Entries in Civil War (4)


Egypt's Future Uncertain, Fear of Civil War Growing

STR/AFP/GettyImages(CAIRO) -- The supreme justice of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court was sworn in as interim president early Thursday after President Mohammed Morsi was ousted from power by the military.

Egypt's chief justice, Adly Mansour, assumed power in a ceremony broadcast live on state television less than 24 hours after the military placed Morsi under house arrest. Morsi denounced the military's decision and called the action a "full coup."

Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood party, said Morsi was under house arrest at a presidential guard facility where he had been residing, and 12 presidential aides were also under house arrest.

Mansour was appointed to the court by President Hosni Mubarak but elevated to the chief justice post by Morsi. Mansour will serve until new elections are held. No date has been given on the elections.

Mansour takes over as Cairo has turned into a tale of two deeply divided cities, which could set the stage for a violent civil war between Morsi's supporters and anti-Morsi protesters.

The anti-Morsi protesters celebrated into the early morning hours with fireworks in Tahrir Square after the announcement came that Morsi was ousted Wednesday night. Fearing a violent reaction by Morsi's Islamist supporters, troops and armored vehicles deployed in the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, surrounding Islamist rallies.

A major question now is whether the Muslim Brotherhood, which strongly supports Morsi, and other Islamists will push back against the new, military-installed regime. The ouster of Morsi throws Egypt on an uncertain course, with a danger of further confrontation.

The Muslim Brotherhood had worked in the shadows for more than 80 years before gaining power. Now Morsi and his backers have been ousted after only one year in office by the same kind of Arab Spring uprising that brought the Islamist leader to power.

"There's been a lot of very angry rhetoric, talk about the Brotherhood martyring themselves for the sake of democratic legitimacy. And so I think there is a real fear about violent opposition to this military takeover," said Tamara Wittes, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Some of Morsi's Islamist backers, tens of thousands of whom took to the streets in recent days, have vowed to fight to the end.

"The Muslim Brotherhood did not want this outcome at all. They feel they won fair and square through the ballot box and they should have been allowed to rule," said Wittes. "It's quite possible that they're going to rely on that sense of democratic legitimacy and try to oppose this military decree in the streets."

Deadly clashes in Cairo have left 40 people dead since Monday when the military gave Morsi an ultimatum to find a solution to meet the demands of anti-government demonstrators in 48 hours.

Stabilization in Egypt - the largest Arab country - is of vital concern to the U.S. and the rest of the Middle East.

One in every four Arabs lives in Egypt. It sits on top of the Suez Canal, which is how U.S. naval forces get in and out of the Persian Gulf and the world's oil gets to global markets.

The region has been in constant turmoil with Syria's deadly civil war, the nuclear threat from Iran and a still unstable Libya and Iraq. What happens next in Egypt is of grave concern to the U.S. and the rest of the region.

The U.S. is watching the events in Cairo closely and forcing the government to do a careful diplomatic dance around calling Morsi's ouster a coup. The U.S. gives Egypt $1.3 billion in military aid annually. United States foreign aid law states that, in general, the U.S. cannot give direct military funding to any country that is being run by a military government, particularly after a coup has overthrown a democratically elected leader.

President Obama said in a statement the U.S. is "monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people."

Obama also said that the U.S. supports non-violence and protecting human rights, but was careful not to take sides. The president called on the Egyptian military to quickly hold elections and restore a democratically elected Egyptian government.

After the ultimatum deadline expired Wednesday at 5 p.m. local time, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the country's top military commander, went on state TV and said Mansour would step in as interim president until new elections were held.

The office of the presidency tweeted defiance in his name.

"Measures announced by Armed Forces leadership represent a full coup categorically rejected by all the free men of our nation," read one of a series of tweets in Morsi's name.

"Morsi urges civilians and military members to uphold the law and the constitution not to accept that coup which turns Egypt backwards," the tweets stated.

"President Morsi urges everyone to adhere to peacefulness and avoid shedding blood of fellow countrymen," he concluded.

El-Sissi warned the Egyptian people to protest peacefully and said the authorities would not tolerate any violence.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Amid New Reports of Massacres, Israel Strikes Syria

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- Israeli warplanes struck weapons inside Syria that were bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, American and Israeli officials say.

The attack, which reportedly took place Friday morning, was the second such strike this year, further raising fears that Syria's two-year civil war could spill over into neighboring countries.

News of the strike comes as graphic evidence emerges of what a watchdog group says are scores of deaths in fighting and mass executions by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in and around the coastal city of Baniyas.

Hundreds are reportedly fleeing amid fears of further sectarian-fueled violence.

The Israeli Prime Minister's office and military declined to comment on the strike, which is the standard response following a secret operation. Israel has repeatedly warned that it would not hesitate to act to prevent its enemies from getting their hands on weapons, particularly chemical weapons.

Syrian state media made no mention of the strike and Syria's ambassador to the United Nations said he was not aware of any attack.

In January, Syrian officials responded quickly when Israeli warplanes are believed to have targeted a convoy carrying Russian-made SA-17 surface-to-air missiles, which were also said to be bound for Hezbollah.

There was no outright claim of responsibility by Israel, but days after that strike, then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak said "That is another proof that when we say something we mean it. We say that we don't think it should be allowable to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon."

A top Israeli defense official dismissed the confirmation of the Friday strike, but not the strike itself.

"I don't know what or who confirmed what, who are these sources?" asked Amos Gilad, a senior strategist in the ministry. "In my book only the [military] spokesperson unit is official."

There is no suggestion that any of the weapons struck allegedly were chemical weapons and Gilad said he believes Hezbollah doesn't want chemical weapons.

"Syria has large amounts of chemical weaponry and missiles. Everything there is under [regime] control," Gilad said, according to Israeli reports. "Hezbollah does not have chemical weaponry. We have ways of knowing.

"They are not keen to take weaponry like this, preferring systems that can cover all of the country [of Israel]," he added, referring to the estimated 60,000 rockets in Hezbollah's arsenal.

The State Department said today that is it "appalled" by reports of scores killed in the Sunni Muslim town of al Bayda, just south of Baniyas, by government forces and loyalist militiamen known as "shabiha" who largely belong to Assad's Alawite sect.

 The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog group said at least 51 people, including women and children, were summarily executed on Thursday in al Bayda.

That was followed by reports of more deaths in the Ras-al-Nabaa neighborhood of Baniyas.

The SOHR said hundreds of Sunni families were fleeing south to the port city of Tartous to escape what they said was sectarian killing by the regime.

State television said there were operations in the area that "drove back several terrorist groups" and showed rows of weapons it said had been seized from rebels. Rebel groups led by extremist fighters had been mounting operations in that area.

Also on Saturday, Assad visited Damascus University to greet students and inaugurate a statue for student "martyrs" of the two-year conflict. A photo showed the Syrian president getting a warm reception from students reaching out their hands to greet him.

The display of confidence was his second public event this week: On May Day, he thanked workers at a Damascus power plant.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Damascus Holds Its Breath as Syrian Civil War Reaches Its Door

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The chaos engulfing Syria threatens to spill over into Iraq on one side, and Israel and Lebanon on the other.

The United Nations now estimates that 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting — but no one really knows.

A U.N. commission on Monday called for war-crimes investigations of both sides: Assad’s government, which has sought to crush the rebellion by any means necessary; as well as the rebels, many of whom are increasingly seen by ordinary Syrians as warlords, gangsters and religious fanatics who regularly post videos of beheadings and other atrocities on YouTube.

Syria’s many minorities live in terror of a jihadist takeover of their country.

Many Christian refugees from Syria have fled to Beirut.

“We lived freely as Christians,” said one man. “But now we are being targeted.”

Ordinary Syrians increasingly just want the war to stop and now dread the chaos that has been unleashed.

Assad himself seems to know this. The man that the U.S. government has said must go told a group of visitors on Monday: “We are sure we will win.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Disputed Ivory Coast Election May Lead to Civil War

Photo Courtesy - ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images(YAMOUSSOUKRO, Ivory Coast) -- Civil war looms over the West African nation Ivory Coast after a disputed presidential election. The opposition candidate Alessana Ouattra, a Muslim from the north, was declared the winner by almost 10 percentage points by an internationally-accepted electoral commission. But in a stunning reversal, officials allied with current president Laurent Gbagbo declared Gbagbo the winner. The U.N. and the Obama administration released statements claiming they do not recognize Gbagbo as the president.

The military, allied with the president, has sealed in all the borders: land, sea and air. The government has also banned all foreign broadcasts, trying to make sure no information comes in or goes out.

The measures could lead to chaos and ethnic war. The 8,000 peacekeeping troops currently stationed in the country are not thought to be enough to stop what could be an even bloodier civil war than the last one in 2002, which killed thousands and divided the country.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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