Story Summary

Unrest in Egypt

Eyptian President Mohamed Morsy is facing a polarized country as supporters and opponents of his government clashed in the streets. The army ordered that Morsey form a coalition government by July 3 or face the prospect of a coup.

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This story has 9 updates
National & World News
08/19/13

25 soldiers die in Egypt attack

CAIRO — Nothing — not even hundreds of deaths — has stopped Mohamed Morsy’s supporters from demanding the ousted president be reinstated. And with more protesters saying they would die for their cause, the turmoil could get even uglier this week.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for continued protests Monday as authorities remain determined to derail their plans.

But a spate of fresh violence is compounding Egypt’s turmoil, including the deaths of 36 Muslim Brotherhood prisoners and an attack that left 25 Egyptian soldiers dead.

Attempted jailbreak

Egypt

Military uses tear gas to disperse rock-throwing crowds. (Screen Grab)

At least 36 jailed members of the Muslim Brotherhood were killed Sunday in what the Interior Ministry called an attempted jailbreak.

The inmates were among a group of more than 600 who were being transferred to a prison north of Cairo, ministry spokesman Hani Abdel Latif said. The inmates had grabbed a senior officer who was checking out “a commotion” in one of the trucks, he said.

“The other officers tried to free him, and in the process, they used tear gas, resulting in 36 detainees killed,” Abdel Latif said.

The captive officer was seriously injured but survived, the ministry said.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

National & World News
08/16/13

Clashes spread across Egypt; more reported killed

CAIRO — Clashes between security forces and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood spread across Egypt on Friday, killing dozens of protesters as gunfire erupted and vigilantes, some brandishing whips and pipes, roamed neighborhoods and cheered soldiers moving through the streets.

Fierce violence broke out as tens of thousands of supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi marched toward Ramses Square in downtown Cairo. Police and men in civilian clothes fired tear gas, birdshot and live bullets as protesters rushed the dead and wounded into a makeshift hospital in a nearby mosque.

Doctors at the hospital said at least 52 protesters had been killed. Media reports said more than 15 others died in clashes that spread to Ismailia, Damietta, Fayoum and other cities. Egypt’s new military-backed government said there were nine confirmed deaths nationwide.

The bloodshed came a day after the Interior Ministry announced police would use “live ammunition in the face” of any attacks. That warning did not deter surges of protesters angry over raids by security forces on two sit-ins Wednesday that killed more than 600 Morsi supporters.

egypt2“I have no gun. I have no knife. I only have my body marching here. If I am killed, it is for my freedom,” said Issam Ibrahim, an engineer, as army helicopters buzzed overhead. “Can the military withstand this kind of pressure? I doubt it. It may take days, weeks, but we are marching for legitimacy.”

“You tell the world,” said another man. “You tell the world what we are doing.”

The marches were dubbed the “Day of Rage” and they edged this nation further into chaos.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

By Jeffrey Fleishman

Los Angeles Times

CAIRO – The death toll from the violence engulfing Egypt rose Thursday to more than 600, as supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi vowed to continue their protests despite a crackdown by the military-backed government.

Aftermath of sit-ins clearing in CairoAt least 638 people were killed and 3,994 injured in clashes ignited Wednesday when security forces broke up two sit-ins by protesters loyal to Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, according to a Health Ministry official quoted by Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper. The dead, mostly Morsi supporters, include at least 43 police officers.

The bloodshed stunned world leaders. President Obama on Thursday canceled a joint military exercise with Egypt and said he was ordering a review of other steps the United States might take.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the U.N. Security Council move to condemn what he characterized as a massacre by Egyptian soldiers and security forces.

“I am calling on Western countries. You remained silent in Gaza, you remained silent in Syria. … You are still silent on Egypt. So how come you talk about democracy, freedom, global values and human rights?” he told a news conference.

The unrest continued Thursday. Four people were killed in clashes in Alexandria. Islamist protesters allegedly threw Molotov cocktails and set fire to the municipal building in Giza, outside Cairo. About the same time, flag-draped coffins of police officers killed in Wednesday’s clashes were driven slowly through the capital.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which claimed more than 2,000 people had died nationwide after police stormed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo, vowed to continue protesting until the former president is reinstated.

“We will always be nonviolent and peaceful. We remain strong, defiant and resolved,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad Haddad posted on his Twitter account. “We will push forward until we bring down this military coup.”

 

WASHINGTON — The Egyptian government’s state of emergency should be lifted and a process of reconciliation must begin, President Barack Obama said Thursday of the turmoil in that country.

The president also condemned the violence against civilians and announced the United States is canceling next month’s joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercises.

When Egypt’s first democratically elected president was tossed out earlier this year, the White House stopped short of calling it a coup.

Doing so would have forced an end to the $1.3 billion that the U.S. sends in military aid every year — and changed the course of its relationship with its strongest Arab ally in the region.

But that was before Wednesday, when the military-led interim government stormed two camps full of former President Mohamed Morsy’s supporters. More than 525 people were killed and 3,717 wounded in the bloodiest day in Egypt’s recent history, officials there said.

Egypt

Military uses tear gas to disperse rock-throwing crowds. (Screen Grab)

Will the carnage in Egypt change the U.S. policy toward the most populous Arab country?

The short answer: We’ll have to wait and see.

‘A hornets’ nest’

To understand why, one needs to appreciate the importance of Egypt in U.S. foreign policy.

The United States helps Egypt because it’s one of only two Arab countries — along with Jordan — that made peace with Israel.

In return, Egypt gets a billion dollars each year of U.S. taxpayer money for military and civilian programs. No other country except Israel gets more.

That aid buys Washington an ally to depend on in a turbulent region.

The U.S. doesn’t want to upset that balance. And pulling aid might do so.

“It’s a hornets’ nest. And that’s why the administration is trying not to stir it too much,” said CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

National & World News
08/15/13

Death toll in Egypt crackdown hits 525

CAIRO — The death toll in the violence that has engulfed Egypt climbed to 525 Thursday as the nation awoke to scenes of charred streets, battered cars, funerals and deepening divisions between Islamists and the largely secular military-backed government.

The Health Ministry reported that the dead, mostly supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, included at least 43 police officers. More than 3,700 people were also wounded in clashes that ignited Wednesday when security forces broke up two sit-ins by protesters loyal to Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood claims at least 2,000 people were killed in street battles that swept the country. Many of the deaths occurred when riot police firing tear gas and automatic weapons stormed the six-week old Islamist rally outside the Rabaa al Adawiya mosque in Cairo.

The violence stunned world leaders, and Thursday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the U.N. Security Council move to condemn what he characterized as a massacre by Egyptian soldiers and security forces.

Egypt

Military uses tear gas to disperse rock-throwing crowds. (Screen Grab)

“I am calling on Western countries. You remained silent in Gaza, you remained silent in Syria. … You are still silent on Egypt. So how come you talk about democracy, freedom, global values and human rights?” he told a news conference.

The Brotherhood has vowed that its followers would continue protesting until Morsi, toppled in a coup last month, is reinstated. The group’s spokesman, Gehad El-Haddad, posted on his Twitter account: “We will always be nonviolent and peaceful. We remain strong, defiant and resolved. We will push forward until we bring down this military coup.”

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

 Cairo (CNN) — An eerie calm descended over Cairo early Thursday, following the bloodiest day since the revolution two years ago that was envisioned to bring peace and democracy to Egypt — but has not.

The violence Wednesday pitted Egypt’s military and current government against backers of deposed President Mohamed Morsy, though others also were caught up in the fray.

At least 278 people were killed in Wednesday’s violence, including 235 civilians, state TV reported, citing an Egyptian emergency official. Interim Interior Minister Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim said that an additional 43 police officers had died.

“It’s an open war,” said one protester who managed to escape one of two Cairo camps raided Wednesday.

Egypt

Military uses tear gas to disperse rock-throwing crowds. (Screen Grab)

The 2011 revolution that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who kept a firm grip on power for 30 years, was followed by Egypt’s first democratic elections. Morsy — a leader of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood — won the presidency after that 2012 vote, but was forced out by the military last month.

Taken into custody immediately, Morsy hasn’t been seen since. Yet his supporters have very public in voicing their opinions, massing on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere to slam military leaders that ousted their leader and demand his return to the presidency.

Egypt’s government had given no indication it would back down, criticizing elements of the protest movement and specifically ordering them to leave two spots where they’d been gathering in Cairo for six weeks, or else they’d force them out.

On Wednesday, they did.

Bloody ‘war zone’ as security forces clear Cairo square

The story of what exactly transpired — who attacked whom, who opened fire, who was to blame — varied 180 degrees depending on where one stood in the debate over Egypt’s past, present and future.

On the one side, there were Morsy supporters, one of whom accused the government forces of waging a “full-on assault” on what they said had been, to-date, peaceful demonstrations. On the other, there were those like Ibrahim, who professed to being “surprised” by the “Muslim Brotherhood’s (decision) to attack the security forces.”

What couldn’t be mistaken was the chaos, the bloodshed and the sense — even with Prime Minister Hazem Elbeblawi’s pledge “we hopefully will rebuild our nation” — that the already volatile situation in Egypt could be getting even worse.

“I think what we’re seeing right now is just the beginning of what is promising to be a very, very long and bloody battle as the interim government and the security forces try to regain control of the streets,” CNN’s Arwa Damon reported from Cairo.

Diplomats condemn violence, calling it ‘deplorable’

By midnight Wednesday, much of Egypt was quiet — a byproduct of a curfew declared through 6 a.m. Thursday in several provinces, including Cairo, Alexandria, Giza and Suez.

The government on Wednesday, according to state TV, issued a month-long state of emergency. This a loaded term in Egypt, given that Mubarak long ruled under such a decree that barred unauthorized assembly, restricted freedom of speech and let police jail people indefinitely.

The prime minister said the government felt compelled to act in order to ensure stability, praising security forces for their “calm” and claiming some in the anti-government camp’s had weapons and artillery.

“We are here to build a democracy based on justice,” Elbeblawi said. “… We have to reason and use common sense. We are all part of this nation.”

Yet not everyone expressed faith in his government, which came under criticism not just from Muslim Brotherhood backers.

Mohammed ElBaradei — a secular leader who had unsuccessfully ran against Morsy, then became one of his biggest critics before joining the government that replaced his — resigned Wednesday as vice president of foreign affairs, state-run Nile TV reported.

World urges Egypt to show restraint, protect civilians

The European Union’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton condemned the violence, urging “security forces to exercise utmost restraint and on the interim government to end the state of emergency as soon as possible, to allow the resumption of normal life.”

In light of the ongoing violence, the United States is considering canceling next month’s planned biennial military training exercise with Egyptian forces, an official in President Barack Obama’s administration said.

Voicing strong opposition to the state-of-emergency and urging Egypt’s government “to respect basic human rights,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Wednesday’s “deplorable” events “run counter to Egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy.”

“The path toward violence leads only to greater instability, economic disaster and suffering,” he said.

State of Emergency in EgyptBegins at 4pm local time on August 14Declared by the interim president for a month

Army to help police maintain security

Police can detain people for extended periods of time

Unauthorized assembly barred

Authorities to monitor communications, media

A curfew imposed in Cairo and other provinces

The unpopular state of emergency law was in place in Egypt from 1967 to 2012

It was was lifted after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak

Morsy’s government declared a limited state of emergency in January 2013

‘They’re prepared to die’

For weeks, the two makeshift Cairo protest camps had become cities unto themselves — with people sleeping in tents, vendors hawking everything from haircuts to masks, and children playing in inflatable castles and splashed in kiddie pools.

At dawn on Wednesday, they came under siege.

Security forces came in, bulldozing tents and escorting away hundreds. Some mothers and fathers managed to whisk away their children, gas masks on their faces.

Within three hours, the smaller camp — Nahda, near Cairo University — was cleared, except for shreds of torn-down tents that remained.

But the larger protest, near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo, proved trickier, with forces facing heavy resistance. The military called in special forces.

Chaos ensued. Many protesters refused to leave, even in the face of bulldozers and surrounded by the injured and dead. “They said they’re prepared to die,” CNN’s Reza Sayah reported.

Along with smoke, bursts of rapid gunfire continued to fill the air. It was unclear who had the weapons, and who was shooting at whom. People could be heard wailing.

State TV reported that snipers from the Muslim Brotherhood — Morsy’s party — were exchanging gunfire with Egyptian security forces near a university building.

Sky News cameraman Mick Deane was killed, the UK-based news channel reported. Deane had worked for Sky for 15 years — and for CNN well before that. The rest of his team was unhurt.

Reuters photojournalist Asmaa Waguih was shot and wounded Wednesday covering the clashes, the news agency told CNN. She was being treated in a hospital.

And Habiba Abdel Aziz of Gulf News, who was in Egypt in a personal capacity having celebrated the Eid holiday, was also killed, editor-at-large Francis Matthew told CNN.

‘Walking on the blood of the victims’

Visiting makeshift hospitals, a CNN crew was “literally walking on the blood of the victims,” Sayah reported.

Security forces pushed doctors out of one hospital at gunpoint, a witness told CNN.

Ibrahim, the interim interior minister, claiming that armed protesters were the aggressors — including trying to storm police stations, the Ministry of Finance building and other targets in Cairo.

The fighting wasn’t limited to the capital, though. Morsy supporters reportedly besieged various churches in Sohag, setting fire to Saint George’s Church, a tour bus and a police car, Egypt’s state-run EGYNews said.

Naguib Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire who helped found the anti-Morsy Free Egyptian Party, said his party had video of Muslim Brotherhood members “shooting machine guns on civilians, on police. So anyone who wants to call this a peaceful demonstration would be wrong.”

But Ahmed Mustafa, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, told CNN from London that Sawiris was trying to misrepresent video of masked people with weapons.

Besides claiming they’d been shot at, the Muslim Brotherhood also accused police were throwing Molotov cocktails at makeshift clinics.

Yet Ibrahim said government forces had done what they could to limit casualties, with his ministry insisting, “Egyptian security forces are committed to the utmost self-restraint in dealing with the protesters.”

Divisions rife, future uncertain in Egypt

Rather than uniting Egypt after Mubarak’s fall, divisions remained rife — and, in some ways, intensified — in the Middle Eastern nation during Morsy’s time as president.

Critics accused him of being authoritarian, trying to force the Brotherhood’s Islamic agenda, not being inclusive and failing to deliver freedom and justice.

‘Nail in coffin’ for Arab Spring?

The military coup to dismiss him, they said, was necessary since Morsy didn’t fairly represent all Egyptians. So, too, were the efforts to force his supporters off the streets.

“We believe in human rights,” said Shehab Wagih, a spokesman for the Free Egyptian Party speaking in favor of the military. “But at the same time, we cannot accept the idea of having a state inside a state.”

Morsy’s backers, meanwhile, accuse the military — and the government it appointed — of undermining the people’s will, as expressed at the polls. The deposed president wasn’t given a fair chance, they say, and his supporters have been unfairly targeted for trying to express their opinion.

In an interview Wednesday with CNN, Abdul Mawgoud Dardery of the pro-Morsy Anti-Coup National Alliance blamed “corrupt elements” in the Egyptian army, calling their actions a “crime against humanity” and “state terrorism.”

“All presidents make mistakes, but you don’t have the army to remove them,” Dardery said. “… What are we telling to the rest of the Arab world, the Muslim world — that bullets are better than ballots?”

Opinion: Morsy holds key to Egypt’s future

–CNN’s Ian Lee reported from Cairo; CNN’s Greg Botelho and Josh Levs reported from Atlanta; CNN’s Saad Abedine, Holly Yan, Barbara Starr and Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report.

CAIRO – Deadly clashes and sectarian tensions spread across Egypt on Wednesday after security forces stormed two Cairo sit-ins, killing scores of supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The interim government declared a state of emergency as battles between Morsi loyalists and police erupted in Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan and in smaller towns and villages. Public buildings were set ablaze and Egyptian media reported churches were attacked in a number of provinces as Islamists blamed Christians for backing the army.

The government, appointed last month after a coupoverthrew Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement, accused Islamists of instigating bloodshed by shooting at police. The Brotherhood said police fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters, who fled in panic down streets and alleys engulfed in tear gas and scattered with bullet casings.

Egypt

Military uses tear gas to disperse rock-throwing crowds. (Screen Grab)

The Health Ministry reported 149 people had been killed in Cairo and more than 875 injured. The Brotherhood claimed at least 300 people had died and more than 2,000 were injured. A 7 p.m. curfew was imposed in Cairo and other governorates.

“What has happened since 6 this morning till now is a massacre; no one burns an entire country just to disperse a sit-in,” said Mohammed Saeed, an accountant who quit work more than a month ago to join the pro-Morsi demonstrations.

The most intense clashes raged around the perimeter of a pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa al Adawiya mosque. Police unleashed tear gas and automatic weapons as security forces advanced toward the mosque and engaged protesters throwing rocks and firing slingshots and homemade weapons.

Police backed by armored personnel carriers cleared a smaller pro-Morsi protest across the Nile at Cairo University. Demonstrators from that sit-in and from other protests around the capital marched toward roads and bridges leading to Rabaa, which was engulfed in tear gas.

“We came to rescue the women and children,” said Jihan Ibrahim, an English translator who had come from home when she saw images of Rabaa on television. “They are shooting them with bullets and weapons that are only used during war and they are shooting to kill.”

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

 

CAIRO – Egypt’s interim leader, Adly Mansour, has issued a constitutional declaration giving himself limited power to make laws, and outlined a timetable for parliamentary and presidential elections, according to state media.

There was no official word on the decree from the president’s office.

If the state media reports are accurate, the 33-article decree would grant Mansour limited legislative powers, but only after consultation with a cabinet, which would wield veto power.

The distinction is important, because deposed President Mohamed Morsy was criticized for expanding the powers of his office.

Unrest

Courtesy CNN

The decree also would put in motion a time line for voting on an amended constitution and for holding parliamentary and president ballots.

The declaration calls for a constitutional referendum in November, followed by parliamentary elections in December and a presidential poll in February.

Awaiting confirmation

Without confirmation from the president’s office, it is impossible to say whether the reports — carried by state-run Al-Ahram and MENA — are accurate.

The currents of information in Egypt have been swift and shifting following last week’s military coup that ousted Morsy. He is reportedly detained in the Republican Guard headquarters.

Reports over the weekend had diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei in line to become interim prime minister. His political party’s claim Saturday was contradicted later in the day by a Mansour spokesman, who said a decision had yet to be made.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

CAIRO — Top Egyptian security officials defended army and police actions in the clashes Monday in Cairo that led to the deaths of more than 50 people, saying they were defending the Republican Guard headquarters against attackers.

egypt2Health Ministry official Khaled al-Khatib said 51 had died and said 435 others were wounded when Egyptian security forces clashed with supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood outside the headquarters.

Witnesses said the military and police fired as protesters took a break from holding a vigil at the Republican Guard headquarters to perform their dawn prayers. Morsy was reportedly detained in the building after his arrest Wednesday.

But Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif and army spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said security forces were under attack. Ali said that around 4 a.m. “an armed group” used bombs, rocks and bullets to attack the area and the people safeguarding the headquarters building.

Speaking to reporters, the officers said it’s the job of the security forces to protect protesters. But, they said, what unfolded was an assault and they had to embark on defending the institution.

Ali sloughed off claims from the pro-Morsy opposition, such as the killing of children, and warned of “lying,” “rumors,” and “psychological warfare.” Video meant to support the security forces’ position was shown at the news conference. They seemed to show a few protesters who may have had firearms, but the context of the images is hard to discern.

Amnesty International called Monday for an urgent independent investigation into the 51 deaths.

“There is a crucial need for independent and impartial investigations that can be trusted by all sides. However, Egypt’s authorities have a poor track record of delivering truth and justice for human rights violations,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme in a news release.

The Monday morning violence further deepened a crisis in the country — the Arab world’s most populous — where Morsi supporters have been squaring off daily with security forces after his ouster in a military coup last week.

CNN counted at least eight bullet-riddled bodies and up to 40 wounded at the chaotic emergency facility in the Egyptian capital, down the street from the site of the shooting. The upper bodies of the victims appeared to be peppered with shotgun pellets and bullet wounds.

Doctors tended to the victims, performing surgeries in many cases before shipping them out to other facilities. Egyptian flags were draped over those who did not survive.

CNN shot footage of men bleeding and bandaged on gurneys and blood on the ground. There were not enough ambulances to take all the injured to hospitals, CNN’s Karl Penhaul reported on the scene.

An Interior Ministry statement earlier said two security force members — a lieutenant and a recruit — were shot and killed. It is unclear if the Health Ministry toll includes these personnel.

Reacting to the shooting at the Republican Guard headquarters, the Al-Nour party — which supported Morsi’s ouster — withdrew from all talks about forming an interim government.

“We will not remain silent on the Republican Guard massacre,” party spokesman Nader Bakkar said. Interim President Adly Mansour ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the incident, according to state-run Nile TV.

The White House appeared to rule out an immediate cut in military aid to Egypt over last week’s coup, with spokesman Jay Carney telling reporters Monday, “It would not be in the best interests of the United States to immediately change our assistance programs” to Cairo.

Asked repeatedly whether the ouster of Egypt’s president and nullification of the constitution was a military coup, Carney said the Obama administration would “take the time necessary” to assess what he called an “incredibly complex and difficult situation” before deciding how to proceed. Under current U.S. law, a coup would stipulate a change in American military aid.

Before the outbreak of violence Monday, than 30 people had died and 1,400 had suffered injuries since the coup. Egypt’s military declared over the weekend it was stepping up security efforts for the demonstrations.

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