Inplainview News Weblog - 2013: Arab Revolutions

2013-09-06 Egypt moves to dissolve Brotherhood NGO: reports

Egypt's army-backed government will dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a non-governmental organization within days, a newspaper reported on Friday, a move that would press a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Mursi's movement.
The move applies to the NGO registered by the Brotherhood in March in response to a lawsuit that argued the group had no legal status. It would mark a mostly symbolic legal blow to Mursi's group as the authorities round up its members in the harshest crackdown in decades.
The privately-owned Al-Shorouk newspaper said the decision would be taken "within days", quoting Hany Mahana, spokesman for the minister of social solidarity.
The same official was quoted by the state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper saying the decision was already taken.
"The minister's decision has in fact been issued but it will be announced at the start of next week in a press conference," it said.

2013-09-05 James Ball, Julian Borger, Glenn Greenwald. Revealed: How US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security

US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.
The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.
The agencies, the documents reveal, have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on what they see as one of the biggest threats to their ability to access huge swathes of internet traffic – "the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet".
Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to break encryption with "brute force", and – the most closely guarded secret of all – collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.
The files, from both the NSA and GCHQ, were obtained by the Guardian, and the details are being published today in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica. They reveal:
• A 10-year NSA program against encryption technologies made a breakthrough in 2010 which made "vast amounts" of data collected through internet cable taps newly "exploitable".
• The NSA spends $250m a year on a program which, among other goals, works with technology companies to "covertly influence" their product designs.
• The secrecy of their capabilities against encryption is closely guarded, with analysts warned: "Do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods."
• The NSA describes strong decryption programs as the "price of admission for the US to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace".
• A GCHQ team has been working to develop ways into encrypted traffic on the "big four" service providers, named as Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.
The key component of the NSA's battle against encryption, its collaboration with technology companies, is detailed in the US intelligence community's top-secret 2013 budget request under the heading "Sigint [signals intelligence] enabling".
Funding for the program – $254.9m for this year – dwarfs that of the Prism program, which operates at a cost of $20m a year, according to previous NSA documents. Since 2011, the total spending on Sigint enabling has topped $800m. The program "actively engages US and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products' designs", the document states. None of the companies involved in such partnerships are named; these details are guarded by still higher levels of classification.
Among other things, the program is designed to "insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems". These would be known to the NSA, but to no one else, including ordinary customers, who are tellingly referred to in the document as "adversaries".
"These design changes make the systems in question exploitable through Sigint collection … with foreknowledge of the modification. To the consumer and other adversaries, however, the systems' security remains intact."
The document sets out in clear terms the program's broad aims, including making commercial encryption software "more tractable" to NSA attacks by "shaping" the worldwide marketplace and continuing efforts to break into the encryption used by the next generation of 4G phones.
Among the specific accomplishments for 2013, the NSA expects the program to obtain access to "data flowing through a hub for a major communications provider" and to a "major internet peer-to-peer voice and text communications system".
Technology companies maintain that they work with the intelligence agencies only when legally compelled to do so. The Guardian has previously reported that Microsoft co-operated with the NSA to circumvent encryption on the email and chat services. The company insisted that it was obliged to comply with "existing or future lawful demands" when designing its products.
The documents show that the agency has already achieved another of the goals laid out in the budget request: to influence the international standards upon which encryption systems rely.
Independent security experts have long suspected that the NSA has been introducing weaknesses into security standards, a fact confirmed for the first time by another secret document. It shows the agency worked covertly to get its own version of a draft security standard issued by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology approved for worldwide use in 2006.
The NSA's codeword for its decryption program, Bullrun, is taken from a major battle of the American civil war. Its British counterpart, Edgehill, is named after the first major engagement of the English civil war, more than 200 years earlier.
A classification guide for NSA employees and contractors on Bullrun outlines in broad terms its goals.
"Project Bullrun deals with NSA's abilities to defeat the encryption used in specific network communication technologies. Bullrun involves multiple sources, all of which are extremely sensitive." The document reveals that the agency has capabilities against widely used online protocols, such as HTTPS, voice-over-IP and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), used to protect online shopping and banking.
Without attention, the 2010 GCHQ document warned, the UK's "Sigint utility will degrade as information flows changes, new applications are developed (and deployed) at pace and widespread encryption becomes more commonplace." Documents show that Edgehill's initial aim was to decode the encrypted traffic certified by three major (unnamed) internet companies and 30 types of Virtual Private Network (VPN) – used by businesses to provide secure remote access to their systems. By 2015, GCHQ hoped to have cracked the codes used by 15 major internet companies, and 300 VPNs.
Another program, codenamed Cheesy Name, was aimed at singling out encryption keys, known as 'certificates', that might be vulnerable to being cracked by GCHQ supercomputers.

2013-09-03 Louisa Loveluck. Egypt's Islamist crackdown intensifies

Egypt's army-backed government intensified its crackdown on the Islamist opposition, sentencing 52 Muslim Brotherhood members to prison and banning TV channels with perceived Islamist sympathies.
It also mounted a rocket attack on suspected militants on the Sinai peninsula, two months after a military takeover that deposed Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president.
Court officials said one Brotherhood member was handed down a life sentence, 48 were given jail terms ranging from five to 10 years, and three to 15 years in prison for their role in attacks on soldiers in Suez on August 14, which saw some of the fiercest clashes in recent memory. Twelve defendants were acquitted.
The clampdown since the installation of the military-backed government has targeted a wide range of Islamist leaders, supporters and media channels.
Separately, Cairo administrative court ruled that al-Jazeera television's local station Mubasher Misr, one of the last remaining television channels with perceived Islamist sympathies, should be taken off-air.
The Egyptian arm of Qatar’s media empire has faced hostility since the change of government. Its offices have been repeatedly raided, with dozens of staff detained. Two remain in custody.

2013-09-01 Egypt to try ex-President Morsi for inciting murder

Egypt's state prosecutor says he has referred ousted President Mohammed Morsi for trial on charges of inciting the murder of protesters.
The accusations relate to violence outside the presidential palace in Cairo last December when at least seven people were killed in clashes.
Fourteen other members of the Muslim Brotherhood are to stand trial on the same charges.
Mr Morsi has been held at a secret location since he was deposed in July.
He faces a number of charges but this case is his first referral to trial.
Since he was ousted from power, the military-backed interim government has cracked down on Brotherhood supporters, who are demanding Mr Morsi's reinstatement.
Last month, hundreds of protesters died when security forces stormed pro-Morsi camps in the capital.
The case relates to clashes outside the presidential palace in early December 2012.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators had rallied outside the building on the night of 4 December and the following day in protest at what they described as Mr Morsi's illegal decrees giving him sweeping powers and also his drive to change the country's constitution.
On Sunday, state media said an investigation revealed that Mr Morsi had asked the Republican Guard and the minister in charge of police to break up the protesters' sit-in, but they had refused to obey the order.
Mr Morsi's aides are then alleged to have called their supporters to deal with the demonstrators.
The ousted president has previously been accused of the "premeditated murder of some prisoners, officers and soldiers" when he and several Muslim Brotherhood leaders were freed during a breakout at a Cairo prison in January 2011.
He is also alleged to have plotted attacks on jails in the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak and of conspiring with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

2013-08-31 Patrick Kingsley. Egypt's Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie 'suffers heart attack' in jail

The spiritual leader of Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has suffered a non-fatal heart attack in jail, the country's state newspaper has reported.
Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's 70-year-old Murshid − or supreme guide − is one of hundreds of senior Brotherhood officials currently detained in a brutal state crackdown on the organisation that began on 3 July, the day Morsi was ousted as Egyptian president.
State broadsheet al-Ahram reported on Saturday that Badie had suffered a cardiac arrest while in prison, but that he has since recovered. State news agency MENA denied a report that Badie had died, while Brotherhood spokesmen did not respond to immediate requests about his health.
Sherief Abuel Magd, a longtime Muslim Brotherhood member and a friend of Badie's, said he could not confirm the report. But he claimed that any injury to the group's leader would not impede the Brotherhood's long-term future.

2013-08-29 Egypt arrests Muslim Brotherhood leader Beltagi

Mr Beltagi, secretary-general of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), is accused of inciting violence, state media said.
Former labour minister Khaled al-Azhari was also held.
It comes as Egypt's military moves against Brotherhood leaders following the ousting of former President Mohammed Morsi.
Prosecutors had ordered the arrest of Mr Beltagi on 10 July.
Despite the arrest order, he had appeared on an almost daily basis at the Rabaa al-Adawiyah protest camp in Cairo, which was occupied by supporters of Mr Morsi. The former MP was often seen delivering fiery speeches on the stage.


“It’s very clear to everybody now that there is a conspiracy against Egypt. Why aren’t we taking measures against these people?”
It was Saturday night in Cairo, and dozens of reporters had filed into the Presidential Palace to see Mostafa Hegazy, an advisor to the cabinet, deliver the first major press conference from the interim government since an outbreak of violence that had taken nearly nine hundred lives in the previous three days. The military-backed government, which seized power from the elected President, Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, in July, had cleared out a pair of Brotherhood-backed sit-ins in Cairo by force, using bulldozers and firearms. The carnage had been horrifying.
But when it came time for local reporters to ask questions, many of them seemed enthralled by the government’s version of events. One wondered why the government wasn’t taking action against opposition figures who met with officials at the American embassy. (It was this reporter who mentioned a “conspiracy.”) Another asked why the ambassador to Qatar, which supported the Brotherhood and funded its government—or, as the reporter put it, “has been instigating violence in Egypt”—hadn’t been recalled. Another criticized Western media reports that the Egyptian government had backed out of a possible deal with the Brotherhood. “How are you going to deal with that?” he asked.
As Egypt circles back toward the authoritarian tendencies of its past, the criticism of the international media is not surprising, but the role that the local press has played as an abettor in this is the more dispiriting phenomenon. In the final years of the Hosni Mubarak era, private television networks and newspapers had opened the door to critical coverage of the regime; their encouragement and reporting helped pave the way for the revolution. There was hope that with a toppled regime might also come a truly independent press, one of the few institutions that could steer the country as it tumbled through a tumultuous post-revolutionary era. But now, when the official state-run television channel puts a banner reading “Egypt Fighting Terrorism” in the corner of its screen (referring, of course, to the Brotherhood), the private networks do so as well. Over the weekend, the privately owned OnTV treated viewers to a highlight reel of the police clearing the Brotherhood sit-in, set gloriously to the soundtrack of “Rocky.”

2013-08-20 Liz Sly, Mary Beth Sheridan. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood appears at risk of falling apart

The world’s most influential Islamist movement is in danger of collapse in the land of its birth — its leaders imprisoned, its supporters slain and its activists branded as terrorists in what many are describinmuslimg as the worst crisis to confront Egypt’s 85-year-old Muslim Brotherhood.
In the week since Egypt’s new military-backed rulers ordered a brutal crackdown on camps filled with protesters calling for the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, the group that used its organizational muscle to win the country’s first democratic elections, held in late 2011 and early 2012, has been cast into disarray.
Analysts worry that its members, bitter and angry after the deaths of more than 1,000 of their supporters in the past week, could abandon the Brotherhood’s decades-long commitment to nonviolence, particularly as its leadership loses its grip on them. Some pro-Morsi demonstrators have been spotted with weapons, and attacks against security forces in the volatile Sinai Peninsula have intensified since Morsi was deposed July 3.
Meanwhile, the movement is battling a level of popular hostility perhaps unprecedented in its history. The Brotherhood’s strategy of confronting the government with sit-ins and marches in recent weeks seems to have only inflamed public opinion.
Badie was interrogated and remanded into pretrial detention Tuesday on a variety of charges, including inciting the killing of protesters outside the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters in June. He is also accused of possessing arms, running an illegal gang and assaulting the military. He is scheduled to go on trial with two other Brotherhood leaders this month.
The detention of the Islamist movement’s spiritual leader, whose image was broadcast repeatedly on television after his overnight arrest, seemed to complete the humiliation of the Brotherhood’s leadership. The mass arrests and deaths of its officials have left the group splintered and unable to take coordinated action, analysts say.
The fragmentation could have far-reaching consequences, for instance, if the government eventually wants to negotiate with the group. Houdaiby said the government, by trying to destroy the Brotherhood’s leadership, may no longer have a negotiating partner that can keep the group’s followers in line. He said the Brotherhood is already losing control over them.
“It will lose a great part of its members to violent movements,” Houdaiby said.
Campaign against the group
With Egypt becoming increasingly polarized, the Brotherhood’s opponents are cheering signs of the group’s possible demise. Newspapers and television stations have been waging a sustained campaign against the group, labeling the Brotherhood as terrorists and predicting its collapse. On Tuesday, the headline in the liberal Tahrir newspaper, named for the revolution that unfolded two years ago in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, trumpeted: “The End of the Brotherhood.”

2013-08-20 MICHAEL WILNER. White House: US has not cut aid to Egypt

Reports that the United States has quietly suspended the delivery of military assistance to Egypt are false, the State Department said on Tuesday, as Washington continued to debate the merits of continuing aid after last week's violent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators by the Egyptian military.
"We have not made a policy decision to suspend all of our aid to Egypt, period," said State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf on Tuesday. "Any reports to the contrary are simply false."

2013-08-20 SUZAN FRASER. Turkey: Israel behind Egyptian leader's ouster

Turkey's prime minister on Tuesday accused Israel of being behind the ouster of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, offering as the only evidence for his claim a statement by a Jewish French intellectual during a meeting with an Israeli official.
In the nationally televised speech, Recep Tayyip Erdogan also took a swipe at Muslim nations, accusing them of betraying Egypt by supporting the country's military-backed new leaders.
The evidence Erdogan gave for the alleged Israeli involvement was a meeting in France before elections in Egypt in 2011 between an Israeli justice minister and an unnamed intellectual whom he quoted as saying the Muslim Brotherhood would not be in power even if it wins elections.
"What is said about Egypt? That democracy is not the ballot box. Who is behind this? Israel is. We have the evidence in our hands," Erdogan said in a televised address to officials from his Islamic-rooted, ruling party. "That's exactly what happened."
An aide later told The Associated Press that the evidence Erdogan was referring to was a video "available on the Internet" of a press conference by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Levy.
The official said that as far as he knew, that was the only evidence of the claim. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with government rules that bar him from speaking to reporters without prior authorization.

2013-08-20 TOM PERRY, SHADIA NASRALLA. Egypt arrests Muslim Brotherhood’s leader

Egypt’s army-backed government detained the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader on Tuesday after a bloody crackdown on his supporters, underscoring its intention to crush the movement that had propelled the country’s first freely elected president to power.
Egypt is enduring its bloodiest week of internal strife since the monarchy was overthrown in 1952, with about 900 people killed, including 100 police and soldiers, after the authorities broke up Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo last Wednesday.
A spokesman for a pro-Brotherhood alliance said the death toll among supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, deposed by the military on July 3, was at about 1,400.
The turmoil has alarmed the United States and the European Union, but Israel and some Gulf Arab states led by Saudi Arabia have urged the West not to punish Cairo’s new rulers.
Mohamed Badie, 70, the Brotherhood’s general guide, was taken from an apartment in Nasr City in northeast Cairo, the area where protesters demanding Morsi’s reinstatement had staged a vigil for six weeks before they were violently dispersed.
He was charged in July with incitement to murder during protests before Morsi’s overthrow and is due to stand trial on Aug. 25 together with his two deputies.
After decades as an outlawed movement, the Brotherhood emerged as the best-drilled political force after Hosni Mubarak’s fall in pro-democracy protests in 2011.
Now the state accuses it of al-Qaeda-style militancy and subversion, charges it vehemently denies.
The whereabouts of many other senior Brotherhood politicians are unknown. Those who had been posting frequently on social media have stopped in the last two days. Arrests have extended beyond Cairo, netting provincial leaders of the movement.

2013-08-19 Arabs ready to cover cuts in Egypt foreign aid: Saudi

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Arab and Islamic countries will step in to help Egypt if Western nations cut aid packages to Cairo over its deadly crackdown on Islamist protesters.
"To those who have announced they are cutting their aid to Egypt, or threatening to do that, (we say that) Arab and Muslim nations are rich... and will not hesitate to help Egypt," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in a statement carried by the kingdom's SPA state news agency.
Prince Saud was speaking upon his return from France, where he held talks with President Francois Hollande who has strongly condemned the violence in Egypt.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the North African country since security forces began a clampdown on Muslim Brotherhood protests last week.
US Senator John McCain called on Washington to suspend its $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt's military after it overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on July 3.
King Abdullah was the first leader to send a message of congratulations to caretaker president Adly Mansour, who was appointed shortly after the army deposed Morsi following nationwide protests.
Saudi Arabia later announced an aid package of $5 billion to Egypt. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates followed suit, bringing the pledges made by the three oil-rich Arab states of the Gulf to $12 billion.

2013-08-19 Mary Beth Sheridan, Liz Sly. 25 Egyptian police recruits gunned down by militants in Sinai; Mubarak could be released

More than two dozen off-duty police recruits were slain by gunmen in the restive Sinai peninsula on Monday, Egyptian authorities said, the worst attack in decades in the volatile territory that borders Israel.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry said police recruits were returning from leave to their jobs in the border town of Rafah when the gunmen opened fire in broad daylight. The militants ordered the recruits out of two mini-buses and forced them to lie on the ground before shooting them, officials told the Associated Press.
The police officers were dressed in civilian clothes, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which left 25 dead and two wounded, the wire service said.
Just a day earlier, 36 people who had been detained at demonstrations in support of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president were killed by police officers while they were being transferred to a prison north of Cairo. Egyptian authorities said the prisoners died during an attempted jailbreak.
Also Monday, a lawyer for former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, who was forced from power in the 2011 popular uprising that ultimately led to Morsi’s election, said his client could be released from jail within the next couple of days.
Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for decades, has been charged with corruption and with killing protesters in the 2011 uprising. But a judge on Monday apparently ordered his release in at least one of the cases, the lawyer told Reuters. The Associated Press, quoting unnamed court officials, also said it was possible that the former autocrat would soon be freed.
An increasing number of U.S. lawmakers are calling for a suspension of Washington’s $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt because of the crackdown on Morsi supporters. Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy responded Sunday by saying that foreign pressure would “only lead to more polarization and tension.”

2013-08-18 Bobby Ghosh. Viewpoint: Egypt No Longer Matters

The American political and foreign-policy establishment, as well as the media mainstream, tends to view Egypt through the lens of the 1960s and 70s. Back then, Egypt was the fulcrum of the Arab world, unarguably its most important country. It was the source the region’s most compelling postcolonial political idea: Nasserism. Cairo was the cultural center of the Arab peoples, the source of great cinema, TV, music, art, literature. It had a vibrant media scene.
Although it lacked the natural resources of a Saudi Arabia or an Iraq, Egypt had, relative to those countries, an abundance of intellectual capital: It was the center for learning, with the region’s best universities, both secular and religious. Its labor force was coveted by the newly wealthy Gulf states.
All that and, crucially from the U.S. point of view, Egypt was a threat to Israel.
Egypt today is none of those things, and for two reasons: The Middle East has changed, and Egypt has not.
Cairo is no longer the region’s cultural heart: Egypt doesn’t produce great art, music or literature. Arab TV audiences are much more likely now to be watching Turkish soap operas, Lebanese music videos and Qatari satellite news channels. Egyptian universities are now laughably bad, and the Gulf states prefer Indian, Pakistani and Filipino labor to Egyptian. Egypt’s media scene is a regional joke.
After decades of mismanagement by corrupt generals and bureaucrats, Egypt is an economic basket-case. It has few valuable resources to sell the world, and its mostly impoverished people don’t have the money to buy anything from the world, either. Even the Chinese, who aren’t deterred by political instability or violence, aren’t exactly queuing up to invest in Egypt.
While Egypt has weakened over the past four decades, several other regional players have grown stronger and more ambitious. Some of these — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Turkey — are American allies (much of the time, anyway) which means Egypt’s utility to the US as an interlocutor to the Arab world is greatly diminished. Washington might have valued Egypt’s support for its efforts in Syria, but an Egypt run by brute generals presiding over the slaughter of their own civilians is hardly a credible partner in dealing with Bashar al-Assad.
As for that other crucial American concern, Egypt is no longer a serious threat to Israel: The balance of military power is entirely lopsided in Israel’s favor. It was remarkable how quickly Mohamed Morsi, when he was elected president last year, moved to reassure everyone that he would adhere to the peace treaty between the two countries. All the main constituencies in Egypt (Islamists, liberals and the military) know that if they went to war with Israel, their country would be reduced to rubble.
Nor is there a great risk that Egypt may endanger Israel by arming — or allowing others to arm — Hamas in Gaza. For one thing, most Egyptians (the Islamists included) fear and distrust the Palestinian militants. For another, Israel has demonstrated repeatedly that it is perfectly capable of choking off Hamas’ supply lines.
Can Egypt reclaim its old place as the fulcrum of the Arab wold? An opportunity arose two years ago. The Arab Spring was an import from Tunisia, but it once again made Egypt a laboratory of a new, powerful political idea: post-totalitarian democracy. Egypt’s size meant its democratic experiment would be watched more closely than, say, Libya’s. Alas, as we’ve seen this summer, that experiment has failed. Rather that show the way forward, Egypt is in full retreat. It now falls to Tunisia and Libya to show that the Arab Spring wasn’t simply a replay of the Prague Spring.
As for Egypt, it seems now that its main relevance in regional and global affairs is as a potential source of trouble. Its combination of instability, corruption and ineptitude makes Egypt fertile soil for radicalism and Islamist militancy.
And Washington should treat it as such. It should stop pretending Egypt is an important player in Arab affairs, and pay more attention to countries that are. It should stop giving giving the generals $1.5 billion a year. That money is better spent on countries where the democratic experiment still has a chance of success. Instead, the U.S. should prepare for the humanitarian crises that will inevitably accompany continued military brutality and economic misery. And it should be alert for the growth of a new Al Qaeda franchise on the Nile.

2013-08-18 Egypt's war of attrition

The clashes in the streets often kick off as protests held by dozens or hundreds of people provoking police or attacking a police station, often with firearms. The army shoots, armed Muslim Brotherhood opponents shoot, resulting in deaths on both sides.
Clashes in many places are in fact wars of attrition, which grant the Muslim Brotherhood three distinct advantages:
Losses among Muslim Brotherhood members cause the people's support of the interim government and the army to decline.
Fatalities bring about increasing international pressure on the interim government and the army, which will force the regime, as the Brotherhood believes, to adhere to their demands.
The clashes increase militants' motivation, as well as Brotherhood supporters' desire for revenge.
International sources, among them the US and Europe, are trying to pressure the Egyptian regime into compromising with the Brotherhood, according to an outline – already devised by the US secretary of state – which offers the Muslim Brotherhood the interim government's commitment to go to election and seek the Brotherhood's advice before any constitutional change, if the Brotherhood stops protests and strikes.
What the American diplomat is ignoring – as is European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton – is that the Muslim Brotherhood are not willing to compromise, and believe they can still reinstate Morsi and then dialogue with the political parties and the army. They will not settle for less than reinstatement at the moment.
This issue has great significance, as it stands in the way of a solution. The Muslim Brotherhood is motivated, armed and vastly supported by the people. Millions are singing praises of the General Guide Badie, who lost – as did other leaders of the movement – family members, which makes them further entrenched in their stance.
Interior Minister Ibrahim and Defense Minister al-Sisi, who both run the battle against the Muslim Brotherhood, have also made some bad mistakes. International pressure makes them want to conclude the violent clashes as soon as possible.
They understand that every death decreases their support and increases international pressure, to which Egypt is extremely sensitive. They do not have any sophisticated or varied equipment to disperse the crowds other than teargas, which is why they fire. Not because police officers are in danger, but in order to wrap up quickly.
At the root of this tactic lies the assumption that an intense and short bloodbath is better than a war of attrition with the Muslim Brotherhood. A ruthless consideration, the success of which is doubtful seeing as losses on both sides just make everyone more combative and make circumstances increasingly similar to Syria's. Fatalities lead to more fatalities and more fighting.
Whoever is fighting in the streets of Egypt at the moment is not only the Muslim Brotherhood against the police and the army, but also Brotherhood opponents, who were the ones who began the process that led to Morsi's ouster, including several criminal sources who have taken advantage of the situation. Weapons have been coming in from Libya, and everyone is shooting at everyone. The number of deaths is reflective of the anarchy.
We too, of course, are part of this. The Tamarod movement, which was the driving force behind Morsi's ouster, suggested to the interim government and the army that they refuse American aid and cancel the peace accords with Israel. That is propaganda, which was allegedly meant to thwart US pressure on al-Sisi, with the help of Egyptian countermeasures.
The movement, much like many Egyptians, knows that the US needs the Egyptian army to allow it to transfer forces quickly through its airspace and via the Suez Canal. They also know that the peace accord is dear to Washington, and as far as they can see, the potential of its cancelation threatens Obama.

2013-08-18 MATT BRADLEY, JAY SOLOMON. Egypt, U.S. on Collision Course

Egypt's military-led government said it was "reviewing" its strategic relationships with the U.S. and other Western governments critical of its crackdown on Islamists, deepening the divide between the Obama administration and Cairo.
Amid expectations of more violence in coming days, the death toll rose on Sunday as dozens of Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed in Cairo in what the government described as a prison-break attempt. The Islamist movement's leaders called for continued defiance against Egypt's generals, despite signs that their supporters were becoming limited in their ability to take to the streets.
The weekend developments were the latest signs of the constrained ability of the administration of President Barack Obama to influence events in Egypt. The White House, while deciding Friday to postpone joint-military exercises with Egypt, has indicated it plans to continue sending $1.5 billion in military and economic aid to Egypt as a means to try to guide events there.
But the announcement by Egypt's foreign minister of the review of its ties to the U.S., and growing opposition on Capitol Hill to the aid, might make this impossible.
"The attempts to internationalize the discussions about this event is something that Egypt rejects," Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said Sunday. "I ask the foreign ministry to review the foreign aid of the past and to see if those aids are used in an optimal way."
The comments from Mr. Fahmy hewed to a theme that has dominated Egypt's airwaves and newspapers the past two months: disappointment and hostility toward criticism of Egypt's security forces by Western governments. Interim-government officials have also complained of "biased" coverage in Western media.

2013-08-18 Robert Fisk. How some ordinary Egyptians became ‘malicious terrorists’

Disgust, shame, outrage.
All these words apply to the disgrace of Egypt these past six weeks. A military coup, millions of enraged supporters of the democratically elected but deposed dictator – reports that indicate well over 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood sympathisers slaughtered by the security police – and what were we told by the authorities yesterday? That Egypt was subject to “a malicious terrorist plot”.
The language speaks for itself. Not just a common or garden “terrorist” plot – but a “terrorist” plot so terrible that it is “malicious”. Naturally, the government acquired this use of the “terrorist” word from Bush and Blair, another Western contribution to Arab culture. But it goes further. The country, we are now informed, is at the mercy of “extremist forces who want to create war”. You would think, on hearing this, that most of the dead these past six weeks were soldiers and policemen, whereas in fact most were unarmed demonstrators.
And who is to blame? Obama, of course, for “encouraging terrorism” by his wimpish complaints last week – so claim the Egyptian authorities. And our old friend, the “foreign media”. It is the infidel channels – including al-Jazeera – which has been feeding hatred into the land of the Pharaohs, according to the Egyptian press (which is now almost as wimpish as Obama in its fealty to its new rulers).
To be fair, let me just recount one little, heartening moment amid Saturday’s mosque drama. Two Egyptian men walked up to me and said, quite simply, that “it is very unfair to keep these people in the mosque without water and food. They are human beings just like us.” The men were not Morsi supporters, but didn’t seem too keen on the police. They were just good, decent, humane Egyptians, the kind we all hope are in the real majority.
But this leads me to remember a typically Obama-like piece of lying last week. It came when the US president decided to take a break from his golfing holiday to comment on the violence in Egypt. He described Morsi’s opponents – now represented by a general, Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, who is also the defence minister and the deputy prime minister – as “many Egyptians, millions of Egyptians, perhaps even a majority of Egyptians”. And there you had it – Obama had credited the coup with a majority following.
King Abdullah himself has promised billions of dollars for poor old Egypt, now that Qatari generosity has dried up. But Egyptians should beware Saudis bearing gifts. The House of Saud is not really interested in helping foreign armies – unless they are coming to save Saudi Arabia – but it is very much involved in supporting the Salafists of the Egyptian Noor party. It is the Noor religious fundamentalists who won an extraordinary 24 per cent in the last parliamentary election – and who ruthlessly decided to ally themselves with General al-Sisi when Morsi was dethroned. The conservative Salafists are much more to Saudi taste than potentially liberal members of the Brotherhood. It is for them that the King is opening his purse. And if by some mischance, the Salafists can drum up a majority from disenchanted members of the Brotherhood in the next election, then the Caliphate of Egypt is a step nearer.

2013-08-17 Liz Sly, Abigail Hauslohner. Security forces attack Cairo mosque, trade gunfire with anti-government protesters

Intense gunfire erupted in central Cairo on Saturday when security forces attempted to storm a mosque in which hundreds of anti- government protesters had taken refuge, a day after widespread bloodshed killed at least 173 people nationwide and seemed to accelerate Egypt’s slide into civil conflict.
Footage broadcast on state television showed troops in armored vehicles and exchanging fire with gunmen in the minaret of the mosque, where many of those wounded in the violence on Friday were being treated, along with people who had fled the gunfire the day before.
The footage also showed police taking away people who had apparently been inside the mosque, some of them bleeding. A large crowd of local residents who were clearly hostile to the protesters had joined the troops besieging the mosque, underscoring the danger that Egypt’s divide could draw civilians into the conflict.
The previous day, armed vigilantes known as Popular Committees joined police and army troops in seeking to quell demonstrations by the Muslim Brotherhood protesting a brutal crackdown on the movement’s two protest camps set up to call for the reinstatement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.
Egypt’s government on Saturday put the death toll at 173, including 57 members of the police, and said it was considering measures to outlaw the Brotherhood. Government spokesman Sherif Shawky blamed the Brotherhood for the violence, calling the demonstrations “the furthest thing possible from peaceful.”
“Eighty percent of nationwide deaths were caused by the Brotherhood using weapons to attack citizens and police,” he added. “The police used the highest levels of self restraint.”
The Brotherhood has, however, accused the security forces of opening fire on unarmed demonstrators, as a day billed by the group as a Day of Rage turned into a frightening glimpse of what may lie ahead for the deeply polarized country.
Throughout much of Friday, gunfire crackled throughout the capital, armored vehicles careened through the streets, civilians carrying pistols and machetes set up checkpoints and smoke billowed skyward.
Adding to concerns about a spiral into chaos was the absence of calls for restraint or calm from any of the parties to the conflict. Both the Brotherhood and the military-backed government seemed to be digging in for a long fight, with little sign that either was prepared to compromise.
The Muslim Brotherhood claimed that 213 people were killed on a day that brought the violence to the heart of the capital and drew in for the first time government-approved Popular Committees, whose members set up checkpoints carrying sticks, machetes and, in some instances, guns.
The number of dead appeared to be lower than the more than 600 people killed in Egypt on Wednesday. But the Brotherhood put the toll at more than 100 in central Cairo alone, after security forces used live ammunition to suppress demonstrators who had gathered at Ramses Square in what the group called “glorious heroic scenes.”

2013-08-17 Official says Egypt in war against terrorism

Egypt is waging a war against the forces of terrorism and extremism, an Egyptian presidential adviser has said amid turmoil in the country that has claimed hundreds of lives.
"We are facing a war launched by extremist forces escalating every day to a terrorist war," Mostafa Hegazy told a news conference on Saturday.
“Forces of extremism intend to cripple our journey towards pure bright future, aiming and willing to bring to the whole state into total failure."
Hegazy said the crisis would be handled by "security measures within the framework of law".
Hegazy ciriticised the international media for its coverage of the unrest, including attacks on police stations and churches. “Many of these stories are missing [on the international media],” he said.
Hegazy also said that Egyptian people took to the streets on June 30 against "theological and religious fascism", referring to rallies that led to Morsi's removal in the coup in early July.

2013-08-17 ROSS DOUTHAT. Let Our Client Go

IN a simpler, more reasonable world, the government of the United States would have enough leverage in Cairo to put an end to the Egyptian military’s brutal crackdown on its Muslim Brotherhood opponents. We are, after all, the longstanding patron of Egypt’s generals; they are among our best-financed clients. We are the world’s sole superpower; their country is a needy basket case. We’re supplying them with $1.5 billion in aid this year; they can certainly use the money.
Instead, our impotence as Egypt burns is the latest case study in a reality that American statesmen should always keep in mind: Client governments are never as tractable as their patrons in far-off capitals expect, and a great power that thinks it’s buying influence is often buying its way into trouble instead.
This trouble can take a variety of forms. The most destructive is the longstanding tendency of client states to pull their patrons into needless wars. Sometimes the patron’s promise of support persuades the client to act recklessly, and then the patron ends up backing the recklessness because its own credibility is at stake. Sometimes the patron-client relationship just creates a closed circle of bellicose misjudgment. And sometimes the relationship inspires the patron to overestimate its client’s strategic importance and engage in an unwise or futile intervention.
Now, though, the calculus has to change. Egypt is rolling back into authoritarianism along a track that’s soaked in blood. The cycle of crackdown-radicalization, crackdown-radicalization is likely to get worse, the cost of being intimately tied to the military regime is getting higher, and the window for demonstrating that America’s favor really is conditional is closing fast.
Right now, the Obama administration is trapped by its client state the way that great-power patrons often are. Because our aid to Egypt is our most obvious leverage over its military, and because we can really only pull that lever once, Washington is afraid to follow through and do it.
But leverage can be lost through inaction as well. If we can’t cut the Egyptian military off amid this blood bath, we’re basically proving that we never, ever will.
Far better to act like the superpower we are, and make an end. It’s time, and past time, to let this client go.

2013-08-17 Saudi King Abdullah declares support for Egypt against terrorism

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz announced on Friday that the kingdom supports Egypt in its fight “against terrorism.”
King Abdullah said Egypt’s stability is being targeted by “haters,” warning that anyone interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs is "igniting sedition." King Abdullah added that Egypt is able to cross to safety.
The Egyptian presidency hailed King Abdullah’s support, saying Egypt will “never” forget his “historic stance.”
Both Jordan and the UAE also praised King Abdullah’s support for the Egyptian government.

2013-08-16 Qatar says it gives aid to Egypt, not Muslim Brotherhood

Qatar's foreign minister said Monday his country had never given aid to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and that all assistance went to Egypt as a whole.
"As far as Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, there are some wrong impressions about the aid Qatar is providing," said Foreign Minister Khalid ben Mohammad al-Attiya, whose country is perceived as a backer of the embattled Islamist group.
"Qatar has never given aid to an Egyptian group or an Egyptian political party. The aid has always been provided to Egypt."

2013-08-15 Egypt says 278 killed in nationwide violence

Egypt’s Health Ministry said on Wednesday that 278 people, including 43 security forces were killed in nationwide violence that began when police moved in early in the morning to break up protest camps that were set up by supporters of ousted President Mohammad Mursi.
The ministry said at least 30 were killed in Menoufia, 15 in Ismailia, a dozens in Alexandria. It said more than 1,400 people were injured countrywide.
Egyptian security officials told AFP calm had returned to the country Wednesday night after a day of deadly clashes. After the declaration of a curfew “all areas of the country are now calm,” one of the officials said.
Security forces succeeded in taking full control over the squares of Ennahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya by the evening.
Hundreds of Mursi loyalists left the main vigil of Rabaa al-Adawiya after the security forces gave them a safe passage.
Earlier on Wednesday, an AFP correspondent counted 43 bodies at a makeshift morgue at Rabaa al-Adawiya, adding that many appeared to have died from gunshot wounds. There were no women or children among the dead, the correspondent said.

2013-08-14 Dan Murphy. As military makes its move, forget about liberal democracy in Egypt

Overnight and into today, the Egyptian military did what it has been threatening to do for more than a month: Surround and violently disburse the main Muslim Brotherhood protest camp at Rabaa in Cairo, leaving scores dead, and touching off all-too-predictable reprisals against government interests and Christians across the country.
Judging by the historical behavior of the Egyptian military's top brass, they won't be too upset by the reaction of Brotherhood supporters and may well be delighted by it. From the moment it toppled elected President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, the military has spun a narrative that paints opposition to their actions as terrorism, directed by foreigners interested in destroying the Egyptian state. Who is the hero of moment, the only one who can "save" Egypt?
The military.
And the military today declared a month-long state of emergency, as well as a daily curfew, that gives them nearly unfettered powers of arrest and a free hand to use violence as they see fit, much like the 30-year state of emergency they used after Anwar Sadat was assassinated to bolster the reign of Hosni Mubarak. Mr. Mubarak was abandoned by his military allies after the popular uprising against him in January 2011.

2013-08-14 Egypt declares state of emergency

A state of emergency has been declared across Egypt, as security forces and supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi continue to clash around the country.
The announcement on Wednesday came amid a deadly crackdown by security forces on two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo.
The health ministry said at least 149 people had been killed in clashes around the country, but some members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood said the death toll was much higher.
The state of emergency began at 4pm local time (14:00 GMT) and will last for a month, the presidency said in a statement.
The exceptional measures were taken as "the security and order of the nation face danger due to deliberate sabotage, and attacks on public and private buildings and the loss of life by extremist groups," the presidency said.
Interim president Adly Mansour "has tasked the armed forces, in cooperation with the police, to take all necessary measures to maintain security and order and to protect public and private property and the lives of citizens".
A curfew has also been imposed in Cairo and nine other provinces, starting from 7pm local time (17:00 GMT) until 6am (04:00 GMT).
Live footage from Cairo on Wednesday morning showed smoke engulfing Nahda Square, the smaller of the two sit-ins based in Giza, amid reports of tear gas and birdshots being used on supporters of the deposed president.
By mid-morning, the Interior Ministry said security forces had "total control" over Nahda Square, and that "police forces had managed to remove most of the tents" in the area. Security forces had blocked all access to the protest camp.
In an afternoon press conference, the cabinet media adviser thanked the security forces for "exercising self-control and high-level professionalism in dispersing the sit-ins," and held the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for "escalation and violence".
Protesters have camped in Cairo demanding the reinstatement of Morsi, who was country's first democratically elected president and his Freedom and Justice Party was the largest political group in the now dissolved parliament.
Clashes quickly erupted between protesters and security forces on one side of the camp, with automatic fire reverberating across the square. It was not immediately clear who was shooting.
In response to the security operation, the Muslim Brotherhood urged Egyptians to take to the streets across the country to "stop a massacre".

2013-08-14 MARIA ABI-HABIB, LEILA ELMERGAWI. Egypt Troops in Deadly Crackdown on Protesters

Egypt's efforts to end Muslim Brotherhood protests turned deadly Wednesday morning, with well over 100 people killed across the country in violence set off when police, later backed by Egyptian soldiers, moved in against two antigovernment sit-ins in Cairo.
The move to clear supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi, which had been anticipated since his ouster by the miltary on July 3, set off violent upheaval across Cairo. Protestors tried to storm police stations across Egypt's capital, while entire neighborhoods succumbed to fighting between neighbors on opposite sides of the political divide, an early taste of the bloodshed that has been feared for weeks by many Egyptians. Several observers worried that the violence has spiraled out of control and taken on sectarian shadings.
Egypt's interim president declared a state of emergency for the entire nation, starting Wednesday late afternoon, for an entir month.
Interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei resigned later Wednesday to protest the violent crackdown. Mr. ElBaradei had butted heads with the powerful chief of Egypt's military, Gen. Abdel Fattah al Sisi, over the standoff with Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters, said officials familiar with the matter.
The White House condemned Wednesday's violence and said it opposed the state of emergency. Turkey, branding the day's events a massacre, faulted the international community for encouraging the intervention rather than defending democracy and constitutional legitimacy.
Outside of Cairo, human-rights groups reported several attacks on churches and Coptic Christians, giving the violence a strong sectarian flare. Many Brotherhood supporters blame Egypt's Christian minority for supporting the coup.
Churches were set on fire in the town of Sohag and the village of Delga in Minya, south of Cairo, while other churches in the Abou Helal district of Minya and in the city of Suez were also attacked, according to Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
Marches by pro-Morsi demonstrators in some places were also accompanied by the vandalizing of some shops and businesses belonging to Copts, he said.

2013-08-14 Military crackdown: Egypt's Tiananmen Square

The Rubicon being crossed is clear: before Wednesday, there had been the possibility, however faint, that cooler counsel would prevail in the Egyptian military mind – that, with the release of Muslim Brotherhood leaders arrested on phoney charges, a way could be found to announce a national unity government pending fresh parliamentary and presidential elections. Formidable obstacles remained, not least the undoubted unpopularity of Mr Morsi's rule among a large section of the population and his non-negotiable demand to put the constitutional clock back to the eve of the coup that toppled him. The prospect of an early reconciliation between the two camps has now disappeared.
Spurred on by voices in the liberal and secular camp that the opportunity had finally arrived to deal the Muslim Brotherhood a mortal blow – the running banner on Egypt's private television coverage on the demonstrators was "War on Terrorists" – General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the defence minister and head of the army, took the opposite course. Rejecting any hope of reintegrating Islamists into the political process, he has declared war on Egypt's largest political movement.
The government vowed last night that there would be no cabinet resignations, but with the departure of Mr ElBaradei, the liberal fig leaf has dropped off what has become full military rule. The day before these traumatic events, 19 of 25 provincial governors appointed were generals (17 from the military, two from the police). The idea even then that the military would take orders from a transitional civilian government appointed by them was far-fetched.
The reaction of the international community failed lamentably to match the significance of these events. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, called last night for all sides to take a step back. He stated his strong opposition to emergency law, and repeated that the only solution will be a political one. These are all rhetorical statements, unless and until the US is prepared to cut its $1.3bn aid to Egypt's military. The state department said Wednesday evening that this was still under review. Mr Kerry's assertion that the political route was still open last night appeared to belie the basic facts on the ground – a military intent on crushing all expression of dissent, peaceful or not. International inaction in circumstances of the growing military crackdown in Egypt amounts to acquiescence. The bet the US is taking is that General Sisi will prevail. That is looking like a risky one.

2013-08-14 Noah Feldman. Democracy Is Just a Dream in Egypt

In case you still thought Egypt’s coup was leading to democracy, the violent destruction of Muslim Brotherhood protest camps and the appointment of 19 generals as provincial governors -- occurring more or less simultaneously -- should cure you of that appealing fantasy. When generals come to power, even if they are initially motivated by the ideal of restoring democracy, the attraction of remaining in power for as long as it takes to establish a military order tends to be decisive. When a regime that generals have deposed was democratically elected, as it was in Egypt, the odds of restoration are even more remote.
Western democrats want to love the Egyptian liberals who bravely helped bring down Hosni Mubarak and then misguidedly followed the same playbook to sink the legitimately elected Mohamed Mursi. But the emerging reality poses a puzzle about those Egyptian liberals and their country’s future: Why in the world did thoughtful believers in democracy think that it was a good idea to stage protests that would invite the army to take out Mursi? And what, if anything, can be done now to get democracy back on track in Egypt?
Some supporters of the anti-Mursi protesters claim that the liberals naively hoped that they would see a repeat of what happened after the protests that brought the Mubarak regime to its knees: The military would intervene to take out the president, then move quickly to stage free and open elections. In support of this diagnosis of naivete is the fact that the military didn’t seize power after the coup against Mubarak. Perhaps, then, it was conceivable that the military would act in the public interest once again.
The trouble with this idealistic view is that the army didn’t especially want to hold elections after Mubarak was removed. It was pressured into it by the Muslim Brotherhood, which was -- alongside the army -- the only other well-organized, disciplined and effective national organization. The army and the Muslim Brotherhood both expected that the Islamists would prevail in elections. The army didn’t much like that, but it feared that if it didn’t allow elections in the wake of the Arab Spring, it would lose public support. It therefore gambled on cutting a deal with the Brotherhood.
Once public protests peaked against Mursi and the Brotherhood, however, the army no longer had to worry that suppressing the only force capable of balancing it would be seen as totally unpopular. To put it bluntly: The liberal protesters in the streets gave the army cover to take out the Brotherhood. The protesters should have seen it coming.
A more cynical view is that the liberals knew the army would suppress the Brotherhood -- and wanted it to happen. The Brotherhood could be counted on to like elections as long as it was winning them, but its commitments to liberal rights, as opposed to electoral democracy, were paper-thin. After the drafting of the Islamic-oriented constitution -- which was ratified in a national referendum -- liberals feared that the Egyptian public was willing to take a chance on the Brotherhood. That result frightened liberals, who by then had lost parliamentary and presidential elections. Knowing they couldn’t win at the ballot box, liberals were happy to let the army take care of their electoral nemesis.
Should the liberals run for office, taking advantage of a field cleared of the most popular party in the country? If they do, they’ll have to claim that the coup was all about democracy, and they’ll have to say that it is the Muslim Brotherhood’s own fault that it won’t or can’t run.
If the liberals participate and elect some candidates -- even a president -- they will soon see that the army has no interest in relinquishing meaningful power to them. So long as the Brotherhood still exists -- and it has endured repression for almost a century -- the liberals’ position in power will be completely dependent upon the military’s good offices in excluding the Brotherhood.
In exchange, the military will expect obedience from the elected civilian leadership on the issues it cares about: not just defense and foreign policy, but also domestic policy insofar as it involves preserving the prerogatives of the army and its self-controlled business empire. Oh, and free speech, which will have to be controlled to keep the Islamists from denouncing the government as illegitimate. And free assembly, which will have to be prohibited so the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t organize more protests. Freedom of religion? Forget about it.\
The upshot will be that the liberal rights sought by the protesters won’t exist -- not just for the Brotherhood but also for them. Their principles gone, they will be tarred by the brush of collaboration. And eventually, the Islamists will be back. The next time, though, it won’t be by the ballot.

2013-08-13 Gamal Aboul. The defeat of the liberals in Egypt

Four political ideologies struggled in Egypt in the 1940s, namely ​​nationalism, Islamism, communism, and ​​liberalism. Egypt seemed like a cauldron boiling with ideas and dreams at that time.
In 1952, nationalism won over the other ideologies. Liberals were isolated, and communists and Islamists, largely represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, were imprisoned.
Nationalism prevailed and conquered the minds of the people. It was a suitable ideology for fighting colonialism. After independence, that ideology influenced all state institutions.
But nationalism received a severe blow in 1967 when Egypt was defeated in the war against Israel. And when Sadat visited Jerusalem and signed the peace treaty to bring back occupied Sinai to Egypt, he finished off what had remained of that ideology.
When Mubarak came to power, he decided to not adopt any ideology and simply just managed the country.
In January 2011, national and left-wing ideas moved the young generation with the slogan of “Bread, Freedom, and Social justice,” while liberals remained confused. Some tried to promote themselves as the ideal contrast to authoritarian rule, but it was easy to note from what was published in newspapers and broadcast on television that ​​liberalism became the ideology of he who has no ideology.
Then, in a move resembling the story of Moses’ rod, Islamism swallowed all other ideologies. Sweeping all elections, this ideology proved that all other ideologies were fragile. It proved that the political elite were incapable of outlining a meaningful discourse that could resonate with the people.
The liberals left the battle against the religious mainstream to engage in a side battle against the army, the remnants of the National Democratic Party, and with Omar Suleiman. They thus lost their credibility with the public. They all of a sudden realized that the Muslim Brotherhood was in power, and that they would not be able to remove it through democratic means. And when they tried to challenge in a referendum the discriminatory constitution largely drafted by the Brotherhood, they failed again.
On 30 June, both the Brotherhood and the liberals fell. And as the essence of liberalism is transparent and free competition, the liberals’ recognition of what happened on 3 July was but a declaration of their inability to compete with the religious mainstream without the army’s help.
Despite the fact that the vice president is a liberal, the floods of 30 June and 26 July have swept both liberalism and political Islam away. And it was normal for an alternative idea to fill the vacuum brought about by the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood.
What we will experience for a while is an amalgamation of traditional nationalism, a version of nationalism in which the West is demonized, and a left-wing trend that objects to a free-market economy.

2013-08-08 Abdullah Gul. Egypt must restore its fledgling democracy – and fast

After the January Revolution in 2011, Turkey supported the Egyptian people in their quest for freedom, democracy and honour. I was the first head of state to visit the country after that great change. Since then, Turkey has spared no effort to help consolidate the country’s fledgling democracy, and to make sure that its political system embraces all segments of its people.
Unfortunately, the historic step towards democracy failed in less than two years. The coup that ousted Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was a clear derailment of the country’s progress. Perhaps the deadlock could have been avoided. Maybe this situation could have been averted by calling for early elections. But problems should, in any case, have been corrected through democratic mechanisms.
Our own experience has taught us how important it is to keep those mechanisms functioning and to remain committed to open democratic values. This is not a mantra only for the good times. At moments of peril, it is more important than ever to stick closely to the democratic path.
The Egyptian people have almost been split into two camps, each of which is rallying dangerously against the other. This situation is worrying and unsustainable. Already, scores of people have lost their lives during demonstrations on streets and squares. What we need now in Egypt is not a people divided against themselves, but a nation rallying around its future. Daunting economic and social problems can only be overcome if Egyptians join their efforts together and do not spend their energy on political division.
Egypt’s future lies in democracy, where the free will of the Egyptian people prevails, constitutional legitimacy is upheld and where rights and freedoms are guaranteed. No other solution will be right for Egypt – and nothing short of it will bring stability. That is why everyone must do their utmost to win a democratic future for the country. Under the current circumstances, it faces a risk of further polarisation.
At this juncture, I believe the following steps are vital to put democracy back on track. First, a quick return to democracy – which was the aim of the revolution – through an inclusive transition process, is of utmost importance. Second, all political groups should be allowed to take part in the forthcoming elections. The exclusion of any political party will undermine the success of the ensuing period. Third, release of Mr Morsi and his fellow politicians would make a tremendous contribution to reconciliation and stability. Fourth, everyone should exercise restraint to avoid further casualties. Further loss of life could make recovery unattainable, even if the leaders in Egypt act with their best intentions to break the deadlock.
Turkey will do what it can to bolster its relations with Egypt, in light of our strong cultural ties – and to help Egyptians keep their country on a democratic path. They deserve a much brighter future. Let us all work to win a bright future for this great nation that is so dear to us.

2013-08-04 Alastair Beach. Mohamed Morsi's allies admit defeat and plot to fly him into exile

Islamist allies of Mohamed Morsi are secretly discussing a face-saving deal in which the toppled President could be released from detention and allowed to officially “resign” his position, according to a source close to crisis talks currently taking place between opposing sides in Cairo.
Options being considered include allowing Mr Morsi – who has not been seen in public since being detained by the military a month ago – to announce his resignation in a televised address and formerly hand his executive powers to interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi. Another possibility is that Mr Morsi could be released and flown into exile, according to the source. “We’re hoping to find a dignified exit for him,” he added.
The news comes as Egypt’s most senior security body warned that negotiations to solve the current crisis were not open-ended. The National Defence Council, a group which includes interim President Adly Mansour and army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, also said that a political settlement would not protect “law-breakers” from retribution – a thinly veiled threat to Islamists who have been accused by their opponents of inciting violence.
Over the weekend Gen al-Sisi used a newspaper interview to criticise both America and the EU for “turning their back” on Egyptians over the past month. “We really wonder,” he told The Washington Post, “[whether] the values of freedom and democracy [are] exclusively exercised in your countries, but other countries do not have the right to exercise the same values.”
His remarks were in response to a perception among many liberal Egyptians that the West does not comprehend the level of popular support which lay behind last month’s military coup. In a further escalation of tension, Egypt’s state news agency announced today that two senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood – Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and his deputy Khairat al-Shater – would face trial later this month.
The development will anger Brotherhood negotiators who are seeking the release of detained Islamists as a kick-starter for any eventual settlement. Over the weekend they met with European and US envoys in a bid to hammer out a concessions package to end the standoff. If the negotiations break down, Western governments fear Egypt’s security services will try to clear the thousands of pro-Morsi protesters camped out in Cairo. Any operation would be a potential bloodbath.
Looking over Egypt’s mutually hostile political camps, the divide often appears unbridgeable. Recent allegations of torture inside Muslim Brotherhood encampments – publicised in a Amnesty International report on Friday – have confirmed in the minds of many liberals that Islamists are not fit for power. Photographs of children being paraded in burial shrouds at a pro-Morsi protest have had a similar effect in convincing some Egyptians that the mass protests in eastern Cairo are little more than incubators of “terrorism”.

2013-08-04 MICHAEL R.GORDON. Kerry Said to Pick Former Syria Envoy as Ambassador to Egypt

Secretary of State John Kerry has recommended that Robert S. Ford serve as the next American ambassador to Egypt, American officials said Sunday.
A longtime Middle East hand, Mr. Ford is well known for his role as ambassador to Syria, where he challenged President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown before American diplomats there were pulled out for their own safety.
Most recently, Mr. Ford has served as the top American envoy to the Syrian opposition.
It is a critical time for the American diplomatic mission in Cairo. The Egyptian military and supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the ousted president, have accused Washington of undermining their causes.
Anne W. Patterson, the current American ambassador in Cairo, who has served in Egypt since 2011, was assailed as a defender of the status quo before Mr. Morsi’s ouster by the military.

2013-07-28 ElBaradei condemns 'excessive use of force' against protesters

Egyptian interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei has condemned the "excessive use of force" against supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Egyptian security forces killed scores of Muslim Brotherhood activists and their supporters on Friday night and Saturday morning in the capital Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. They were protesting against this month’s ouster of Morsi in a military coup.
"I strongly condemn the excessive use of force and the deaths, and I am working hard and in every direction to end the confrontation in a peaceful way, God protect Egypt and have mercy on the victims," ElBaradei said on Saturday.

2013-07-28 MATT BRADLEY. Egypt Intensifies Crackdown on Islamists

Egypt's interim civilian government took a step closer to reviving the police state of the country's hated former regime on Sunday, a day after police gunned down at least 74 supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
President Adly Mansour gave Prime Minister Hazem Beblawy the authority to allow soldiers to arrest civilians, reviving sections of an emergency law whose severity helped spark a revolution against former President Hosni Mubarak more than two years ago.
The move comes a day after Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim told reporters he planned to revive the "Directorate for Combatting Extremism and Religious Politics"—a unit within Egypt's secret police that was responsible for decades of oppression against people the government deemed terrorists.
Taken together, both moves point to a re-emergence of the police state that many Egyptians hoped had ended with Mr. Mubarak's departure in February 2011.
The moves follow violence Saturday morning in which at least 74 were killed and more than 700 were injured in the deadliest single government crackdown since Egypt's first revolution. It marked a dangerous escalation in a conflict that has already badly damaged Egypt's emerging democracy and ruptured a society that had once prided itself on its cohesiveness. The violence seemed to further polarize both sides of Egypt's ideological divide, and many appeared to be digging in for a prolonged showdown between supporters of Egypt's ousted president and security forces.
"We are protesting and we will not give up," said Mourad Mohammed Ali, a former spokesman for Mr. Morsi's office and a leader in the Brotherhood. "We will continue fighting to get our freedom."
Egyptian prosecutors on Friday accused Mr. Morsi of conspiring with the Palestinian militant group Hamas to escape jail during Egypt's revolution against then-President Mubarak in early 2011. The prosecutor's investigation could see Mr. Morsi face trial for murder and espionage in the service of a foreign group—a charge that would be akin to treason and could carry a maximum life sentence.
Mr. Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders have said in the past that they broke out of jail with the help of other prisoners, not Hamas operatives.

2013-07-27 ALASTAIR BEACH. Egypt unrest: At least 70 supporters or Mohamed Morsi killed by security services in Cairo

Egypt’s troubled transition reached a new nadir of bloodletting today when at least 70 supporters of toppled President Mohamed Morsi were gunned down during a sustained attack by the security services – three weeks after the army committed a similar massacre in nearly exactly the same spot.
Doctors at the scene said they believed more than 100 people may have been killed. An exact tally has not yet been confirmed, but the massacre ranks as one of the worst single incidents of violence since the fall of Hosni Mubarak two and a half years ago.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which has steadfastly refused to sign up to the ongoing transitional process, said that 70 supporters of the Mr Morsi had been shot dead during the violence.
But a report on Al Jazeera said that as many as 120 people may have been killed, along with about 4,500 injured.

2013-07-27 JAKE MILLER. Kerry: Egypt must "step back from the brink"

Secretary of State John Kerry urged Egypt's leaders to bring their country "back from the brink" after violence in Cairo early Saturday left scores dead and hundreds injured.
"This is a pivotal moment for Egypt," Kerry said in a statement. "Over two years ago, a revolution began. Its final verdict is not yet decided, but it will be forever impacted by what happens right now."
He called for an independent inquiry into the outburst of violence and urged Egypt's interim leaders to respect the rights of peaceful protesters. He also repeated his call for the interim government, which was installed after the military deposed former President Mohammed Morsi in early July, to hold new elections "as soon as possible"
The Egyptian Interior Ministry initially said 20 people were killed after police tried to disperse a group of pro-Morsi demonstrators who were blocking a bridge. The Health Ministry later said at least 72 people had died in the clashes, CBS News' Clarissa Ward reports. The Muslim Brotherhood had said at least 129 people were killed.

2013-07-26 Abigail Hauslohner, Sharaf al-Hourani. Egyptian prosecutors charge Morsi with espionage, conspiracy

Egyptian authorities on Friday took their first formal legal steps against Mohamed Morsi since he was deposed as president earlier this month, ordering his detention, charging him with espionage and conspiracy and investigating him on other counts, as massive crowds of rival demonstrators took to the streets to support or protest his ouster.
Judicial authorities charged president Morsi with spying for the militant Islamist organization Hamas and conspiring with the group in a 2011 prison break that freed him and other Muslim Brotherhood members during the Arab Spring uprising against Hosni Mubarak, the state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported Friday.
Prosecutors also opened an investigation into charges that included murder, news agencies reported. Those accusations were also connected to the prison break northwest of Cairo, in which Hamas gunmen allegedly attacked the facility at the behest of Morsi and the Brotherhood, killing 14 guards. The Brotherhood denies the charges, saying local residents carried out the attack to free their relatives.
The chief of Egypt’s armed forces, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, called on Egyptians to take to the streets on Friday to grant the military the “authorization” to face “violence and terrorism.” State and independent media signaled their support for the general’s call; several newspaper front pages urged Egyptians to take to the streets.
Some rights groups and members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has been protesting the popular coup against the country’s first democratically elected leader, interpreted the general’s words as a warning of an imminent crackdown.
Security forces have already rounded up hundreds of Brotherhood members in the past three weeks, including a number of the group’s top officials.

2013-07-26 CARLOTTA GALL, RICK GLADSTONE. Tunisia Links Assassination to Qaeda Cell

The government on Friday blamed a violent Islamist extremist cell linked to Al Qaeda for the killing of a top Tunisian political opposition leader and identified the chief suspect, a France-born jihadist, as the same person who killed an opposition figure in February, saying he used the same automatic pistol in both assassinations.
The assertions, made by Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou, came as outrage simmered over the killing of the opposition leader, Mohamed Brahmi, an outspoken liberal politician, outside his home on Thursday, witnessed by his wife and children. The public prosecutor’s office said an autopsy showed that Mr. Brahmi, 58, had been hit with 14 bullets from a 9-millimeter weapon, six in his upper body and the others in his left leg.

2013-07-26 Gehad el-Haddad. Egypt has been warned of the violence to come – by General Sisi himself

It is not often that the international community gets ample notice and an invitation to stop atrocities before they begin. This is precisely what happened earlier this week in Egypt.
General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, leader of the coup-that's-not-a-coup, gave a speech that has to be read as paving the way for a bloody campaign of repression.
It must be recalled that Sisi's coup has since been revealed in all its glory, a spectacle meticulously choreographed and staged, in production since at least last November.
Since the coup it has emerged that the leaders of the armed forces had been meeting regularly with key opposition figures in the months before; that leading Mubarak-appointees on the constitutional court were involved; that financing and logistical support for the "grassroots" movement against Mohamed Morsi came from the opposition's Naguib Sawiris; that the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia provided aid that promptly materialised upon the ouster of Morsi; that Mohamed ElBaradei, leader of the National Salvation Front, had sought the support of western governments; and that US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel was in contact with Sisi in the days leading up to the coup.
We have also witnessed the miraculous disappearance overnight of fuel and electricity shortages, the equally miraculous return of law enforcement to the streets, and the emergence of key Mubarak regime figures, now representing roughly a third of the interim cabinet.
It has also become clear that the key to the entire affair – the participation of "millions" in anti-Morsi protests – is at best an exaggeration and at worst a piece of cinematic production involving the collaboration of an Egyptian movie director and military aerial photography. In contrast to the 18 days it took the army to step in in 2011, Sisi in this case issued an ultimatum on the first day of protests and followed through with the coup three days later.
The upshot of all of this is that when Sisi calls on all Egyptians to rally "in every public square", and when the general characterises these forthcoming rallies as a "mandate" to fight "violence and terrorism" this has to be seen as paving the way for more military action.
The end game is not very difficult to see. Sisi has already given the world a taste of what he is willing to do when officers opened fire on peaceful protesters during morning prayers. There were at least 50 dead on the spot, possibly as many as a 100 in total.
So when the general invokes the codewords of confronting "violence and terrorism" reasonable people should expect violence. And it is violence that is being marketed primarily to a western audience using familiar catchphrases and explicitly urging Sisi's supporters to "show the world" that the military and the police are "authorised" to do just that.
The people who have rallied to the cause of restoring Egypt's democracy have held a sit-in in Rabaa al-Adawiya, one of Cairo's largest squares, away from Tahrir Square, which was the centre of anti-Morsi rallies. They have largely avoided Tahrir in order to avoid precipitating any confrontation between civilians. They have carefully organised their marches to avoid instigating violence. And they have been consistently the victims, not perpetrators, of violence.
We have heard this kind of rhetoric before. Muammar Gaddafi used it in Libya. Bashar al-Assad used it in Syria. Unlike those two regimes, this general is directing his energies at a western audience. Unlike Assad and Gaddafi, this new dictator cares about visits from the US and the EU, cares about joint military exercises with the American army, and cares about the resumption of exports of F-16s.
Unlike Libya and Syria, in Egypt there is still time to act. But for the Egyptian people, that time is running out.

2013-07-25 BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA, PAUL SCHEMM. Mohammed Brahmi Dead: Tunisian Opposition Leader Assassinated

Gunmen shot dead the leader of a leftist Tunisian opposition party outside his house Thursday morning, in the year's second political assassination in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.
Mohammed Brahmi, 58, of an Arab nationalist political party was in his car outside his home when gunmen fired several shots at him, said Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui.
The two attackers then sped off on a moped, according to a neighbor cited by the state news agency. Local media reported he was shot 11 times.
It is the second killing of an opposition member this year, following that of Chokri Belaid, a member of the same leftist Popular Front coalition as Brahmi. Belaid was also shot dead in his car outside his home in February. His killing provoked a political crisis that nearly derailed Tunisia's political transition.
Tunisia is led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, which dominated October 2011 elections and rules in a coalition with two secular parties.
The opposition has criticized Ennahda for not cracking down on Islamist extremists, and many members of Belaid's party hold the government responsible for his assassination.
The government has blamed Belaid's February assassination on Islamist extremists and said that six suspects are still on the run and their names will soon be revealed.
Belaid's death prompted the resignation of the prime minister and a cabinet reshuffle. The latest assassination comes as Tunisia's drawn out transition may finally be nearing its end.

2013-07-24 Egypt unrest: US delays delivery of F-16 jets

The US says it is delaying the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt amid unrest following the army's overthrow of Mohammed Morsi as president.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said the decision was made "given the current situation in Egypt".
The US is examining whether Mr Morsi's removal was a coup, which would trigger a legal requirement to cut off aid.
Earlier, Egypt's army chief called for protests to give the military a mandate to confront "potential terrorism".
But Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he was not calling for public unrest and he urged national reconciliation.
In response, the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Mr Morsi, said Gen Sisi was "calling for civil war".
The four F-16 jets are part of an already agreed bigger order of 20 planes, eight of which have already been sent to Egypt.
As recently as 11 July US officials suggested the latest four F-16s would still be sent to Egypt.
However, on Wednesday the Pentagon confirmed that the delivery was on hold.

2013-07-24 FARES AKRAM. Gaza’s Economy Suffers From Egyptian Crackdown

For Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic militant group that runs Gaza and has its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Morsi’s ally in Egypt, the upheaval next door means the loss of an important friend and a looming economic crisis if the tunnel restrictions continue.
Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel and is considered a terrorist organization by much of the West, faces increasing physical and political isolation.
New restrictions at the Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to Egypt and the outside world, limit travel to holders of foreign passports and to patients with official medical referrals from the Hamas-run Ministry of Health. Hamas officials are unable to leave Gaza, and given the security situation in Sinai, aid and solidarity missions are not coming in.
More materially, Hamas relies on the taxes it collects from the underground trade. Experts have estimated the group’s annual budget at $900 million. Hamas employs almost 50,000 government workers in Gaza, and two-thirds of the budget is said to be spent on salaries.
Hamas had already been suffering from a sharp drop in financing from Iran in recent months because it did not stand by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, its former patron, in his struggle against rebel forces.
Yasser Othman, Egypt’s representative to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, told a Palestinian newspaper this week that the extraordinary security measures along the border with Gaza were not directed against the Palestinian territory but were to “protect Egypt’s national security.” He added that the measures would end “once the exceptional situation ended.”
But in Egypt, a media campaign is under way against Hamas, as critics of Mr. Morsi associate the group with the violence along the Sinai border. Egyptian military officials have told state news media that scores of Hamas fighters and snipers have been making their way into Egypt to battle the anti-Morsi demonstrators. Newspaper columnists have accused Hamas of interfering in Egypt’s affairs, and liberal television presenters have openly called Hamas “the militant arm of the Muslim Brotherhood,” stoking the anti-Morsi and anti-Hamas sentiment.
Israel eased its blockade on Gaza in 2010 under intense international pressure. The increased flow and variety of goods from Israel freed up the smuggling tunnels for more industrial materials, setting off a building boom in Gaza. Unemployment had dropped from nearly 36 percent to 26 percent over the last three years. Now, Mr. Zeri said, there are worries that it will rise again, adding, “We are on the brink of a crisis in terms of economy.”
Israel restricts the official import of construction materials that it says could be used by Hamas to manufacture rockets or build fortifications. For example, Mr. Zeri said, Israel only allows pipes no larger than one and a half inches in diameter to enter Gaza. To import electronics, he said, Gaza merchants have to explain what they will be used for and attach user guides and catalogs before gaining approval, a process he said takes three months.

2013-07-22 Maram Mazen, Salma El Wardany, Alaa Shahine. Egypt Islamist Calls for U.S. Embassy Siege Amid Unrest

A Muslim Brotherhood leader called on Egyptians to lay siege to the U.S Embassy in Cairo to protest what he said was American support for the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
U.S. diplomats should leave Egypt, Essam El-Erian told Brotherhood supporters today in Cairo’s Nasr City suburb, where they’ve been staging a sit-in since Mursi’s July 3 removal by the army. He said he hoped they wouldn’t be harmed. The U.S., which gives more than $1 billion a year to the Egyptian military, hasn’t labeled its intervention as a coup, though it has called for a quick transition to democracy.
One person was killed and seven were injured today during clashes between Mursi supporters and opponents in Tahrir Square in Cairo, state television reported. Pro-Mursi demonstrators also fought with opponents near the Defense Ministry, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported. More than 100 people were injured in similar clashes last night in the coastal city of Suez, according to Ahram Gate news website.
The daily protests by supporters of the deposed leader threaten to undermine the army-installed government’s plan for a transition back to elected government. That got under way yesterday with the first meeting of a panel charged with amending the constitution drawn up under Mursi and approved in a referendum in December.

2013-07-21 Maggie Fick, Ehab Farouk. Halting Egypt's wheat imports was Mursi's biggest mistake: minister

The biggest mistake deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi made was stopping wheat imports, Egypt's new minister of supplies said, pledging to ensure that supplies of a strategic good like wheat do not reach the critically low levels they did during Mursi's year in office.
Mohamed Abu Shadi, a 62-year-old former police general with a doctorate in economics, said Mursi's government made "incorrect calculations" regarding Egypt's wheat stocks.
The estimates made by former supplies minister Bassem Ouda, who hails from Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, were "based on guesses, not on facts", Abu Shadi told Reuters in an interview.
When asked why Mursi's administration was unable to accurately assess its wheat stocks, a crucial issue for a country where much of the population of 84 million relies on heavily subsidized loaves of bread, Abu Shadi replied: "That was why he left."
Abu Shadi said Egypt's current stocks of wheat were enough to last until November 25 adding that after the arrival of 480,000 metric tons purchased this month, Egypt would have stocks to last until the end of the year.
Abu Shadi said the military-backed interim government would aim to increase total stocks to between 5 million and 6.5 million metric tons by the end of Egypt's current fiscal year next June. He said the government currently had reserves of 3-6 million to 3.7 million metric tons of local wheat and 500,000 of imported wheat.
Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat, but it froze its international purchase for months, from February until the eve of Mursi's overthrow on July 3, hoping for a bigger domestic crop. It was its longest absence from the market in years.
Although it also grows its own wheat, Egypt still needs huge quantities of foreign wheat with higher gluten content to make flour suitable for subsidized bread.
Abu Shadi ordered the purchase of 300,000 metric tons of Romanian, Ukrainian, and Russian wheat on Thursday, his second day in office. It dwarfed a July 2 tender of 180,000 metric tons ordered by his Mursi-era predecessor Ouda.
The 300,000-tonne purchase was the new minister's first step to boost dwindling stocks of imported wheat that Ouda told Reuters on July 11 were only enough to last for two months.
Mursi's ousted government had said it would purchase 4 million to 5 million metric tons of local wheat but had only bought 3.7 million metric tons of home-grown wheat during the harvest which ended last month.

2013-07-19 Patrick Kingsley. UK halts export of arms components to Egypt due to fears over state force

The British government has revoked eight export licences for equipment destined for Egypt in response to reports that security forces have used excessive force in dealing with protests since the fall of ex-president Mohamed Morsi.
The business secretary, Vince Cable, said on Friday the licenses concerned the sale of arms components from UK companies to Egypt's military and police forces.
A Foreign Office official told the Guardian the revocation was linked to reports of military and police malpractice during recent protests. A Guardian investigation published on Thursday reported that the deaths of 51 pro-Morsi supporters on Monday 8 July was the result of a co-ordinated assault by both police and army officials on largely unarmed protesters.
The official said the UK government felt there was now an "increased likelihood" that the weapons parts could be used in the excessive repression of protesters in the near future.

2013-07-18 F.STEPHEN LARRABEE. The Biggest Loser of Cairo's Coup: Turkey

The military coup deposing Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, has sparked an important shift in the regional balance of power in the Middle East. Morsi's ouster deals a strong blow to the Turkey-Qatar-Egypt "pro-change" axis and to Turkey's hopes of playing a larger role in the Middle East.
Turkey is the big loser in the changes in Cairo. Its ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has Islamic roots, has cultivated close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and sought to build a strong strategic relationship with the country.
The Erdogan government has strongly condemned the coup and insisted that Morsi be reinstated through a democratic process. There is little likelihood of this happening, however. Most Arab governments, especially the monarchies in the Gulf, have welcomed the coup, seeing it as a barrier to similar democratic changes in their own countries.
Turkish reaction to Morsi's ouster has been heavily influenced by Turkey's own experience with military rule. The Turkish military has intervened four times since World War II to oust democratically elected governments. As Mustafa Akyol, one of Turkey's most perceptive young journalists, has aptly noted, Turks are interested in Egypt because when they look at what's happening there, they see themselves. Having struggled hard to curtail the power of the military, the AKP is loath to condone an action that could be used to legitimize a similar intervention in Turkey.
The interim government in Cairo's approach to regional security is likely to be marked by important changes. One can expect to see a tougher policy toward Hamas and a strengthening of Egypt's cooperation with Israel.
Egypt's ties with Saudi Arabia are also likely to strengthen. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been quick to try to capitalize on the change in Cairo, offering large aid packages to help the new Egyptian regime deal with its mounting economic problems. They see Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to monarchal legitimacy and seek to preserve the old authoritarian political systems.
Two years ago, Turkey seemed ideally placed to reap the benefits of the changes unleashed by the Arab Spring. With its emphasis on democracy and high economic growth, Turkey was seen by many Arabs as a potential model to be emulated, especially in Egypt. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke confidently about Turkey as an emerging regional power.
Today the situation looks quite different. The Syrian crisis has exposed the limits of Ankara's ability to shape developments in the Middle East on its own. Erdogan's open support for the Syrian opposition is increasingly seen as a strategic mistake that has damaged Turkey's security and exposed it to new risks.
Turkey's principled opposition to the coup in Egypt is politically correct but unlikely to have much effect. Most of the regional actors – and a large part of the Egyptian population – feel that the Muslim Brotherhood's return to power would make things worse and appear willing to give the military-installed interim government a chance. Thus, Ankara is likely to find itself hollering in the wind.

2013-07-17 Egypt’s New Government Doesn’t Include Muslim Brotherhood

Egyptian officials announced a new government on Tuesday that excluded members of the country’s influential Islamist parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and appeared to give an expanded role to the country’s powerful military chief.
The new cabinet, led by one of Egypt’s most prominent economists, replaces the government of President Mohamed Morsi, who was deposed by the military nearly two weeks ago after mass protests against his rule. The formation of the government is part of a military-led transition plan that is supposed to lead to parliamentary elections within six months.
Analysts praised the diversity of the new cabinet, which included three women, and said it was well qualified to tackle Egypt’s escalating crises, including an economy in free-fall. At the same, they said, any government that owed its existence to the army, rather than voters, and excluded Islamists, Egypt’s most successful electoral force, faced immediate questions about its legitimacy.
A spokesman for Egypt’s interim president denied that anyone had been “excluded” and said that positions had been offered to members of the Brotherhood as well as the ultraconservative Nour party.
But Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, which is demanding the reinstatement of Mr. Morsi as president after what it said was a military coup, said the party was never offered any posts.
“The whole thing is illegitimate,” he said.
The army chief, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, who already serves as defense minister, added the title of first deputy to the interim prime minister, although his specific powers remained vague. General Sisi has appeared to serve as the de facto head of government since he ousted Mr. Morsi and appointed an interim president, Adli Mansour.
Several of Mr. Morsi’s cabinet ministers retained their posts, including the interior minister, who presides over a police force widely criticized for its brutality and lack of reform since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

2013-07-15 Maggie Fick, Yasmine Saleh. U.S. envoy spurned by both sides on Egypt visit

The first senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since the army toppled its elected president was snubbed by both Islamists and their opponents on Monday.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns arrived in a divided capital where both sides are furious at the United States, the superpower which supports Egypt with $1.5 billion in annual aid, mostly for the army that deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi two weeks ago.
Crisis in the Arab world's most populous state, which has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the strategic Suez Canal, has alarmed allies in the region and the West. Thousands of supporters of the ousted leader took to the streets on Monday.
Washington, never comfortable with the rise of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, has so far refused to say whether it views Mursi's removal as a coup, which would require it to halt aid.
The State Department said Burns would meet "civil society groups" as well as government officials, but the Islamist Nour Party and the Tamarud anti-Mursi protest movement both said they had turned down invitations to meet Burns.
"First, they need to acknowledge the new system," Tamarud founder Mahmoud Badr said of the Americans. "Secondly, they must apologize for their support for the Muslim Brotherhood's party and terrorism. Then we can think about it," he told Reuters.
Nour, sometime allies of Mursi's Brotherhood who have accepted the army takeover, said they had rejected meeting Burns because of "unjustified" U.S. meddling in Egypt's affairs.
The Brotherhood's political party said it had no meeting planned with Burns. It was not immediately clear whether it was invited. While its opponents accuse Washington of backing Mursi, the Brotherhood suspects U.S. involvement in his removal.
Burns did meet Adli Mansour, a judge installed as interim president by the army, and Hazem el-Beblawi, a liberal economist named interim prime minister. Beblawi is setting up a temporary cabinet staffed mainly by technocrats to lead the country under a "road map" foreseeing elections in about six months.
Mursi is being held incommunicado at an undisclosed location.
He has not been charged with a crime but the authorities say they are investigating him over complaints of inciting violence, spying and wrecking the economy. Scores of Mursi supporters were rounded up after violence last week.
Most of the top Brotherhood leaders have been charged with inciting violence but are still at large with the police not following through on arrest warrants.

2013-07-14 Egypt 'freezes assets' of Muslim Brotherhood leaders

Egypt's public prosecutor has frozen the assets of 14 Islamist leaders, according to judicial sources.
The Muslim Brotherhood head Mohammed Badie and his deputy Khairat al-Shater are reported to be among them.
Mr Badie and other Brotherhood figures are already the subject of arrest warrants, while the ousted President Mohammed Morsi remains in custody.
On Sunday, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi defended the decision to remove him from power.
In a speech, he said he had urged the Islamist president to hold a referendum on his rule days before he was overthrown. "The response was total rejection," he added.
Gen al-Sisi said no group would be barred from politics: "Every political force... must realise that an opportunity is available for everyone in political life and no ideological movement is prevented from participating."
A temporary government is tasked with leading the country under an army-backed "road map" to restore civilian rule.

2013-07-13 Yasmine Saleh, Peter Graff. Mohammed Morsi Accused Of Spying, Inciting Killings Of Protesters, Damaging Economy

Egypt announced a criminal investigation on Saturday against deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, with prosecutors saying they were examining complaints of spying, inciting violence and ruining the economy.
Egypt's first freely elected leader has been held at an undisclosed location since the army removed him from power on July 3, but has not yet been charged with any crime. In recent days Washington has called for him to be freed and for the authorities to stop arresting leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood.
The public prosecutor's office issued a statement saying it had received complaints against Morsi, eight other named Islamist figures including top Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, and others it did not identify.
The complaints are a first step in the criminal process, allowing prosecutors to begin an investigation that can lead to charges. Announcing the step was unusual: typically prosecutors wait until charges are filed before making public statements.
Badie and several other Brotherhood officials already face charges for inciting violence that were announced earlier this week, but most of them have not been arrested.
The prosecutors did not say who had made the complaints. Egyptian law allows them to investigate complaints from police or any member of the public.
Morsi's Brotherhood called on Saturday for more mass demonstrations after a huge march broke up peacefully before dawn, ending a week in which at least 90 people were killed.
Friday's demonstration passed off peacefully, in contrast to deadly violence a week earlier when 35 people were killed in running battles between pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators.
On Monday, 57 people were killed in clashes between the army and Morsi supporters near a Cairo barracks. The army says it was responding to an attack by terrorists; the Brotherhood says its partisans were massacred.
The United States refuses to say whether it considers the army takeover a "coup", which under U.S. law would require it to cut off aid including $1.3 billion a year in military support.
In recent days it has described Morsi's rule as undemocratic because of the vast popular protests against him, but also urged the authorities to release him and stop detaining his followers. Its wavering position has infuriated both sides.
Turmoil since a popular uprising toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 has wrecked Egypt's economy, scaring away tourists and investors, draining hard currency reserves and making it difficult to import food and fuel, which the government distributes at heavily subsidised prices.

2013-07-12 JOSHUA STACHER. True Democrats Don’t Bankroll Juntas

THE military’s coup in Egypt has placed the American political establishment in a bind. Many observers insist that the Obama administration must either formally condone the military takeover or call it a “coup,” which would require a cutoff of American aid, as Senator John McCain has advocated.
But this semantic debate misses the larger point. While a minority of Congressional representatives bicker with the White House, State Department and Pentagon over the definition of a “coup” and what the Obama administration must do to comply with federal law, the Egyptian military has already cleverly satisfied many of the conditions to keep the aid flowing — namely, it has installed a civilian-led government and set a timetable for elections.
This window dressing shouldn’t hide the fact that a coup took place, nor should it stop the United States government from reacting to it as the law prescribes.
If Mr. Obama wants American rhetoric about democracy to be taken seriously in the wake of a military intervention, aid to Egypt’s army has to be on the chopping block, as our laws state. Egyptians are already suspicious of American intentions — and they will be even more skeptical of America’s goals if we fail to respect our own legislative checks on foreign assistance as they try to build their own democracy.
Continuing aid as if nothing happened would reinforce the perception among Egyptians that all America cares about is maintaining good ties with unaccountable generals and that President Obama’s policy has little to do with building democratic institutions and empowering the “masses” as his administration so often claims.
Egypt’s generals do not wish to govern. Their calculation is that so long as they are not visibly running the country, they are safe. And they have learned that it is better to play the role of fire department while letting civilians of different political stripes assume the role of permanent arsonists.
The army has shown that it is happy to wield influence while veiling its power. The generals watched their existing and new privileges formalized in the flawed Constitution that Mr. Morsi pushed through without public debate. All the while, the military’s budget remained an institutional secret away from the glare of public scrutiny. A future Parliament was forbidden to legislate against it. As the problems multiplied and the country teetered, the defense minister feigned political neutrality and ambiguously implied that intervention was an ever-present option.
Having pitted the secular revolutionaries against the Muslim Brotherhood, the generals have successfully divided the coalition that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and they now stand atop the only organization in post-Mubarak Egypt that is able to create political realities on the ground.
By financing the armed forces to the tune of $1.3 billion per year, the United States government sends a bipartisan message that its support lies where it invests its money — much of which actually never reaches Cairo but is channeled back to the American arms industry in states like Ohio, where components for M1A1 Abrams tanks and other military hardware are produced. Thus, cutting American aid would effectively trim the subsidy Washington provides to these domestic industries. Those lawmakers defending aid to Egypt aren’t being realists; they’re protecting their districts, constituents, and the corporations that donate to re-election campaigns.
While the voices of Egyptians and the mobilized masses seem to matter so much when popularly impeaching an elected president or a longtime dictator, the voice of those same masses when it comes to calls for cutting off American aid seem to resonate much less in Washington — affirming many Egyptians’ belief that America has double standards and damaging the United States’ image at a crucial moment in Egypt’s history.

2013-07-12 Maggie Fick, Yasmine Saleh. Islamist protests in Cairo grow, U.S. seeks Mursi release

Tens of thousands of Egyptians packed into squares and marched along streets in Cairo on Friday to protest against the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, and the United States called for the first time for him to be freed.
A large crowd of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters made its way along Ramses Street, close to Tahrir Square, and hundreds were on 6 October Bridge, where some of the worst clashes with anti-Mursi demonstrators took place a week ago.
On Tahrir, thousands more people gathered to attend a celebration of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, organized by groups who had called for Mursi's resignation.
The proximity of the rival factions, only a few hundred meters (yards) apart, raised concerns about more violence.

2013-07-11 Michael Crowley. Obama’s Egypt Policy: The Israel Factor

On Monday the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz reported that Israeli officials have urged President Barack Obama to keep subsidizing Cairo despite the legal prohibition on U.S. aid to governments installed by military coup. That’s no surprise: “Israel has always been a very strong proponent of the assistance program,” says Frank Wisner, a former U.S. ambassador to Cairo. “It is in Israel’s interest that the U.S. maintain a very strong relationship with Egypt.” But understanding why that is goes to the heart of America’s relationship with Egypt–and why Obama is so reluctant to disrupt it.
Israel is the prime reason why Egypt has for nearly 25 years been the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. (The top recipient is–you guessed it–Israel.) American largesse began flowing to Cairo in 1979, after Egypt’s then-president, Anwar Sadat, signed the September 1978 Camp David accords establishing peace between Egypt and Israel.
That aid has actually grown less generous, however. Since 1998, Congress has cut non-military assistance to Egypt from $815 million to $250 million. Meanwhile the $1.3 billion in military funds that Washington grants Cairo has not increased in 30 years; its inflation-adjusted value has dropped by more than half. That still allows Egypt to purchase state of the art equipment, largely consisting of M-1 Abrams tanks and F-16 fighter jets. But thanks to a lack of trained personnel, not to mention peace on its borders, “most of the time these tanks and aircraft are just gathering dust,” says Tarek Radwan of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council. (On Wednesday Reuters reported that the U.S. will allow the delivery to Egypt of four already-purchased F-16s.)
Israel would prefer not to tinker with a formula that has served its interests quite well for a generation–particularly when it has growing threats from Syria and Iran to worry about. Moreover, as Jeffrey Goldberg notes, Pakistan offers a cautionary lesson in what can become of a foreign military’s officer corps when U.S. aid is suddenly withdrawn.

2013-07-09 Maggie Michael. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood rejects transition plan

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday rejected a new timetable announced by the military-backed interim leadership that sets a fast track for amending the Islamist-drafted constitution and holding new parliamentary and presidential elections by early next year.
The quick issuing of the transition plan showed how Egypt's new leadership is shrugging off Islamists' vows to reverse the military's ousting of President Mohammed Morsi and wants to quickly entrench a post-Morsi political system.
Egypt's military also likely aims to show the United States and other Western nations that the country is moving quickly back to an elected civilian leadership. Washington has expressed concern over the removal of Egypt's first freely elected president, and if the U.S. government determines that the army's move qualifies as a coup it would have to cut off more than a $1 billion in aid to Egypt, mostly to the military. The Obama administration has said doing so would not be in U.S. interests.
Egypt's political divide was only further enflamed Monday by one of the worst single incidents of bloodshed in 2 ½ years of turmoil: Security forces killed more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters in clashes at a sit-in by Islamists. The military accused armed Islamists of sparking the fighting, but Morsi supporters said troop opened fire on them without provocation after dawn prayers.
Since then, the military and allied media have depicted the campaign to restore Morsi as increasingly violent and infused with armed extremists. Islamists, in turn, have talked of the military aiming to crush them after what they say was a coup to wreck democracy.
Essam el-Erian, a senior Brotherhood figure and deputy head of its Freedom and Justice Party, rejected the transition timetable, saying it takes the country "back to zero."
Under the timetable issued Monday by interim president Adly Mansour, two appointed panels would be created.
One, made up of judges, would come up with amendments. The other, larger body consisting of representatives of society and political movements would debate the amendments and approve them.
The new constitution would be put to a referendum within 4 ½ months from now.
Elections for a new parliament would be held within two months of that. Once the new parliament convenes, it would have a week to set a date for presidential elections.

2013-07-09 Shashank Bengali, Ingy Hassieb. Egypt names new prime minister after coup: Who is Hazem Beblawi?

Hazem Beblawi, a leading liberal economist, was named Egypt’s caretaker prime minister on Tuesday, ending days of speculation after the first choice for the position was abruptly withdrawn due to opposition from Islamists.
The interim government also announced that Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate and secular opposition leader who was reportedly the initial pick for prime minister, would be vice president of foreign affairs, a new position.
In that post, ElBaradei could serve as a liaison with Western countries concerned about Egypt’s direction since the military ousted the elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup last week. ElBaradei’s name was removed from consideration for the prime minister post after the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party, a key part of the coalition that forced Morsi’s removal, said it would withdraw from the transition process if he were confirmed.
Beblawi, in his 70s, served for several months as finance minister and deputy prime minister in the transitional government that followed the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. He resigned in October in protest over the killings by security forces of two dozen Coptic Christian protesters.
In recent months, Beblawi was sharply critical of Morsi’s economic leadership, particularly a lack of transparency and failure to stem Egypt’s rising budget deficit.
Gehad Haddad, a spokesman for Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, said in an interview with Al Jazeera English that the choice of Beblawi was further evidence of “an anti-revolution enshrined by a military coup.”
The Brotherhood has called for a national uprising in retaliation for the shooting deaths Monday of 51 pro-Islamist demonstrators in east Cairo. Senior leaders on Tuesday rejected a timetable issued by the military-backed interim president, Judge Adly Mahmoud Mansour, that calls for amending the constitution and holding fresh elections within six months.

2013-07-09 Yasmine Saleh, Tom Perry. Egypt showered with Gulf billions in show of support for army

Gulf states showered Cairo with $8 billion in aid on Tuesday, showing their support for the Egyptian army's move to push the Muslim Brotherhood from power, a day after troops killed dozens of the movement's supporters.
Military-backed interim head of state Adli Mansour named a liberal economist as acting prime minister and announced a faster-than-expected timetable for elections in six months.
Mansour's army backers are under pressure to plot a path back to democracy less than a week after they overthrew Egypt's first freely elected president, the Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi.
The country is now more divided than ever in its modern history after 55 people were killed when troops opened fire on Brotherhood supporters in the capital. The movement says the victims were praying in peace; the government blames the Islamists for provoking the violence by attacking the soldiers.
Mansour, a judge installed as acting president when the military removed Mursi, named Hazem el-Beblawi as interim prime minister. He served briefly as finance minister in 2011. Former U.N. diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei, now a liberal party leader, is to be deputy president responsible for foreign affairs.

2013-07-08 Abigail Hauslohner, Michael Birnbaum. Violence in Egypt leaves at least 40 dead, chills negotiations

Renewed violence erupted in Egypt early Monday after gunmen opened fire on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi outside the Republican Guard headquarters where the supporters believe Morsi is being held.
At least 40 people were killed and 300 people were injured, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Health. Mahmoud Zaqzooq, a spokesman for the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood, which organized the protest, said 53 people had been killed, including five children.
The circumstances of the incident were in dispute. Muslim Brotherhood officials said protesters were attacked as they prepared for a peaceful dawn prayer. But a military spokesman said that an armed group from the pro-Morsi camp attacked troops around the Republican Guard headquarters, leading to one soldier’s death, and that the military responded with force afterward.
In a statement issued after the shootings, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood called for an “uprising against those who want to steal their revolution with tanks” and asked the world to prevent a “new Syria.”
The ultra-conservative Salafist Nour party, which was the only Islamist political group to support Morsi’s ouster last week, responded to the violence by saying it was pulling out of already contentious negotiations over who should take over as prime minister of Egypt.
Nour “decided to withdraw immediately from all tracks of negotiations as a first reaction to the Republican Guard massacre,” Nader Bakkar, a spokesman, said on Twitter.
The group’s departure from negotiations was a significant blow to an already fragile political process, whose organizers had sought not to exclude Islamists altogether.
A dispute over the weekend centered on the role that should be played in a new government by Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, former diplomat and liberal politician who is supported by many liberal and secular members of the anti-Morsi movement, but whom ultra-conservative Islamists deeply distrust.
ElBaradei on Monday denounced the violence outside the Guard headquarters, saying on Twitter: “violence begets violence and should be strongly condemned. Independent Investigation a must. Peaceful transition is only way.”
Videos released by the Muslim Brotherhood showed pro-Morsi protesters carrying wounded, bleeding men in civilian clothes from the Republican Guard headquarters area into what appears to be a makeshift field hospital.
Morsi was forced from office last week by Egypt’s all-powerful military, which said it was motivated to act by millions of anti-government demonstrators who had taken to the streets in recent days to demand that Morsi leave.
Since his ouster, however, Morsi supporters have turned out in force, triggering clashes with security forces on Friday.

2013-07-08 Gaza militants infiltrate Sinai

Dozens of members of militant groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood have left the Gaza Strip headed to the Sinai Peninsula to fight the Egyptian army, Ynet has learned.
The militants are taking part in the Muslim Brotherhood's struggle against the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. They had been taken part in battles in El-Arish over the weekend and attacked several Egyptian army posts.


Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood accused the country's military of massacring dozens of its supporters during dawntime prayers in Cairo on Monday, as Egypt's deadliest clashes in years between the army and Islamists pushed the country toward armed conflict.
At least 53 people were killed and more than 400 wounded, Egypt's official media said, in a clash between the military and supporters of Mohammed Morsi, who had gathered near the site where Mr. Morsi has been held under house since he was ousted as president last week.
Egypt's military denied the allegations of a massacre, saying that soldiers defended themselves after they were attacked with guns and Molotov cocktails, and that 42 protesters, plus a soldier, had been killed.
Monday's violence demonstrated the peril of the military's decision to remove Mr. Morsi, the first freely elected president in the history of the Arab world's largest nation. Despite its relative stability, Egypt is flirting with what several analysts have until now seen as a worst-case scenario—the kind of armed conflicts that have roiled other countries in the so-called Arab Spring of uprisings.
Following Monday morning's attacks, Egypt's generals lost the loyalty of the only Islamist group that had supported their coup. The spokesman for the ultraconservative Nour Party, which represents Salafi Islamist politicians, announced on his Facebook page that the group was pulling out of negotiations over a new government in protest over the killings.
"We will not be silent on the massacre at the Republican Guard today," said Nadar al Bakkar. "We wanted to stop the bloodshed, but now the blood is being shed in rivers. We withdraw from all talks with the new government."
The European Union offered its strongest criticism yet of Egypt's new authorities, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton saying in a statement that she "deplores the loss of life this morning at the Republican Guard HQ."
She called on "all sides, but particularly…the interim presidency and those in a position of authority and influence, to reach out to all political forces, and to move rapidly toward reconciliation."

2013-07-08 Ramadan Al Sherbini. Activist criticises father Al Qaradawi over pro-Mursi fatwa

Leading Egyptian activist Abdul Rahman, the son of prominent Sunni cleric Yousuf Al Qaradawi, has criticised his father over issuing a fatwa or a religious edict labelling the army’s overthrow of Islamist president as invalid and urging Egyptians to restore him to power.
“The man [Mursi] promised to produce a constitution based on consensus, but did not keep his promise,” wrote Abdul Rahman in an article published in the independent newspaper Al Youm Al Saba Monday. “He promised to set up a national unity government, but did not keep his promise and to be president of all Egyptians, and did not fulfill the promise.”
The military unseated Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last week, one year after taking office, after millions of Egyptians took to the streets demanding he resign and call early presidential elections.
Abdul Rahman, a critic of the Muslim Brotherhood to which his father belongs, accused the former Islamist president of acting to promote his group’s interests — echoing a charge frequently hurled by the secular opposition against Mursi.
“He was no more than a democratic facade of new autocracy,” said Abdul Rahman, referring to Mursi, who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
Al Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born TV preacher staying in Qatar, said in his fatwa released on Saturday that Mursi must be restored to power.
“Sharia [Islamic law] imposes on all believers allegiance to the elected president, to carry out his orders and adhere to his directives,” said the 86-year-old cleric.
“I call on all Egyptians, men and women, young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, liberal and Islamist to join ranks to protect the gains of the revolution,” he added, referring to a 2011 revolt that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

2013-07-07 Borzou Daragahi. Egypt seeks Gulf cash as coalition cracks and opponents rally

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Egypt’s central bank governor flew to Abu Dhabi on Sunday to drum up badly needed financial support as cracks appeared within the political coalition that backed last week’s military overthrow of the country’s first elected leader.
The Gulf trip by Hisham Ramez to solicit funds from the oil-rich United Arab Emirates came as the central bank issued an unusual public appeal for Egyptians to deposit donations to a newly opened “Support Egypt” account.
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There were also signs that weeks of political unrest had done further damage to the country’s already beleaguered economy and that the instability was far from over.
The Central Bank announced on Sunday that the country’s foreign currency and gold reserves had dropped to $14.9bn at the end of June, down from $16bn a month earlier and $36bn at the start of the January 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.
Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi were again mobilising their forces for another potentially violent duel for popular legitimacy. Street clashes between the rival groups left at least 36 dead and more than 1,400 injured across Egypt over the weekend.
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The United Arab Emirates, which pledged $3bn in aid for Egypt in 2011 but never disbursed any, and Saudi Arabia have been the principal foreign backers of overthrowing Mr Morsi. One Egyptian official was cited by local media at the weekend as saying that Riyadh had agreed to a $500m loan to Egypt.
Qatar had been one of the biggest foreign backers of Mr Morsi and his Brotherhood, having pledged some $8bn in aid to his government. It was unclear if Mr Ramez would be travelling to Doha.

2013-07-05 Egypt's interim gov't faces security test as Muslim Brotherhood, jihadist groups vow to retaliate for Morsi's ouster

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood called for a wave of protests Friday, furious over the military's ouster of its president and arrest of its revered leader and other top figures, raising fears of violence and retaliation from Islamic militants.
The first coordinated assault by Islamic militants since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi came in the lawless Sinai Peninsula. Masked assailants launched coordinated attacks with rockets, mortars, RPGs and anti-aircraft guns on el-Arish airport, where military aircrafts are stationed, as well as the Central Security camp in Rafah and five military and police posts.
The military and security forces returned the fire. Military helicopters flew over the area.
Egypt indefinitely closed its nearby border crossing into the Gaza Strip after the assault, sending 200 Palestinians back into Gaza, said Gen. Sami Metwali, director of Rafah passage.
Extremist Islamic militants have gained strength in the Sinai over the past two years since a security breakdown that accompanied the 2011 uprising that forced Morsi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, from power. Egypt's military and police have been battling to contain them.
The military forced Morsi out Wednesday after millions of Egyptians turned out in four days of protests. After its top leaders were targeted with arrest warrants, the Muslim Brotherhood hotly rejected an appeal by the military to take part in forming a new regime.
A military statement late Thursday appeared to signal a wider wave of arrests was not in the offing. A spokesman, Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, said in a Facebook posting that that the army and security forces will not take "any exceptional or arbitrary measures" against any political group.

2013-07-05 Shashank Bengali, Jeffrey Fleishman. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood leader vows to return Morsi to power

The spiritual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood made a dramatic appearance Friday before tens of thousands of chanting supporters and denounced as “illegal” the military coup that ousted the country's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi.
“Our president is Mohamed Morsi,” the Brotherhood's supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, told the crowd, vowing that “our souls will be sacrificed” to return Morsi to power.
The rousing speech by Badie, who had reportedly been under military arrest, was a show of defiance against the removal of Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
I am not arrested. This is a lie,” Badie told the crowd. “We are revolutionaries. We will continue the path of the revolution.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the reports of Badie’s detention were untrue or he had been released by the Egyptian military as part of a political deal with the Brotherhood.
“Do not fire your bullets against your countrymen,” Badie said. “You are more honorable than this.”
Hours earlier, however, security forces opened fire against a group of protesters who had marched from the Badie gathering to the nearby Republican Guard headquarters, where Morsi is believed to be held.

2013-07-04 Aryn Baker. What’s Arabic for Schadenfreude? Middle East Reacts to Morsi’s Ouster

It didn’t take long for Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad to crow over the downfall of fellow Arab leader, Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi. Within hours of Morsi’s detention by the Egyptian military, Assad gave an interview to state-owned newspaper Al-Thawra, in which he lambasted the Muslim Brotherhood’s “lies” to the Egyptian people, and the political group’s inability to deliver on its promises. Never mind that Assad faces a popular revolt at home, one that has seen the death of some 93,000 Syrian citizens, the millions turning out on the streets to overthrow the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were the true revolutionaries, he told the newspaper (whose name, coincidently, translates as “The Revolution” in Arabic). What’s going on in Egypt, he told the newspaper, represents “the collapse of so-called Political Islam. Whoever brings religion to use for political or factional interests will fall anywhere in the world.” Anywhere, it can be assumed he means, but Iran, the world’s only true theocracy, which also happens to be his biggest backer.
In Lebanon, the pro-Syrian, Hezbollah-run al-Akhbar newspaper echoed Assad’s exultation in an editorial, calling the Morsi government’s overthrow, “the end of the caliphate dream,” in reference to the oft-cited goal of some fundamentalist Muslims to establish an Islamic kingdom spanning north Africa and the middle east ruled entirely according to the laws of Islam. Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of its own fighters to defend Assad’s regime in Syria, may not openly support the idea of a caliphate, but as the original Party of God (the literal translation of the name), it is no stranger to political Islam.
In Saudi Arabia the gloating may have been tamped down a little, but King Abdullah was one of the first Arab leaders to congratulate Egypt’s caretaker president Adli Mansour, even before he was sworn in on Thursday. For the past two years, since Saudi Arabia sided with the rebels opposing Assad’s regime, the two countries have become bitter enemies. So what is it about the Muslim Brotherhood’s version of political Islam that unites the rivals in hatred? Fear that the Brotherhood’s power exposes their own lack of legitimacy.
Assad’s father, former President Hafez al-Assad, spent most of his years in leadership hunting down and massacring Muslim Brotherhood groups in Syria for their challenge to his power. As an Alawite, a minority sect that is an offshoot of Shia Islam and is largely disparaged as heretical by Sunni religious leaders, the former president feared the Brotherhood’s power in the mosques. Today the remnants of those groups have joined with other Islamists to become Bashar al-Assad’s most formidable foes on the battlefield. Their ideologically driven organization (what better fighters than those willing to die for God’s cause?) lends them tactics and strength that the fractious, secular-leaning Free Syrian Army leaders lack.
In Saudi, where the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned, the fear is not so much Sunni Islam, which both the Brotherhood and the Saudi leadership share, but the political nature of the group. The Brotherhood says a monarchy has no place in Islam, and has long sought to overthrow the royal family to turn Saudi Arabia into an Islamic republic.
Saudi Arabia and Syria under both Assads embraced Egypt’s former strongman President Hosni Mubarak for his violent crackdown on the Brotherhood. When he was ousted, and the Muslim Brotherhood gained power for the first time in Egypt, both countries were presented with aquandary. Now that Morsi has been ousted, those worried about the reach of the Brotherhood’s influence in their own countries can breathe a sigh of relief. And sometimes that sounds like Schadenfreude.

2013-07-04 Marc Champion. The Right and Wrong Lessons for Egypt's Brotherhood

The Egyptian military's decision to arrest Muslim Brotherhood leaders is a huge step backward. It more or less ensures that the movement will draw the wrong lesson from this latest Islamist experiment with electoral democracy.
From the point of view of Arab Islamists, engaging in elections hasn't been a great success. That's especially true now that their most important win -- in parliamentary and presidential votes for the region's oldest Islamist movement, the Brotherhood, in the Arab world's most populous nation, Egypt -- has been crushed by a coup d'etat.
Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front won the first round of parliamentary elections in 1991, only to be blocked from power by the military -- a bloody civil war followed. Hamas won elections in Gaza in 2006, but was ostracized by the U.S. and some other countries, because of the uncompromising position it took against Israel's right to exist.
You could add Syria and Libya to this list of Islamist failures. Arguably, had Syria's initial peaceful uprising in 2011 led to a largely bloodless overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad, Syria's Muslim Brotherhood would have been a leading candidate to benefit in ensuing elections. Assad, however, refused to follow the script, unleashing civil war.
In Libya, Islamists ran for election after the removal of Muammar Qaddafi, and lost. Their militias have since been elbowing their way to power anyhow, to the country's heavy cost.
Yet there has been one qualified success for Islamists who pursue power through the polls. In Tunisia, the Ennahda party won elections in 2011, after the first revolution of the Arab Spring. True, Ennahda is in a difficult power-sharing arrangement with other non-Islamist parties, and is under pressure from more-radical Salafists. Ennahda's own prime minister at one point proposed dissolving the government in favor of a technocratic one, resigning when the party disagreed. Nevertheless, Ennahda remains engaged in the messy horse trading that most democracies involve.
Ennahda was as smart as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said it was when it started talking about organizing for elections after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. At the time, the Brotherhood said it didn't want to win a majority in parliamentary elections, that it didn't want to rule alone and wouldn't put up a candidate for the presidency. It reneged on all these ideas.
Ennahda, by contrast, backed a non-Islamist for president after winning the election. The party has made a lot of mistakes, too, and Tunisia is hardly the model for democratic development that it has the potential to be. Yet it does prove that Arab Islamist parties can advance their interests in a democratic system -- if they share power. This is the lesson that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood should learn. It is one they seemed to understand intuitively in 2011, but promptly forgot as the prize beckoned, and sought to monopolize it instead.
The Muslim Brotherhood has proved extremely adaptable as an organization since its formation in the late 1920s. Still, I doubt they will draw the right lesson from former President Mohamed Mursi's abortive year of rule. The military's decision to issue arrest warrants for the group's leaders will feed the paranoia of a movement that has spent much of its history underground and has at best a shallow understanding of the democratic process. After all, many Islamists believe democracy to be heresy, leaving violence as the only path to pursue political power.
At a rally of Mursi's supporters in Cairo following the coup's announcement on the night of July 3, speakers whipped up the crowd by drawing the other -- and most obvious -- conclusion from the largely unsuccessful history of Islamist experiments with elections: Democracy is for everyone else, but it isn't allowed for us.

2013-07-03 HAMZA HENDAWI, MAGGIE MICHAEL,SARAH EL DEEB. Muslim Brotherhood Head, Deputy Chief Arrested, Egyptian Officials Say

A security official says the head of the Muslim Brotherhood political party and the Brotherhood's deputy chief have been arrested.
The security official said Saad el-Katatni, the head of the Freedom and Justice Party, and Rashad Bayoumi, one of two deputies of the Brotherhood's top leader were arrested early Thursday, in connection with an escape from prison during the 2011 uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.
The arrest came hours after the head of the armed forces ousted Egypt's first democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi, of the Brotherhood, who is also wanted in the case. More than 30 Brotherhood members escaped from prison during in January 2011.

2013-07-03 Liz Sly. Morsi’s ouster spells trouble for region’s other Islamist movements

The ouster on Wednesday of Egypt’s elected Muslim Brotherhood government barely a year after it took office represents a significant setback for the Islamist movements that have proved the biggest beneficiaries so far of the Arab Spring revolts.
From Tunisia to war-torn Syria, anti-Islamist activists have begun expressing unhappiness with the religious parties empowered by freedoms the turmoil unleashed. That the backlash has crescendoed in Egypt — the Arab world’s political and cultural trendsetter and the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood 80 years ago — is likely to resonate far beyond, perhaps most forcefully in Syria.
“What happens to the Islamists in Egypt will determine their status in the remaining countries of the region,” said Jordanian political analyst Labib Kamhawi. “This is making them nervous because they know that if they lose in Egypt, they will end up losing everywhere.”
It is far too early to write off political Islam as a force in the region, and the Egyptian army’s role in forcing President Mohamed Morsi’s departure sets a potentially worrying precedent for the future of democratically elected governments.
Islamist extremists, in Egypt and elsewhere, may argue that what many are calling a military coup validates the use of violence to achieve their aims. The regimes and monarchies still holding at bay the clamor for greater freedoms will cite the example of Egypt as evidence that elections that empower Islamists will lead to chaos, perhaps braking further progress toward political reform.
But there can be little doubt that the specter of the Arab world’s most populous nation rising up in seemingly unprecedented numbers against an Islamist leader has tainted the Brotherhood’s long effort to present itself as a viable alternative to the region’s mostly repressive regimes, in ways that it may find hard to redress.
“This is one of Islamism’s biggest crises in recent memory, indeed in decades,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.
Perhaps nowhere are the potential ramifications greater than in Syria, where the use of the army by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to violently suppress demonstrations prompted protesters to take up arms, triggering a civil war that has lured both Sunni and Shiite volunteers regionwide to fight in the name of jihad.
The Syrian government, which has long sought to portray its repression of the revolt against its rule as a crusade against Islamists, is relishing the Brotherhood’s humiliation in Egypt. Assad, in comments to be published in the state-run newspaper al-Thawra on Thursday, declared that “what is happening in Egypt is the fall of so-called political Islam.”
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi on Wednesday called on Morsi to recognize that “the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people want him to go,” and state television broadcast wall-to-wall live coverage of the crowds gathered in Tahrir Square.
“Will the Brotherhood see the reality of events — and they rarely see any reality other than the visions in their own minds — and step down under the pressure of tens of millions of Egyptians? Or will the country be pushed into a civil war?” asked the announcer who read Wednesday afternoon’s news broadcast on state television, ahead of the daily digest of army victories against “terrorists” opposing the government.
Meanwhile, in rebel-held portions of Syria, people are starting to chafe at the behavior of the Islamist groups who gained prominence on the battlefield and are now seeking to impose their authority on the areas they control.
The execution on the streets last month of a 14-year-old boy for making a blasphemous comment and a rule issued this week by the city’s self-appointed Sharia court banning women from wearing makeup have stirred anger in the northern city of Aleppo. Citizens in the northeastern city of Raqqah have staged small-scale demonstrations against the Islamists who hold sway there.
Some in Raqqah have watched with eager interest as the unrest unfolds in Cairo, said a resident who spoke via Skype on the condition that he not be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject. “The time will come when people realize that these groups don’t represent Islam, and they will kick them out,” he said.
Further afield, the recent mass demonstrations in Turkey, hailed as a model for emerging Arab democracies, were sparked by plans to chop down trees in a central Istanbul park but quickly grew into a wider expression of unease with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian style and his policies of Islamicization.
In Tunisia, the ruling Ennahda party, a Brotherhood affiliate, has held the middle ground between the radical Salafis who have threatened to use force to impose Islamic law and secularist activists, in another reflection of the splits opening up across the region that could shape a new round of turmoil.
“There is a fundamental divide in the Arab world over big issues such as the role of religion in government . . . and the identity of the state,” Hamid said. “It is a real, fundamental divide, and there is a lot at stake.”

2013-07-03 Obama orders US to review aid to Egypt after Morsi oustedObama orders US to review aid to Egypt after Morsi ousted

President Barack Obama urged Egypt's military Wednesday to hand back control to a democratic, civilian government without delay, but stopped short of calling the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi a coup d'etat.
In a carefully worded statement, Obama said he was "deeply concerned" by the military's move to topple Morsi's government and suspend Egypt's constitution. He said he was ordering the U.S. government to assess what the military's actions meant for U.S. foreign aid to Egypt -- $1.5 billion a year in military and economic assistance.
Under U.S. law, the government must suspend foreign aid to any nation whose elected leader is ousted in a coup.
"I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters," Obama said.
The U.S. wasn't taking sides in the conflict, committing itself only to democracy and respect for the rule of law, Obama said.

2013-07-02 HAMZA HENDAWI, AGGIE MICHAEL . Egypt: Army to Suspend Constitution, Legislature

Egypt's military has drawn up a plan to suspend the Islamist-backed constitution, dissolve the Islamist-dominated legislature and set up an interim administration headed by the country's chief justice if President Mohammed Morsi fails to reach a solution with his opponents by the end of a Wednesday deadline, the state news agency reported.
The report Tuesday provided the first details on the road map that the military has said it will implement if Morsi fails to meet its ultimatum, as millions of protesters returned to the streets for the third straight day in their drive to force the Islamist president out of office.
Protesters turned to a new target, massing a giant crowd outside the Qasr el-Qobba presidential palace where Morsi has been working in recent days, in addition to filling wide avenues outside another palace, central Tahrir Square and main squares in cities nationwide.
It was not clear if Morsi was in the palace.
Morsi's supporters also increased their presence in the streets, after his Muslim Brotherhood and hard-line Islamist leaders called them out to defend the legitimacy of the country's first freely elected president. Tens of thousands held marches in Cairo and other cities. Clashes broke out around pro-Morsi marches in several parts of the capital and a string of cities to the north and south. Morsi opponents stormed Brotherhood offices in two towns.

2013-07-01 DAVID D.KIRKPATRICK, KAREEM FAHIM, BEN HUBBARD. Egypt’s Army Issues Ultimatum to Morsi

Egypt’s armed forces threatened on Monday to intervene in the country’s political crisis, warning President Mohamed Morsi and other politicians that they had 48 hours to respond to an outpouring of popular protests that have included demands for his resignation.
In a statement read on state television, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the Egyptian military, said the mass demonstrations that intensified over the weekend, including the storming of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo early Monday, reflected an “unprecedented” expression of popular anger at Mr. Morsi and his Islamist backers in the brotherhood during his first year in power.
It was unclear from the general’s statement whether the military was specifically demanding that Mr. Morsi resign. But the statement said that if Mr. Morsi did not take steps to address demands for a more inclusive government, the armed forces would move to impose their “own road map for the future.”
After dawn broke Monday, some demonstrators remained in Tahrir Square, resting under impromptu shelters. While much of the protest elsewhere in Cairo seemed peaceful, activists reported dozens of sexual assaults on women in Tahrir Square overnight.
The fiercest confrontation seemed to be at the Brotherhood headquarters where members of the organization who were trapped inside fired bursts of birdshot at the attackers and wounded several of them.
After pelting the almost-empty building for hours with stones, Molotov cocktails and fireworks, the attackers doused its logo with kerosene and set it on fire, witnesses said, seeming to throw what appeared to be sandbags used to fortify the windows out onto the street.
It was not immediately clear what became of the Brotherhood members, but shortly before the building was stormed, armored government vehicles were seen in the area, possibly as part of an evacuation team.
News reports on Monday spoke of fatalities across the nation numbering around 16.
The scale of the demonstrations, just one year after crowds in the same square cheered Mr. Morsi’s inauguration, appeared to exceed even the mass street protests in the heady final days of the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. At a moment when Mr. Morsi is still struggling to control the bureaucracy and just beginning to build public support for painful economic reforms, the protests have raised new hurdles to his ability to lead the country as well as new questions about Egypt’s path to stability.
Clashes between Mr. Morsi’s opponents and supporters broke out in several cities around the country, killing at least seven people — one in the southern town of Beni Suef, four in the southern town of Assiut and two in Cairo — and injuring hundreds. Protesters ransacked Brotherhood offices around the country.

2013-06-30 Amar Zachary. Leave Morsi alone

Two and-a-half years have passed since the January 25 revolution, and a year has passed since a president was elected for the first time in Egypt's history. In a democracy, as far as I understand it, election results must be accepted and the will of the majority must be respected. And I say this despite not being a supporter of President Mohamed Morsi. I was surprised to see that the opposition does not want to recognize the fact that Morsi is the president of Egypt and has made every effort to disrupt his work since the new government was established.
The opposition claims Morsi reneged on his promises. We all know promises made during election campaigns are not always fulfilled, because things do not look the same once you've come into a position of power. We saw an example of this during the US elections, when Obama made many promises he did not keep but was re-elected anyway. In Israel, Netanyahu was elected to a third term despite all the frustration over the previous government's policies. And what about Yair Lapid, who promised not to raise taxes but did exactly that immediately after he was appointed finance minister?
The opposition in Egypt does not want to accept the election results and is taking advantage of the poverty in the country to incite the street against the new president because he is member of the Islamist movement. Undoubtedly, we had our fears regarding the prospect of a Muslim Brotherhood regime. We all feared it would lead the country to war with Israel, but the fact is this did not happen. I am not defending the president or the Muslim Brotherhood regime, but I am defending democracy. What are elections worth if the loser does not accept their results?

2013-03-30 KAREEM FAHIM, MAYY EL SHEIKH. Egypt Orders Arrest of Satirist Over Skits on Islam and Morsi

Egypt’s public prosecutor on Saturday ordered the arrest of a popular television satirist on charges that included insulting President Mohamed Morsi and denigrating Islam, a state news agency reported, a move that amplified criticisms that the Islamist government is moving aggressively to silence its critics and stifle freedom of expression.
The satirist, Bassem Youssef, who hosts a widely watched show modeled on “The Daily Show,” has been the subject of numerous legal complaints filed by Islamist lawyers and citizens who took umbrage at Mr. Youssef’s skewering of Egypt’s political class, including Mr. Morsi, his loyalists and the opposition.
But the arrest warrant seemed to represent a sharp escalation of the campaign against Mr. Youssef, with the public prosecutor appointed by Mr. Morsi lending official credence to the complaints. In the nine months since Mr. Morsi took office, his government has been accused of employing the same harsh measures against dissent as did the previous authoritarian leaders, including prosecuting critics, confiscating newspapers and placing sympathetic journalists in state news media organs.
Last week, the public prosecutor, Talaat Ibrahim, ordered the arrest of five anti-Islamist activists on charges that they had used social media to incite violence against the Muslim Brotherhood.

2013-03-26 Egypt: Prominent Blogger Hands Himself In

A prominent Egyptian blogger handed himself in to authorities on Tuesday, a day after the country's prosecutor general ordered his arrest along with four others for allegedly instigating violence with comments posted on social media.
The charges stem from clashes between supporters and opponents of the country's Islamist president last week that left 200 injured.
Activists say the accusations against blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah may herald a wave of arrests of opposition leaders. They follow closely on an angry televised warning by President Mohammed Morsi that he would soon take exceptional measures in the face of violence.
Abdel-Fattah, wearing a prison jumpsuit to show his readiness to face jail, arrived at the Cairo office of Prosecutor General Talaat Abdullah surrounded by dozens of protesters chanting slogans denouncing Morsi's and his group, the Muslim Brotherhood.
From inside the prosecutor's office, the blogger posted messages on Twitter saying most of the accusations were based on comments sent to his account by others, rather than anything he posted himself.
bdel Fattah said he refused to answer Abdullah's questions. "In general I refused to answer all the questions because of partiality of the prosecutor general," he posted. He demanded that an investigative judge take over the case.
The Friday clashes outside the Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters were the worst violence between the Brotherhood and its opponents in three months.

2013-03-09 Deadly Egypt riots follow football verdicts

At least one person has been killed as fans of rival football teams take to the streets in Egypt, angered by verdicts over last year's deadly stadium riots in Port Said.
Fans of the Cairo club Al-Ahly, angered by the acquittal of seven police officers, set fire to a police officers' club and the football federation's headquarters in the capital.
Hundreds of people also took to the streets in Port Said to protest against a Cairo court's upholding of the death sentences of 21 fans accused of sparking the riots that left 74 people - most of them Al-Ahly supporters - dead.
The death sentences, passed on January 28, have been a flashpoint for protests across the country.
The football stadium deaths occurred in February 2012 at the end of a match between Al-Ahly and local side Al-Masry.
Spectators were crushed when panicked crowds tried to escape from the stadium after a pitch invasion by supporters of Al-Masry.
Two senior policemen - the former head of police security General Essam Samak and Brigadier General Mohammed Saaed - were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Saaed had the keys to the stadium gates, which were locked at the time of the riot.
Witnesses have said that police deployed at the stadium were passively staying on the sidelines and did not interfere to stop the violence.
Most of those condemned to death were fans of Port Said's Al-Masry. In the city, several hundred people, many of them relatives of the defendants, gathered outside the local government offices to vent their anger over the verdicts.
Some protesters headed to the Suez canal, apparently in a bid to block movement of ships, but were stopped by the army.
Witnesses said protesters untied speedboats used to supply shipping, hoping the boats would drift into the waterway and disrupt passing vessels.
The January verdicts led to protests in the city that left about 40 people dead, most of them shot by police.
Many residents of Port Said, have seen the trial as unjust and politicised.
Football fans in the city say they feel the authorities were biased in favour of Al-Ahly, Egypt's most powerful club.

2013-03-02 Samuel Knight. Kerry takes first trip abroad, invites unrest in Egypt with austerity promotion

John Kerry is in Egypt - his first trip abroad as America’s top envoy - and he wasted no time pushing policies that are likely to send the unstable country hurling toward turmoil, if Egyptian elites agree to them.
Ironically - or not, depending on your level of cynicism - the advice is part of an effort to stave off an economic crisis. Kerry urged opposition and Muslim Brotherhood officials to collaborate in order to pass reforms that are a prerequisite to the country receiving $4.8 billion in IMF aid.
According to the AP, the reforms include austerity measures “like increasing tax collections and curbing energy subsidies.”
But if the worsening situation at home is any indication, the medicine could be worse than the illness.

2013-02-10 Patrick Kingsley. Egypt court bans YouTube over Innocence of Muslims trailer

YouTube has been temporarily banned in Egypt for carrrying an anti-Islamic documentary that triggered deadly riots across north Africa and the Middle East in September.
In what human rights activists have called a backwards step for internet freedom, Judge Hassouna Tawfiq ordered the government to block access to the video-sharing website for 30 days after the trailer for Innocence of Muslims sparked outrage.
The ban had not been enacted by Sunday afternoon, and a Google spokesperson said the company, which owns YouTube, had not yet been served with any order. But five years after a request for a similar ban was thrown out by an Egyptian court, this week's putative YouTube ban has been seen as a regressive step.
In 2007 an Egyptian judge tried to block 49 human rights websites, but his efforts were vetoed by an administrative court. "It is certainly a backwards step compared to what the court ruled [in 2007]," said Amr Gharbeia, civil liberties director at the Egyptian Institute for Personal Rights.
Gharbeia, whose website was one of those threatened in 2007, said the case showed a failure to grasp the central tenets of the internet. "People will find ways around the ban," he added. "The courts are not aware of how the internet works. They are using the same measures that they would use against newspapers and broadcasters."
He pointed out that such legislation could make Egyptians "lose respect for the rule of law".
The case is one of several recent moves against free expression in Egypt. A report last month said more journalists had been sued for insulting the president during the seven-month presidency of Mohamed Morsi than in the entire 30-year rule of ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.

2013-02-10 Tunisian president's party quits cabinet

The secular party of Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has withdrawn its three ministers from the country's government, saying that its demands for changes in the cabinet have not been met.
The decision on Sunday by Marzouki's Congress for the Republic Party deals a further blow to Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali's government, already weakened by last week's assassination of secular opposition leader Shokri Belaid.
"We have been saying for a week that if the foreign and justice ministers were not changed, we would withdraw from the government," Samir Ben Amor, a Congress for the Republic Party official, told Reuters news agency.
"This decision has nothing to do with the prime minister's decision to form a government of technocrats," he said, referring to Jebali's declared intention to name a non-partisan cabinet to run day-to-day affairs until elections can be held.
Jebali has himself threatened to resign unless his Ennahda party and other parties accept his proposals for an interim government of technocrats.
Jebali, who is in dispute with his party over his proposal for a new government, said on Saturday h

2013-02-09 Richard Spencer, Cairo and Fadil Aliriza. Tunisia's recent turmoil exposes failings of country's young democracy

Her hair was immaculately styled and defiantly uncovered, her clothes, coat and even glasses fashionable, her expression assertive. As the chants washed over the thousands following the coffin of her husband, the murdered opposition politician Shokri Belaid, she raised her fingers in a V-for-victory sign.
Women have played forceful roles in the Arab world's revolutions. But they are rarely so visible as here; even in protests – sometimes especially so, as if to make up for their public stance – they have often conformed in appearance.
In Bahrain, parades of women wearing uniform black abayas have led marches against the king. In Cairo's Tahrir Square supporters of the Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, have gathered entirely concealed behind abayas, black gloves, hijab, and the niqab, or face-veil.
Amid all the stone-throwing teenage boys, it is rare outside Tunisia for the spotlight to fall on a face so defiantly Western-looking.
Yet Mr Belaid's assassination last week has seemed to show that the different Tunisia, the Tunisia of secular politics, an easy-going new pluralism, and equal rights for women, is at worst a sham and at best under severe risk.
Even Mr Belaid's family seem to have taken on the angry discourse that has overtaken the Arab world since the first optimism of the pro-democracy protests two years ago gave way to pessimism.
"We are sure that Ennahda did this," Mr Belaid's brother, Abdel Majeed, told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday, of Tunisia's Islamist ruling party. "Did you see the funeral? That was our response. All Tunisians want the sweeping away of Ennahda, of the regime.
"This was an attack on all those who are with the liberty of expression, all the free voices. We are all against violence. My brother, the day before he was killed, spoke against violence. The only party that is for violence is Ennahda."
The hooded killer who put three bullets into Mr Belaid's chest and head as he left for work on Wednesday morning was enacting a death foretold. Mr Belaid had warned of the growing violence at the radical fringes of the country's Islamist movement, including death threats against himself. A cleric passed a fatwa of death on him last June.
Among his main targets were a shadowy group called the Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution, a group initially set up to ensure the will of the protest movement that overthrew ex-President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali was preserved. Mr Belaid accused it of being little more than a militia for Ennahda.
In nearby Egypt, despite the violence it is currently witnessing, few dispute the central place of Islam in the country's society or politics.
No major party bothered to oppose Clause Two of the new constitution, which states that the law is guided by the principles of Sharia – in part because it was there under the so-called "secular" reign of Hosni Mubarak. During Mr Mubarak's 30 years in power, Islam took hold of the country's schools, welfare system and professions.
After the sacking of the American consulate in Benghazi in Libya last September, and the killing of the ambassador, Chris Stevens, the reaction in Tunisia was the reverse of shocked silence – a huge crowd attacked and stormed the embassy in Tunis three days later.
Again, while condemning the attacks, Ennahda seemed to condone the spirit behind it, Mr Ghannouchi giving interviews in which he spoke of those "invading our Muslim countries".

2013-02-06 Tunisian politician's assassination prompts outpouring of grief and anger

Chokri Belaid, a leading member of a leftist alliance of parties known as the Popular Front, was shot as he left his house in the capital, Tunis.
He was taken to a nearby medical clinic, where he died, the state news agency TAP reported.
The killing of Mr Belaid is likely to heighten tensions in the North African nation whose path from dictatorship to democracy has been seen as a model for the Arab world so far.
Mr Belaid was part of the secular opposition Popular Front movement that opposes the Islamist-led government that emerged in the wake of the Arab Spring revoluton.

2013-01-29 Dave Zirin. Soccer and Egypt's Current 'State of Emergency'

2011-06-29 James Montague. Egypt's revolutionary soccer ultras: How football fans toppled Mubarak
2013-03-10 Juan Cole. Cairo Burning: The Great Soccer Riots of 2013 and the Revolution
If you want to understand why Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has declared a “state of emergency” or if you want to understand why the country’s defense minister warned Tuesday of “the collapse of the state”, you first need to understand the soccer fan clubs in Egypt—otherwise known as the “ultras”—and the role they played in the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Under Mubarak’s three decade kleptocratic rule, the hyper-intense ultras—made up almost entirely of young Egyptian men—were given near-free reign to march in the streets, battle the police and, of course, fight each other. This has been a common practice in autocracies across the world: don’t allow political dissent, but for the young, male masses allow violent soccer clubs to exist as a safety valve to release the steam. Mubarak, surely to his eternal regret, underestimated what could happen when steam gets channeled into powering a full-scale revolt. After revolution in Tunisia spurred the Egyptian uprising, the ultras transformed themselves in the moment and played a critical role in securing Tahrir Square, setting up checkpoints, and fighting off the police. This is not to say it was seamless. As one Egyptian revolutionary said to me, “In those first days, the Ultras were indispensable. But the hardest thing, it felt like at times, was to keep them all focused on the goal [of removing Mubarak] and keep them from killing each other.”
Distinguished by their uniform of skinny jeans and hoodies, they quickly became objects of admiration in Tahrir Square. “They stayed there in the square almost through 100 hours of fighting,” said protester Mosa’ab Elshamy. “It’s easy to notice them because of their use of Molotov cocktails, their extreme courage and recklessness, their chants. They became a common sight.”
Their strength as a coherent and durable political force was seen after Mubarak was removed and a military junta assumed power. The ultras didn’t dissipate but remained on the front lines pushing for changes that would go beyond the cosmetic. Then came Port Said. One year ago, seventy-four people died in clashes that followed a soccer game between visiting Al-Ahly and Port Said’s Al-Masri. People were stabbed and beaten when Al-Masri fans rushed the field after their team’s 3-1 victory. The majority of deaths, however, took place because of asphyxiation as Al-Ahly fans were crushed against locked stadium doors. There is ample video evidence that shows the military and security forces were complicit in these deaths, either through inaction or worse. As James Dorsey of the Middle Eastern Soccer Blog wrote, “The incident is widely seen as an attempt that got out of hand by the then military rulers of the country and the police and security forces to cut militant, highly politicized, street battle-hardened soccer fans or ultras down to size.”
This tragedy, however, immediately took on a political, anti-regime dimension. Instead of one ultra group pledging death to the other, they blamed the junta and their hated police. Diaa Salah of the Egyptian Football Federation said, “The government is getting back at the ultras. They are saying, ‘You protest against us, you want democracy and freedom. Here is a taste of your democracy and freedom.’”
The current crisis stems from that moment. Last week, the verdicts came down in the Port Said “soccer riot” and twenty-one people were sentenced to hang. Not one of the twenty-one was from the state and security forces. The message was clear. Even though Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were now in charge, this government would be no different: protecting and defending their state at the expense of justice. It is true that the Al-Ahly fan club initially praised the verdict for providing closure for the families who lost loved ones, but this quickly soured into frustration. There was nothing to celebrate as the people in Port Said rose violently first in opposition to the verdict, then in opposition to the brutal state repression ordered by Morsi, and now in opposition to the regime itself.

2013-01-29 DAVID D.KIRKPATRICK. Chaos in Egypt Stirs Warning of a Collapse

As three Egyptian cities defied President Mohamed Morsi’s attempt to quell the anarchy spreading through their streets, the nation’s top general warned Tuesday that the state itself was in danger of collapse if the feuding civilian leaders could not agree on a solution to restore order.
Thousands of residents poured into the streets of the three cities, protesting a 9 p.m. curfew with another night of chants against Mr. Morsi and assaults on the police.
The president appeared powerless to stop them: he had already granted the police extralegal powers to enforce the curfew and then called out the army as well. His allies in the Muslim Brotherhood and their opposition also proved ineffectual in the face of the crisis, each retreating to their corners, pointing fingers of blame.
The general’s warning punctuated a rash of violent protests across the country that has dramatized the near-collapse of the government’s authority. With the city of Port Said proclaiming its nominal independence, protesters demanded the resignation of Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, while people across the country appeared convinced that taking to the streets in protests was the only means to get redress for their grievances.
Just five months after Egypt’s president assumed power from the military, the cascading crisis revealed the depth of the distrust for the central government left by decades of autocracy, two years of convoluted transition and his own acknowledged missteps in facing the opposition. With cities in open rebellion and the police unable to tame crowds, the very fabric of society appears to be coming undone.
The chaos has also for the first time touched pillars of the long-term health of Egypt’s economy, already teetering after two years of turbulence since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. While a heavy deployment of military troops along the Suez Canal — a vital source of revenue — appeared to insulate it from the strife in Port Said, Suez and Ismailia, the clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo spilled over for the first time into an armed assault on the historic Semiramis InterContinental Hotel, sending tremors of fear through the vital tourism sector.

2013-01-28 Egypt opposition rejects Mohammed Morsi dialogue call

Egypt's main opposition alliance has rejected Mohammed Morsi's call for national dialogue amid continuing protests against the president.
Mr Morsi had urged opposition leaders to attend a meeting following four days of deadly violence.
Dozens have died since Saturday, when a court sentenced 21 people to death over football riots in Port Said last year.
Protesters defied a night-time curfew imposed by the authorities in Port Said, Suez and Ismailia.
A temporary state of emergency has been declared in the three cities along the Suez canal, but thousands of protesters took to the streets in the first hours after nightfall.
In Suez, people marched towards the headquarters of the provincial government, while in Port Said one man was killed as groups attacked police stations, according to medical sources.
Security men and soldiers were also injured, Egyptian authorities said.
Earlier, state news agency Mena reported six deaths in Port Said during daylight hours on Monday, when funerals were held for three people killed on Sunday.
No curfew has been imposed in the capital Cairo, despite violence that continued on Monday with one man killed by gunfire near Tahrir Square.
State TV said a total of 590 people had been injured in violence across Egypt on Monday, most of them in Port Said.

2013-01-27 MATT BRADLEY. Egypt Leader Declares State of Emergency

Egypt's president has declared a 30-day state of emergency and curfew in the three Suez Canal provinces hit hardest by a wave of political violence that has left more than 50 dead in three days.
An angry President Mohammed Morsi vowed in a televised address on Sunday he would not hesitate to take more action to stem the latest eruption of violence across much of the country.
The three provinces are Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez.
Mr. Morsi also invited the nation's political forces to a dialogue starting Monday to resolve the country's latest crisis.
The predominantly secular and liberal opposition has in the past declined Mr. Morsi's offers of dialogue, arguing that he must first show a political will to meet some of its demands.

2013-01-01 Reem Abdellatif. In Egypt, young revolutionaries feeling despair

Many of Egypt's twentysomething generation, hungry for a just society and economic opportunities, say they see themselves as lost after last month's clashes over the nation's constitution.
Young Egyptians like artist Mahmoud Aly and student Mohamed Abdelhamid were shock troops of the revolution. They gathered in the streets in February 2011 and shouted for then-President Hosni Mubarak to go. They cheered in amazement when he did.
But they look around now and wonder who, if anyone, is guarding their interests following the battle between ruling Islamists and the liberal opposition.

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