Muslim Brotherhood leader and Vice President of the Freedom and Justice Party Essam El-Erian called on Egyptians to besiege the U.S Embassy in Cairo as a protest for the American government's support for the ousting of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
He called for besieging the embassy as a means to push its staff to leave the country. "We hope the diplomats will not be exposed to any harm, but we want them out of the country. We do not want them on our land," said Erian, adding that the American role in what he called "the military coup" in Egypt is clear.
El-Erian blames the U.S. government for the Egyptian military's decision to overthrow Morsi. American policies have been criticized by both pro- and anti-Morsi forces in the days since Morsi was deposed.
The U.S., which gives more than $1 billion a year to the Egyptian military, has not labeled the army’s action as a coup, however it has called for a quick return to democracy. In a recent move, U.S. President Barak Obama decided to halt the delivery of F-16 fighter jets as a punitive measure for the ouster of Morsi.
After El-Erian's address to supporters one person was killed and seven were injured during clashes between Morsi supporters and their opponents in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Pro-Morsi demonstrators also fought with opponents near the Defense Ministry, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported. Daily protests by the deposed leader’s supporters risk undermining the army-installed government’s plan for a transition back to elected civilian rule.
Even before El-Erian’s remarks, Egyptian police had set up barriers around the U.S. Embassy in central Cairo. The compound was the scene of fighting between demonstrators and police in September, shortly before the American ambassador to Libya and three fellow nationals were killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi.
"The embassy and all roads leading to it are totally secure and the government won’t allow it to be attacked," said Adel- Fattah Osman, assistant to the interior minister.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the U.S. government was assessing the safety of American officials serving in Egypt.
Ziad Akl, a senior analyst at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, said that the transition may have to be prolonged until a deal is reached with the Muslim Brotherhood. "There’s no way the Muslim Brotherhood are not going to be part of Egypt’s political scene,” Akl said. "What they are doing now by the daily protests is trying to apply political pressure to enhance their position in negotiations."