Posts Tagged ‘Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’

Obama Policies Turning Egypt Against U.S.

August 16, 2013

Pro-military Egyptians want to shift to Russian alliance

By Bill Gertz

The Obama administration support for Muslim Brotherhood Islamists in Egypt is driving the powerful military there against the United States and toward Moscow, according to U.S. officials and reports from the region.

The pro-Muslim Brotherhood stance is undermining decades of U.S. policy toward the Middle East state and prompting concerns that the United States is about to “lose” Egypt as a strategic partner, said officials familiar with intelligence reports.

Disclosure of the concern over the administration’s policy failure in Egypt comes as a security crackdown on pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo resulted in scores killed.

“The Obama administration’s blatant Islamist support is risking the decades-long security arrangement with Egypt,” one U.S. official told the Washington Free Beacon.

“The Egyptians are so upset they might very well give up our support,” the official added, noting the military regime is currently leaning toward seeking backing from Russia, and possibly China in the future.

The United States has provided Egypt with more than $49 billion in both military and economic assistance since 1979. Cairo was viewed as a key strategic partner in the region.

However, the 2011 ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a long-time U.S. ally, as part of the pro-democracy Arab Spring movement began a shift in U.S. policy. At that time, the Obama administration began covertly backing the Muslim Brotherhood, an anti-democratic Islamist group.

The policy shift was a marked change from past policy. During the 1970s, the United States successfully diverted Egypt’s alignment with Soviet Union under Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser by developing close ties to Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, and later Mubarak.

“The administration, through a combination of ignorance, incompetence and support for the Islamists is reversing the strategy gains we made in Egypt,” the official said.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf rejected assertions that the United States is supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We’ve been clear that we don’t support any one party or one group in Egypt, period,” Harf said.

“The future of the Egyptian government is up to the people of Egypt themselves to decide,” she said. “The notion that we are supporting one side over another in Egypt is a total falsehood. We will continue working with all parties and all groups—including the interim government—to help facilitate a move towards an inclusive, democratic process.”

According to the officials, the failed policy toward Egypt is bipartisan. The recent visit to Egypt by Republican Sens. John McCain  (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) was widely viewed by Egyptian civilian and military leaders as tacit support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Graham and McCain said their visit was to support democracy in Egypt, but they criticized the military coup.

McCain was among the first lawmakers to call for a cutoff of support to the interim Egyptian government after the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that is seeking to impose Sharia law as a guiding ideology.

On Sunday, McCain said on “Fox News Sunday” that he was concerned about the outbreak of violence and he criticized the administration for refusing to call the military takeover a coup d’état.

“The fact is that it was a coup, and now they have jailed the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and the previous government, and that is not the way to bring about reconciliation,” McCain said.

Morsi, who was democratically elected, was thrown out of office by the military on June 30 following large-scale demonstrations by pro-democracy and anti-Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Cairo. Other Brotherhood leaders also were arrested and placed under house arrest.

In response, Islamists have been staging large-scale protests in the streets of Cairo since then, culminating in the crackdown by security forces. News reports put the death toll as of Wednesday afternoon at 278, with more than a thousand injured by gunfire and tear gas.

Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement Wednesday condemned the violence in Egypt.

“The United States strongly supports the Egyptian people’s hope for a prompt and sustainable transition to an inclusive, tolerant, civilian-led democracy,” he said.

U.S. officials said there are signs Egypt’s military is taking steps to expand control over the political system.

Current Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is being touted by government controlled news media as a patriotic, Nasser-like figure who should run for president.

According to the officials, since the June 30 military takeover, pro-military groups and backers of the new regime are promoting anti-American policies in news outlets.

The campaign, which appears to have high-level Egyptian military support, also calls for shifting Egypt’s alliance from the United States to Russia.

Numerous photos promoting the theme have appeared at rallies and on social media in the past month and half.

The campaign also has included an effort to expel U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, who the pro-militarists say was a backer of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A military source was quoted in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm al-Sabi as saying Patterson was responsible for the killing of Muslim Brotherhood protesters at Rab’a al Adawiya following a reported meeting between her and senior Muslim Brotherhood officials. The reported plot was discussed at a hotel that called for a plan to foment violence that would justify military intervention and sanctions against Egypt.

On Twitter, a pro-military politician, Mustafa Bakri, criticized President Barack Obama for delaying the sale of four F-16 jets to Egypt and called the president “an ally” of the Brotherhood.

In tandem with the anti-U.S. campaign, pro-military news outlets have been promoting a shift in policy toward Russia. The Al Watan newspaper on July 29 quoted several Egyptian foreign affairs experts as urging the government to replace the United States with Russia as a key ally, based on the failure of the U.S. government to support the military takeover.

A pro-military online forum called the “Arabic Military” on July 29 quoted “diplomatic sources” as saying Putin would soon visit Egypt in the aftermath of calls for a reevaluation of U.S.-Egypt ties.

Russia is known to be seeking a foothold in the Middle East following the turmoil in Syria that prompted a Russian pullout of from the port of Tartus.

Russia also is setting up a new naval headquarters in the Mediterranean.

Other pro-military Facebook pages have criticized Obama and praised Putin. One site called “Egypt will Not Fall” praised Putin as “great Caesar and leader” who is offering to sell Egypt 55 MiG fighter jets to replace the U.S. F-16s.

MiG-29

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Egyptian Army Top General Defends Decision to Remove Morsi — Claims Mosri Failed to Understand Egypt’s People, Economy

July 14, 2013

Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi

Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi

By Aya Batrawy

CAIRO (AP) – Egypt’s military chief has defended the ouster of the Islamist president, saying he acted upon the will of the people after the “stumbling” of the former government.

In his first remarks since announcing the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi on July 3, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said the armed forces “acted at the urging of the people.”

State-run media carried his remarks Sunday. He said, “No one is a guardian of the public, and no one can dictate or force path or thought that they don’t accept.”

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood is demonstrating to demand his reinstatement.

Israeli Arab men take part in a demonstration in support of the deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in the northern village of Kafar Kana July 13, 2013. REUTERS-Ammar Awad
Morsi supporters want him reinstated. Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad
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Israeli Arab men take part in a demonstration in support of the deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in the northern village of Kafar Kana July 13, 2013. REUTERS-Ammar Awad

Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood supporters protest against the military takeover in Egypt. Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad

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Morsi Could Still Face Charges in Court

From CBS News

(CBS News) CAIRO – Egypt’s interim prime minister now says he will form his new Cabinet by the end of next week. Prosecutors there are weighing charges against deposed president Mohammed Morsi for damaging the nation’s economy.

It’s a charge many Egyptians would support. Many Egyptians celebrated their country’s revolution of two and a half years ago, but Egypt is still in turmoil.

On Saturday there were more angry protests over the military’s intervention to oust Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

For some ordinary Egyptians, life has become more difficult. Forty percent of the country is now living in poverty.

Umm Ali has been buying her fish in one Cairo market for 40 years. “Things haven’t gotten better,” she told us. “The prices have gone up, and there’s no work.”

Special Section: After the Arab Spring

In one middle-class neighborhood, many people say Morsi was a failure who mismanaged the economy. They’re happy the military deposed him and hope it will bring stability.

Without it, one of Egypt’s most important industries will die.

Crowds of foreign tourists used to line up to see this country’s treasure trove of ancient monuments.

But now the pyramids stand deserted. Foreign visitors have nearly all been frightened off.

Mohammad Essam used to run a busy souvenir shop. Now, he told us, he sees just one or two customers a day.

“Where are you from?” he asked one customer.

“Florida,” the customer responded.

“Florida, America,” said Mohammad. “You are more than welcome.”

Mohammad told us he protested during the Egyptian revolution, but now he’s struggling to make ends meet and is tired of politics.

“I open everyday at 10 and close at 10 evening,” Mohammad said, “but little, little, very little customer. We hope one day it will be better. But when? But when?”

Since the military’s intervention, some of Egypt’s wealthy neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, have promised $12 billion in financial aid .

But in a country plagued by corruption and waste, even that amount of money will only be a temporary fix to Egypt’s problems.

Egyptian army soldiers stand guard on their armored personnel carrier, near the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood vowed Thursday not to back down in its push to restore ousted Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi to power but insisted its resistance is peaceful in an effort to distance itself from more than a week of clashes with security forces. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

This Saturday, July 6, 2013 file photo released by the office of the Egyptian Presidency on Saturday, July 6, 2013 shows Mohamed Elbaradei, left, meeting with interim president Adly Mansour, right, at the presidential palace. Liberal and youth movements that backed the military’s removal of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi are now fighting to make their calls for reform heard as they push back against the military’s strong grip on the new leadership. At stake is the hope that the Arab world’s most populous nation will emerge from more than two years of turmoil as a democracy. (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency, File)

In Egypt: Pro-Democracy Advocates Urge The Military Not To Hold The Reins of Power Too Long

July 12, 2013

CAIRO (AP) – The liberal and youth movements that backed the military’s removal of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi are now pushing to ensure their calls for change are heard in the face of the generals’ strong grip on the new leadership. At stake is the hope that the Arab world’s most populous nation will emerge from more than two years of turmoil as a democracy.

By Sarah El Deeb

Egyptian army soldiers stand guard on their armored personnel carrier, near the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood vowed Thursday not to back down in its push to restore ousted Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi to power but insisted its resistance is peaceful in an effort to distance itself from more than a week of clashes with security forces. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Morsi’s removal brought a wave of celebration after millions nationwide joined four days of protests last week demanding his removal. But that is giving way to a harder reality for the democracy advocates who organized the protests — including many of the same movements that led the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 then opposed the military’s subsequent 17-month rule.

This Saturday, July 6, 2013 file photo released by the office of the Egyptian Presidency on Saturday, July 6, 2013 shows Mohamed Elbaradei, left, meeting with interim president Adly Mansour, right, at the presidential palace. Liberal and youth movements that backed the military’s removal of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi are now fighting to make their calls for reform heard as they push back against the military’s strong grip on the new leadership. At stake is the hope that the Arab world’s most populous nation will emerge from more than two years of turmoil as a democracy. (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency, File)

Many are wary of the military’s influence and skeptical that it backs their reform agenda and insist they must not become a liberal facade. But they are also under heavy pressure to keep unity within the military-backed leadership: The charged nationalist, pro-army atmosphere that has swept the country has little tolerance for breaking ranks at a time when Islamists continue protests demanding the return of Morsi.

Earlier this week, the head of the military issued a sharply worded statement that reinforced that message, warning political factions against “maneuvering” that holds up progress.

The strategy of the revolutionary groups – an array of leftist, secular and liberal movements – is to push hard for figures they trust to take the top spots in the new government being constructed that will run the country, probably until early next year.

So far they seem to be succeeding. Leading reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, an iconic figure to some activists, has been named vice president. An economist active in the movements is the new prime minister.

ElBaradei’s appointment is “a great revolutionary gain,” Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, a leader of Tamarod, the youth activist movement whose anti-Morsi petition campaign led to the protests, wrote on the group’s Facebook page. Once the government is formed, the next battle is to “impose the vision of the revolution, more importantly, on the permanent constitution.”

On Thursday, the National Salvation Front – the main grouping of liberal and secular parties, in which ElBaradei is a senior leader – demanded the Cabinet “be made up from figures who belong to the Jan. 25 Revolution.”

Much is on the line for the movements: They have to prove their gambit of supporting the military ouster of the country’s first freely elected leader can bring a democracy. When army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced on national TV on July 3 that Morsi had been removed, standing with him were ElBaradei and representatives of Tamarod, along with the sole Islamist group backing Morsi’s ouster, the Al-Nour Party, and other figures.

Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi

Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi

Their presence implied that they would have a say in power. But it opened them to charges that longtime proponents of democracy were fomenting a military takeover. Morsi’s Islamist supporters say the military’s coup has destroyed democracy and is bringing back dictatorship. The United States has expressed concern over the military’s move, though it acknowledges the popular support for it.  “It’s clear that the Egyptian people have spoken,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

The liberals’ position was made even harder after more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters were killed by troops and police in clashes Monday.

Amr Ezzat, a human rights researcher, said the military will have to respect the voices of the revolutionary movements, which it ignored when it stepped into rule after Mubarak. The street is too primed to rise up again on “a new adventure.”

“ElBaradei has a role and influence in what is going on. El-Sissi knows there is opposition out there, which managed to turn things upside down. It must have a representative (in power). This is progress,” he said.

 Mohamed ElBaradei.

Then-International Energy Agency Director General Mohamed  ElBaradei speaks during the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East in  Sharm el-Sheikh May 19, 2008. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

If the politicians backslide on democracy promises, activist groups on the ground say they are willing and able to take to the streets again to demand their agenda, which includes social justice, respect for human rights and civil liberties, and greater accountability over government and the military.

Some are already dismayed by the return of military power and the police, which were hated under Mubarak but now are basking in public praise after backing Morsi’s ouster.

Sally Toma, a longtime activist, called what has happened “a coup against the revolution.”

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi hold up pictures of him outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo July 8, 2013. REUTERS-Louafi Larbi

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi hold up pictures of him outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo July 8, 2013. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

“We are against the military and the Brotherhood. We struggle against both,” she said, adding that a new Tamarod-style canvassing campaign called “Manifesto” to collect popular demands is already in the works.  “We are back to square one. Our demands are the same.”

Already, the liberal movements are hitting back against any signs by the new leadership of turning against their agenda.

One notable example came amid negotiations over the prime minster post last week. Abdel-Aziz of Tamarod publicly accused the spokesman of the new interim president of lying and demanded he be more accountable to the public. It was sparked when an agreement to appoint ElBaradei as prime minister was blocked by Al-Nour. The spokesman told journalists there was no final deal to name him – the sort of spin that in the past went unchallenged.

Bigger frictions erupted when the interim president issued a declaration that was effectively a truncated constitution for the transition period, defining the basic government authorities until elections early next year.

Tamarod and the Salvation Front objected that they had not been consulted and demanded changes. In part, they said it gave too much power to the president, a post they had envisaged as symbolic. But in particular, they were up in arms that it retained clauses opening the door for greater Islamic law that Islamists had put into the constitution they drafted and passed under Morsi.

The groups saw that as a gesture to Al-Nour and protested that the Islamist party was claiming undeserved influence even after Morsi’s fall.

Mai Wahba, a founding member of Tamarod, said the group had since negotiated with the interim president and that it is satisfied its concerns are being addressed. She said Tamarod was convinced the Islamist clauses will be removed in the amended constitution.

She acknowledged that the support of Al-Nour is needed for the interim government.

“Don’t forget, Al-Nour can go ally with the Brotherhood and represent pressure on national security,” she said. “The situation right now won’t stand divisions again among the civil current. This will benefit the Islamist current.”

Still, that sort of compromise and pragmatism does not go over well with some groups in the street. One activist group, the National Community for Human Rights and Law, denounced the constitutional declaration as “repressive,” saying it belongs to the “Mubarak and Morsi era, not to the revolution.”

The killings of the Morsi supporters on Monday are also proving a moral test for the democracy advocates. Human rights groups are torn between their mandate to document violations and their reservations about the Brotherhood’s own attitude on rights advocates.

Ghada Shahbender, a leading rights activist, said that her “personal dilemma” was that rights groups defended Islamists suppressed during the Mubarak regime, but after Mubarak’s fall the Brotherhood turned against rights activists. “Today we are supposed to go defend them, stand in their defense,” she said.

After the killings, Shahbender said human rights lawyers went to the morgue to document the deaths and help families find their slain loved ones. Brotherhood lawyers turned them away, saying their help was not needed.

Over the past two years, Brotherhood officials accused rights groups of being foreign-funded and echoed the military’s justifications for crackdowns on protesters during the post-Mubarak military rule.

Shahbender said she has also been documenting attacks by Morsi supporters on their opponents the past weeks. In one incident in Cairo near where she lives, she said, “they stood on top of a mosque and shot people in cold blood. … I am trying to be unbiased but I am a human being.”

She too reflected that hope that reform-minded figures like ElBaradei in government will advance their cause, noting that the new interim president called for an investigation into killings.

And, she said, “we have a vice president who has always pushed the human rights agenda to the forefront.”

Arab World Forced to Review Leadership, Human Rights, Future After Egypt’s Upheaval

July 10, 2013

By Brian Murphy

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – As Egypt’s political crisis tumbled toward its first night of major bloodshed last week, the country’s army chief was pulled away for a phone call. It was one he couldn’t easily ignore.

On the other end of the line was Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. He was calling to personally reinforce his strong backing to Egypt’s new caretaker rulers. And, he reminded Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Friday, Saudi Arabia expected “wisdom” as events unfolded.

Photo: A poster of ousted President Mohammed Morsi hangs on the barb wire at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Egyptian security forces killed dozens of supporters of Egypt’s ousted president in one of the deadliest single episodes of violence in more than two and a half years of turmoil. The toppled leader’s Muslim Brotherhood called for an uprising, accusing troops of gunning down protesters, while the military blamed armed Islamists for provoking its forces. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The subtext was clear: Egypt’s upheavals will ultimately test the definitions of the Arab Spring and views on its role as a breeding ground for democracy in the region.

For nations such as Saudi Arabia, which have used all their resources to quell the calls for reform, nothing could be more soothing than having the Arab Spring’s democratic credentials thrown into doubt. They may now increasingly point to Egypt as a cautionary tale about the aspirations of democracy to both validate their hold on power and further tighten crackdowns on perceived dissent.

Elsewhere – from Tunisia’s political jockeying to the reshuffled Syrian opposition leadership – the sideline debates are now dominated by questions about whether Western-style political openness is the right fit for the complicated array of forces set in motion for the Arab revolts: empowered Islamists, anxious liberals and military forces and other institutions that see themselves as guardians of stability.

“Egypt is not going to change the fundamental idea that the Arab Spring is about democracy and democratic ideals,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, professor of political science at Emirates University. “It will change the conversation, though, to bring in more questions about who is ready for it.”

Egypt’s interim president has promised parliamentary and presidential elections early next year. But any timetable could be derailed by unrest or credible threats that voting could make matters even worse. Just hours after Monday’s clashes that left more than 50 dead, the Muslim Brotherhood armed wing called for open revolt against the army.

Egypt, long the Arab world’s de facto center, became the pillar of the pro-democracy rebellions after Hosni Mubarak was swept from power in 2011 in just 18 days of pressure from the streets. The whiplash revolt against President Mohammed Morsi – a year after his election – has brought a disorienting spectacle of celebrations, anger and worry across the region that all meet in one general spot: Whether belief in the power of the ballot box can fully recover.

For some Gulf states that have done everything they can to crush the Arab Spring inspirations, the reaction to the Muslim Brotherhood’s downfall have been nearly euphoric.

The Saudi king – who backs Syria’s rebels but will not allow hints of protest at home – lauded defense chief el-Sissi for helping Egypt escape from “a dark tunnel.” The United Arab Emirates noted “satisfaction” in the toppling of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, which are viewed by some Gulf states as a fifth column against their Western-backed ruling systems. The UAE on Tuesday promised a total of $3 billion in grants and no-interest loans in one of the first major pledges of aid since Morsi’s fall, and Saudi Arabia later pledged $5 billion in grants and loans to the cash-strapped country.

Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi

Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi

“The Islamists have lost more than the presidency. They have lost the moral case. The Islamist brand has been damaged,” said Middle East analyst Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics.

“The damage will transcend Egypt to neighboring Arab and Middle Eastern countries,” he added. “Many Arabs now will take a second look at the Islamists and say, ‘There is a huge divide between the rhetoric and the reality. No original ideas. No economic plan. They pursued similar policies to Mubarak.”

But that’s not the only collateral damage from Egypt, he said. The military’s role in bringing down Morsi’s government strikes at the “democratic future” in Egypt and elsewhere.

“After what happened in Egypt, the democracies in the Arab Spring countries are in danger,” said Wathiq al-Hashimi, who heads the Iraqi Group for Strategic Studies in Baghdad. “There is still fire under the ashes in these countries that could lead to widespread civil war and divisions.”

The Arab world is a patchwork of governing systems from ruling dynasties to elected leaderships in place such as Lebanon and Iraq, but both mandate some degree of power- sharing to appease rival internal factions. In Tunisia, where the Arab Spring was born, critics of the Islamist-dominated national assembly opened calls for a new national unity government, but there appears to be no serious attempts to overturn the 2011 election results.

Laryssa Chomiak, director of the Center for Maghreb Studies in Tunisia, said events in Egypt might actually encourage Tunisians to finish up their constitution and hold new elections.

“They want to show they can do it here while the Egyptians couldn’t,” she said.

Still, the tone around the region has shifted considerably since Morsi’s collapse. Questions about faith in Middle East democracy – until recently a fringe debate – are suddenly front and center.

On Monday, the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera – an important opinion shaper – held a web forum to discuss whether Western-style democracy in the region has suffered a setback by the rejection of Morsi, who has been held in an undisclosed location since last week. The Qatar-based broadcaster has been criticized by Egypt’s military and others, including some staff members who resigned Monday, for perceived bias in favor of Morsi, who was backed by the Gulf nation and now leaves Qatar’s rulers to retool their policies.

On the webcast, London-based political analyst Mamoon Alabbassi noted the apparent failures of Morsi’s government – including Egypt’s stumbling economy – but feared the precedent of letting the streets decide when a government should go.

“The only way you would know which is the bigger size (between Morsi’s opponents and backers) is not from a helicopter view, where you count heads like you count sheep,” he said. “It’s from the ballot box.”

Yet this circles back to the heart of Egypt’s crisis: The claim by Morsi’s opponents that it was he – not they – who betrayed democracy by allegedly concentrating power among Islamists and excluding others.

In many ways, it speaks to the wider questions of democracy’s essence and evolution. Expectations of quick and seamless transitions from authoritarian rule to elections ignore the lessons of history. Through the centuries, post-revolution governments have taken years or longer to shake out. More recently, Iraq is still struggling to find political common ground in three-way rivalries among majority Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

“We should not be romantic when we see that a regime is brought down and expect that the next day we will have an ideal regime,” said Nabil Bou Moncef, a senior analyst with Lebanon’s leading An-Nahar newspaper.

“We are witnessing a new wave of events that are shaping up the Arab Spring and Arab revolutions. … We should not be surprised to see a long way until we reach an Arab democratic system,” he said. “I am not surprised by what is going on. The West fought major wars and had bloody revolutions until they reached the current system.”

In Egypt’s neighbor Gaza, the governing Palestinian faction Hamas came to power in 2006 elections that highlighted the potential paradox of the ballot box. The West pushed for elections, but was troubled by the result and effectively snubbed militant Hamas in favor of its Palestinian rivals in the West Bank.

A Hamas-linked political commentator, Eyad al-Qarra, described Morsi’s ouster as a “real setback for the Arab Spring,” and could jeopardize legitimacy of all elections after the uprising.

Sufian Ahmad, a 52-year-old Gaza businessman, sees a greater worry: Undermining the idea that elections – and their outcome – are the ultimate expression of the Arab Spring.

“I think that the Arab Spring era is beginning to end,” he said. “We are walking toward a new dark era colored with blood and violence.”

Associated Press writers Max J. Rosenthal in Jerusalem, Bassem Mroue in Beirut, Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Dale Gavlak in Amman, Jordan, Paul Schemm in Cairo and Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad contributed to this report.

Egypt’s Army Says Morsi Must Go: Army Ready With Its Own Plan

July 1, 2013

Egypt’s military said it would step in to force a solution to the country’s political crisis in 48 hours if the government and opposition did not reach a compromise.

The unprecedented step, described by government opponents as a “coup with two days’ notice”, left the Islamist organisation looking beaten and outnumbered just a year after it won elections in Egypt.

Fearing that President Mohammed Morsi was no longer capable of controlling the country, the army issued a statement on live television in response to the huge protest marches and violent clashes that have swept Cairo and other cities.

“The Armed Forces repeat their call to respond to the people’s demands, and give everyone 48 hours as a last chance to fulfil the burden of historical circumstance,” the statement, signed by Gen Abdulfatah al-Sisi, the minister of defence and head of the armed forces, said.

Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi

Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said political  strife was pushing state to brink of collapse

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“If the demands of the people are not met within this period, it will be incumbent upon us to announce a road map for the future and oversee measures to implement it.”

The announcement appeared to stun the Brotherhood and supporters of President Morsi, who until the marches were launched on Sunday were confident that only a minority of people, mostly loyal to the former regime of ex-President Hosni Mubarak, supported opposition calls for him to quit.

There was no sign he had been informed in advance of the army’s move, even though Gen Sisi is a member of Mr Morsi’s cabinet and Mr Morsi is technically head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

It is not clear that it means the army will force Mr Morsi to step down – or whether he would do so if it was demanded of him. He was said to be meeting Gen Sisi and to be preparing to give his own response on Monday night.

Opponents of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi wave national flags and light fireworks during a protest outside the presidential palace in Cairo (AP)

But many of the protesters on the streets believed the army would at least order fresh elections – a key demand. Tamarod, or “Rebellion”, the opposition coalition which organised Sunday’s protests and said it had gathered 22 million signatures calling for Mr Morsi to step down, said the army had “sided with the people”.

The announcement was met with cheers by tens of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square, many of them among whose presence in the same square led to the Mr Mubarak’s resignation in February 2011. In tumultuous scenes, drivers in Cairo honked their horns and waved national flags out of their windows. Several army helicopters flew over the square proudly trailing the national flag.

Earlier, some protesters had turned their attention to the Brotherhood headquarters in the new development of Moqattam on the edge of Cairo.

Laser lights directed by Egyptian protestors on a military helicopter flying over the presidential palace in Cairo (AFP/Getty Images)

The police had refused to defend the property, and in the clashes that ensued gunshots were exchanged. Eight people, all protesters, were killed. Witnesses said that although there was firing from both sides, the Brotherhood supporters in the building were protected by sandbags.

As the attackers lay dying in the street, their colleagues hurled petrol bombs at the building, setting it alight. At around 7am, an armoured vehicle arrived to evacuate the occupants. The protesters then stormed the building, smashing windows, looting furniture and taking away cartloads of documents.

Angry relatives gathered at the morgue where bodies were taken and at the local police station, saying the police had arrested and then let go Brotherhood members in the area.

Alaa Mohammed el-Sayed, 26, said he himself had been shot in the hand and leg from inside the building as he tried to retrieve the body of his dead brother, Ahmed.

“He was shot in the head,” he said. “He died five minutes later. No ambulance came to rescue him.”

Tens of thousands of Egyptians demonstrate outside the presidential palace in Cairo (AFP/Getty Images)

A state security official standing guard said they had decided not to intervene so that they “did not have to arrest kids”.

The violence, and eight additional deaths elsewhere in the country, demonstrated the Brotherhood’s inability to command the authority of the police, a power base of the Mubarak regime. It not only refused to protect Brotherhood buildings, but several of its officers took part in the protests, even addressing the crowds in Tahrir Square.

Fireworks explode over hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathering in Tahrir Square in Cairo (AP)

At their own semi-permanent counter-rally outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, Brotherhood supporters said they had been betrayed and urged Mr Morsi not to step aside.

“This is a counter-revolution against legitimacy,” Sayed Wanas, a teacher said. The Brotherhood point to Mr Morsi’s election victory a year ago and say he is the only democratically chosen leader in Egypt’s 7,000-year history.

“If the army doesn’t protect legitimate government, the people will protect it themselves.”

As Egypt Circles The Drain, Team Obama Supports Muslim Brotherhood

June 23, 2013
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FILE  – June 29, 2012: Egypt’s President-elect Mohammed Morsi waves to supporters  after giving a speech at Tahrir Square in Cairo. (The Associated Press)

Read more:  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/06
/21/as-egypt-unravels-team-obama-increases-support
-for-muslim-brotherhood/#ixzz2X3WMLxF2

The news from Egypt is grim.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi made international  headlines this week as he appointed Adel Al Khayat as governor of Luxor, an ancient Egyptian city that is key tourist  destination.

The problem with Mr. Khayat? He just happens to lead the “political” arm of a  terrorist organization that massacred tourists in Luxor in 1997. The details of  the attack are beyond grisly, with many of the dead disemboweled and notes  “praising Islam” placed inside their mutilated bodies.

And that’s not all.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported on the  rise of blasphemy prosecutions since Morsi ascended to power.

When it comes to the Middle East, we have proven to be the worst of  friends and the best of enemies.

In recent cases, Egyptian courts have sentenced a writer to 5 years in prison  for allegedly promoting atheism, sentenced a lawyer to a year in prison for  allegedly insulting Islam in a private conversation, and fined a Christian  schoolteacher $14,000 for allegedly insulting Muhammed in her classroom.

These recent revelations pile on top of the “old” news, including violations  of the peace treaty with Israel, failing to protect our American embassy from  attacks, and launching systematic crackdowns on Egypt’s Coptic Christian  community.

Against this backdrop of Shariah and jihad – and hidden behind the blanket  news coverage of the Obama administration’s other scandals – the White  House has decided to increase its financial support for the Muslim Brotherhood,  quietly clearing the way for the U.S. to give Egypt $1.3 billion in military aid.

On May 10, the very day that Lois Lerner issued her contrived apology for the  IRS targeting conservative groups, Secretary of State John Kerry formally waived – on  national security grounds – statutory requirements that he certify that Egypt’s  Muslim Brotherhood government was “implementing policies to protect freedom of  expression, association, and religion, and due process of law” before providing  any further American military aid.

Think about this for a moment: The Obama administration threw the Mubarak  regime (for all its flaws, a stalwart American ally that kept peace with Israel)  under the bus ostensibly because of its human rights violations but is  waiving human rights conditions to prop up a more brutal jihadist  government.

Let’s not forget the motto of the  Muslim Brotherhood: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The  Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest  hope.”

That is the organization that we are empowering – that we are arming – at  American taxpayer expense.

In the coming days and weeks, secular and Christian opposition leaders are  planning nationwide protests against a  Morsi regime that has proven competent at implementing Shariah law but not at  running an economy.

Morsi’s jihadist allies plan a crackdown, and if and when they succeed, you  may see the terrible sight of American-made and taxpayer-purchased tanks and  other armored vehicles literally crushing the Christian opposition.

The saying goes that there is “no better friend and no worse enemy” than a  United States Marine.

The Obama administration has turned this on its head. — When it comes to the  Middle East, we have proven to be the worst of friends and the best of  enemies.

We sat on our hands during Iran’s Green Revolution, when the Mullahs were  briefly in danger of being overthrown.

We similarly sat on our hands in the early days of the Syrian uprising  against the brutal, Iran-allied Assad regime, before jihadists had taken over  the Syrian opposition.

But we acted quickly to support the Egyptian uprising, tossing aside a  longtime ally.

Across the Middle East, jihad is ascendant. The Mullahs remain comfortably in  power in Iran (busy building a bomb), Syria’s opposition is dominated by Al  Qaeda-affiliated militias, and Egypt is firmly in the hands of the Muslim  Brotherhood.

And now we’re arming Egypt and considering arming jihadist rebels in  Syria.

The Obama administration is doubling down on failure – at the expense of  Egyptian Christians and the American taxpayer.

Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice  (ACLJ).  Follow him on Twitter@JaySekulow.

Read more:  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/06/21/as-egypt-unravels-team-obama-increases-support-for-muslim-brotherhood/#ixzz2X3WkBFEy

Related:

Egypt’s Army Says It Can Prevent Civil War, Restore Order

June 23, 2013

Associated PressBy HAMZA HENDAWI | Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s army chief has warned that the military is ready to intervene to stop the nation from entering a “dark tunnel” of internal conflict.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, also the defense minister, spoke Sunday, a week ahead of mass protests planned by opponents of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Egyptians fear the demonstrations calling for Morsi’s ouster will descend into violence after some of the president’s hard-line supporters vowed to “smash” them. Others declared protesters were infidels who deserve to be killed.

Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi

Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said political  strife was pushing state to brink of collapse

El-Sissi’s comments make clear that the military is willing to intervene on the side of the protesters if attacked by the president’s Islamist backers.

He urged all parties to use the week leading up to the June 30 protests to reach a “genuine” understanding to defuse the crisis.


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