Morsi calls for talks with opposition to end civil unrest in Egypt

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 28, 2013

Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi has had to learn quickly as the leader of Egypt. Morsi, who after being elected attempted to illegally give himself more power than he was supposed to have, rapidly found out that the Egyptian people had not revolt against Mubarak simply to welcome a new dictator.

The Egyptian leader, went from wanting power over other government branches to waving the white flag and calling on the opposition to sit down and hold talks with him today in Cairo. Morsi believes that new meetings will show his willingness to be inclusive, which may help  pacify the Eastern region that for the past four days has been on fire with a series of disturbances that claimed more than 50 lives.

Violence on the streets is seen sporadically in different parts of the country, but it almost always such violence has a very high price. One person died from a gunshot to the chest in the iconic Tahrir Square in Cairo. Meanwhile, the Army is stationed in the streets of Port Said and Suez, by order of the government, which has declared a state of emergency in those two cities and Ismailia.

The meeting will be held at 18.00 Egyptian time at the presidential palace, where Morsi expects to meet with several Islamist groups such as the Party for Freedom and Justice, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, which supports Morsi, along with other secular organizations, the Constitution Party and the Social Democratic Party.

In a televised address to the nation on Sunday night, Morsi said he believes that “dialogue is the only way to bring stability to Egypt” and that the violence seen in recent days is “alien to the Egyptians and the revolution. ”

While Morsi called on the opposition to renounce violence seen in the context of the second anniversary of the riots that deposed Hosni Mubarak, his detractors have called for a demonstration today to commemorate the so-called “Friday of Rage”, which occurred on January 28 2011, when the revolutionaries managed the withdrawal of the armed forces and took Tahrir Square, where the hottest concentrations of  Egyptians set down since the protests began. Opponents joined with the National Salvation Front and called for Morsi to repeal the recently passed Islamist constitution, approved by referendum in December.

The curfew, between 21:00 and 06:00, is in force in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, the three provinces where the government declared a state of emergency. In Port Said, the main focus of violence, riots started by the death sentence of 21 accused in the killing that took place in a  football stadium of the Al Masry soccer team, which killed 74 fans of the visiting team in February last year.

In the rest of the nation the riots were due to protests by the opposition for what it considers a hijacking of the democratic principles of the revolution by the Islamist Government led by Morsi. The government called for parliamentary elections for next April, but the opposition already said it will boycott them if Morsi does not repeal the Constitution and creates a national unity government.

For the fifth consecutive day, riots have occurred intermittently between youth groups and the security forces on the outskirts of Tahrir Square, in Kasr al-Aini Street and Yusef el-Guindi. In their attempts to disperse the youths, mostly using stones and petrol bombs, police used tear gas and shot pellets.

One person has died from the wounds in the chest by one of these missiles. According to the newspaper Al Ahram, it was a pedestrian walking in Tahrir that suddenly found himself in the middle of an altercation.

Soon after it arrived from the global forum in Davos, the Egyptian prime minister, Hisham Kandil, made a surprise visit to the police forces deployed around Tahrir Square. According to police sources, Kandil urged the police to use force against those who attack the institutions and state property.

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Santa gets early to Egypt as U.S. gives Morsi’s Military 20 new F-16s

AP | DECEMBER 11, 2012

The Egyptian military on Monday assumed joint responsibility with the police for security and protecting state institutions until the results of a Dec. 15 constitutional referendum are announced.

The army took up the task in line with a decree issued Sunday by President Mohammed Morsi. The Islamist leader on Monday also suspended a series of tax hikes announced the previous day on alcohol, cigarettes and other items.

The presidential edict orders the military and police to jointly maintain security in the run-up to Saturday’s vote on the disputed charter, which was hurriedly approved last month by a panel dominated by the president’s Islamist allies despite a boycott of the committee’s liberal, secular and Christian members.

The decree also grants the military the right to arrest civilians, but presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said it was nowhere near a declaration of martial law.

“It is merely a measure to extend legal cover for the armed forces while they are used to maintain security,” Ali told The Associated Press.

There were no signs of a beefed up military presence outside the presidential palace, the site of fierce street clashes last week, or elsewhere in the capital on Monday.

Still, Morsi’s decision to lean on the military to safeguard the vote is widely seen as evidence of just how jittery the government is about the referendum on the draft constitution, which has been at the heart of days of dueling protests by the opposition and Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood backers. The two sides clashed in Cairo last week, leaving at least six people dead and hundreds wounded in the worst violence of the crisis.

Both the opposition and Morsi’s supporters have called for mass rallies on Tuesday.

The opposition has rejected the referendum, but has yet to call for a boycott or instead a “no” vote at the polls.

“A decision on whether we call for a boycott of the referendum or campaign for a `no’ vote remains under discussion,” Hossam Moanis, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front grouping opposition parties and groups told the AP on Monday. “For now, we reject the referendum as part of our rejection of the draft constitution.”

The military last week sent out several tanks and armored vehicles in the vicinity of the presidential palace in Cairo following protests there by tens of thousands of Morsi’s critics. It was the first high-profile deployment by the military since it handed power in June to Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president.

Morsi on Saturday rescinded decrees issued Nov. 22 granting him near absolute powers and placing him above any oversight, including by the courts. He has, however, insisted that the referendum will go ahead on schedule.

Judges have gone on strike to protest Morsi’s perceived “assault” on the judiciary and have said they would not oversee the Dec. 15 vote as is customary for judges in Egypt. Judges of the nation’s administrative courts announced Monday they were conditionally lifting their boycott of the vote, but they said their supervision of the process was conditional on bringing an end to the siege of the Supreme Constitutional Court by Morsi’s supporters.

In exchange for their supervision, they also demanded assurances that authorities would crack down on vote canvassing outside polling stations and offer life insurance policies to the judges.

Morsi’s deputy, Mahmoud Mekki, has said the vote could be staggered over several days if there were not enough judges to oversee the referendum.

The court was widely expected to dissolve the panel that drafted the constitution in a session scheduled for Dec. 2. The siege of the Nile-side building in Cairo’s Maadi district began Dec. 1.

In a surprise move, Morsi on Monday rescinded a series of decrees issued the previous day to raise taxes on a wide range of items and services, including alcohol, cigarettes, mobile phones, services offered by hotels and bank loans.

The state-owned daily Al-Ahram said the Sunday decrees to raise taxes were issued by Morsi. On Monday, the official MENA news agency carried a statement from Morsi’s office saying the president has decided to “suspend” the tax increases.

“The president does accept that citizens shoulder any additional burdens except by choice,” the statement said. Morsi, it added, has ordered a public debate on the increases to gauge popular reaction.

“The people will always have the loudest voice and final decision,” it added.

It was not immediately clear why Morsi changed his mind about the tax hikes in a matter of hours, but the about-face appeared to have more to do with inexperience rather than a bid by the president to appear sympathetic with the majority of Egyptians who struggle daily to make end meet as the economy’s woes deepen. A popular backlash against tax hikes could hurt the chances of the Morsi-backed draft constitution being ratified in the referendum.

Egypt and the IMF last month have reached an initial agreement for a $4.8 billion loan to revive the country’s ailing economy. The deal, agreed after nearly three weeks of negotiations in Cairo, will support the government’s economic program for 22 months, the IMF said in a statement.

Egyptian authorities said at the time that it intended to raise revenues through tax reform, using the resources generated from new taxes to boost social spending and investment in new infrastructure.

 

Tahrir Square rumbles against the new Dictator

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 28, 2012

A new version of an Arab revolution seems to be brewing in Egypt. Right after the people thought a new beginning was right on the horizon, suddenly the new puppet in chief showed his teeth for the disappointment of many of those who helped elect him.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested on Tuesday and Wednesday against President Mohamed Morsi in one of the largest demonstrations since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, accusing the Islamist leader of seeking to impose a new autocracy. Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing youths in streets near Tahrir Square in Cairo, the center of the revolt that toppled Mubarak last year.

Clashes broke out between supporters and opponents of Morsi in a town north of Cairo. But violence could not overshadow the show of force which involves both opponents and supporters of the Islamists in power. The latest round of revolts is the biggest challenge for Morsi in his five months in office.

“The people want to topple the regime,” chanted the demonstrators, repeating phrases used in the uprising of 2011. There were also protests in Alexandria, Suez, Minya and Nile Delta cities. The protest organized by leftist groups, liberals and socialists marks an escalation in the worst crisis since the election last June, which exposes divisions inside the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and its rivals.

A 52-year-old protester died after inhaling the gas, the second fatality since Morsi announced last week that he had expanded the decree powers to prevent legal challenges to any of his decisions. The Morsi Government has defended the decree as an effort to speed up reforms and complete the transition to democracy. Opponents accuse him of behaving like a modern pharaoh. United States, a great benefactor of the Egyptian army, has expressed concern, fearing more turmoil in a country that has a crucial peace treaty with Israel.

“We do not want a dictatorship again. Mubarak’s regime was a dictatorship. We’ve had a revolution to bring justice and freedom,” said Ahmed Husseini, 32. The split opposition groups composed by Egyptian Islamist not have joined in the streets, and have yet to build an electoral machine to challenge the well-organized Islamists.

“There are signs that in the last couple of days, Morsi and the Brothers have realized their mistake,” said Elijah Zarwan, a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, adding that the protests were “a clear illustration that this was a political miscalculation. ”

The Morsi measure provoked a rebellion among judges and knocked confidence in an economy struggling to recover from two years of turmoil. The president has yet to implement unpopular measures to contain the country’s crushing budget deficit, necessary to complete an agreement for a loan of 4,800 million from the International Monetary Fund.

Mursi Supporters and opponents clashed with stones and firebombs thrown some in the city of Mahalla el Kubra in the Nile Delta. Medical sources said that nearly 200 people were injured. “The main demand is the withdrawal of the constitutional declaration (the decree). This is the point,” said Amr Moussa, former Arab League chief and presidential candidate who joined the new opposition coalition called the National Salvation Front.

The group includes several leading liberal politicians. Some scholars of the prestigious al-Azhar Mosque and University joined the demonstrations on Tuesday, showing that Morsi and his supporters have alienated some more moderate Muslims. Members of the large minority of Egyptian Christians also joined.

In Washington, the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, urged protesters to behave peacefully. “The current situation is an internal  constitutional dispute in Egypt and can only be decided by the Egyptian people through democratic peaceful dialogue,” he told reporters. Human Rights Watch said that the text gives more power to Morsi of the military junta that is in control of the country. This new regime is supported by the western oppressors who helped take down their long-term puppet, Hosni Mubarak.

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon told an Austrian newspaper that he encouraged Mursi to resolve the issue through dialogue. In an attempt to ease tensions with the judges who were outraged by his decree, Morsi said to the high court that the fragments of his decree on the immunity of their decisions will be implemented only on issues of importance regarding Egyptian “sovereignty”.

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The Secret Wars of the Saudi-Israeli Alliance

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research
May 29, 2011

As an old Chinese proverb says, crisis can be used as an opportunity by some.

Tel Aviv, Washington and NATO are taking advantage of the upheavals in the Arab World. Not only are they fighting against the legitimate aspirations of the Arab people, they are manipulating  the Arab geo-political landscape as part of their strategy to control Eurasia.

Sectarian Conflicts in Egypt: A Means to Weaken the Egyptian State

Egypt is ruled by a counter-revolutionary military junta. Despite the increasing assertiveness of the Egyptian people, the old regime is still in place. Yet, its foundations are becoming shakier as the Egyptian people become more radical in their demands.

Like in the Mubarak era, the military regime in Cairo is also allowing sectarianism to spread in Egypt in an effort to create divisions within Egyptian society. In early-2011 when Egyptians stormed government buildings they discovered secret papers that showed that the regime was behind the attacks on Egypt’s Christian community.

Recently, so-called  Salafist extremists have attacked Egyptian minorities including Christians but also Shiite Muslims. Egyptian activists and leaders in the Coptic and Shia community are pointing their fingers at the military junta in Cairo, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

The Egyptian military junta, Tel Aviv, and the Al-Sauds are all part of an ominous alliance. This grouping is the backbone of the U.S. imperial structure in the Arab World. They are dependent on Washington. They prevail inasmuch as the U.S. remains dominant in Southwest Asia and North Africa.

The Al-Sauds are now working with Washington in Egypt to establish a supposedly Islamic government. This is being done through political parties that the Al-Sauds have funded and helped organize. The new so-called Salafist movements are primary examples of this. It also appears that the Muslim Brotherhood or at least branches of it have been co-opted.

The Saudi-Israeli Alliance and the Politics of Division

The ties of the Al-Sauds to Tel Aviv have in recent years become increasingly visible and pervasive. This secret Israeli-Saudi alliance exists within the context of a broader Khaliji-Israeli alliance. The alliance with Israel is formed through strategic cooperation between the ruling families of Saudi Arabia and the Arab sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf.

Together Israel and the Khaliji ruling families form a frontline for Washington and NATO against Iran and its regional allies. The alliance also acts on behalf of Washington to destabilize the region. The roots of chaos in Southwest Asia and North Africa are this Khaliji-Israeli alliance.

In line with the U.S. and the E.U., it is the alliance formed by Israel and the Khaliji rulers that has worked to create ethnic divisions between Arabs and Iranians, religious divisions between Muslims and Christians, and confessional divisions between Sunnis and Shiites. It is the “politics of division” or “fitna” that has also served to keep the Khaliji ruling families in power and Israel in its place. Israel and the Khaliji ruling families would not survive without the regional fitna.

The Al-Sauds and Tel Aviv are the authors of the Hama-Fatah split and the estrangement of Gaza from the West Bank. They have worked together in the 2006 war against Lebanon with a view to crushing Hezbollah and its political allies. Saudi Arabia and Israel have also cooperated in spreading sectarianism and sectarian violence in Lebanon, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and now Egypt.

Israel and the Khaliji monarchies serve Washington in its objective to ultimately neutralize Iran and its allies, as well as any form of resistance against the U.S. in Southwest Asia and North Africa. This is why the Pentagon has been heavily arming Tel Aviv and the Khaliji sheikhdoms. Washington has also been setting up missile shields aimed at Iran and Syria in Israel and the Arab sheikhdoms.

Iranophobia

The alliance between the Khaliji sheikhdoms and Israel has been instrumental in creating a wave of Iranophobia in the Arab World. The ultimate objective of Iranophobia is to transform Iran in the eyes of Arab public opinion, into an enemy of the Arab people, thereby distracting attention from the real enemies of the Arab World, namely the neo-colonial powers which occupy and control Arab lands.

Iranophobia is a PsyOp, an instrument of propaganda. The strategic objective is to isolate Iran and reconfigure the geo-political landscape of Southwest Asia and North Africa. Moreover, Iranophobia has been used by the Khaliji ruling families, from the U.A.E. to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, as a pretext for the repression of their own people, who are demanding basic freedoms and democratic rights in the sheikhdoms.

The March 14 Alliance in Lebanon, which is a collection of Khaliji-U.S. clients and Israeli allies, has also used Iranophobia and the “politics of division” to try to attack Hezbollah and its political allies in Lebanon The objective is to weaken and undermine Lebanese-Iranian and Lebanese-Syrian ties. The March 14 Alliance, specifically the Hariri-controlled Future Movement, has imported into Lebanon the so-called Salafist fighters of Fatah Al-Islam with the objective of getting them to attack Hezbollah. The Future Movement has also had a role in the Israeli-Saudi-U.S. project to destabilize Syria and remove it from the Resistance Bloc.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes in the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).