The US State Department will no longer meet a Muslim Brotherhood group – scheduled to visit Washington for a private conference – after it was reported that the US ambassador to Egypt, Robert Beecroft, had been summoned by the Egyptian authorities.
According to Reuters, Beecroft was summoned due to the Egyptian government’s disapproval of the private visit with the group. A spokesman for the State Department, Jeff Rathke, told reporters that the agency would not meet the Brotherhood representatives, but said that the US would still engage with the group, which has been designated a “terrorist organisation” by the Egyptian authorities.
“We’ve decided not to hold a meeting,” said Rathke. “We engage with representatives from across the political spectrum, and this is a group we also met with in the recent past. But we don’t have any further reasoning than we simply aren’t meeting with them this time.”
These recent developments reflect the ongoing uncertainty in the relationship between the US and Egypt’s current government. Whilst President Sisi has been commended for encouraging stability in the country, the US government has condemned the crackdown on press freedom, as well as the repression of dissent. Just last month, the Obama administration criticised, in a formal report to Congress, “a series of executive initiatives, new laws and judicial actions” introduced in Egypt, which “severely undermine prospects for democratic governance.”