Egypt: One Soldier Dead, 3 Wounded, as Muslim Brotherhood Clashes with Army, Secularists in Provinces

The markets in Egypt reacted with sheer joy to the Egyptian Revolution 3.0, with the Egyptian stock market rising 7% and adding billions to the economy. Deposed president Muhammad Morsi was considered a poor steward of the economy, and tourism, electricity and services had deteriorated in the year he was president.

But whether the transitional government can address those economic problems and bring stability is still very uncertain. Even as Supreme Constitutional Court chief justice Adly Mansour was sworn in as interim president on Thursday, the military crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood continued, with the army and police tracking down and arresting a number of important figures, including the Supreme Guide, Muhammad Badie, his no. 2, his predecessor, and the former speaker of the lower house of parliament, Saad al-Katatni. The charge against the some 300 Brotherhood figures being sought is apparently instigation to violence. Morsi and the others have called on their fundamentalist followers to resist the deposition of the elected president, which the minister of defense, Brig. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, sees as a thinly veiled appeal for them to take up arms.

The military also continued to ban some television channels, including Aljazeera Egypt and two channels belonging to the hard line Salafi fundamentalist movement. Aljazeera demanded that staff members who had been detained be released. One of the Salafi channels had been involved in whipping up anti-American violence last summer.

The civilian coalition of major civilian political parties that had opposed Morsi, the National Salvation Front, denounced the arrest of Morsi and the others as “a mistake.” Spokesman Munir Fakhri Abdel Nour told the BBC that that while the behavior of a few Brotherhood officials had been reprehensible, they had done nothing to merit arrest, and he said he hoped that they would be freed shortly. (The military is clearly detaining them to ensure they don’t try to launch a rebellion against the new transitional government, which the military has appointed).

Whereas Muslim fundamentalist crowds supporting deposed president Muhammad Morsi in Cairo continued to protest peacefully on Thursday, and to prepare for large rallies on Friday, in provincial Egypt there were a number of large demonstrations and, in places, some violence between pro- and anti-Mursi forces. It is not clear in some cases whether the violence came from anti-Morsi groups attacking the Brotherhood supporters, or vice versa, but in El Arish there appeared to be an armed insurrection by fundamentalists.

El Arish, the door to the Sinai, went into armed rebellion, with pro-Morsi guerrilla groups using heavy weaponry in an attempt to take the airport. Al-Arabiya TV reported that pro-Morsi groups in the city had decided to form a war council.
One Egyptian soldier was killed and three injured in fighting in North Sinai, where pro-Brotherhood guerrillas sues rocket propelled grenades to attack a military checkpoint at Gura.

The USG Open Source center gives some of these other items from the Egyptian press (my arrangement):

‘Egypt: ‘Violent Clashes’ Between Mursi’s Followers, Opponents in Al-Sharqiyah Governorate. Al-Arabiyah Television cited its correspondent saying that violent clashes are taking place between Mursi’s followers and opponents in Al-Zaqaziq in the Al-Sharqiyah Governorate.

‘Thousands’ of MB Supporters March in Al-Buhayrah Governorate Against Mursi’s Ouster — Al-Shuruq al-Jadid, an independent, pro-reform liberal daily, supporting revolution youth groups, At 1248 GMT reports that”Al-Buhayrah — Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters of former President Muhammad Mursi in Al-Buhayrah denounced the 3 July decision of General Abd-al-Fattah al-Sisi, the defense minister, to let the head of the Constitutional Court assume the position of the president of the republic”

Mursi Supporters Take Control of Bani Suwayf Governorate Building — At 1400 GMT, Ankara-based, state-funded Anadolu News Agency in Arabic reports: “Several members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party have taken control over the building of the Bani Suwayf Governorate in the center of the country after they raided the building and forced the military adviser of the governor to leave it”

Egypt: ‘Dozens’ of Mursi Supporters Demonstrate in Suez, Hoist Black, Al-Qa’ida Flags — — Al-Shuruq al-Jadid, an independent, pro-reform liberal daily, supporting revolution youth groups, at 1348 GMT reports that “dozens of supporters of former President Muhammad Mursi, who belong to religious groups and the Muslim Brotherhood in Suez, this afternoon staged a sit-in opposite the Hamzah Mosque calling for the return of the former president. They hoisted black and Al-Qa’ida flags”

Commander: Peace Restored in Suez Governorate Following Army Deployment — At 0832 GMT, Al-Shuruq al-Jadid, an independent, pro-reform liberal daily, supporting revolution youth groups, cites Major General Usamah Askar, commander of the Third Field Army, saying that “peace has been restored in the Suez Governorate and that the army forces are currently deployed throughout the governorate to continue and preserve its security” ‘

The military pledged to allow peaceful demonstrations on Friday (the ones in Cairo and Alexandria could be quite large), but said it would intervene in cases of violence or if attempts were made to block major thoroughfares to to damage property and facilities. The military, a little puzzlingly, said it wasn’t taking any extraordinary measures against any particular political group, in the interests of reconciliation going forward. It seemed to deny targeting the Brotherhood in general, though that is clearly what it is doing. My guess is that the officers mean that Brotherhood leaders who go quietly and do not call for resistance to the coup/revolution won’t be arrested.

Egypt is on a knife edge.

40 Responses

  1. General Askar or “Azmy”? This guy was super-popular with the people in the Canal provinces, including ‘umra for the parents of martyrs.

    • Yes, it is ‘Askar and he is a real PR professional, getting popular support. Hope the military appreciate him.

  2. There will be casualties and deaths every Friday from now till kingdom or Morsi is reestablished in his functions or the military literally eliminates every supporter of Morsi and the MB.

    This is only the beginning and this is only the eerie calm before the big horrible plunge.

    And the military (and those who supported the coup) are and will be responsible for every drop of blood.

    Just to remind folks here about politics and violence. I was in Florida in 2000 during the contested presidential elections, and i witnessed Bush’s supporters beat the hell out of Gore’s supporters. I saw them intimidate journalists, city workers, and create a war-like environment. And this was just a contested election and they were still counting vote in one of the oldest democracy on earth with the strongest institutional framework and organization in any democracy western.

    If this could happened in the US, well multiply that by infinity in a new democracy with 50 years of one of the most violent and vicious authoritarianism and legitimate grievances about a coup.

    As the Christmas song goes, “It’s beginning to look a lot like “Algeria”….

    • I dislike any religious right wing group (Christian, Muslim or Jewish) who imposes their religion on others. What happened to “there is no compulsion in Islam”? The Brotherhood was on the path to a dictatorship. For that reason I am glad that the Brotherhood has been deposed. To put it bluntly, the full military coup in Egypt made me very happy.

      With that having been said, I strongly disapprove of the arbitrary arrests of MB members. Their attempts to impose their narrow-minded interpretation of Islam and their inability to govern the country were worthy of removal from power, but they don’t deserve to be in jail for it. As much as I dislike the MB, I don’t believe that they arbitrarily detained those with dissenting opinions. These arrests are a dangerous step backwards. Professor Cole is right to be concerned about the possibility of unprecedented violence in Egypt.

      Maybe I’m wrong to believe that the coup was a good thing. If so, let me know. I want to learn from the events in Egypt. Future generations need to learn from this to avoid repeating the mistakes that led to this situation.

      • This is not about religion–it happened that Morsi is from an religious party. That’s all. If he were from another ideology or another political party, i would have reacted in the same exact manner.

        As i said it before, this is about civilian democratic governance in which the military has no role whatsoever.

        Moreover, i am not a supporter of Morsi or the MBs and have never been. But what i dislike more than confessional political parties is the military intervening in civilian politics. This is a red-line to for me, and i am not going to compromise just because i dislike Morsi and his party.

      • If this was about kicking the religious nut-jobs out of power–and not a pure power grab by a corrupt military–why would the military beg the Salafists to support the coup? Nader Bak’r from the ultraconservative Nour Party has become the long lost friend of General Al-Sisi lately. So, you push aside the MB, a mainstream religious party, and ally yourself with the snake-handlers-ultra-conservatives of the Nour Party?

        It’s like we have the choice of allying ourselves with Fred Phelps from Westboro baptist church and another religious mainstream figure, and we choose the nut-job of Fred Phelps.

      • Gleeful? Really? I have been warming that this could turn bloody over and over. If anyone here is sad about what’s going on in Egypt and the prospect of more bloodshed is me.

        There is no need for a straw-man argument here and informal fallacy. Argue with the facts.

    • “And the military (and those who supported the coup) are and will be responsible for every drop of blood.”

      The responsibility for any bloodshed belongs solely to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood for attaining power via a democratic election and then, having attained power, attempting to subvert the very democratic process that brought them to power. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood bear full responsibility for the bait-and-switch tactics they brought to bear against the Egyptian electorate. It’s an old story: Gain power via the democratic process and then, once in power, destroy the democratic process for your own ends.

      • Weren’t they elections on the calender? Will there not be more elections in the future? Yes and Yes. Then organize, mobilize, get your people out, get them to vote, go beat Morsi and his party. This is the only legitimate way of dealing with an elected official.

        No need to call on a corrupt military to solve a political dispute.

        The military created this situation, therefore the military is and will responsible for any bloodshed.

      • Kind of like what’s been happening here in the US? Though “democracy” is such a nicely elastic tarp — can be used to justify and conceal, for the sake of argument, all kinds of badness and stupidity, like to camouflage voter suppression, in the news again thanks to the Supremes and a gleeful set of reactionaries with very fast reaction times down in Texas, link to huffingtonpost.com, or even stuff like using thugs here in FL to tamp down the numbers for that Gore guy, link to walmart.com, well-dressed of course.

        A Robust Democracy we got here, where election results in Philadephia used to turn on which gang controlled the staircase leading to the polling place, via broken heads and fists and bloodshed. I personally think de Toqueville had his French tongue firmly in his cheek when he titled his work “Democracy in America.” And now, of course, that other wonderfully ironic Citizens United ruling. Bet Roberts and Scalia had a pretty good guffaw over that one…

        Bait-and-switch, like Reagan and the Bushes and Clinton and now The ‘Only President We’ve Currently Got.’ Who you can bet has to have an eye toward the potential for another “Business Plot,” maybe this time effectuated by someone other than a person of, wait for it, Maj. Gan. Smedley Butler’s moral standing and dedication to that Constitution thing, that Holy Grail that sure looks like it’s made, ab initio, of Unobtainium.

        Maybe not so accurate to try to lay all the blame at the feet of Morsi, given that as in the US, the military has wide and deep investments and involvement in “the economy,” and a pretty clear interest in a “security state” that keeps the money flowing, complete with relief from “sequester” for those special “jobs programs” in the Big Weapon Procurement line.

        For a non-Wiki bit, albeit incomplete, of mainstream history on the involvement of the Egyptian military in that thing called “governance,” which can be good or bad of course, too often bad in this world, lookie here: link to news.nationalgeographic.com

        There’s a minimum quantum of “legitimacy” needed to produce the stability and predictability and REAL security and the other stuff that leads to enough of the population being able to satisfy their basic Maslovian needs and tamp down the tribal and schismatic urges, to keep the demagogues and other sociopaths, like the people who populate the CIA and NSA and other alphabent agencies’ Sneaky Pete Departments and Branches and Directorates, from Getting Something Started, that Something of the nature that lets self-interested cretins steal and dissemble and keep the pot always just on a personally profitable boil…

        They rule us by manipulating our myths. Among other dodges and pressures.

    • A very interesting interview published on Deutsche Welle:
      “The problems are getting worse in Egypt especially because of the growing population. I’ve heard something like 1.5 million babies are born a year”

      So much for the tight connection between birth rate and the increasing of wealth -the never ending excuse when someone points out the migration of the Eastern populations toward West.

      link to dw.de

    • I find it odd that you think the Muslim Brotherhood has no choice going forward but to engage in civil war. Further, you suggest the MB has zero responsibility for events that led to the coup, and zero accountability for any future actions.

      • We saw the actions of the military today and yesterday: decapitation of the MB–i.e., arresting most of its leadership, leaving the rank and file roaming around without direction, guidance, and control. What are the consequences of such a move? Is it to create reconciliation? Or to create a climate so chaotic, which will favor violence?

        This is straight out of the Algerian playbook, and we know what happened there.

  3. I advise you to follow Jeremy Bowen of the BBC on twitter: @@BowenBBC

    Jeremy Bowen is live tweeting what is happening on the ground live such as military firing live ammo into the MB supporters and he witnessed more than 1 dead body on the ground.

    Also pro-Morsi protest today in: Algiers and most city in the ME, and even in Kabul.

  4. Young Egyptians, in a partition drive, had collected 20 million signatures calling for Morsi to step down and call new elections. 20 million is a much larger number than the number of votes Morsi received in the election which put him in power. Democracy is not just about elections, it is about a government responsive to the will of the people.

    • Then what’s the point of having elections? Next time, we just organize a petition drive and elect our president. Oh wait, i have a better idea: “The American Idol”. Call Ryan Seacrest and ask him to organize a big television show so we can vote via text and phone calls.

      The only way to remove an elected official is through: 1) elections; or 2) impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors. The little “Good Soldier Schweik” stays in his barracks and eats MREs and waits until someone invades the country. Other than that, i don’t want to hear from anyone who wears a uniform, especially from the corrupt military of the Arab-Muslim world and developing countries.

      • If a snapshot, or a longer time sampling, of a dictator and someone else acting like a dictator who was elected are indistinguishable, then democracy is not working.

  5. @Tahar: Fact is that Morsi was useless, but the point of democracies is that you wait until the next election and vote out useless leaders.

    Stepping back from the day-to-day and looking at the bigger picture, Egypt’s outlook is bleak. The economy is a basket case and the socio-economic divide is as wide as it’s ever been in recent memory. And there are ever more mouths to feed – and population growth is not likely to ebb given local tradition.

    A personal aside: I visited Cairo in 1980 and then in 2010. Whatever existed from the ‘old Cairo’ is long gone. Its charm now only exists in dusty photos with once charming green spaces replaced by concrete, buses, cars, roads and ugly cramped apartments. I doubt that situation has reversed in the last three years. Hot, crowded and filthy with an economy fast-approaching basket case status – and millions of dissatisfied citizens, to boot – does not inspire optimism about the future. Leaving the military in charge is not going to dramatically improve that dismal picture.

    • Last time i visited Egypt (Cairo and then Alexandria) was in December 2012 during the ratification of the constitution, and i agree that the economic situation was extremely bad–and to be fair here, no one could have turned that economy round in less than a year.

      Having said that, i agree with you, the future of Egypt is more than bleak, and whoever takes over (either the Junta or another civilian or Morsi) will be facing tremendous socio-economic challenges that require decades (if not more) of hard work and patience.

  6. And when (or if) new elections are held, and another president is elected, and his opponents take to the streets, will the military intervene again? What good it is to have a civilian-led government if the military can do this? Morsi was bad, but not horrible. He was elected, fair and square. And even if he were horrible, there was going to be another election in a few years. Maybe parliamentary democracy is a system the Egyptians will never be comfortable with. The US has had some doozies as president, but it has managed to hold things together pretty well. Removing a president like this in an extra-constitutional way, even a widely unpopular president, is bad news. I predict continuing turmoil, death, grief, etc. Sad

  7. A charge sometimes casually thrown around is the one about outside or CIA interference. I haven’t read any suggestion that non-Egyptians are influencing these events.
    Check or hold ?

    • “A charge sometimes casually thrown around is the one about outside or CIA interference.”

      It is thrown around only by unreconstructed conspiracy theorists who think the various elements of the US government, including the CIA, operate seamlessly to influence every incident that occurs anywhere on earth. It is a childish, naive approach to analyzing international events that is embraced by childish, naive conspiracy theorists. Anyone who actually knows something about how the various elements of the US Government work understands that, while some events have been influenced by the US, the US Government lacks the capacity to operate on the level imagined by the conspiracy theorists.

      • Always so reassuring, sir. Like Huxley’s Soma…

        “while some events have been influenced,” you acknowledge that much at least, kind of hard to be a “responsible historian” and do at least that much. Hmmm:

        “Best joke about prostitution ever done was by Bernard Shaw. He was at a party once and he told this woman that everyone would agree to do anything for money, if the price was high enough. `Surely not, she said.’ `Oh yes,’ he said. `Well, I wouldn’t,’ she said. `Oh yes you would,’ he said. `For instance,’ he said, `would you sleep with me for… for a million pounds?’ `Well,’ she said, `maybe for a million I would, yes.’ `Would you do it for ten shillings?’ said Bernard Shaw. `Certainly not!’ said the woman `What do you take me for? A prostitute?’ `We’ve established that already,’ said Bernard Shaw. `We’re just trying to fix your price now!’ “

        Obviously, unless the goals of the Rough Men are very different than represented, the incompetence and idiocy of so much of that “influence” has not moved the whole world very far in the direction of subservience to “US national interests.”

        How much “influence,” again? Just to establish the price…

  8. I have to say I think it would have been way better if the protest movement had limited its demands to a new parliament and revising the Constitution or somesuch. This military coup and blatant suppression of the MB by military force goes too far for me, Morsi made mistakes but I don’t think he or the MB did anything that make this sort of thing acceptable. This is going too far against an elected president and legal political party, and by the wrong people.

  9. Dr Cole,

    Saudi Arabia the capital of Wahhabism has been very happy about the coup in Egypt. What do you think is the conflict between Wahhabism and Muslim Brotherhood.

    • Yes, the Wahhabi/ Salafi strand is suspicious of the Muslim Brotherhood, and this is reflected in Saudi stance.

    • It makes sense. Nothing could be more threatening to a middle east ruler than the idea that Islam and Democracy are compatible. Much easier to dismiss democracy as a western way.

  10. Egyptian Revolution 3.0?
    A military overthrough is what happend, you should know the difference!

  11. “Also pro-Morsi protest today in: Algiers and most city in the ME, and even in Kabul.”

    I doubt that the vast majority of Egyptians who are glad Morsi is gone give a damn about pro-Morsi demonstrations in Algiers and Kabul. The demonstrators in Algiers and Kabul didn’t have to live under his regime. And if they like his governing philosophy, perhaps they should worry more about their own governments than that of Egypt.

  12. Tahar, the Egyptian Army and the Egyptian state will triumph over the Ikhwan because it is they who were subverting democracy to establish a new dictatorship and end Egypt’s time-honored culture of religious pluralism.

    It’s disgusting that Ikhwan supporters are responsible for this and yet bleat on and on about “democracy”.

    You made your bed, now lay in it.

    • Ask every Latin American country in which the military were invited to take over and solve a political crisis? Asked them about the prospect of democracy, rule of law, due process, freedom speech and assembly? Ask the Brazilians and Argentines, Chileans, and the Venezuelans. Or even better, ask the Thais about their 2006 coup (there is a strong resemblance between the Egyptian case and the Thai case). And if you don’t speak Thai or Spanish or Portuguese, ask the Algerians, they speak Arabic.

      To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, those who sacrifice liberty for the sake of security will have neither security or liberty.

  13. I was even surprised by the huge pro-Morsi rallies today, in almost every city.

    Moreover, i was watching one rally over a live fed on the Internet went i clearly saw the military change what was so far a very peaceful rally.

    It is clear to me that this military Junta is looking for a confrontation with the MB. They want blood to be spilled. In the last 3 days, the military has been responsible for more death and arbitrary illegal arrests than all the arrests and death of the last year, and by far.

    Dr. Cole: stop deluding yourself: this is not about secularist vs. non-secularist. This frame won’t stick and last and no one will believe it, though you have been trying to force it out there for the last 2 months.

    This is about: civilian democratic governance vs. Military Junta.

    Inspired by U2: this is “Friday bloody Friday” in Egypt.

    link to laseptiemewilaya.wordpress.com

  14. The shameless apology for Morsi’s dictatorship is infuriating, because all these armchair Islamists know that their ideology makes places unbearable for “normal” non-Islamist people to live and they simply don’t care. There can be no democratic system as long as Islamists are allowed to participate. Here’s hoping the Army can place a permanent German-style Constitutional ban on these moronic busy-body piety-obsessed power-mad freaks. Their opinion has no value and is in itself an offense against normal human beings who understand that most people just want to live without being harassed by bearded sociopaths who appoint themselves as the new Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him, even though I am an atheist, because I know his followers are not his fault).

  15. By inviting and encouraging the military coup, the young revolutionaries have demonstrated that they are as uninterested in democracy as Morsi. I don’t think you lay the groundwork for a free society by licking the boots of the military.

  16. One way to withdraw a president from office is to have a provision for recall enshrined in the constitution. Whether the panel that enacts the amendments to the constitution considers or debates such an option will reveal information about their mentality.

    Had a recall been possible, the entire revocoupation would have been averted with new presidential elections coming (probable). The debate over legitimacy and coups would be resolved without involving the military.

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