Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Watching Egypt... closely.

A military helicopter files over the presidential palace as opponents
of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi celebrate.
Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. (AP)

I've been reluctant to post on the protests in Egypt, partly because the situation is so much in flux that it isn't realistic to try to keep up with it, and partly because I am certain that my readers are the sort of folks who will be going beyond the mainstream media anyway.

Just a few of the questions which come to mind as we continue to watch events in Egypt:

- Will Morsi's ouster mean the end of Islamist influence in Egypt? And related, will the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups be outlawed by the military as they were under Mubarak?

- Will this mean an easing of persecution of the Copts, or will they be attacked in revenge for Morsi's ouster?

- This is an epic failure of Obama's foreign policy, as he strongly supported the Muslim Brotherhood right from his first months in office. The anti-Morsi protesters linked Obama to the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism, and one might see Obama implicated in the statement issued by the Egyptian military:

The post on the official Facebook page of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), headed by armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said: "We swear to God that we will sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool."
As the following linked articles indicate, the situation is very volatile, as Hamas had begun to step in to defend the MB and Morsi, killing Egyptian protesters from the MB headquarters, and Christians were openly threatened to not join in the protests, and could be targeted by MB/Morsi supporters in scapegoat retribution attacks with his forced ouster by the military:

"Live from Egypt: latest developments," from Al Arabiya, July 3

Below is a statement/press release from International Christian Concern (ICC), which operates, which sums up a great deal as of late afternoon, July 3.

Egypt Braces for a Post-Morsi Egypt

7/3/2013 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) watches the unfolding situation in Cairo as night sets on the Egypt capital. The deadline issued by the Egyptian armed forces has passed and President Morsi has made calls for reconciliation but has not stepped down, which was the primary demand of the protestors. According to reports emerging from Egypt, President Morsi has been effectively removed from the decision-making process and the Armed Forces will implement a road map for the country.

A meeting hours before the expiration of the Armed Forces deadline brought together many of the primary stakeholders in a post-Morsi Egypt. General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi met with liberal opposition spokesman Mohamed ElBaradei, two leaders from the Tamarod youth opposition group, a representative of the Islamic fundamentalist Nour party, as well as the Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar Islamic Institute and the Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawados II, Reuters reports.

The threat of violence grew, heading into Wednesday, as 16 were killed overnight and 200 were injured outside of Cairo University, Ahram reports. During the night, President Morsi gave a statement saying he was prepared to give his life to defend Egypt in what can perhaps be considered a call to arms for Muslim Brotherhood supporters, according to BBC. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, headed by General el-Sissi, issued its own declaration: "We swear to God that we will sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool.”

As President Morsi and his supports cling to power, the security of the country continues to unravel, with the deadly clashes early Wednesday morning pushing the death toll to 39 and injuries now numbering more than a thousand. Another disturbing figure is the abuse against women. Human Rights Watch has documented nearly 100 cases of sexual violence against women during the protests, which highlight a disturbing trend that the government and security forces have failed to address. This is just one of the many failures to protect law and order and basic rights that has marked Morsi’s year in power.

On Wednesday, Egyptian security forces issued a travel ban on President Morsi and dozens of the top Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood to prevent them from fleeing the country. While some aides from the Morsi camp have called this a military coup, the Armed Forces have repeated they have no desire to bring the country under military rule. The military has moved forces into positions around the country in an attempt to minimize the violence as clashes between rival groups seem destined to explode.