The United States embassy in Cairo officially notified the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the term of US ambassador to Cairo Anne Patterson has ended.
Foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Atty said Patterson would be replaced by a caretaker US ambassador until the US ambassador notifies the Egyptian side with Patterson’s permanent replacement.
“The replacement would definitely require approval by the Egyptian side before he’s officially appointed,” Abdel Atty said. He added that the ministry is yet to be informed about the caretaker ambassador’s personality as well as that of Patterson’s permanent replacement.
The foreign ministry spokesman said that news about Patterson’s term ending is not surprising.
“It was known, even before the 30 June protests, that Patterson was going to take a very important post within the US state department,” Abdel Atty said.
Patterson is reportedly becoming a new Deputy Secretary of State. The US ambassador in Cairo has garnered wide criticism from Egyptian political movements and media outlets lately due to statements Patterson had made which were seen to support the now ousted Muslim Brotherhood regime.
On Wednesday, Patterson sent a letter to state-run Al-Ahram’s chief editor Abdel Nasser Salama denying what she described as a “outrageous, fictitious, and thoroughly unprofessional” headline which appeared in the Tuesday paper. The paper alleged Patterson’s involvement in a “conspiracy” to divide and destabalise Egypt, accusations Patterson described in her letter as “absolutely absurd and dangerous”.
Patterson criticised Al-Ahram for publishing what she described as “false” news without double-checking their facts first with the US embassy in Cairo. She stated that such “misguiding” news is a real threat to Egypt’s democratic transition.
“I am particularly disturbed to think that Al Ahram, as the flagship state-run paper in Egypt, is regarded as a representative of the government’s viewpoint,” Patterson said in her letter, calling on the Egyptian government to protest the publishing of the article.
On 20 June, ten days before the nationwide protests which led to the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi by the armed forces, Patterson gave a controversial speech at Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies.
“Some say that street action will produce better results than elections,” Patterson had said. “To be honest, my government and I are deeply skeptical.”