Friday, June 28, 2013
Tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of President Morsi join protests across Egypt with violent clashes between the rival parties reported in Alexandria, where police used tear gas as at least two people were killed and nearly 90 injured. Security forces used tear gas to break up clashes between rival protesters in Alexandria, according to MENA news agency. According to Minister of Health Mohamed Mostafa Hamed, 88 people were injured there. One man died after being shot into the head. Egyptian officials have also confirmed that a US citizen was killed in the violence, reportedly having been stabbed in the chest. His identity remains unconfirmed. RT’s Bel Trew says that according to reports, the American was a teacher who may have gone to the clashes to film them as part of a project. "There were two deaths - an Egyptian, and an American who was wounded during the events. He was filming," said General Amin Ezzeddin, a senior Alexandria security official. Following the news the US State Department has warned Americans against all but essential travel to Egypt and said it would allow some nonessential staff and the families of personnel at the US Embassy in Cairo to leave the country. There have also been reports that a foreign woman has been beaten and dragged for several meters at Cairo's Tahrir Square as she was taking pictures and shooting videos of the demonstration there, according to Ahram Online. The scuffle occurred after the woman was asked to leave because she was a foreigner. The Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters in Alexandria were stormed by anti-Morsi demonstrators and set on fire, local media reported.Overall, some 139 people got injured across the country, minister of health said. Both President Morsi’s supporters and opponents held their rallies on Friday, while the wider opposition coalition is also expected to bring millions out on Sunday, calling for new elections."We are confident the Egyptian masses will go out in their millions in Egypt's squares and streets on June 30 to confirm their will to get the January 25 revolution back on track," the liberal opposition coalition said. RT’s correspondent in Egypt Bel Trew reported that “the country is worried that there will be further violence after several days of clashes between rival groups, demonstrating either in support of the president or against him.” In the capital, thousands of people marched towards Tahrir Square, chanting slogans against President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Marches in Cairo originated from Mostafa Mahmoud Square, Sayeda Zeinab, Al-Azhar Mosque and Shubra, Ahram Online reports. In the light of the rallies, local residents have been withdrawing cash, queuing outside petrol stations and stocking up on food, according to AFP. Many companies said they would close on the first day of the working week in Egypt, Sunday, when the large-scale opposition rally is due to take place. The army, which helped protesters overthrow previous President Hosni Mubarak, has warned that it could step back in to impose order should violence spin out of control. “Protest comes amidst a growing security crisis across the country. We’ve already seen several people die, hundreds injured in the days leading up to the protests. We’re seeing an increase of civilians armed and bringing those weapons to protests which has led many to call for the army to step in and secure the nation,” Bel Trew added.Earlier this week one man was shot dead and four wounded in an attack on a provincial party office, Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood said. The incident, which took place north of Cairo, raised the death toll to five in factional fighting that also left many injured over the past week, with fears of wider violence during the upcoming protests, two years after the Arab Spring revolution that ousted Mubarak. Egypt's leading religious authority warned of "civil war" and called for calm in response to the death of the member of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, Reuters reported. "Vigilance is required to ensure we do not slide into civil war," Al-Azhar clerical institution said in a statement reported by state media. The Arab world's most influential and one of the largest Islamic movements, the Muslim Brotherhood, has slammed activists campaigning to force the fifth president of Egypt, 61-year-old Morsi, to resign as he celebrates his first year in office. On Thursday, the opposition National Salvation Front coalition refused Morsi’s offer to cooperate on reforms to end a political deadlock that has driven the biggest Arab nation into economic crisis, and called instead for an early presidential election. Morsi’s critics primarily see him as a Muslim Brotherhood delegate, appointing Islamists in key positions, returning Egypt to authoritarianism.“I think it goes without saying, and Morsi himself has partially admitted it, that he has disappointed people. As far as those people who helped to bring Mubarak down or a sizable section of them he’s changed absolutely nothing since he came to power and these protests are to show that the democratic fig leaf is not enough. So what will happen on Sunday will be quite decisive,” author and journalist Tariq Ali told RT. Ali says Egypt is divided between those who seek an evolution towards democracy, and those who are still in the mind-set of the old regime. “It’s not the case that he [Morsi] is bereft of support, it’s just that the country is now very sharply divided between those who want some meaningful change and he government which is maintaining continuity with the previous regime and in some instances getting worse.”Morsi’s Islamist supporters emphasize that he derives his authority from the first free presidential election in Egypt’s history, and that the challenges he faces, namely corrupt and inefficient institutions, economic woes and religious strife have all been inherited. In a televised speech on Wednesday, Morsi warned that political polarization threatened to “paralyze” Egypt. He has also admitted making mistakes and pledged to correct them. “I have made many mistakes, there is no question. Mistakes can happen, but they need to be corrected,” he said. Morsi threatened legal action against several prominent figures, claiming some judges were obstructing him, and accused liberal media owners of bias. Shortly afterwards, he publicly accused the owner of CBC television of tax evasion, Mohamed Amin found he was barred from leaving the country. "This is dictatorship," his lawyer told Reuters. Officials also ordered the arrest of a talk show host on another channel and the station to be shut down for inciting mutiny in the army and for insulting the armed forces and the police. Last week, tens of thousands of Islamists got together, chanting for Morsi and Islamic law, calling the turnout proof that he enjoys mass support and accusing the opposition of being remnants of Mubarak’s regime. Under the thumb of the Mubarak regime the Muslim Brotherhood was essentially barred from assuming a leadership role in Egypt’s government. However, According to Taqadom Al Khatib of the National Association for Change, a member of the opposition, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood simply seem to lack any solutions for the country’s pressing economic and political situation now that they have managed to secure control. More so, the Brotherhood seems to be mimicking some of the autocratic behavior of the Mubarak regime. “We have an economic problem, and many political and social problems. The Muslim Brotherhood have no solutions for these problems. People in Egypt want social justice, freedom and democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood is building a new dictatorship. The government has sent official letters to TV channels, claiming that they have the power to close them down, without any court order,” says Al Khatib. Al Khatib’s group is one of several calling for early elections. According to Al Khatib, both the US and other Western powers are unlikely to offer any support for Morsi’s ouster, in part as they rely on his government to support policy against Iran in the region.
A man has been shot and killed in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria during clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi.
http://www.egyptindependent.com/Thousands of protesters demonstrated in Alexandria after Friday prayers, part of a nationwide wave of rallies calling for President Mohamed Morsy's resignation which has seen opponents and supporters of the beleaguered Islamist regime clash, injuring scores. Demonstrators launched a march in front of Alexandria's Qa’ed Ibrahim Mosque, before heading to the city's Sidi Gaber area, where hundreds of supporters were gathering in front of the administrative office of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Protesters were heard chanting slogans against the regime and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. They also raised red cards and blowed whistles, while drivers on the corniche sounded their horns. The march will join others setting off from al-Wardian, Jihan hospital and al-Labban in Sidi Gaber to rally against Morsy's administration. Clashes meanwhile broke out between a number of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and protesters in Sidi Gaber, while opposition protesters set the Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party's (FJP) offices in the city. Birdshot was reportedly fired, with eyewitnesses confirming that no less than 10 people were injured. The wounded were transferred to nearby hospitals. Protesters arrested a pro-Morsy protester who allegedly used birdshot and beat him up before handing him over to security forces in the Northern Military District. Clashes are reported to be ongoing. Nineteen people were also reported injured on Friday afternoon following clashes in Aga City, Daqahlia governorate. Security sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that some of the victims sustained birdshots and were transferred to hospitals for treatment. Protesters against Morsy started a march that roamed the city before heading to the local FJP headquarters which they torched, eyewitnesses said. The protesters clashed with party members responsible for securing the office. Also in Alexandria, protesters set ablaze the office of the FJP in Sidi Gaber area. Clashes are reportedly ongoing between both sides. Opponents to President Mohamed Morsy have taken to the streets in governorates across Egypt. Several cities and villages in Gharbiya staged protests after Friday prayers to demand Morsy's departure. Protesters said Morsy had to leave after he failed to adequately run the country or the economy. Marchers complained of shortage in goods and services such as fuel, electricity and water. Tens of thousands participated in protests and marches, chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood as well as expressing anger at Morsy's divisive speech on Wednesday. In Tanta, around 30,000 protesters staged marches and gathered on al-Shohadaa Square demanding Morsy's departure. In Kafr al-Zayyat, approximately 20,000 protesters gathered on al-Sa'a Square with banners calling for Morsy to leave. "Down with the rule of the supreme guide," one read, referring to the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie. In Basyoun, around 10,000 protesters staged marches in 23 of July Street and gathered at al-Mahatta Square. Scores of demonstrators attempted to break into the headquarters of the FJP in Basyoun, but Brotherhood supporters stationed inside the building prevented them. Protesters had marched from Basyoun to the local Islamist party building, later joined by another from al-Qadaba village. Demonstrators threw stones at the Islamists inside for more than half an hour. Thousands took part in a march in Zagazig, Sharqiya, raising red cards to demand President Mohamed Morsy's departure and bringing an end to the Muslim Brotherhood rule. Hundreds joined the march on its way to the sit-in of revolutionary forces against Morsy in al-Mohafza Street. They chanted: "I am not an infidel. Down with the rule of the supreme guide." Dozens of drivers encouraged protesters with beeps, especially near gas stations. They held red cards while waiting in traffic. Protesters held 2 symbolic coffins, one for Morsy and the other for Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie. They held images mocking US Ambassador Anne Patterson.
http://www.timeslive.co.za/US President Barack Obama praised anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela as he flew to South Africa on Friday but played down expectations of a meeting with the ailing black leader."I don't need a photo op," Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One after leaving Senegal, the first stop on his three-country Africa trip. "The last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned with Nelson Mandela's condition." The 94-year-old former South African president was hospitalized in critical condition in the capital, Pretoria. Obama, the first black American president, sees Mandela as a hero. Mandela fought racial barriers in a decades-long struggle against apartheid before becoming his country's first black president. Both men received the Nobel Peace Prize. The U.S. president said he did not think Mandela's condition would change the message of his Africa trip. "I think the main message we'll want to deliver is not directly to him, but to his family - is simply profound gratitude for his leadership all these years, and that the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with him, his family and his country," Obama said. White House officials hope Obama's tour of Africa will compensate for what some view as years of neglect. It is his first substantial visit to the continent since taking office in 2009.
http://www.theatlantic.com/It may not be the most dangerous place in the world, but, with its mix of political instability and nuclear capability, it's plausibly the most dangerous place for the world. Yet according to Husain Haqqani, Americans have a chronically hard time understanding why. "I do believe that Pakistan is a dangerous place," Haqqani said, speaking with The Washington Post's David Ignatius and retired U.S. general Stanley McChrystal at the Aspen Ideas Festival today, "but ... not for the reasons the Americans think it is. The Americans don't get Pakistan." Haqqani, who served as Pakistan's ambassador to Washington from 2008-2011, thinks that U.S. diplomats and military leaders have, after decades of on-again, off-again engagement with Pakistani officials, internalized a distorted sense of possibility in the United States' involvement in Pakistan as a whole.Haqqani believes that Islamabad's generals in particular have played a big role over time in flattering Americans' sense of efficacy in Pakistan -- and seems to believe that U.S. generals have been particularly susceptible to being misled, tending to see Pakistan's military leaders as their apolitical counterparts, rather than "politicians in uniform." It's not that American officials' thinking about Pakistan is insufficiently complex, according to Haqqani (McChrystal, after all, had just emphasized the importance of not looking for simple fixes in Pakistan); it's that American officials' thinking about Pakistan serially overestimates the United States' ability to promote stability and development in the country at all. U.S. foreign policy naturally looks for levers to pull. But what if, despite all the complexity among all the issues where the U.S. has been looking for levers, there is, after all, a central, defining issue with no lever connected to it? "It's not America's problem to solve Pakistan's problem," Haqqani said. "It's Pakistan's problem to solve Pakistan's problem." So what's the problem? Haqqani's account here is rather meta: The problem is a dominant and determining sense of collective insecurity that prevents Pakistan from understanding its situation in the world. It was a country that was created with very little prior discussion and analysis. People forget: There's been an Egypt for 5,000 years; there's been an Iran for centuries -- for millennia. There's been an India for millennia. Pakistan is only 66 years old. So therefore it has, essentially, a lot of psychoses, more than it has actual threats and challenges. India, for example -- I understand that Pakistanis have a lot of concerns about India. But, as a Pakistani, I look at history. ... Yes, India has never philosophically accepted the idea of Pakistan. But it has never been responsible for initiating any of the wars with Pakistan. Let's be real about that. Afghanistan is too weak and too poor to attack Pakistan. So most of the problems that Pakistan sees itself in are psychological rather than real. Which isn't to say Pakistan doesn't have real problems. This is, after all, a country now with a population of 210 million and the highest population-growth rate in the region. Half the country's population is below the age of 21. One-third of them have never been to a school of any kind. One-third of the population overall is below the poverty line, with another one-third just above it. And this country has nuclear weapons. "The nuclear weapons should have been enough to make us finally secure about India," Haqqani said. "We have mutually-assured destruction, so they will never invade us. Well guess what? We are now like the guy who keeps buying guns to try and protect himself, and then says, 'Oh, gosh, I can't sleep because I'm afraid that somebody will steal my guns." So Pakistan's threat to itself and the world, Haqqani believes, is essentially a failure to come to terms with itself as a nation. Which is, here as anywhere, not just a broad, collective failure but a failure of political leadership -- and one that Pakistan has previously shown promise of overcoming: "Benazir Bhutto, before she was assassinated, had a new vision for Pakistan," Haqqani said. "And her vision was: We will focus inward. We will put the kids in schools. We will keep the nukes, but we will eventually sign up for some kind of international agreement that will make sure that we are not looked upon as a pariah. We will join globalization." Haqqani isn't overly optimistic about the prospect of Pakistan's new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, now bringing the kind of leadership that can meaningfully change his country and move it beyond its "psychoses." But Haqqani doesn't take a pessimistic stand, either, seeing Pakistan as the scene of both instability and potential. So is there any role at all for the United States in helping realize that potential? Haqqani thinks that there can be, but only if Pakistan assumes the national self-possession to define that role in the right way. "... if America is available to us, we will use it like Korea did or Taiwan did," Haqqani said -- in the notably optimistic future tense. "We are not going to live as an insecure nation, because that insecurity then makes people think, 'Al Qaeda? Well, how can we use them against our enemy, India?' -- instead of considering them the enemy."
Daily TimesThe Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has compiled a report based upon its recent fact finding mission to the restive province of Balochistan. The revelations contained in the report are nothing new. It speaks of how human rights abuses continue unabated in the province, how the people have hope in the newly elected democratic government but still hold the intelligence agencies of the country and the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) responsible for the kill and dump policy that has reaped so many Baloch victims in the province. It details how various sectarian organisations have and continue to kill and maim minority members of the Baloch community and how the insurgency is drastically increasing. Anyone who reads these pages on a daily basis knows these facts and realises that all is not well with Balochistan, but what is being done about these cold, hard facts? Whilst the documentation of the HRCP mission must be welcomed — as should any report that details the grievances and travails of the Baloch — because of the exposure of widespread atrocities, there needs to be greater focus on the problem. The burning down of the Ziarat Residency, where Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah spent his final days, received nationwide attention and condemnation, with some people demanding that steps be taken to bring the culprits to justice and to rebuild the Residency. What about bringing to book those who have tortured, killed and dumped Baloch citizens and have made many more simply vanish? What about rebuilding the entire province of Balochistan by ensuring that such crimes against humanity do not occur? The Baloch believe, in all sincerity, that the FC is behind the many deaths and disappearances and so do the insurgents. It is the responsibility of the newly elected government of Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch to ensure that the FC is reined in so that a chink in the door is opened for dialogue with the nationalist insurgents. Only when the Baloch see that positive action is being taken against those they suspect of being behind the rash of killings all over the province will there ever be hope for a political resolution. In the absence of such moves, all else seems futile and the bloodshed in Balochistan seems set to continue indefinitely. The first casualty of such a course will be the credibility of the new government in Quetta, thereby washing away any hope that it can turn the corner towards peace in the province.