supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt."
Badr also posted the time and location of the roundtable event: It will take place today at 4 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo.
The U.S. government has come under harsh attack by anti-Morsy activists for what they see as Washington’s support for the Morsy administration. Patterson has borne the brunt of this anger, particularly after she stated that she was "deeply skeptical" that street protests were a better course than abiding by election results. Many protesters over the past weeks have carried posters calling Patterson hayzaboon — an Arabic word that means "crone" or "old hag."
Despite the public anger, however, Burns is pressing on with his meetings in Cairo. The deputy secretary of state will talk with military leaders and officials in the interim government, as well as business leaders. In a short statement, the State Department said that he will "underscore U.S. support for the Egyptian people, an end to all violence, and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government."
Update: Just because Burns was snubbed by the Tamarod movement, doesn’t mean he was getting more quality time with the Muslim Brotherhood. At Monday’s State Department briefing, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Burns did not meet with members of the Brotherhood, despite U.S. calls that the Islamist group should have a place in the next Egyptian government.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |