Posts tagged egypt
Obama’s foreign policy implosion
In a stinging rebuke to US president Barack Obama’s support of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt has just passed a law and made it a crime to be a member of said group in any way, shape or form. Looks like its back to the drawing board for Obama’s master plan of creating a Muslim Brotherhood-based country.
Are you listening, America?
CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the Muslim Brotherhood to be banned and its assets confiscated in a dramatic escalation of a crackdown by the military-backed government against supporters of the ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
The ruling opens the door for a wider crackdown on the vast network of the Brotherhood, which includes social organizations that have been key for building the group’s grassroots support and helping its election victories. The verdict banned the group itself – including the official association it registered under earlier this year – as well as “any institution branching out of it or … receiving financial support from it,” according to the court ruling, made public on Egypt’s state official news agency MENA.
The judge at the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters also ordered the “confiscation of all the group’s money, assets, and buildings” and said that an independent committee should be formed by the Cabinet to manage the money until final court orders are issued. The verdict can be appealed.
The Brotherhood was outlawed for most of its 85 years in existence. But after the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, it was allowed to work openly, formed a political party and rose to power in a string of post-Mubarak elections. In March, it registered as a recognized non-governmental organization.
“This is totalitarian decision,” leading group member Ibrahim Moneir said in an interview with Qatari-based Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr TV. “You are losers and it (the Brotherhood) will remain with God’s help, not by the orders by the judiciary of el-Sissi,” he added, referring to military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the overthrow of Morsi on July 3.
The court did not immediately make public the grounds for its ruling. The verdict came in a suit raised by lawyers from the leftist party Tagammu party, accusing the Brotherhood of being a “terrorist” and “exploiting religion in political slogans.” Several other courts are looking into similar suits. source – AP
When all else fails, blame the Jew
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel on Tuesday of having a hand in the Egyptian military’s overthrow of president Mohamed Mursi, making comments likely to further undermine efforts to restore Ankara’s strained ties with Israel.
Erdogan, who has become one of the fiercest critics of the Islamist leader’s removal last month, also said he feared “autocratic regimes” would take root if the West failed to respect election results.
Almost 900 people have died in the past week since the military-backed Egyptian government cracked down on supporters of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, who want the country’s first freely-elected president reinstated.
“What do they say in Egypt? Democracy is not the ballot box. What is behind it? Israel. We have in our hands documentation,” Erdogan told provincial leaders of his AK Party.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to respond to Erdogan’s allegation. “This is a statement well worth not commenting on,” said ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
Mursi was the most prominent Islamist to gain power through the ballot box after the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and ruled for a year until his removal on July 3. Erdogan’s AK party, which has won the last three Turkish general elections, traces its roots to a banned Islamist movement.
Erdogan did not say what documentation he had, but referred to comments he said an Israeli cabinet minister had made before Egyptian parliamentary elections held after a popular uprising pushed President Hosni Mubarak from power.
“Before the 2011 elections, during a session in France, the justice minister and an intellectual from France – he’s Jewish too – they used exactly this comment: ‘Even if the Muslim Brotherhood wins the election, they will not win because democracy is not the ballot box’,” Erdogan said.
“That is exactly what happened,” he said in the comments aired live by state broadcaster TRT, without naming either the minister or the French intellectual.
Turkey’s relations with Israel have soured in recent years and hit a low in May 2010 when Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists while storming the Mavi Marmara, a ship in a convoy seeking to break an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.
Earlier this year, Erdogan called Zionism “a crime against humanity”, prompting objections from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. President Barack Obama subsequently orchestrated an Israeli apology for the Mavi Marmara raid.
At least two senior AK Party officials have suggested there was Jewish involvement in anti-government protests that rocked Turkey in late May and June.
Erdogan repeatedly blamed unnamed foreign circles for those protests, in what he deemed an anti-democratic effort to undo Turkey’s last three elections, in which the AK Party increased its share of the vote each time.
“The West needs to learn the definition of democracy, Erdogan said. “If it cannot … these clashes will carry the world towards a different place. What is that? It will take it towards autocratic regimes. That is our concern.” source – Yahoo News
Yasmine Ahmed’s two brothers had been trapped in the siege for over 12 hours. Packed into a sweltering back room barricaded with chairs and wooden tables, they had been cooped up alongside hundreds of panicking Islamists and the decomposing corpses from another weekend of violence
In the main prayer hall of the Al-Fath mosque, its grubby carpet littered with discarded shreds of cotton wool and surgical pads, an army commander huddled in a circle with his troops who, it was claimed, had only entered the building to clear it of supporters of toppled President, Mohamed Morsi as well as to protect innocent worshippers from angry mobs gathering outside.
Hundreds of locals were crammed against the pointed steel gates of the mosque courtyard. Many were in no mood to forgive those trapped inside; in the minds of some Egyptians, the Morsi supporters have become little more than “terrorist” outlaws.
“Their fate is not in my hands now,” said Yasmine, 20, a college student. “The army and the police think the people trapped inside are terrorists. But they are not. What we have now is chaos. There is chaos between all the Egyptian people.
The fear and anxiety were palpable. Weeping relatives tramped around the prayer hall, while jumpy police officers toted their Kalashnikovs in one hand, wide-eyed and frantically chewing gum.
Adding to the sense of confusion, dozens of civilians had also managed to gain access to the building. All the while, hundreds of Morsi supporters – who had sought sanctuary in the mosque following the gunfights that erupted in nearby Ramses Square on Friday – shouted and yelled out from behind their barricades.
At around 12.40pm, the situation suddenly deteriorated. Heavy bursts of gunfire began crackling outside the mosque. “It’s the Muslim Brothers,” shouted a boy in his late teens. “They’re firing at us from above.”
Panic gripped the prayer hall. Dozens of black-clad men from the security services ran for shelter under the windows of the eastern wall. Others squatted behind thick pillars as the live rounds swooshed around outside the mosque.
One policeman ran to prod his gun through a smashed window in the western wall. His darting eyes searched for the source of the shooting. Seeing no target, he stepped away.
Suddenly a squad of armed police dashed to the corridor leading to the barricaded back room and lined themselves against the wall. Pointing their gun barrels skyward, they poised themselves to end the siege. Groups of civilians, relatives and other armed police ran to take cover next to the eastern wall.
Just then someone pointed to the windows on a second floor overlooking the prayer hall. “There are people upstairs,” he screamed. A moment later there was a flash and a small explosion in the centre of the room. Soldiers and civilians started screaming. A cloud of pale smoke dissipated around the hall.
Seconds later there was another loud boom, this time from the direction of the corridor leading towards the barricaded Islamists. Panic erupted as those inside the mosque began fleeing for the door. A senior police officer ordered people to leave, furiously waving an arm as he stomped through the prayer hall with a Kalashnikov in his right hand.
Outside, the scores of civilians who had gained access to the main courtyard cowered against the mosque walls as heavy bursts of live ammunition clattered around Ramses Square. Eyewitnesses reported seeing gunshots being fired from the mosque’s minaret.
Amid the fear and confusion, angry civilians mobbed foreign journalists who had been reporting on the siege. One Western reporter was briefly knocked unconscious after being clubbed over the head with a stick. Soldiers fired shots in the air to scare away the attackers.
At least two journalists were rescued from angry locals by troops stationed in Ramses Square. Other reporters were also arrested or detained in Cairo yesterday. The Muslim Brotherhood, which won the presidency last year after decades of repression, looks in danger of being expunged again from Egypt’s political life. Yesterday it was reported Egypt’s Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has proposed disbanding the Muslim Brotherhood, raising the prospects of large-scale arrests if membership becomes outlawed.
It was also reported that Egyptian security forces yesterday arrested the brother of al-Qa’ida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. Mohammed al-Zawahiri, leader of the ultraconservative Jihadi Salafist group, was detained at a checkpoint in Giza. Said to be an ally of ousted President Morsi, Mohammed al-Zawahiri is accused of commanding Islamic insurgents in the Sinai peninsula.
The interim government, backed by an apparently irrepressible military establishment, has initiated a bloody war on political Islam. Successive massacres over the past six weeks have been so astonishingly brutal that nobody knows exactly how many people have been killed.
Even taking the conservative estimates of health officials, the bloodletting points to a country that is ripping itself apart. At least 600 dead after Wednesday’s massacre of Morsi supporters; more than 170 on Friday; hundreds more since the popular coup greeted with such jubilation by some on 4 July.
Nobody has been safe. Among the dead during Friday’s violence was Ammar Badie, the son of the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide. On Wednesday, the daughter of Mohamed el-Beltagi, a leading Brotherhood official, was killed during the massacre. Mostafa Yacoub, said he had known 17-year-old Asmaa el-Beltagi and that she had grown distant from the Brotherhood ideology espoused by her father.
During violent demonstrations at the end of 2011 he said Asmaa had shared the streets with liberal and secular protesters who were battling the central security forces.
“She was young and wanted to develop her own thoughts,” said Mr Yacoub. “She did a lot of community work. She wanted to be open to other sides of society.”
Those hopes were exterminated on Wednesday when police bullets shredded the Islamist encampment in eastern Cairo.CIslamists have responded to the recent violence by attacking churches, Christian homes and businesses. The attacks confirm what many liberals have long suspected – that followers of political Islam are agents of intolerance and not fit to enjoy power in Egypt.
Yesterday’s reports that the authorities are considering ways to consign the Brotherhood to political oblivion are a natural consequence of such sentiment.
Even in Cairo, the city that breathes with a bustling vivacity, it feels as if it has died a death of sorts. As a result of the new 7pm curfew, the city centre is enveloped in a deathly pall of quiet by nightfall.
The roads that would usually be bursting with street hawkers and honking drivers are empty. Volunteers staffing civilian “checkpoints” – usually little more than a steel road barrier dragged into the street – check car boots and rummage through the passengers’ rucksacks.
For its 17 million inhabitants, the city can rarely have felt so alien. For the political map-makers of Egypt’s tortured transition, the future can hardly have seemed less uncertain. source – Independent UK
Obama not happy his Muslim Brotherhood losing ground
(Reuters) – Protests by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi turned violent across Egypt on Friday, with witnesses reporting four dead in central Cairo and at least 12 killed in northern cities as the Muslim Brotherhood staged a “Day of Rage”.
The army deployed dozens of armored vehicles on major roads around the capital after Mursi’s Brotherhood movement called the demonstrations, and the Interior Ministry said police would use live ammunition against anyone threatening public buildings.
The violence followed Wednesday’s assault by security forces on two Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo that left hundreds dead, as security forces tried to end weeks of turbulence following the army’s toppling of Mursi on July 3.
In Cairo gunshots echoed around the huge Ramses Square, focal point of Brotherhood protests in the capital, and police fired salvoes of tear gas. Four people were killed and many more wounded by gunshot and birdshot in the square, a witness said.
Nile TV showed footage of one gunman among Islamist protesters firing from a city center bridge. Injured men, one with a bloody wound in the middle of his chest, were rushed away on the back of a pick-up truck.
Emergency services also said eight protesters were killed in clashes in the Mediterranean town of Damietta, and four people died in the northeastern city of Ismailia. Violence was also reported in Egypt’s second city Alexandria and in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.
A police conscript was killed in a drive-by shooting in the north of the capital, state news agency MENA reported.
Deeply polarized after months of political turmoil, Egypt stands close to the abyss of chaos with Islamist supporters refusing to accept the toppling of Mursi, which followed mammoth rallies castigating his trouble-plagued, year-long rule.
They have demanded the resignation of army commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the reinstatement of Egypt’s first freely elected president, who is in detention and has not been seen in public since his downfall.
“Sooner or later I will die. Better to die for my rights than in my bed. Guns don’t scare us anymore,” said Sara Ahmed, 28, a business manager, joining a march of thousands of demonstrators heading downtown from northeast Cairo.
“It’s not about the Brotherhood, it’s about human rights,” said Ahmed, one of the few women not wearing a headscarf, a sign of piety for Muslim women.
When a military helicopter flew low over Ramses Square, protesters held up shoes chanting “We will bring Sisi to the ground” and “Leave, leave, you traitor.”
As the sound of teargas canisters being fired began, protesters – including young and old, men and women – donned surgical masks, gas masks and wrapped bandannas around their faces. Some rubbed Pepsi on their faces to counter the gas.
“Allahu akbar! (God is Greatest)” the crowd chanted.
Signaling his displeasure at the worst bloodshed in Egypt for generations, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday normal cooperation with Cairo could not continue and announced the cancellation of military exercises with Egypt next month.
“We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest,” he said, but stopped short of cutting off the $1.55 billion a year of mostly military U.S. aid to Egypt.
The Brotherhood accuses the military of staging a coup when it ousted Mursi. Liberal and youth activists who backed the military saw the move as a positive response to public demands.
But some fear Egypt is turning back into the kind of police state that kept the disgraced Hosni Mubarak in power for 30 years before his removal in 2011, as security institutions recover their confidence and reassert control.
Friday prayers have proved a fertile time for protests during more than two years of unrest across the Arab world.
In calling for a “Day of Rage,” the Brotherhood used the same name as that given to the most violent day of the uprising against Mubarak. That day, January 28, 2011, marked the protesters’ victory over the police, who were forced to retreat.
Ironically, the epicenter of the anti-Mubarak protests, Tahrir Square, was deserted on Friday, sealed off by the army.
Underscoring the deep divisions in the most populous Arab state, local residents helped the army block access to Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the site of the main Brotherhood sit-in that was swept away during Wednesday’s police assault.
“We are here to prevent those filthy bastards from coming back,” said Mohamed Ali, a 22-year-old business student. The Egyptian presidency issued a statement criticizing Obama, saying his comments were not based on “facts” and would strengthen violent groups that were committing “terrorist acts”.
Pro-army groups posted videos on the Internet of policemen they said had been tortured and killed by Islamist militants.
Washington’s influence over Cairo has been called into question since Mursi’s overthrow. Since then Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have pledged $12 billion in assistance, making them more prominent partners.
Obama’s refusal so far to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt suggests he does not wish to alienate the generals despite the scale of the bloodshed in the army’s suppression of Mursi supporters.
Egypt will need all the financial support it can get in the coming months as it grapples with growing economic woes, especially in the important tourism sector that accounts for more than 10 percent of gross domestic product.
The United States urged its citizens to leave Egypt on Thursday and two of Europe’s biggest tour operators, Germany’s TUI and Thomas Cook Germany, said they were cancelling all trips to the country until September 15.
On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council urged all parties in Egypt to exercise restraint, but did not assign blame. “The view of council members is that it is important to end violence in Egypt,” Argentine U.N. Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval said after the 15-member council met on the situation. source – Reuters
Put it this way: President Obama’s Egypt policy is about as effective as his Syria policy. And for the first time Wednesday, with the number of dead and injured mounting, one could almost envision Egypt’s descent into out-and-out civil war.
Obama was briefed, said nothing and went back to golf. Secretary of State John Kerry took a break from his fruitless obsession with the nonexistent “peace process” to condemn the violence, but took no questions and had no policy announcement. This, in a nutshell, is the White House’s approach to the Middle East — the absence of any policy and a lot of empty words.
Sam Tadros, a Egyptian expert at the Hudson Institute who is also affiliated with the Hoover Institution, is not optimistic. Late Wednesday he remarked to me on the military’s assault on its opponents: “In a sense this was inevitable. You don’t ask the people to give you a mandate and then sit by idly. The timing was only delayed because of Ramadan and the Eid celebrations.” Unlike the administration, he is looking ahead — and doesn’t like what he discerns. “The question no one seems to be asking is where the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] is supposed to go after they end the protests,” he said. “They certainly won’t be going home. Instead of one protest you will have smaller ones throughout the country.” The victims will include non-Muslims as is so often the case in the Arab world. He told me, “Christians will of course take most of the damage. Already there are reports of many churches attacked. This will continue.”
The question now is what can be done and what role the United States should play. Tadros is blunt: “As to outside powers, I am afraid it is too late now. This is a zero-sum game and one side has to win.”
If the Egyptian military is, as most contend, far more effective than Bashar al-Assad’s troops and makes quick work of former government officials and their supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood problem hardly goes away. Not without justification they will likely conclude democracy is a dead end and will resort to other means to assert their vision for Egypt. The military will have succeeded only in driving MB members to return to violence and terrorism instead of ballots and government ministries.
In a sense, then, Obama might as well play golf. He’s dropped the ball on Egypt and the entire region, leaving the United States with few options and the Egyptian people to a bloody future in the short run and a repressive authoritarian junta in the longer run. This is a policy failure of the highest order.
Isolationists on the right and left argue that the United States has no interest in places like Egypt. But without U.S. leadership, what follows in places such as Egypt and Syria is a humanitarian and geopolitical nightmare that doesn’t stay within one country’s borders. Syria, Iran and Hezbollah must be gleeful to see the United States so weakened and insignificant. source – Wash Post
In the familiar pattern, the Western media are focused on the military raids against Islamic supremacists in Egypt but ignoring the latter’s use of violence and of women and children as human shields. After all, the “protesters” say they are “peaceful.”
When not similarly ignored, Islamic supremacist aggression against Egypt’s Christians — which was a prominent feature of Muslim Brotherhood governance — is disingenuously reported. Take this AFP report of the fact that the Brotherhood and its allies are torching Coptic churches. The AFP endeavors to exculpate the Islamic supremacists by editorializing, in the report, that these were “reprisal” attacks. But the Brotherhood was not ousted by the minority Copts. To be sure, the Copts far prefer to take their chances with a largely secular, technocratic government backed by the armed forces than the rampant persecution they endured while the Brotherhood was running the show. But it is the army, not the Copts, who ejected Morsi. AFP tries to obscure this by recounting that “the Coptic church backed Morsi’s removal, with Patriarch [i.e., Pope] Tawadros II appearing alongside army chief General Fattah al-Sisi as he announced the military coup.” As I observed in writing about the coup in the August 5 edition of National Review, however, Pope Tawadros was hardly alone — General Sisi also gathered by his side significant Islamic supremacist leaders: Grand Mufti Ahmed al-Tayeb of al-Azhar University and leaders of the Salafist al-Nour party (in addition to prominent secularists).
The Brotherhood is not “retaliating” against Christians. Islamic supremacists are persecuting Christians . . . which is what they do in Muslim-majority countries. source – NRO
CAIRO – Egypt’s capital descended into a chaotic bloodbath Wednesday after security forces moved in on protest camps set up by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, sparking deadly violence.
A month-long nationwide state of emergency was declared as the interim government tried to maintain order.
Witness reports and pro-Morsi volunteers at the camp put the toll much higher, but the none of the higher figures could be immediately confirmed by NBC News.
Unverified pictures posted to social media showed dozens of bodies after tear gas and gunfire engulfed protest camps at Rabaa and Nahda in Cairo.
The U.S. Embassy was closed, the country’s stock exchange suspended and train services halted.
Among the dead were Asmaa Beltagy – the 17-year-old daughter of Mohammed Beltagy, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s top leaders – and two foreign media journalists.
Outside Cairo, two churches were attacked and set on fire in Dermous, while an air force colonel and a military conscript were killed in an attack on a highway, security sources said.
Turkey’s prime minister called on the United Nations Security Council to help, describing the events as a “massacre.”
“The international community, especially the U.N. Security Council and Arab League, must act immediately to stop this massacre,” Tayyip Erdogan’s office said in a statement.
About 200 people were arrested, the country’s interior ministry said. Pro-Morsi protesters were seen throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at troops, Reuters reported. Security sources said six police officers were killed and 12 injured during the operation. source – NBC News