Egypt is reconsidering its ties with countries that haven’t been supportive of the government that the military installed after ousting the country’s first democratically elected president, the interim president said.
Speaking in his first televised interview since Egypt’s powerful generals put him in office, Adly Mansour singled out Turkey and Qatar for criticism. Both those regional neighbors have condemned a crackdown last month by Egyptian authorities on supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsy that left hundreds of people dead.
“Our patience is running out regarding the Qatari stance,” Mansour, 67, said in the interview aired by state television Tuesday.
“The Turkish reaction has reflected short-sightedness and personal interest, not realizing the amount of cooperation between the two countries,” Mansour said, according to an account of the interview published by state-run media outlet Al-Ahram.
Tensions with Turkey
Unlike Qatar, which initially welcomed the military’s installation of Mansour and his administration, Turkey has been critical of the forced change of government in Cairo from the start.
“Neither ourselves nor the people of Turkey expected the stance of the Turkish government, which shouldn’t have reacted based on the perspective of one faction,” Mansour said. “We hope for better relations with Turkey, but we do not accept interference in our internal affairs.”
Mansour said that he and Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy are “strategically reviewing our foreign relations to differentiate between our real friends and those who should not be classified in that category anymore.”
He said that the positions of the United States and the European Union remain unclear, but that he is starting to see indications that they will support the unelected transitional government.
‘No force can turn back the clock’
Mansour also denied that the overthrow of Morsy in July had put Egypt on a path back toward the police state seen under former ruler Hosni Mubarak, who lost his grip on power amid widespread protests in early 2011.
A court released Mubarak, 85, from prison last month, but authorities had him placed under house arrest at a military hospital while he awaits a retrial on charges of inciting violence against protesters during the demonstrations in 2011.
“No force can turn back the clock, neither to the former regime or the one before it, Mansour said Tuesday.
He said that what followed the 2011 uprising — the election of Morsy and the Islamist party he was aligned with, the Muslim Brotherhood — “was an attempt at creating a clone of the former regime but with a religious tone.”
The military removed Morsy from office a year into his tenure amid large-scale street demonstrations against his government.
Critics accused Morsy of authoritarianism and trying to force the Brotherhood’s Islamic agenda into the nation’s laws. But his supporters point out he was democratically elected and repeatedly offered Cabinet positions to secularists and liberals.
Police ‘applied restraint’
Mansour, a judge who heads the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court, defended the actions of security forces in the deadly crackdown on Morsy supporters at two large sit-ins in Cairo last month.
“I know the police faced a lot of criticism in dispersing the sit-ins, which were not peaceful, but they tried to pursue all peaceful stages and there was no response,” he said. “Still, they applied restraint and committed to the international standards and legal means of clearing the sit-ins.”
The violent clearance of the camps, the bloodiest day in Egypt’s recent history, was condemned by many countries.
Egyptian authorities followed it by declaring a one-month state of emergency and arresting more Muslim Brotherhood officials.
In his interview Tuesday, Mansour defended the decision to impose the state of emergency and a curfew.
“There was no other alternative to confront the organized danger the nation was facing,” he said.