Egyptian security forces started to clear supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi from two demonstration camps in Cairo, one located near Nahda Square and the other situated in the area surrounding the Rabaa al-Adawiy mosque. The operation was launched in the early morning hours on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013. The areas surrounded by makeshift barricades served as strongholds for protesters who support the ousted President Mohammed Morsi. It is still unclear how many casualties were caught up in the two Cairo operations.
Figures differ widely and have been impossible to verify. The death toll is ranged from 150 to 2000 men. Whatever it is, there are scores of victims and the count is on the rise. The eviction has resulted in a real tough fight with the use of fire arms, tear gas and helicopters.
There are also reports of unrest elsewhere in Egypt. According to Reuter, there are clashes in the province of Fayoum, south of Cairo, the Egyptian Health Ministry says there are dead while fighting is raging in the province of Suez, other reports say the unrest has encompassed the northern provinces of Alexandria and Beheira, and the central provinces of Assiut and Menya.
State news agency Mena says three churches were attacked, one in the city of Sohag with a large number of Coptic Christian residents and hundreds are said to have gathered outside the governor’s office in Aswan.
It started in the wake of Morsi supporters hitting the streets late hours the day before and clashing with the supporters of new regime in the vicinity of government buildings. The protesters used fire arms. There was one person killed and a few wounded. This time around it happened to be too much for the country’s leaders, who had tried to reach an accommodation with the Muslim Brotherhood for entire six weeks. Now the Rubicon has been passed, the Egyptian government showed itself decisive enough to use force against the Brotherhood and their supporters.
Coming to power on July 3, the Egyptian military leadership initially shied away from taking tough measures against the Islamists, though it fully realized who it dealt with. The only thing it did was taking under arrest the most radical leaders who had to stand trial charged with instigating murder.
Not once the new government said it had no intention to leave anybody out of the country’s political life. By and large, the West understood the reasons behind the stance. US State Secretary John Kerry endorsed the Egyptian government’s actions. It was a promising start.
Still, no matter all the efforts applied, the situation was getting worse. The country was divided into two camps. One with headquarters in Cairo and Alexandria represented those who challenged the Muslim Brothers. Many a time the leaders showed they could effectively call on the supporters to hit the streets. They say, “Morsi no more!” and stress the former President cannot be released.
They have made their best to make him face responsibility for the crimes committed against the state – instigating murder, terrorism, state treason and espionage in the interests of other states. These people are convinced that if Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were at large, the country would plunge into chaos (some may not lose time to call it a revolution).
The other camp is made up of those who come from provincial centers. They make up the core of support for Muslim Brothers and the main source for filling the ranks of sit-in protesters in Cairo. There are also extremist groups behind the Brotherhood, many of their members have acquired combat experience in Syria and are ready to push Egypt in the same direction. The military have got hold of documents listing the names of 83 country’s prominent figures, including Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour, former Vice-President Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei, who has just resigned, Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi, Coptic Patriarch Feodor (Theodor II of Alexandria) and many others. There were also maps of strategically important military and civilian objects of the country, aerial pictures of some areas in Cairo, the map of Egypt divided into five sectors (or, perhaps, would-be states).
Two Rafah town dwellers, descending from their flight from Istanbul, were detained at the Cairo international airport for an attempt to smuggle arms and ammunition in. The following inspection showed they also tried to bring in bullet proof jackets and other means of self-protection, Al Qaeda insignia, Afghanistan military fatigue and currency counterfeiting equipment.
It all had been heating up before August 14 in Egypt. The government was adamant refusing to set Morsi free. It understood the step could pour fuel on fire. Anti-government propaganda was being disseminated without any hindrance by Internet, the Brotherhood’s TV channel, Al Jazeera, the Qatar headquartered satellite TV channel, and it was also spread around by many mosques.
The EU and US officials have started to pay frequent visits to Cairo. US Deputy State Secretary William Burns and Bernardino León, Secretary General of the Spanish government, applied their best efforts, but it was all to no avail. No matter his age, the ubiquitous Senator McCain visited Egypt in early August. State Secretary John Kerry and Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, issued a joint statement condemning violence and stressing the need for confidence measures and setting free jailed politicians.
The call brought up no results; it only spurred anti-US sentiments in the country. There were voices raised calling for declaring Anne Woods Patterson, the US Ambassador to Egypt, persona non grata, as well as refusing Robert S. Ford who is eyed as the next American envoy to the country. The diplomat has the reputation of being an ardent supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. His previous diplomatic activities in Syria, Iraq, Algeria and Bahrain testify to the fact.
Abd al-Galil al-Sharnubi, a former “brother” who left the organization’s ranks to openly challenge the Islamists, says:
“It’s an open secret the Muslim Brothers operate under the financial and ideological “umbrella of Washington”. They are desperately trying to save the situation. The international organization is fully discredited in Egypt, but it’s important to preserve at least part of its worldwide structure.”
The Persian Gulf monarchies have their own game to play in Egypt. The country has been visited by Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Qatar’s official met the Egyptian Muslim Brothers leadership in an attempt to put an end to strike actions and street violence in exchange for setting free Islamist leaders.
The reports about the Qatar’s activities can be trusted; the government sets its position soberly assessing the situation. The core goal pursued by Qatar is to preserve the main Islamist forces and save them from a serious defeat.
Whatever it is, the period of uncertainty in Egypt is over. The country on the Nile with the population of 85 million has stepped into an open conflict on August 14. Now a lot will depend on the Egyptian government which should take decisive and well-calculated actions to prevent an Islamist revolt…