CAIRO (AP) — Security forces backed by armored vehicles and helicopters on Monday stormed a town south of Cairo that had been held for over two months by militants loyal to the ousted Islamist president, swiftly taking control despite some resistance from gunmen.
The pre-dawn operation to retake Dalga in Minya province underlined the resolve of the military-backed government to go after Islamic militants behind a wave of violence in several parts of the country following the ouster of Mohammed Morsi in a popularly backed July 3 military coup. Minya in particular suffered a collapse of security, with militants torching and looting courthouses, churches, local government houses and police stations.
Army troops are also going after militants in the strategic Sinai Peninsula where attacks on security forces have grown more frequent, and deadlier, since Morsi’s ouster.
At least 42 people have been shot dead near a military barracks in Cairo, amid ongoing unrest following the removal of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi.
The Muslim Brotherhood says its members were staging a pro-Morsi sit-in at the barracks, where he is believed to be in detention, when they were fired on.
But the army said a “terrorist group” had tried to storm the barracks.
The office of interim president Adly Mansour expressed “deep sorrow” over the deaths and called for restraint.
In a statement, he too said there had been an attempt to storm the Presidential Guard barracks.
Mr Mansour ordered the formation of a judicial committee to investigate the clashes, and urged protesters not to approach the military or “vital installations”.
Anarchy took over the streets of Cairo as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood told supporters to fight on in the wake of a military coup that ousted President Mohammed Morsi and the swearing in of Interim President Adly Mansour.
The promised “Friday of rage” left 30 Egyptians slain in vicious street fighting as the defiant head of the Muslim Brotherhood urged a fight to the death against the military coup.
More than 450 others were injured in clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi as anarchy reigned in parts of Cairo and across the country.
Keeping Egypt’s president in power will send a message to the Arab world, but Islamists will face a tougher battle should the opposition begin labor sanctions
The first battle between the the opposition and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt ended in the early hours of Monday morning, when millions of demonstrators slowly dispersed to their homes after a long and bloody night.
According to figures from the Egyptian Health Ministry, 10 people died and 613 were injured during the confrontations that broke out between supporters of the two camps. The most severe clashes were near the Muslim Brotherhood building in the Muqqatam area south of Cairo, where four people were killed, but also in other cities, such as Asyut, Port Said, Al-Mahala, Al-Kubrah, and others.
CAIRO – Crowds swelled in Tahrir Square on Sunday, the first anniversary of President Mohammed Morsi’s inauguration, to demand that the president resign and call for an early presidential election.
“I want my country back,” said Dua Badrawy, who came to the square from Giza, a neighborhood that is home to Egypt’s most prized pyramids. “We are all Egyptians, and we want a real democracy.”
Protesters converged on Tahrir Square while others marched to the presidential palace. There, crowds are expected to mushroom throughout the evening, showing the severity of widespread discontent and bolstering prospects of more instability one year after the country’s first democratic election.
CAIRO: Thousands of opponents and supporters of Egypt’s president began massing in city squares in competing rallies Sunday, gearing up for a day of massive nationwide protests that many fear could turn deadly as the opposition seeks to push out Mohammed Morsi.
Waving Egyptian flags, crowds descended on Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo, one of multiple sites in the capital and around the country where they plan rallies. Chants of “erhal!” or “leave!,” rang out in the square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
On the other side of Cairo, thousands of the Islamist leader’s backers gathered not far from the presidential palace in a show of support. Some wore homemade body armor and construction hats and carried shields and clubs – precautions, they said, against possible violence.
Backers of Islamist President Morsi face off against the leader’s opponents;
Muslim Brotherhood offices stormed in 3 governorates;
Party headquarters torched.
Three people, among them an American Jewish citizen, Andrew Pochter, 21, were killed and 85 injured as tens of thousands of backers and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi held competing rallies in Cairo Friday. New clashes also erupted between the two sides in the country’s second largest city, Alexandria, in a prelude to massive nationwide protests planned by the opposition this weekend demanding Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s removal.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s offices in three Egyptian governorates were stormed by opposition protesters and the Freedom and Justice Party headquarters in Alexandria were torched, Ahram Online reported Friday.
“Egypt is in a free fall,” commented Channel 2′s Arab affairs analyst Ehud Ya’ari Friday evening.
Published March 24, 2013
At least 200 people were injured in the violence, some seriously, outside the headquarters of the Brotherhood, Egypt’s most dominant political group.
“If I have to do what is necessary to protect this nation I will, and I am afraid that I may be close to doing so,” Morsi said on Twitter, adding that “attempts to show the state as weak are failing.” The Islamist took office in June as Egypt’s first freely elected president.
Morsi also warned that “appropriate measures” would be taken against politicians found to be behind Friday’s violence, regardless of their seniority. Anyone found to be using the media to “incite violence” will also be held accountable, he added. His tweets came hours after Islamists staged a protest outside studios belonging to independent TV networks that are critical of the Egyptian leader.
The Islamists are protesting what they see as the biased coverage of Friday’s clashes. The Brotherhood says it does not support the protest.
Friday’s clashes followed an assault a week earlier by Brotherhood supporters on protesters painting hostile graffiti outside the group’s headquarters. The protesters chanted hostile slogans and taunted Brotherhood supporters when some of them tried to stop demonstrators from posting flyers on the headquarters’ outside walls.
The Brotherhood supporters also assaulted reporters at the scene. The group later said its supporters were provoked by the protesters and that the reporters were part of the protest.
Morsi’s tweets made no direct mention of the clashes but appeared to be a prelude to measures against the mostly liberal and secular opposition.
“I call on all political forces not to provide a political cover for violence, rioting and attacks on private and public property,” Morsi tweeted. “I will not be happy if investigations find some politicians guilty.”
The latest bout of political violence was the worst seen in Egypt since at least 10 people died in clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi in Cairo in December. Images of bloodied men from both sides were splashed across the front pages of Egypt’s newspapers on Sunday and Saturday, giving the distinct impression of a nation torn by strife.
Violence and a quick succession of political crises are deepening the schism in Egypt between Morsi and his Islamist supporters on one hand, and moderate Muslims, secular and leftist Egyptians along with Christians and women on the other.
Kerry meets with Egyptian leader Morsi over Israel peace agreement, weapons smuggling concerns
March 3, 2013: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Egypt’s president Sunday, wrapping up a visit to the deeply divided country with an appeal for unity and reform. The U.S. is deeply concerned that continued instability in Egypt will have broader consequences in a region already rocked by unrest. (AP)
CAIRO – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Egypt’s president Sunday, wrapping up a visit to the deeply divided country with an appeal for unity and reform.
A day after warning the country’s bickering politicians that they must overcome differences to get Egypt’s faltering economy back on track and maintain its leadership role in the volatile Middle East, Kerry was bringing a similar message to President Mohammed Morsi and his defense minister and intelligence chief.
Kerry’s meeting with Morsi began just after midday in Cairo, U.S. officials said.
The U.S. is deeply concerned that continued instability in Egypt will have broader consequences in a region already rocked by unrest.
U.S. officials said Kerry planned to raise Egypt’s key regional role with Morsi and his top security aides, stress the importance of upholding its peace agreement with Israel, cracking down on weapons smuggling to extremists in the Gaza Strip and policing the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula while continuing to play a positive role in Syria’s civil war. Yet, with parliamentary elections approaching, his call for harmonizing domestic Egyptian politics is just as important, they said.
Liberal and secular opponents of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood say they will boycott upcoming elections, and violent clashes between protesters and security forces have created an environment of insecurity, complicating Egyptian efforts to secure vital international aid.
In meetings with Egypt’s foreign minister and opposition politicians on Saturday, Kerry said reaching agreement on economic reforms to seal $4.8 billion in International Monetary Fund loans was particularly critical. Closing the IMF deal also will unlock significant U.S. assistance promised by President Barack Obama last year.
But the impact of his message of unity to the opposition was likely blunted as only six of the 11 guests invited by the U.S. Embassy turned up and three of those six said they still intended to boycott the April parliamentary election, according to participants.
Kerry said that the U.S. would not pick sides in Egypt, and he appealed to all sides to come together around human rights, freedom and speech and religious tolerance. Equally essential, he said, is uniting to undertake the reforms necessary to qualify for the IMF package. Those include increasing tax collections and curbing energy subsidies.
However, while expressing sympathy with the passion he heard from the opposition, Kerry suggested U.S. frustration with their tactics even as he maintained that “we’re not here to interfere, but to listen.”
“The best way to ensure human rights and strong political checks and balances … is through the broadest possible political and economic participation,” Kerry said after meeting Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr. “We believe that being active, engaging in peaceful participation is essential to building strong communities and healthy democracies.”
In an apparent nod to the current stalemate in Washington over the U.S. federal budget, Kerry acknowledged that compromise is difficult yet imperative.
“I say with both humility and with a great deal of respect that getting there requires a genuine give-and-take among Egypt’s political leaders and civil society groups just as we are continuing to struggle with that in our own country,” he said. ‘There must be a willingness on all sides to make meaningful compromises on the issues that matter most to all of the Egyptian people.”
The opposition accuses Morsi and the Brotherhood of following in the footsteps of toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, failing to carry out reforms and trying to install a more religiously conservative system.
Morsi’s administration and the Brotherhood say their foes, who have trailed significantly behind Islamists in all elections since the uprising against Mubarak, are running away from the challenge of the ballot box and are trying to overturn democratic gains.
Egypt’s polarization was underscored as Kerry arrived from Turkey on Saturday on the sixth of nine stops in his first official overseas visit as secretary of state. Activists in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura said a 35-year-old protester was killed when an armored police vehicle crushed him to death during anti-Morsi protests Saturday. And, in the restive Suez Canal city of Port Said, a police vehicle ran over five people after marching protesters refused to allow the car through.
Months of such turmoil have scared away tourists and foreign investors, eroding Egypt’s foreign reserves by nearly two-thirds of what it was before the uprising. Those reserves, which stand at less than $14 billion, are needed to pay for subsidies that millions of poor Egyptians rely on for survival.
“It is paramount, essential, urgent that the Egyptian economy gets stronger, gets back on its feet and it’s very clear that there is a circle of connections in how that can happen,” Kerry told business leaders shortly after his arrival. “To attract capital, to bring money back here, to give business the confidence to move forward, there has to be sense of security, there has to be a sense of political and economic viability.”
After concluding his meetings in Egypt on Sunday, Kerry will head to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where his focus is expected to be the crisis in Syria that dominated his earlier stops in Britain, Germany, France and Turkey, along with concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and growing Iranian assertiveness in the Persian Gulf. Kerry is set to return to Washington on Wednesday.
- Kerry seeks political, economic consensus in Egypt (kansascity.com)
- Kerry Presses Egypt President, Military On Reform (npr.org)
- News Analysis: Kerry’s visit likely to improve Egypt’s chances for IMF loan (nzweek.com)