- By David KennerDavid Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
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.