We examine the conflicting media reports of the Russian plane disaster in Egypt; plus, the rise of automated journalism. When a Russian-operated airline went down in Sinai on October 31, killing all 224 on board, it drew together Russia, the UK and Egypt in what has now become a battle over the airwaves to contain …
Apr 03 2014
The war on media was inspired by America and encouraged by Barack Obama. Obama rocks. Not
From a War on Terror to a war on leaks, now comes America’s shadow influence on a media crackdown
Ten years ago, the United States also justified its detention of al-Jazeera journalists by claiming a “national security threat”. These arrests could not be cloaked as mere collateral damage in a messy war. The US, then as Egypt does now, made leaping connections between the news network and militants, and specifically targeted those whose coverage did not serve the military’s objectives: Dick Cheney warned that al-Jazeera risked being “labeled as ‘Osama’s outlet to the world‘”; Donald Rumsfeld called the network’s coverage of the Iraq war “vicious, inaccurate, inexcusable”.
Over the next several years, US forces arrested and detained al-Jazeera journalists like Sami al Hajj and Salah Hasan Nusaif Jasim al Ejaili. US military forces captured both in separate instances while they were doing their jobs, and tortured them while attempting to establish ties between al-Jazeera and al-Qaida. Neither al Hajj nor al Ejaili received justice for their wrongful detention. After seven years of imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay, the US government released al Hajj to Sudanese authorities, without any reparations. Meanwhile al Ejaili, who was detained at Abu Ghraib, brought a case with other victims against the private military contractor at the prison, alleging it conspired to commit torture and war crimes. But the case was dismissed by the district court. The court perversely ordered al Ejaili and other plaintiffs to pay their alleged torturers for the cost of the suit. The case is pending on appeal.
The reverberations of this misguided War on Terror continue, even if the war has shifted: the Obama administration has famously invoked the Espionage Act more than any other American president, attempting to control press leaks with tactics a report found to be “the most aggressive … since the Nixon administration“.
Mar 05 2014
Code Pink founder and human rights activist Medea Benjamin was inexplicably detained by Egyptian authorities at the Cairo Airport. The police handcuffed and beat her after removing her to a detention area sustaining a dislocated shoulder and broken arm. The US Embassy was notified of her detention but never arrived to assist her. After being held for several hours, she was put on a plane to Turkey.
On the night of March 3, 2014, co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK Medea Benjamin was on her way to Egypt to join an international delegation of women going to Gaza when she was detained by border police in the Cairo airport, held overnight in a cell, and then brutally tackled (her arm badly injured), handcuffed, and deported to Turkey. During her time in the detention cell she had access to a cell phone, from which she contacted colleagues at CODEPINK about the poor conditions of the cell and chronicled her ordeal via Twitter. When the Egyptian police removed her from the detention center, they used such excessive force she sustained a fracture and torn ligament in her shoulder. [..]
She is currently in Istanbul, Turkey, receiving medical attention at a hospital before she returns to the US. It is still unclear why the Egyptians deported her. Medea’s colleagues at CODEPINK are appalled by the unnecessary use of force by Egyptian authorities.
This morning Ms. Benjamin spoke with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to U.S. peace activist Medea Benjamin, who was just detained at Cairo’s airport by Egyptian police. She was in Cairo to meet up with an international delegation before traveling to Gaza for a women’s conference, but she said she was detained upon arrival and held overnight before being deported to Turkey, where she’s now seeking medical treatment. Medea Benjamin joins us on the phone from Turkey.
Medea, how are you?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, I’m in a lot of pain. I’ve gotten two shots of painkiller, but it’s not enough. They fractured my arm, dislocated my shoulder, tore the ligaments. They jumped on top of me. And this was all never telling me what was the problem. And so, it was a very brutal attack, and I’m in a lot of pain.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened. You arrived at Cairo’s airport, and you were attacked there?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: No, I arrived at the airport. When I gave in my passport, I was taken aside, brought into a separate room, where I was held for seven hours without anybody ever telling me what was wrong. Then I was put into a jail cell in the airport, held overnight. And in the morning, five very scary-looking men came in and wanted to take me away. And I said, “The embassy is coming. The embassy is coming.” They were supposed to have arrived. Instead, they dragged me out, tackled me to the ground, jumped on me, handcuffed my wrists so tight that they started bleeding, and then dislocated my shoulder, and then kept me like that, grabbing my arm. The whole way, I was shouting through the airport, screaming in pain. Then the-I demanded to get medical attention. The Egyptian doctors came and said, “This woman cannot travel. She’s in too much pain. She needs to go to the hospital.” The Egyptian security refused to take me to a hospital and threw me on the plane. Thank God there was an orthopedic surgeon on the plane who gave me another shot and put the arm back in its shoulder. But they were so brutal, and, as I said, Amy, never saying why.
AMY GOODMAN: Did the U.S. embassy representative ever come to see you at the airport?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: No. Some of the delegates, including Ann Wright, who had already arrived for the Gaza delegation, had been calling the embassy non-stop. The CodePink people in D.C. were calling the embassy non-stop. They were always saying, “They’re supposed to show up. They’re supposed to show up.” They never showed up. I was on the tarmac. The Turkish airline was forced to take me, but we delayed an hour while they were debating what to do. There were about 20 men there. And the embassy never showed up the entire time.
The full transcript can be read here
Just where was the State Department? Why didn’t they arrive to assist her? They owe Ms. Benjamin an explanation.
Aug 21 2013
The violence continues with casualties mounting on both side with no resolution in sight. Democracy Now! recounts the daily horrors with host Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous, independent journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent based in Cairo.
Transcript can be read here
Mass violence continues in Egypt amidst the bloodiest period in the country’s modern history. Around 900 people have been killed since state forces attacked Muslim Brotherhood protest encampments five days ago. At least 173 people were killed in a “Day of Rage” protest called by the Brotherhood on Friday, followed by at least 79 deaths on Saturday. Around 90 police officers and soldiers have died in the violence, but Islamist supporters of the Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Morsi account for the bulk of the victims. On Sunday, at least 36 prisoners were killed in Cairo after guards said they tried to escape while being transferred. But the Muslim Brotherhood accused state forces of a “cold-blooded killing” and demanded an international probe. And earlier today at least 24 police officers were reportedly killed in the northern Sinai after coming under attack by militants.
“The report that we have suspended assistance to Egypt is incorrect,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
“As the president has said, we are reviewing all of our assistance to Egypt. No policy decisions have been made at this point regarding the remaining assistance,” she added.
• The supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, has been arrested in Nasr City in north-east Cairo after the security forces discovered his hiding place, Egyptian media reported. The private ONTV network showed footage of a man it said was Badie after his arrest. In the footage, a sombre looking Badie in an off-white Arab robe, or galabiyah, sits motionless on a sofa as a man in civilian clothes and carrying an assault rifle stands nearby. Badie and his deputy Khairat el-Shater, who was already in custody, are due to go on trial on 25 August for their alleged role in the killing of eight protesters outside the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters in June.
• The former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, could be freed within 48 hours after judicial authorities ruled that he has already spent too long in custody after one of the charges against him was dropped. News of the imminent release of Mubarak, who was overthrown in the 2011 revolution, looks likely to inflame a highly volatile mood in Egypt.
• Interim president Adly Mansour has declared three days of mourning for the 25 policemen killed by an armed group in the Sinai desert yesterday. Egyptian state TV reports from the scene near the border with Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip town of Rafah said the terrorists had forced the police conscripts off two minibuses and murdered them in cold blood. Three others were injured. Cairo sources describe the killers as “Takfiris” – a term often used for al-Qaida and like-minded groups.
• The Muslim Brotherhood said Badie was facing “political trumped up charges”. It appointed Mahmoud Ezzat, described in the media as the Brotherhood’s “iron man”, as Badie’s temporary replacement.
• An Egyptian court will review a petition for the release of deposed President Hosni Mubarak filed by his lawyer tomorrow raising the prospect of him being released within 24 hours, according to Reuters citing judicial sources. The sources said if the petition is upheld Mubarak will be released as there remain no further legal grounds for his detention, though he is being retried on charges of ordering the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising. An online poster has been circulating on Facebook today supporting him for president in 2014.
• A state-owned newspaper has accused the Muslim Brotherhood of being being the attack in the Sinai that left 25 policemen dead yesterday. Al-Akhbar ran the headline “Brotherhood Massacre”. The Guardian’s Middle East editor said the headline and the arrest of Badie are part of a propaganda campaign intended to split the Brotherhood’s supporters and to feed into popular sentiment against the Islamist group.
• Security officials say an Egyptian journalist working for a state-run daily has been shot dead by soldiers at a military checkpoint. They say Tamer Abdel-Raouf from al-Ahram newspaper and a colleague were on the road during a military-imposed nighttime curfew and a soldier opened fire after the pair drove off from the checkpoint without permission.
• Amnesty International said today that there has been “an unprecedented rise in sectarian violence across Egypt targeting Coptic Christians” since the violent dispersals of pro-Morsi sit-ins in Greater Cairo on 14 August and has demanded that the Egyptian authorities take immediate steps to ensure their safety. It says several Coptic Christians have been killed, their churches, homes and businesses targeted and graves desecrated, “seemingly in retaliation for their support of the ousting of Mohamed Morsi”,
• A private lawsuit has been issued against the Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradai, who was until recently part of the interim government installed after the ousting of Mohamed Morsi. It charges him with “breaching national trust” (Arabic link). The charge is that by resigning as vice-president he gave the impression that the Egyptian authorities were using excessive force. He has been referred to trial on 17 September.
Democracy Now! hosr Amy Goodman discusses the state of the revolution and the growing divide in Egypt with acclaimed Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif, Chris Toensing, executive director of the Middle East Research and Information Project and Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.
Transcript can be read here
“One of most depressing things that we’ve seen has been how a strand of what was the revolution, and what was either progressive or liberal, has so completely backed, endorsed, egged on the military and the police and have completely, unrelentingly demonized the Brotherhood and Islamist currents,” Soueif says from Cairo. “And I think that is part of why we’ve had an escalation of violence. It’s as if everyone is playing out a role that is expected of them.”
Aug 14 2013
Violent clashes broke out with Muslim Brotherhood supporters and government security forces in Egypt have left scores dead and wounded on both sides. A month long state of emergency and a curfew has been declared.
CAIRO – Egypt descended into a chaotic bloodbath – and another political crisis – Wednesday after security forces backed by bulldozers moved into opposition protest camps set up by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, sparking deadly violence.
At least 149 people were killed and 1,403 injured, the country’s health ministry said, but the toll looked certain to rise as unrest spread from Cairo to other parts of the country.
It is being reporting that interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei has resigned in protest over the crack down by the military and that at least two journalists have been killed.
Here is The Guardian‘s quick summary of events since last might:
• Scores of people have been killed after the Egyptian security forces moved to clear two protest camps in Cairo. Egypt’s official news agency put the death toll at 149, although the chaotic nature of the crackdown made accurate reporting difficult. Violence began after security forces used bulldozers to dismantle camps established by supporters of the ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
• Troops fired teargas and live rounds, quickly evacuating the smaller camp near Cairo University. But Morsi supporters held strong at the larger encampment, at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in east Cairo. The dawn raids came after two weeks of warnings to protesters to evacuate.
• The Egyptian interim government has declared a month-long state of emergency across the country. It later announced a curfew, beginning this evening at 7pm local time and lasting until 6am. The curfew is in place in Cairo and ten other provinces including Alexandria and Suez, the government said. It will last for one month.
• Egypt’s vice-president, Mohamed El-Baradei, resigned in protest against the crackdown. He said there were peaceful options for ending the political crisis. Witnesses at Rabaa al-Adawiya dozens of bodies, while photographs showed more than 40 dead laid out on the ground. There were reports of snipers firing on crowds of people. The interior ministry denied live rounds had been used despite the casualties. Two journalists, including a British cameraman for Sky News, were among the dead.
• The international community has denounced the violence. The US said it “strongly condemns the use of violence against protesters” and criticised the imposition of a state of emergency. UK foreign secretary William Hague said he was “deeply concerned at the escalating violence”. “I condemn the use of force in clearing protests and call on the security forces to act with restraint,” he said.
You can follow the live up dates from The Guardian here
Aug 09 2013
This week after much hinting, President Barack Obama cancelled his private meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin that was to take place before the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg in early September. The primary reason for the snub (yes, despite what you are hearing in the American msm, in the international community this is a snub) is Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In a statement, the White House said that it had concluded there was “not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda” to hold a US-Russia summit. It cited a lack of progress on arms control, trade, missile defence and human rights, and added: “Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our co-operation on these issues remains a priority for the United States.” [..]
The decision to cancel the meeting was greeted with little surprise in Moscow, where analysts and lawmakers have been predicting such a step. Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said the Kremlin was disappointed that Obama cancelled the meeting with Putin, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported. “It’s obvious that this decision is connected to the situation with the American intelligence services employee Snowden, which was not created by us,” he said.
Nonetheless, the invitation to Obama to visit Moscow remains open, and Russia is prepared to co-operate with the United States on pressing issues, Ushakov said.
Nationalist Duma deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky, perhaps the most rabid of the many critics of the United States in parliament, said the decision shows “disrespect” towards Russia.
“If you postpone or completely cancel meetings between heads of state under the pretext of the refusal to hand over one person, then relations between countries will quickly reach zero,” Zhirinovsky said.
Pres. Obama has no room to criticize Russia for giving Snowden asylum considering the fact that the US has given shelter to internationally wanted criminals and refused to investigate or prosecute Americans accused of war crimes
In his opinion article, Glenn Greenwald high lighted the most glaring cases:
U.S. to refuse Italian request for extradition of CIA agents
BRUSSELS – A senior U.S. official said Wednesday that the United States would refuse any Italian extradition request for CIA agents indicted in the alleged abduction of an Egyptian cleric in Milan, a case investigated by the European Parliament.
“We’ve not got an extradition request from Italy,” John Bellinger, a legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told reporters after meeting in Brussels with legal advisers to EU governments.
“If we got an extradition request from Italy, we would not extradite U.S. officials to Italy.”
Panama releases former CIA operative wanted by Italy
A former CIA operative detained in Panama this week at the request of Italian authorities over his conviction in the 2003 kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan was released Friday and had boarded a flight to the United States, U.S. officials said.
Robert Seldon Lady’s release from Panama appeared to avert the possibility that he would be extradited to Italy, where he faces a sentence of up to nine years in prison for his role in the CIA capture of a terrorism suspect who was secretly snatched off a street in Milan and transported to Egypt.
Lady, who left Panama on Friday morning, was “either en route or back in the United States,” Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokeswoman, told reporters at a midday briefing.
It was not immediately clear what steps the United States had taken to secure Lady’s release.
America’s refusal to extradite Bolivia’s ex-president to face genocide charges
Obama justice officials have all but granted asylum to Sánchez de Lozada – a puppet who payrolled key Democratic advisers
[US refuses Bolivia’s request to extradite its former CIA-supported president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, to stand trial on charges of genocide and other war crimes after de Lozada hires Democratic lobbyists to represent him]
Luis Posada Carriles won’t be extradited to Venezuela
The US constantly refuses requests to extradite – even where (unlike Russia) they have an extradition treaty with the requesting country and even where (unlike Snowden) the request involves actual, serious crimes, such as genocide, kidnapping, and terrorism. Maybe those facts should be part of whatever media commentary there is on Putin’s refusal to extradite Snowden and Obama’s rather extreme reaction to it. [..]
A less remarked-on round in this game of tit for tat (which so far doesn’t rise to the level of being very serious) is the government’s decision last April to deny visas to American officials and former officials who had something to do with torture at Guantanamo, where Russian citizens have been held.
The Moscow Times reports
“The list of banned officials released by the Foreign Ministry in April included former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington, former U.S. Justice Department adviser John Yoo and various other Justice Department officials alleged to have violated Russian citizens’ human rights. United States Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson, the former head of the Guantanamo prison, was denied a Russian visa in January, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.”
Professor of international law at Princeton University, Richard Falk explained in an article in Al Jazeera, that the granting of asylum to Snowden wasn’t just within Russia’s rights, but was legally compelled.
The most influential media in the United States has lived up to its pro-government bias in the Snowden Affair in three major ways: firstly, by consistently referring to Snowden by the demeaning designation of ‘leaker’ rather than as ‘whistleblower’ or ‘surveillance dissident,’ both more respectful and accurate.
Secondly, they are completely ignoring the degree to which Russia’s grant of temporary refugee status to Snowden for one year was in full accord with the normal level of protection to be given to anyone accused of nonviolent political crimes in a foreign country, and pursued diplomatically and legally by the government that is seeking to indict and prosecute. In effect, for Russia to have turned Snowden over to the United States under these conditions would have been morally and politically scandalous considering the nature of his alleged crimes.
Thirdly, the media’s refusal to point out that espionage, the main accusation against Snowden, is the quintessential ‘political offense’ in international law, and as such is routinely excluded from any list of extraditable offenses. That is, even if there had been an extradition treaty between the United States and Russia, it should have been made clear that there was no legal duty on Russia’s part to turn Snowden over to American authorities for criminal prosecution, and a moral and political duty not to do so, especially in the circumstances surrounding the controversy over Snowden.
And as Mark Weisbot noted
Meanwhile, Snowden and Glenn Greenwald and Wikileaks are winning. At the outset Snowden said his biggest fear was that people would see “the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society and that ‘nothing will change'”. But his disclosures have already created a new debate, and political change will follow. [..]
The spectacle of US attorney general Eric Holder trying to offer Russia assurances that his government would not torture or execute Snowden speaks volumes about how far the US government’s reputation on human rights – even within the United States – has plummeted over the past decade.
Legally, morally and ethically, Pres. Obama has no room to criticize Russia on it human rights violations.
Aug 08 2013
What was Barack Obama thinking when he gave his blessing to a these two clods to represent the US in Egypt, for any reason. Apparently, Republican Senators John McCain (AZ) and Lindsey Graham (SC) not only managed to fail at whatever it was they were sent to accomplish but managed to insult everyone in the military led interim government.
First, didn’t anyone in the State Department brief McCain to put a sock in it and not use the word “coup”?
McCain (R-Ariz.) and Graham (R-S.C.) had used the word “coup” at an afternoon press conference to describe the manner in which Egypt’s military had seized power from the Muslim Brotherhood’s elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in early July. [..]
In a statement later on Tuesday, distributed by Egypt’s Middle East News Agency and reported by Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, a top media advisor to Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, offered a stronger rebuke. The statement accused McCain of twisting facts, and dismissed his remarks as “clumsy,” or “irresponsible,” depending on the translation. (On Twitter, bilingual Arabic speakers debated the best translation for the word, “kharqa,” which also could be interpreted as “moronic” or “irrational.”)
Pres. Mansour went to call McCain’s comments “an unacceptable interference in internal policies”. When later asked by journalists whether the pair really meant that the military-backed overthrow was a coup, a term the US State Department has avoided using, McCain’s response was, “I’m not here to go through the dictionary. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”
These two dolts went on to lecture the Egyptian leadership on ways to reach an accord with the Muslim Brotherhood, urging General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in a Tuesday meeting to release all political prisoners as a starting point for holding free elections. In a press conference after the meeting, Graham further stepped in the diplomatic mire the two had created
“In democracy, you sit down and talk to each other. It is impossible to talk to somebody who is in jail.” [..]
“The people who are in charge were not elected. The people who were elected are in jail. The status quo is not acceptable.”
Really? Could Pres. Obamba sent two worse representatives into such a volitile situation? Maybe he could have sent Bill and Ted, from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Middle East expert and historian Juan Cole weighed in on why McCain and Graham the lack of credibility to talk to the Egyptians:
1. McCain and Graham are urging the interim Egyptian government to engage in dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood. But in winter of 2011 just after the fall of Mubarak, this is what McCain said:
” SPIEGEL: What is your assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood?
McCain: I think they are a radical group that first of all supports Sharia law; that in itself is anti-democratic – at least as far as women are concerned. They have been involved with other terrorist organizations and I believe that they should be specifically excluded from any transition government. “
The phrase “they have been involved with other terrorist organizations” suggests that McCain considered the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, just as Gen. Sisi does. One of the pretexts on which Sisi has jailed several Muslim Brotherhood leaders is their ties to Hamas and “terrorism.” So how would McCain argue him out of that stance. [..]
2. McCain insisted that there was in fact a military coup in Egypt on July 3, and called for political prisoners (the former Muslim Brotherhood elected government) to be released. But McCain supported the military coup of 1999 by Gen. Pervez Musharraf against the elected government of Muslim League leader Nawaz Sharif.
3. Graham doesn’t like people to win elections if he doesn’t like them. When the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, won the Palestine Authority elections in early 2006, Graham rejected their legitimacy [..]
If this mission was meant to help resolve the crisis the crisis in a country that is instrumental in Washington’s Middle East policy, it was a miserable failure that may have actually harmed the US relationship with Egypt.
Jul 09 2013
The ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has became unceasingly violent over the weekend as his supporters, urged by the Muslim Brotherhood, continued to take to the streets. The violence left approximately 51 dead as the Islamists attack the Republican Guard building where Morsi was initially held. There are conflicting reports of how the violence started:
Morsi’s backers said the troops attacked their encampment without provocation just after dawn prayers. The military said it came under a heavy assault first by gunmen who killed an army officer and two policemen. More than 400 were wounded in the mayhem. [..]
The Morsi supporters had been camped out for days at the site in tents around a mosque near the Republican Guard complex, where Morsi was initially held but was later moved to an undisclosed Defense Ministry facility.
Spokesmen for the military and police gave a nationally televised press conference to give their version of the morning’s bloodshed.
Army Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said police and troops guarding the Republican Guard complex came under “heavy gunfire” at around 4 a.m. and attackers on rooftops opened fire with guns and molotov cocktails. Along with the soldier and two policemen, 42 in the security forces were wounded, eight critically, he said.
He underlined that the troops had the right to defend the installation and that the protest “was no longer peaceful.” He pointed out that suspected Islamists have carried out coordinated armed attacks on several military facilities in recent days in the Sinai Peninsula.
One witness, university student Mirna el-Helbawi, also said gunmen loyal to Morsi opened fire first, including from the roof of a nearby mosque. El-Helbawi, 21, lives in an apartment overlooking the scene.
Supporters of Morsi, however, said the security forces fired on hundreds of protesters, including women and children, at the sit-in encampment as they performed early morning prayers.
The selection of a Prime Minister has been put on hold by interim President Adly Mansour after the country’s second largest Islamist group, the Nour party, objected to the appointment of former IAEA chief Mohamed Elbaradei, a pro reformist. After the deaths at the Republican Guard complex, Nour has withdrawn from all talks.
Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous reported live from Cairo this morning on the “Egyptian descent into violence”.
Transcript can be read here
After Sharif’s report, Amy Good man hosted a discussion on what caused Morsi’s overthrow and what comes next for Egypt with Sharif and guests Michael Wahid Hanna, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation; and Shadi Hamid, director of research for the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings.
Transcript can be read here
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has called for suspension of US foreign aid to Egypt after Morsi’s ouster, other senators and House representatives disagreed:
“Reluctantly, I believe that we have to suspend aid until such time as there is a new constitution and a free and fair election,” McCain said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” [..]
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said U.S. assistance should be used “as leverage” to press the military to pursue a quick transition to a civilian government. [..]
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, cautioned against rushing into discussions about aid. [..]
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said on the same program: “I think on a practical basis we have to look and ask a very simple question: Will cutting off aid accelerate or enhance the opportunities and the chances to have a truly Democratic government? I don’t think so.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) called the military in Egypt the “one stable factor there.” The military “should continue to be rewarded” for its stabilizing presence, Rogers said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Jul 05 2013
While America was taking a day to celebrate its 237th birthday, Egypt was swearing in an interim president to replace deposed president Mohammed Morsi who was removed from office by the military on Wednesday. Former Pres. Morsi and many members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been detained. As military coups go, this one has the backing of the populace which makes it hard to really call this a coup d’etat.
Chief justice Adly Mansour takes oath hours after democratically elected Mohamed Morsi overthrown by military.
Top judge Adly Mansour has been sworn in as Egypt interim president, hours after Mohamed Morsi was overthrown in a military coup following huge protests against his one-year rule.
Mansour took the oath of interim president on Thursday, as his democratically elected predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, was held in an unspecified military barracks along with senior aides. [..]
Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood officials were also reported to have been arrested, with many senior leaders being held in the Torah prison in Cairo – the same prison holding Hosni Mubarak, who was himself deposed in the 2011 revolution.
A senior Muslim Brotherhood leader said on Thursday that the Islamist group will not take up arms in response to the coup.
Army releases statement saying it will not stop peaceful protests, but warns against abusing the right to demonstrate.
An Islamist coalition, led by the Brotherhood, urged people on Thursday to take part in a “Friday of Rejection” protest following weekly prayers.
The call is being seen as a test of whether Morsi still has a support base in the country, and how the army will deal with it.
Egypt’s army released a statement later on Thursday on its Facebook page, saying that everyone had a right to peaceful protest, but that right should not be abused.
Allies wary of Mohamed Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood offer cautious welcome to ‘popular’ ouster of Egypt’s president
Foreign governments reacting to the Egyptian military’s move against Mohamed Morsi have been getting into semantic knots about the difference between a “coup” and a “military intervention” – though no-one disputes that a democratically elected president, albeit an unpopular one, has been overthrown.
Statements from Washington, London and elsewhere reflected the awkwardness of the issue, with President Barack Obama avoiding use of the C-word to stave off the risk that US financial aid to a strategically important Middle Eastern ally might be cut off by Congress. [..]
William Hague, the foreign secretary, came up with a formula that decried military “intervention” while pragmatically urging that the transition be fast and inclusive. But it was, Hague added, a “popular” move. “We have to recognise the enormous dissatisfaction in Egypt with what the president had done and the conduct of the government over the past year.”
Jul 03 2013
Up Date: 15:15 EDT: Al Jazeera is reporting that Pres. Morsi has been removed from office by the military. An interim government with the head of constitutional court to be interim leader until new elections and constitution written.
The deadline issued by the Egyptian military for a resolution to the current uprising has passed and President Mohammed Morsi refused to step down offering a consensus coalition government to oversee next election as a way out of crisis. The General command of the is meeting with leaders of a number of religious, national, political and youth groups. The military has also issued a travel ban on Pres. Morsi and leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Pres. Morsi’s national security adviser Essam El-Haddad said in a statement that a military coup was underway and to expect considerable bloodshed.
Military chiefs, vowing to restore order in a country racked by protests over Mursi’s Islamist policies, earlier issued a call to battle in a statement headlined “The Final Hours”. They said they were willing to shed blood against “terrorists and fools” after Mursi refused to give up his elected office. [..]
There was no immediate sign of military action to remove the president. However, security sources told Reuters that the authorities had imposed an international travel ban on Mursi and at least 40 leading members of the Brotherhood in a list sent to airport police.
In a somewhat ironic statement, the Syrian government called for Morsi to recognize that the Egyptian people do no want him and he should step down:
Relishing the possible downfall of one of Assad’s most vocal critics, Syrian television carried live coverage of the huge street demonstrations in Egypt demanding Mursi’s departure.
“(Egypt’s) crisis can be overcome if Mohamed Mursi realizes that the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people reject him and are calling on him to go,” Information Minister Omran Zoabi was quoted as saying by the state news agency SANA.
He also called on Egyptians to stand against the “terrorism and threats” of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
The Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most powerful factions behind the mostly Sunni Muslim uprising against Assad, who belongs to the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, and is being helped by Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah militia.
Democracy Now! correspondent, Sharif Abdel Kouddous reported from Cairo on the showdown:
“The more important struggle is the one that is coming from the ground up – and that is a rejection of authoritarianism and a paternalistic form of government,” Kouddous says. “We saw a rejection of Hosni Mubarak that threw him out of office, a rejection of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruling Egypt, and now a rejection and a revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood. [The people] are revolting against these authoritarian elements that deny them political and economic agency.”
Transcript can be read here
Also, Egyptian writer and activist Ahdaf Soueif spoke from Tahrir Square telling Amy Goodman that the refusal by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to run an inclusive government has sparked the massive uprising now seen in the streets.
Transcript can be read here
Jul 02 2013
A year after electing its first democratically elected president, Egypt has once again erupted in revolt with millions of Egyptians taking to the streets to protest the government of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The disputes began in November of last year over the creation of the Islamist-slanted constitution that was being fast-tracked through the parliament over secular objections accusing Morsi of acting like a dictator. Other complaints focused on favoritism towards Morsi’s allies for key government appointments, the repression of journalists and activists and the failure of to investigate abuses by the police after the deaths of 40 protesters during the unrest in Port Said in January. Since the protests began over the weekend 16 people have been killed including an American and the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhoos has been ransacked and bburned.
Early Monday, the Egyptian military issued an ultimatum to Morsi and the opposition to resolve their differences in 48 hours or face intervention.
The military’s ultimatum seemed to leave Mr. Morsi few choices: cut short his term as president with a resignation or early elections; share significant power with a political opponent in a role such as prime minister; or attempt to rally his Islamist supporters to fight back for power in the streets. [..]
Citing “the historic circumstance,” the military council said in its statement that “if the demands of the people have not been met” within 48 hours then the armed forces would be forced by patriotic duty “to announce a road map of measures enforced under the military’s supervision” for the political factions to settle the crisis. [..]
It remained possible, though, that many might accept a less drastic power-sharing measure until the election of a new Parliament expected later this year, especially under military oversight.
But the military council also emphasized its reluctance to resume political power. It has made the same disclaimer at its seizure of power in 2011, but reiterated more vigorously on Monday.
In an interview with Amy Goodman and Nareem Shaihk on Monday’s Democracy Now, their correspondent in Cairo, Sharif Abdel Kouddous reported on the protests in Tahrir Square and the presidential palace.
Transcript can be read here
Egyptians to Morsi: ‘We Don’t Want You’
by Sharif Abdel Kouddous, The Nation
One year ago, many Egyptians had hoped the inauguration of the country’s first-ever democratically elected president would mark a turning point following decades of autocratic rule and a turbulent transition. Yet since Morsi took office, the political quagmire has only deepened, the economy has been in decline and daily life has become harder for most Egyptians.
The country is plagued by frequent fuel and diesel shortages that create long lines outside gas stations and cause incapacitating traffic jams. Electricity blackouts have become a daily routine during the hot summer months. Prices for food, medicine and other staple goods have sharply risen as the Egyptian pound has lost 10 percent of its value leaving already impoverished families less to live on. Unemployment is growing, tourism and investment are down sharply, the stock market hit an eleven-month low last week, while insecurity, crime and vigilante violence are on the rise. [..]
The frustration is palpable. During Morsi’s first year in office, Egypt witnessed over 9,400 demonstrations, according to a report published by the Cairo-based International Development Centre, more than anywhere in the world. The anti-government sentiment will culminate in mass protests on June 30, anticipation for which has built exponentially through a grassroots initiative that has collected millions of signatures on a petition whose slogan is a call for revolt: Tamarod, Arabic for “rebel.”
Sep 16 2012
The attacks on US and Western embassies expanded today to nearly 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and some Muslim countries in South East Asia. Angered over a irreverent You Tube video that insulted the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed, angry protesters stormed American, Germany and British embassies and consulates.
At least two protesters are dead and several dozen injured when protesters stormed the US embassy in Tunis, Tunisia:
Several dozen protesters briefly stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunisia’s capital, tearing down the American flag and raising a flag with the Muslim profession of faith on it as part of the protests. Protesters also set fire to an American school adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. The school appeared to be empty and no injuries were reported.
Earlier, several thousand demonstrators had gathered outside the U.S. Embassy, including stone-throwing protesters who clashed with police, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Police responded with gunshots and tear gas. Police and protesters held running battles in the streets of Tunis. Amid the unrest, youths set fire to cars in the embassy parking lot and pillaged businesses nearby.
The state news agency TAP, citing the health ministry, said both of those killed were demonstrators, while the injured included protesters and police.
In Sudan, the German and British embassies were targeted along with the American embassy in Khartoum:
Police in the Sudanese capital fired tear gas to try to disperse 5,000 protesters who had ringed the German embassy and nearby British mission. A Reuters witness said police stood by as a crowd forced its way into Germany’s mission.
Demonstrators hoisted a black Islamic flag saying in white letters “there is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet”. They smashed windows, cameras and furniture in the building and then started a fire.
Staff at Germany’s embassy were safe “for the moment”, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin. He also told Khartoum’s envoy to Berlin that Sudan must protect diplomatic missions on its soil.
Witnesses said police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters to stop them approaching the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum.
In the Yemen capital of Sanaa, four protesters have been killed in demonstrations and a US Marine contingent, similar to ones being sent to Egypt and Libya, has been dispatched:
Twenty-four security force members were reported injured, as were 11 protesters, according to Yemen’s Defense Ministry, security officials and eyewitnesses.
Protesters and witnesses said one protester was critically injured when police fired on them as they tried to disperse the angry crowd.
The protests in Sanaa are the latest to roil the Middle East over the online release of the film produced in the United States.
As evening came, the number of protesters dwindled and tensions began to ease, after a day in which demonstrators breached a security wall and stormed the embassy amid escalating anti-American sentiment.
No embassy personnel were harmed, U.S. officials said.
Reports that the attack in Benghazi, Libya may not have been related to the protests over the anti-Islamic video:
BENGHAZI, Libya – A Libyan security guard who said he was at the U.S. consulate here when it was attacked Tuesday night has provided new evidence that the assault on the compound that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was a planned attack by armed Islamists and not the outgrowth of a protest over an online video that mocks Islam and its founder, the Prophet Muhammad.
The guard, interviewed Thursday in the hospital where he is being treated for five shrapnel wounds in one leg and two bullet wounds in the other, said that the consulate area was quiet – “there wasn’t a single ant outside,” he said – until about 9:35 p.m., when as many as 125 armed men descended on the compound from all directions.
The men lobbed grenades into the compound, wounding the guard and knocking him to the ground, then stormed through the facility’s main gate, shouting “God is great” and moving to one of the many villas that make up the consulate compound. He said there had been no warning that an attack was imminent.
“Wouldn’t you expect if there were protesters outside that the Americans would leave?” the guard said.
There is obviously something radically wrong with American and Western foreign policy towards the Middle East. President Obama’s policies in the region are no different that past presidents over the last 100 years. The US has lost much of its stature in the region with it heavy handed reliance on military force to resolve problems in the Middle and Near East since September 11 and expansion of it drone attacks on alleged terrorist targets. The US needs to completely reassess these policies and take into consideration the culture and economic needs of the region.