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The authorities now portray their quarrel with the Brotherhood, Egypt’s best-organised political force, as a fight against terrorism and are jailing its leaders. They detained the group’s “general guide”, Mohamed Badie, in Cairo on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which along with Kuwait have promised Egypt $12 billion in aid since Mursi’s ouster, have frowned on Mubarak’s detention all along. Arab diplomats said the conservative Gulf monarchies had lobbied for the release of a man they once valued as a strong regional ally.
Mubarak’s jailing and trial, when he appeared in a courtroom cage, also affronted some Egyptian officers. One colonel, who asked not to be named, said the treatment of the former supreme military commander had “tarnished the army’s image”.
Lobna Moneib, spokeswoman of the leftist Popular Current movement, said the court ruling posed a problem. “We think he is guilty and have called for him to be tried by revolutionary courts,” she said, advocating such trials for all Mubarak-era officials as well as for Mursi and his Brotherhood colleagues.
The United States, a close ally of Egypt since Cairo signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, said on Tuesday that the crackdown on protesters could influence U.S. aid. It denied reports it had already suspended assistance.
At issue is the future of about $1.23 billion in U.S. military assistance and $241 million in economic aid to Egypt.
Western nations were uneasy during Mursi’s year in power, when he rammed through an Islamist-tinged constitution.
Washington has not denounced the army takeover as a “coup”, which under U.S. law would force a suspension of aid. The ensuing bloodshed, however, has dismayed the West.
U.S. Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential nominee, said on Wednesday, “The slaughter of hundreds of Egyptians in the street is appalling to all of us.”
He said U.S. aid should be conditioned on a change in the constitution and scheduling of elections as soon as possible. “The present government is representative of no one,” he said.
The arrest of Badie, the Brotherhood’s leader, is part of a wave of detentions among the upper echelons of the organisation.
Murad Ali, a media adviser to the Brotherhood’s political party, and Safwat Hegazy, a fiery preacher, were arrested while trying to flee the country, state media reported on Wednesday.
The Brotherhood said the crackdown would prove futile.
“The putschists think that arresting the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and marring their image in the media will make Egyptians bow and give in to the coup,” it said.
“They have killed thousands, wounded thousands, arrested thousands but the (people) are continuing in their peaceful revolution, rejecting the coup and military rule.”