McCain, Graham say 'time is quickly running out' in Egyptian crisis

High-ranking Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Saturday that “time is quickly running out” for finding a solution to political turmoil in Egypt following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. 

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Fresh from a trip to the North African nation on behalf of President Obama, the GOP lawmakers said in an op-ed in The Washington Post that they still had hope for a peaceful solution.

But McCain and Graham said Egyptian leaders need to act soon to prevent a full-scale civil war.

“We traveled to Cairo this week to support a U.S. and international effort to help Egyptians end their political crisis,” the lawmakers wrote. 

“We met with leaders from the civilian government, armed forces, political parties, civil society and the Muslim Brotherhood. We returned convinced that time is quickly running out to resolve this crisis, but that there is still a chance to do so if Egyptians of goodwill come together for the sake of their country, which is the heart of the Arab world and home to a quarter of its people.”

Morsi was forced out of office by the country’s military this summer, just two years after assuming power in an election that followed the demonstrations in 2011 that have come to be known as the Arab Spring.

In the op-ed, McCain and Graham described Morsi’s removal was a “coup,” a label Obama administration officials have avoided.

“We were among the strongest critics of former president Mohamed Morsi’s undemocratic actions, and we sympathized with the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets last month to protest Morsi’s abuses of power,” the lawmakers wrote. “But as we said again this week in Cairo, we find it difficult to describe the circumstances of Morsi’s removal from office as anything other than a coup. Unsuccessful leaders in a democracy should leave office by losing elections.”

McCain and Graham also said they stressed the need for democratic elections to Egypt's temporary leaders.

“Our main message in Cairo was simple and straightforward: Democracy is the only viable path to lasting stability, national reconciliation, sustainable economic growth and the return of investment and tourism in Egypt,” McCain and Graham wrote. “And democracy means more than elections. It means democratic governance: an inclusive political process in which all Egyptians are free and able to participate, so long as they do so nonviolently; the protection of basic human rights through the rule of law and the constitution; and a state that defends and fosters a vibrant civil society.”

The GOP lawmakers said they still had hope Egyptian could find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

“We believe there are still many people of goodwill and patriotism on all sides who want a better future for Egypt,” McCain and Graham said. “We heard much that was encouraging in our meetings, and we have urged all sides to back up their good words with constructive actions. We have urged them to do so quickly, because time is running out.

“It is essential for all people and parties in Egypt to look forward, to resolve their differences peacefully through an inclusive dialogue and to make the difficult compromises and painful sacrifices that are necessary to save their country,” the lawmakers continued.

“It is essential for Morsi’s supporters, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to accept that his actions generated massive public discontent and that he will not be reinstated as president of Egypt; that they must refrain from acts and incitement of violence; and that eventually they will need to move out of the streets and into the political process, because there is no good or effective alternative to advance their interests.”