- The Washington Times - Monday, August 12, 2013

The standoff in Cairo between authorities and supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi continued Monday, as the Egyptian military appeared to step back from their threats to break up two pro-Morsi camps in the capital.

“Law and order has to be in place, and people need to be able to have access to their homes and work and so on. Ultimately this situation has to be resolved very soon,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told the BBC.

Mr. Fahmy is a member of the special interim government installed by the Egyptian armed forces after mass protests against Mr. Morsi’s rule prompted the military to oust him last month.

The ouster has provoked weeks of bloody clashes between security forces and supporters of the Moslem Brotherhood, the Islamist political movement that got Morsi elected.

More than 250 protestors have been killed, according to human rights groups, and they warned that any attempt by the police or army to break up the protest camps could easily lead to a blood bath.

Military officials have been hinting for more than a week that their patience with the sit-ins, strikes and demonstrations was wearing thin. Reports over the weekend said the crackdown might begin as early as dawn Monday, once the Eid al-Fitr holiday was over.

Efforts by foreign and Egyptian mediators to find a compromise between the sides have failed since the July 3 coup that ousted Mr. Morsi

The news agency Agence France Press reported Monday, citing unnamed security officials, that authorities would seek to gradually squeeze the sit-ins over several days.

Mr. Fahmy, the foreign minister, said that any action to end the ongoing sit-ins would be “consistent with the law.”

“If security forces start applying their procedures, they will do that by court order according to the law and according to the standards allowed by the law,” he said.