Tensions High in Cairo After Travel Bans Lifted
Egyptian MP Saad al-Katatni denounced the decision to lift the travel ban on foreign non governmental organization (NGO) workers, saying there was “flagrant interference” behind the decision. He vowed that all those involved in the decision would be held accountable, announced that Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri would be brought to Parliament to explain the decision and ”hold accountable those responsible for this crime, which represented a blatant intervention in the affairs of Egypt’s judiciary.” Though Katatni said, ”This case cannot be ended with a political decision,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, ”We will continue to work with the Egyptian government to see if we can get this case dismissed, not only for our people but also for the Egyptians, because we think this case was unwarranted from the beginning.” In related news, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has vehemently denied any involvement in the decision to lift the travel ban. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made a statement thanking the MB for their role in aiding the travel ban lift, saying ”We are encouraged by the constructive role played over the past week by the Muslim Brotherhood and its political party, the Freedom and Justice Party . Their statement of February 20 was important in helping to resolve the recent crisis.” Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) MP Farid Ismail insisted that neither the Brotherhood nor its political arm the FJP helped lift the travel ban, and Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghazlan said the case brings Egypt’s sovereignty into question. As the case is still pursued in Egypt, state-run Middle East News Agency said Saturday the first hearing in the new trial will take place March 8 as new judges were appointed.
The situation is also far from resolved from the U.S. perspective, as members of Congress spoke out about the strained U.S.-Egypt relationship. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) , said on Wednesday that Washington should not “reward Egypt with aid when it is demonstrating hostility to Western, democratic entities, and is engaging in an ongoing dance between authoritarians and the Muslim Brotherhood.” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said the crisis is only “one-third resolved” and added that if Egypt’s military’s behavior does not change, “[He is] not putting money [for Egypt] in the foreign-aid bill next year.” Meanwhile, Nuland expressed hope for continued bilateral relations in a press release from the State Department that said, “Despite the recent strains, and differences on certain issues, the fundamentals of this strategic relationship remain strong. We continue to work together to protect regional peace and security and to address the full range of regional issues before us. “