Gaza crisis: will Egypt come to regret its role as peacemaker?
As the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, flew into Cairo on Wednesday to help seal the deal that would bring an end to a week of conflict in Gaza, a plume of smoke was visible from the Kasr an-Nile bridge.
Half an hour earlier, a group of several hundred demonstrators had torched a studio used by al-Jazeera television. That event, on the third day of clashes with police, underlined the contradictions of Egypt under President Mohamed Morsi, even as he emerged as an important new player on the international stage.
For while Morsi has skilfully negotiated the first major foreign policy crisis since the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime, that success masks a host of challenges ahead for him.
In the immediate aftermath of the truce announcement on Wednesday, Morsi, was lauded by Clinton. "I want to thank President Morsi for his personal leadership to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and end the violence," she said. "This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt's new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace."