Top News: Weekend Violence Leaves Over 300 Dead Across Egypt

The violent events on what the Muslim Brotherhood called ‘Friday of Rage’ left 173 dead, and over a thousand wounded. According to security sources, 1,118 pro-Morsi protesters were arrested for inciting violence and committing acts of vandalism. 

Egyptian government remains defiant

The presidency held a press conference Saturday afternoon to address their stance concerning the current situation since Wednesday’s dispersal of the two pro-Mohamed Morsi sit-ins. Mostafa Hegazy, the presidency’s political adviser, said the people “expressed their view against religious fascism and [those] who wanted to strip away Egyptians from their ‘Egyptian-ism’,” and that the presidential office is clear regarding their respect of “freedom of protest and expression.” Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi said on Saturday the government needs to get the country onto a democratic path and that sit-ins were a threat to security. Beblawi stressed the importance of reconciliation, but said there would be no reconciliation with those “whose hands were stained with blood or with those who pointed their guns at government institutions.”  Interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said on Sunday that while Egypt is grateful for aid and assistance from abroad, any threat to cut this aid is unacceptable. He stressed that in dealing with the current crisis, Egypt is adhering to international standards. The military gave Morsi’s regime multiple chances to be included in talks following his ouster, Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said in a statement on Sunday. The statement was released after Sisi met military and police heads, including Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim, on Sunday afternoon. Ibrahim referred to strong ties and cooperation between the ministries of interior and defense. He also referred to efforts made by the military and police to preserve the security of the people. Fahmy also said on Sunday that he asked that all foreign aid be reviewed objectively and rationally with keeping in mind the country’s sovereignty. [DNE, Reuters, Ahram Online, Reuters, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 8/19/2013]
Anti-Coup Alliance continues calls for rallies; Brotherhood cries foul over prison deaths

The National Coalition to Support Legitimacy called on Friday for a week of daily nationwide protests after thousands of its supporters rallied in different cities to denounce a violent crackdown on their followers this week. On Sunday, the Brotherhood called for demonstrations in the outskirts of Cairo, away from security forces according to the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy. The coalition announced nine marches to kick off from mosques in Cairo and Giza on Monday. Meanwhile, Muslim Brotherhood’s official spokesman Ahmed Aref said that the killing of twenty-five Egyptian soldiers in Sinai earlier on Monday was meant to be a cover-up for the murder of thirty-six Islamist detainees on Sunday. He also denied accusations of incitement of violence against Christians by the interim presidency. [DNE, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 8/19/2013]
Ministry of social solidarity to start disbanding Muslim Brotherhood
Minister of Social Solidarity Ahmed al-Borei said that the ministry has started taking the legal steps necessary to disband the Muslim Brotherhood, after a proposal was submitted by Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi. Borei added that the decision to disband the group has become a “legal duty” after the “terrorist acts” they were involved in, according to him. He added that the ministry has the legal right to disband the organization after Shura Council was dissolved and the constitution nullified. [Egypt Independent, Reuters, 8/18/2013]

Also of Interest:

Cabinet assigns authorities to assess Al-Jazeera channel legal status | Egypt Independent
Amr Moussa: ElBaradei’s role in NSF over | Egypt Independent
Egypt foreign minister visits Sudan | Aswat Masriya
Egypt appoints new presidential spokesman | Aswat Masriya
Sabbahy: NSF, Tamarod and parties to meet Monday | Aswat Masriya
Sabbahy asks Arab League to hold emergency summit against terror | Aswat Masriya

Technical committee to propose radical changes to Egypt’s 2012 constitution

A ten-member technical committee entrusted with amending Egypt’s 2012 constitution has almost finished its task. In a press conference Sunday, Chancellor Ali Awad, rapporteur of the Constitutional Committee, told parliamentary correspondents that the committee will finish its work Monday, with the new draft constitution expected to be announced Wednesday. Sources close to the committee told Ahram Online Sunday that after almost one month of thorough revision, the committee’s members concluded that “fundamental changes must be introduced to 2012 Islamist-backed constitution.” According to the source, most political institutions have recommended that “if it is necessary to keep the Islamic Sharia article in place as a nod to Islamists like Nour, it is by no means necessary to maintain the 2012 constitution’s separate article (Article 219) that delivers an interpretation of Islamic Sharia.” The source also revealed that members of the committee reached consensus that the new constitution must impose a ban on political parties based on religious foundations. Sources also indicated that Article 232 of the 2012 constitution, imposing a ban on leading officials of Mubarak’s defunct ruling National Democratic Party will be annulled. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 8/18/2013]
Mubarak’s release inches closer after Egyptian court ruling

On Monday, the Cairo Criminal Court cleared former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of financial corruption related to the renovation of presidential palaces during his rule. Assistant Interior Minister for the Prison Sector, Mostafa Baz said Mubarak will remain in custody pending investigation over charges of obtaining illicit gifts from the state-run Al Ahram press organization. The only legal grounds for Mubarak’s continued detention rest on another corruption case which will be cleared up later this week, Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid al-Deeb told Reuters. Without confirming that Mubarak would be freed, a judicial source said the former leader would spend another two weeks behind bars before judicial authorities made a final decision in the outstanding case against him. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Egypt Independent, 8/19/2013]

Also of Interest:

Egyptian prosecutors charge Zawahiri, Hamza with joining terror group | Ahram Online, DNE
Muslim Brotherhood supporters face murder, terrorism probe: state media | Reuters

Egypt’s jobless rate rises to 13.3 percent in Q2/2013: CAPMAS

Egypt’s jobless rate climbed 0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the last quarter of the current year, reaching 13.3 percent of the country’s total labor force, according to state-run statistics body CAPMAS. CAPMAS said the number of working Egyptians reached 23.6 million, with the total labor force registering 27.2 million. The number of unemployed increased by 36,000 in second quarter of 2013 to reach 3.6 million jobless Egyptian. [Ahram Online, 8/18/2013]
Egypt stocks slump on fears of international isolation
Egypt’s stocks slumped as trading resumed on Sunday. The Bourse’s main index, EGX30, fell 3.87 percent to sit at 5,334 points. The drop was apparently driven by the withdrawal of non-Arab foreign investors who finished the session on a net selling position of 80 million EGP. They made up nearly a quarter of the day’s 335.5 million EGP ($48m) turnover. Egyptian investors were net-buyers at a just 75 million EGP despite making up two thirds of trading volume. [Ahram Online, 8/18/2013]

Also of Interest:

Banks resume working amid unrest | DNE
Oil above $110 on Egypt unrest, Fed policy worries | Ahram Online
EGAS chairman expects normal trade with Qatar DNE
Economy reels from recent turmoil DNE

Al-Azhar urges Brotherhood to reach peaceful solutions with government
Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb told the Muslim Brotherhood that legitimacy could not be gained by “blood or chaos,” in a statement on Saturday night televised on State TV. In his first reference to the organization by name, Tayeb said non-violent Brotherhood members still have a chance in shaping Egypt’s future if they “work for national peace” and “protect their country from strife.” The Grand Imam asked army and police forces to protect the lives of non-violent protesters, and to deal with the violent ones within the limits of the law. “Political differences do not mean anybody is a traitor,” he added. Tayeb also addressed Christians and said the burning of churches is not from Islam “by any means.” [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 8/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Tamarod aims to ban US aid and cancel Camp David peace treaty | DNE, Egypt Independent
Egyptian youth leader backs army in battle with Brotherhood | Reuters
Council of Egyptian Churches rejects foreign intervention | DNE
Human rights groups call for accountability for Wednesday’s violence | DNE
New poll finds pessimism in Egypt | DNE

‘Friday of Rage’ leaves 173 dead, thousands wounded

International condemnation of the violent events in Egypt have increased as clashes between supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi and security forces erupted in Cairo and a number of governorates on Friday. The violent events on what the Muslim Brotherhood called ‘Friday of Rage’ left 173 dead, and over a thousand wounded. According to security sources, 1,118 pro-Morsi protesters were arrested for inciting violence and committing acts of vandalism. In Cairo, clashes erupted in in Ramses, Zamalek, Shubra and on the Nile Corniche, leaving over ninety-five dead. According to Freedom and Justice Party media outlets the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide’s son, Ammar Mohamed Badie, 38, was among those dead. In Alexandria clashes between Morsi supporters and security forces left twenty-one dead and 101 injured. Security forces in Alexandria ordered the arrest of 130 demonstrators who were involved in Friday’s clashes. In Sinai, six were killed while seventeen were injured including one policeman, as supporters of Morsi opened fire on police station and hurled petrol bombs at the Civil Defence headquarters in Arish, prompting policemen to retaliate by returning fire according to Aswat Masriya and Ahram Online. Eight were killed in clashes in the city of Fayoum south of Cairo, after Morsi’s supporters protested across Egypt on Friday, a hospital official said. Seventy people were wounded in the clashes between Morsi supporters and security forces. Eleven were killed in Ismailiya, eight in Damietta and four in Mansoura, according to hospital sources. Another seventy-nine people died across Egypt on Saturday during political violence and 549 were wounded. Fifty Muslim Brotherhood supporters were put in detention for fifteen days Sunday, pending investigations, in the case of riots and violence that took place in the city of Tanta on Friday. More than thirty-two churches have been set ablaze or looted since Wednesday’s violence erupted. According to Reuters, fifteen police stations have been attacked, some burnt and others looted and vandalized. Also, on Friday night, the Arab Contractors’ building in Ramses Square was set on fire and firefighters spent hours to contain the flames which destroyed around four stories of the building. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, 8/17/2013]
Egyptian security forces take control of Cairo mosque after siege
Egyptian Central Security Forces took control of a mosque in central Cairo after a long standoff with Islamist protesters inside who had barricaded themselves in. Intense clashes had been ongoing around al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square Saturday as security forces and those within the mosque exchanged gunfire, in a spillover of Friday’s violence. The armed forces accused what they described as “armed violent groups” of heavily firing live gunshots at army forces and police forces present within the vicinity of the mosque. Ali stated the shots were fired from inside the mosque and from the top of its minarets. State News reported that security forces provided supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi with a safe exit out of the Fath Mosque early on Saturday. Egyptian security forces, however also arrested 385 suspects during the clashes, including one Syrian, a man from Turkey and three Irish men, a statement by the interior ministry said. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, 8/172013]
Some thirty-eight Brotherhood supporters die in Egypt prison: security sources
Some thirty-eight supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood died on Sunday in an incident at an Egyptian prison, security and legal sources said, giving conflicting versions of the deaths. The Interior Ministry did not immediately confirm the death toll, but said in a statement that a number of detainees had tried to escape from a prison on the outskirts of Cairo and had taken a police officer hostage. In subsequent clashes, the ministry said an undisclosed number of people had died from inhaling tear gas rounds. It added that the officer was freed but badly wounded. However, offering a different explanation, a legal source told Reuters that the Brotherhood followers had suffocated in the back of a crammed police van while being taken to prison. [DNE, Reuters, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 8/18/2013]
Armed attacks continue in North Sinai, twenty-five soldiers executed
Twenty-five police soldiers were killed in Rafah on Monday after an armed attack on two buses transporting Central Security Forces. Osama Ismail, assistant interior minister for Sinai Security, added that attackers ordered the conscripts to get down from the vehicles before firing at them. Stories conflict on the deaths. The interior ministry said armed assailants had opened fire on the bus and state television reported rocket-propelled grenades were fired. Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Ahram Online it was an execution-style murder. Security source also said that RPGs were used in the attack. Armed gunmen killed one border guard and injured two others in a rocket attack on an armored police vehicle on Saturday night. Violent and bloody clashes lasted for more than eight hours on Friday between armed militants and security forces near the Fire and Civil Protection building in Arish, North Sinai. Assailants used a number of light and mid-sized weapons, including RPG’s, which were used to target armored police vehicles, resulting in the death of four and seventeen injured from amongst supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Reuters, DNE, 8/19/2013]

Also of Interest:

Seventy security forces die from dispersal violence: Security source | Ahram Online
At least 1,295 killed in recent clashes: independent count | DNE
3,500 Morsi supporters arrested since violence began: Brotherhood lawyer | Ahram Online
Forty-two Brotherhood leaders in Egypt arrested | Ahram Online
Fifty-one Brotherhood members arrested nationwide: source | Egypt Independent
Egypt arrests Brotherhood leaders in Port Said | Aswat Masriya
Authorities arrest Brotherhood leaders in Qena | Aswat Masriya
Curfew violations to be dealt with seriously – army source | Aswat Masriya, DNE
Armed attack on police station in October 6 City | Egypt Independent
Two churches attacked in Malawi | DNE
Nuns paraded like POWs in Upper Egypt – NGO | Aswat Masriya
Morsi supporters storm schools, two churches in Minya – eyewitnesses | Aswat Masriya
Two policemen killed in attack on patrol on Cairo-Ismailia highway | Aswat Masriya
Fire exchange leaves two, policeman and Jihadist, killed in Sharqiya | Aswat Masriya

Arab leaders ‘tacitly back Egypt crackdown’

Most Arab leaders tacitly support Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Only Qatar, a Brotherhood patron, and Tunisia, whose ruling Ennahda party is affiliated with the the movement, strongly condemned the assault. Iraq’s premier backed the Egyptian military crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in a statement Sunday, the latest Arab leader to back the operation. Jordan said on Friday it backs Egypt’s efforts to “impose rule of law” and “combat terrorism,” in its first official reaction to the deadly crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud said his country stands with Egypt against terrorism, in a televised speech on Friday. He asked all Egyptian fronts to take a “one-man-stand” against those who try to “unsettle a historical country in the Arab and Islamic world.” Interim President Adly Mansour thanked al-Saud for “standing with Egypt against terrorism” and assured that Saudi Arabia and Egypt would “remain pillars of stability” in the Arab region in a letter sent on Saturday. The United Arab Emirates and Jordan also praised al-Saud’s support for Egypt in its war against terrorism. Qatar’s foreign minister said Sunday his country had never given aid to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and that all assistance went to Egypt as a whole. The ruling National Congress Party in Sudan has said that it will not be a part of the struggle ongoing in Egypt and that it will not take any side in the conflict. It considers what is happening in Egypt an internal matter. Meanwhile, Kuwait is to deport nine pro-Morsi protesters for participating in protests outside their embassy in the Gulf emirate which bans foreigners from demonstrating, a newspaper said on Monday. [DNE, Reuters, Egypt Independent, 8/19/2013]
EU governments to discuss arms embargo on Egypt, among other options
European Union foreign ministers could discuss the option of imposing an arms embargo on Egypt, when they meet on Wednesday to map out a response to violence in Egypt, a senior EU official said on Monday. Speaking after a meeting of senior of diplomats in Brussels, EU special envoy Bernardino Leon said no options were ruled out but the European Union had yet to decide how to exert pressure on Cairo’s military-backed rulers. EU governments will question how to best use their economic ties with Egypt to pressure Cairo’s army-backed rulers into finding a peaceful compromise with supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. At stake could be a 5 billion euro ($6.7 billion) package of grants and loans promised by the EU.  Informed sources, however, say, the EU would “reflect” concern on the developments in Egypt but would not go too far. There are no expectations that the partnership agreement, signed between Egypt and the EU in 2001. Meanwhile, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso together with the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy released a statement on Sunday calling for a national dialogue that should include all political factions.  German chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday that stopping arms shipments to Egypt would be an appropriate way to put pressure on the country as it is gripped by deadly violence. [Reuters, DNE, Ahram Online, AP, 8/19/2013]
US lawmakers split on whether to cut Egypt aid
US lawmakers on Sunday were split over whether to cut military aid to Egypt, a key regional ally, after its violent crackdown on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. While condemning the use of force by the military-backed interim government, many lawmakers expressed concern that halting aid would further erode US influence over the most populous Arab country. A special financing arrangement Cairo uses could leave US taxpayers holding the bill for billions of dollars in equipment Egypt already has ordered on credit, and companies like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics that build military hardware for Egypt would be affected by aid restrictions. Senator John McCain, a top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he now supported suspending the aid, even though he initially believed it should be continued after the Egyptian military removed democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi from office last month. Former United States President Jimmy Carter said on Saturday: “The declared state of emergency places an extra responsibility on the armed security forces of Egypt to remain within reasonable limitations not only of the use of lethal force but a fundamental respect for the human rights of their fellow Egyptians.” Ultimately, Egyptian diplomats assess that “Washington has a serious interest not to rock the boat with Egypt,” said one Egyptian diplomatic source who asked to remain anonymous. [DNE, Reuters, Ahram Online, 8/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
Taliban condemns “barbaric incident” in Egypt, asks international community to take action | Egypt Independent
Amnesty International calls for urgent investigation into Egypt’s ‘disastrous bloodshed’ | Egypt Independent
Bomb injures guard at Egypt’s mission in Benghazi, Libya | Reuters
Hamas calls for demonstration in West Bank supporting the “oppressed” in Egypt | Egypt Independent
Analysis: Egypt’s rulers can count on Gulf aid despite bloodshed | Reuters
UN political affairs chief set to travel to Egypt next week | Reuters
Israel carefully watches Egypt turmoil, quietly maintaining ties with Egyptian military | AP, Reuters, DNE
Turkey accuses OIC of inaction on Egypt violence | DNE, Ahram Online
Turkey losing regional clout as Egypt crisis flares | DNE
Egypt cancels joint naval exercise with Turkey | Egypt Independent

Photo: Mohamed Azazy