Entries in Egypt (272)


Dozens of Protesters Killed in Egypt After Security Forces Open Fire

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- Dozens of protesters are dead and hundreds more wounded in Egypt after security forces opened fire on a Muslim Brotherhood rally early Saturday.

The protesters were camped outside of a mosque in Cairo demanding the return of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi when, security forces launched a pre-dawn raid against them.

Before the raid began, the Interior Minister appeared on a local TV stations to announce that there would be a move to clear that area in accordance with the law, complete with a decision announced by the public prosecutor beforehand. The BBC's Jim Muir was in Cairo, and says “none of that happened.”

Security forces used tear gas and live rounds to clear the protesters from Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque in eastern Cairo. Muir said it was unclear whether that was the plan from the beginning or if “it's just a clash that's broken out on the ground because tensions are so very high [in Cairo] at the moment.”

Doctors at the scene said there were 65 deaths, while Muslim Brotherhood sources said that more than 120 people were killed, according to BBC News.

The Muslim brotherhood has accused soldiers of shooting to kill, a claim that the government denies.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Egypt's New Leader Warns Morsi Supporters to Avoid Violence

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour strongly suggested in his first televised speech to the nation that security is first and foremost in his mind two weeks after his predecessor was removed from power.

Former President Mohamed Morsi's ouster by the military has spurred wide protests by supporters of the Islamist leader who have vowed to continue demonstrating until he is returned as Egypt's president.
However, Mansour, who was installed by General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, who many consider the real power in Egypt, said his new government would not put up with those who resort to violence to attain their goals.

Mansour said in his speech, "We will battle for security to the end," hinting that Morsi's supporters were more concerned with destabilizing the country than achieving a democratic Egypt.

Friday has the makings of a volatile day in Egypt with both Morsi's supporters and opponents calling for massive street demonstrations.

Meanwhile, the military, in a statement primarily directed at Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party, told protesters "not to deviate from peaceful means of expression or resort to violence or vandalism...Whoever does not abide peacefully is only exposing his life to danger and will be dealt with according to the law."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Pentagon Press Secretary: US Not Invading Egypt

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon was forced to issue an astounding denial after reports in the Egyptian media said that a U.S. task force in the Red Sea was about to "invade Egypt".

Earlier this week three U.S. ships led by the USS San Antonio - a transport platform - carrying the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit moved into the northern Red Sea. The 2,200-strong force with its own aircraft and logistics had been part of Operation Lion, training with Jordanian Forces last month. The USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship, and the USS Carter Hall, a landing ship, are also a part of the group.

On Saturday afternoon, Pentagon press secretary George Little took to Twitter to say "Some Egyptian press reports suggest US Navy ships are near Arabian Peninsula/Suez Canal to invade Egypt. Those reports are absolutely wrong."

At the same time, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo posted a similar statement, reading: “We deny false claims in Egyptian press that U.S. naval ships are in the vicinity of the Arabian Peninsula and the Suez Canal to militarily invade Egypt. The United States has forces regularly deployed in the vicinity of the Arabian Peninsula, and U.S. vessels regularly pass through the Suez Canal en route to the Indian Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea.”

The three-ship amphibious readiness group has been in the region since May, patrolling the Red Sea, the Horn of Africa, the Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

Egypt has been in turmoil since the Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi from office earlier this month. Some of Morsi’s backers have accused the U.S. of secretly backing the military push.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Can Egypt Learn from Latin America's Revolutions?

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- On Wednesday, the Egyptian army overthrew Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, in response to nearly a week of violent protests and social unrest. Egyptian defense minister Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi announced that the military would temporarily suspend the constitution and prepare new parliamentary elections.

Shortly after, fireworks erupted over Cairo's Tahrir Square. Crowds cheered the military’s road map, and liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei -- a Nobel Peace Prize recipient -- called the event a new stage in the Arab Spring, the 2011 revolution that led to the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Dozens of countries throughout history have experienced military takeovers. In Latin America, the story is fairly common: There were at least 30 coup d’état attempts, 22 of them successful, in the region from 1945 to 1976. It’s a story that (despite big political, social and historical differences) can offer several valuable lessons.

Obviously, there are significant differences between what happened in Latin America during the second half of the 20th century and what happened recently in Egypt. For one thing, religion did not play as central a role in Latin America's revolutions as it has in Egypt. The Hispanic world's chief rallying cries related to social and economic issues influenced by Marxism, and, later, by the Cuban revolution. In Egypt, meanwhile, the religious element -- exemplified by some of the policies of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi’s party -- is an important source of discontent that, is now pitting liberals against democrats.

Nevertheless, the army’s actions and the celebratory remarks that ensued from intellectuals like ElBaradei can be related to certain events in Latin America history.

“I think that in certain political moments, it can seem like an easy solution for a military institution to step in,” said Kirsten Weld, a Harvard professor who specializes in modern Latin American history. “But I don’t think that there are easy answers to the kinds of political divisions that you see in contemporary Egypt today, or to those that you saw in Chile in the early 1970s, or in Argentina in the mid-1970s.”

In 1973, right-wing and middle-class Chileans rejoiced at Salvador Allende’s death and the ascent to power of General Augusto Pinochet. (“This is a time of triumph and joy,” a truck-owner told the New York Times in the days following the coup.) In Argentina, in 1976, Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentinian writer, welcomed the new military junta that deposed Isabel Martínez de Perón as a “gentlemen’s government.”

Years later, most of those who had hailed military intervention recanted their words and looked back at what happened with shame. More than 3,000 people were killed or disappeared under Pinochet’s regime, and the Chilean government in 2011 acknowledged the claims of more than 40,000 victims. In Argentina, the “gentlemen’s government” kidnapped children and pregnant women, and disappeared nearly 30,000 people, according to human rights organizations.

By 1980, Borges had already realized his mistake. “I find it impossible to ignore the grave existing problems related to terrorism and repression,” Borges told La Prensa. “Nothing will prevent me from speaking about those deaths and disappearances.”

 In both cases -- and in most of the Latin American coups -- military autonomy led to human rights violations that have a cast shadow over the region’s history.

“After a coup, the army doesn’t have any accountability,” said James Green, a professor of history and Brazilian culture at Brown University. “And that’s the danger: there is no reason to think that the military won’t do terrible things in Egypt now, much like they did in Brazil and in other Latin American countries.”

Without any checks or balances in place, military juntas in Latin America usually tried to solve the country’s issues by aggressively targeting groups they considered responsible for social unrest. In places like Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Guatemala, and Peru the military’s solutions often involved disappearances, torture and murder.

“History shows time and time again that what the military does when they are in control is far from what is in the best interest of large parts of the population,” Weld said. “If you end up being part of the segment of the population that the military feels is part of the problem, then you might be targeted for extermination.”

There is no reason to assume that this will happen in Egypt. There, the army has set forth a road map for new elections, it has named the nation's chief justice interim president, and is reportedly favoring ElBaradei, a respected intellectual, as the leader of a transitional government.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to forget that the army is ousting a democratically elected leader to supposedly promote democracy.

Morsi, who denounced the takeover as a military coup and rejected the army’s demands, was taken into custody on Wednesday, along with several of his aides.

People living in rural areas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s main electorate, have already expressed their concern over the event, and some are predicting a civil war.

More than two dozen people have been killed since Sunday, and on Wednesday hundreds were injured during protests and clashes with security forces.

As Green puts it, “You are playing with fire if you are using the military to establish a democracy.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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


US Student Andrew Pochter Killed During Violent Clashes in Egypt 

Handout/Kenyon College(ALEXANDRIA, Egypt) -- An American college student was killed in Alexandria, Egypt, during violent clashes between government supporters and opponents, family members and U.S. officials confirmed Saturday.

Andrew Driscoll Pochter, a 21-year-old student from Chevy Chase, Md., was watching a protest as a bystander Friday when he was stabbed by a protester, his family said in a statement.

"He went to Egypt because he cared profoundly about the Middle East, and he planned to live and work there in the pursuit of peace and understanding," Pochter's family said in the statement. "Andrew was a wonderful young man looking for new experiences in the world and finding ways to share his talents while he learned."

Pochter had been working in Egypt as an intern at American educational non-profit AMIDEAST, according to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he was a rising juror.

Pochter's family said he was spending the summer in Egypt teaching English to 7- and 8-year-old children and was working on improving his Arabic.

At Kenyon College, Pochter had served as a student leader of the campus Jewish organization, Hillel, according to student newspaper The Kenyon Collegian.

His family said he had planned to study in Jordan in the spring.

Pochter's roommate in Alexandria told ABC News Pochter had been in the city since at least the beginning of June.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, who was traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry, said the State Department was providing consular assistance.

Tensions have been rising in recent weeks across Egypt, as Egyptians prepare for the worst ahead of a major anti-Morsi demonstration planned for Sunday.

Six people, including Pochter and one other person’s on Friday, have been killed in clashes this week.
On Friday, the State Department warned Americans to defer non-essential travel to Egypt and authorized the departure of some of its non-emergency employees and family members.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Kerry to Encourage Consensus in Egypt

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Egypt on Saturday and urged political leaders to come to a political consensus.

Kerry is on his first overseas trip since being named secretary of state. The trip will take Kerry to 11 countries in Europe and the Middle East, according to the BBC.

Kerry's Egypt visit comes before the upcoming parliamentary elections that opposition leaders say favor allies of current Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The main opposition group has planned a boycott of the elections.

According to the BBC, Kerry will speak with Morsi and other senior government officials during his two days in Egypt. Kerry also plans on meeting with some of the opposition leaders, however some have thus far refused to attend.

Egypt remains divided between the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and the more secular challengers.

Egypt has been the site of continuing protests against the ruling party since the revolution that forced former President Hosni Mubarak from power.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


More than a Dozen Killed in Hot Air Balloon Crash in Egypt

STR/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- More than a dozen tourists are dead after a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed in Luxor, Egypt on Tuesday.

The balloon is said to have been about 1,000 feet in the air when the explosion occurred.

"I heard a loud explosion and then I saw some smoke," said Christopher Michel, who was on another balloon in the area when the accident happened.

Cherry Tohamy, who was on a balloon owned by the same company, said she heard a "very strong explosion" and "saw the fire coming out from the land somewhere.  It was like one kilometer or one and a half kilometers away from us."

Three people were also injured in Tuesday's crash.  None of the victims are American, the U.S. embassy in Cairo confirmed.

According to the BBC, the balloon's operating company said the crash was caused by a gas cylinder that exploded on board.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Iranian President Visits Egypt Ending 30-Year Boycott

The Iranian President's Office via Getty Images(CAIRO) -- In a sign of a major policy shift, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with top Egyptian officials in Cairo Tuesday.

Until recently, the two nations had no diplomatic ties since the Islamic Revolution in Iran three decades ago and the ascension of Hosni Mubarak as Egyptian president soon thereafter.

However, Mubarak's overthrow in 2011 has resulted in closer relations between Egypt's civilian Muslim government and Iran.  Last summer, President Mohammed Morsi attended a summit in Tehran designed to reduce the isolation by the international community over Iran's rogue nuclear program.

Morsi personally greeted Ahmadinejad upon his arrival in Cairo Tuesday for talks that included improving ties between their countries as well as discussing the ongoing Syrian conflict that threatens to destabilize the entire region.

Although Morsi may be trying to get closer to Iran, he's also cognizant that reestablishing full diplomatic ties would likely jeopardize much needed economic assistance from Washington and the West.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Egypt's President Won't Accept Unity Government

AFP/Getty Images(BERLIN) -- There will be no unity government in Egypt if President Mohammed Morsi has his way.

With civil unrest growing over the direction of his Islamist regime, Morsi will not allow a new government to take over before the parliamentary elections are held on Feb. 25.

Meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin Wednesday, Morsi says there is currently "a stable government working day and night in the interest of all Egyptians."

Some in Egypt might question that assessment as demonstrations since late November have often turned violent, with many opposed to Morsi's determination to rule with a constitution that they fear will turn the country away from the secularist doctrines of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Meanwhile, Morsi was pressed by reporters about comments he made two years ago as head of the Muslim Brotherhood in which he called  Zionists "bloodsuckers" and "the descendants of apes and pigs."

The Egyptian leader again maintained that his responses in two interviews were taken out of context, explaining, "I am not against Jews practicing their religion.  I was talking about anybody practicing any religion who spills blood or attacks innocent people -- civilians.  I criticize such behavior."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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