12-07-2016  10:02 pm      •     

CAIRO (CNN) -- In an attempt to break through the political impasse in Egypt, U.S. senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham are expected to arrive in Cairo on Monday to meet with Egypt's interim leaders.


The two Republican senators will meet with interim President Adly Mansour, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, said Egyptian foreign affairs spokesman Badr Abdelatty.

McCain and Graham are making the trip at U.S. President Barack Obama's request.

"We do have relationships with many of people in Egypt because of our past encounters," McCain told CNN's Dana Bash last week.

Egypt has been embroiled in chaos since the country's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsy, was toppled in a coup last month.

But U.S. officials have refrained from calling the ouster a coup -- a term that could be worth $1.3 billion a year.

If the U.S. formally calls the move as a coup, it would have to cut off that aid. And that "would limit our ability to have the kind of relationship we think we need with the Egyptian armed forces," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said.

The United States helps Egypt because it's one of only two Arab countries -- along with Jordan -- that made peace with Israel. If Washington pulls its aid, it could affect prospects for peace in the Middle East.

In the last 30 years, only Israel has received more aid than Egypt from the United States.

The roots of chaos

Clashes between opposing protesters or between protesters and Egyptian security forces have left hundreds of Egyptians dead in recent weeks.

Morsy supporters have camped out for weeks in crowded Cairo streets, demanding Morsy be reinstated.

Meanwhile, secularists and liberals -- whose protests led to Morsy's ouster -- have started supporting the current military-backed government.

Morsy became Egypt's first democratically elected president in June 2012, after popular protests forced the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled the country for 30 years.

But a year into Morsy's term, many Egyptians wanted him out, too. They said the Western-educated Islamist -- and former head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party -- had not been inclusive since taking office. Critics said he failed to deliver on the people's aspirations for freedom and social justice.

But Muslim Brotherhood spokeswoman Mona al Qazzaz accused the military and opposition of "killing the biggest democracy in the Middle East."

"The military stepped in, and the opposition that failed to win through the ballot boxes came on the back of the tanks," she said.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reported from Cairo; Holly Yan wrote from Atlanta.

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