Morsi supporters rally as army shows muscle
Thousands of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi took to the streets of several Egyptian cities yesterday to demand that the powerful military reinstate the country’s first freely elected leader. However, Egypt’s armed forces, which shunted the country’s Islamist ruler from office less than three weeks ago, looked in no mood to make concessions, putting on a show of force in the hazy skies above Cairo.
Eight fighter jets screamed over the sun-baked city after noon prayers ended, following in the wake of two formations of low-flying helicopters, some trailing the Egyptian flag. Waving their own Egyptian flags, along with portraits of the bearded Morsi, members of the Muslim Brotherhood marched in Cairo, Alexandria and several other cities along the Nile Delta, denouncing what they termed a military coup.
“We are coming out today to restore legitimacy,” said Tarek Yassin, 40, who had traveled to Cairo from the southern city of Sohag, underscoring the Brotherhood’s deep roots in the provinces. “We consider what happened secular thuggery. It would never happen in any democratic country,” he said. Soldiers prevented protesters from nearing army installations, and there were only reports of minor scuffles.
“We are following the progress of the protests and are ready for all events or escalation,” said a military official, asking not to be named as he was not authorized to talk to the media. At least 99 people have died in violence since Morsi’s removal on July 3, more than half of them when troops fired on Islamist protesters outside a Cairo barracks on July 8. Seven people died earlier this week in clashes between opposing camps.
“They (the Brotherhood) now know the people are not with them and have had it with them after what happened to them and their country this past year,” the officer said. The army has dismissed any talk of a coup, saying it had to intervene after vast protests on June 30 against Morsi, denounced by his many critics as incompetent and partisan after just a year in office. It has called for a new constitution and swift new elections, installing an interim cabinet that includes no members of the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamist parties that were previously in government.
Morsi backers have set up a round-the-clock vigil outside a mosque in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City. Thousands flocked there yesterday to join the protests, but the fierce summer heat coming at a time when devout Muslims fast to mark the holy month of Ramadan, might have kept some supporters away. “Tonight, tonight, tonight, Sisi is going down tonight,” the crowd chanted, referring to General Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the head of the armed forces, who played a central role in driving Morsi from office.
Large-scale anti-Morsi demonstrations, called by the Tamarud youth movement which organized the decisive June 30 protests, failed to materialize yesterday. In his first address as interim president, Adli Mansour, previously head of the constitutional court, promised on Thursday night to fight those he said wanted to destabilize the nation. “We are going through a critical stage and some want us to move towards chaos and we want to move towards stability. Some want a bloody path,” he said in a televised address. “We will fight a battle for security until the end.” Egypt, the most populous nation in the Arab world, is a strategic hinge between the Middle East and North Africa and has long been a vital US ally in the region.
Washington has tried to tread softly through the crisis, undecided whether to brand the downfall of Morsi a coup – a move that would force the United States to suspend all aid to Cairo, including some $1.3 billion given annually to the military. US Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Egypt’s new foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, expressing hopes that the transitional period of government would be successful, a spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry said on Friday.
Muslim Brotherhood leaders say they will not resort to violence in their campaign to reinstate Morsi, held by the army incommunicado since July 3, and insist they will not back down. “The goal of our peaceful mass rallies and peaceful sit-ins in squares across Egypt is to force the coup plotters to reverse their action and force the coup supporters to change their position,” Essam El-Erian, a senior Brotherhood official, said on his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, British government said yesterday it has revoked five export licenses for equipment destined for Egypt’s military and police in light of recent unrest in the country that has led to the deaths of civilians. Egypt has witnessed street skirmishes and protests since the military deposed Mohammed Morsi as president. Business Secretary Vince Cable’s department said yesterday that the decision was not related to one specific incident, but rather a buildup of events and Egyptian authorities’ recent actions with regard to crowd control.
The five licenses covered components for armored personnel carriers, machine guns, and armored fighting infantry vehicles, along with communications equipment for tanks and licenses for vehicle antennas and radio equipment. Cable said the government had not had reports of British equipment being used in Egypt’s unrest, but took the decision to revoke the licenses upon advice from the Foreign Office.
It was not immediately clear exactly who the licenses had been issued to – whether they were private British companies or other entities that export such material. “We are deeply concerned about the situation in Egypt and the events which have led to the deaths of protesters,” he said in a statement. “The longstanding UK position is clear: We will not grant export licenses where we judge there is a clear risk the goods might be used for internal repression.”
The moves comes after a report from British lawmakers earlier this week urged the government to exercise more caution in approving applications for the export of arms to countries with authoritarian regimes. The House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls published the report, showing that Britain has issued more than 3,000 arms export licenses for goods bound for countries where the UK has concerns about human rights – such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria
Source- Kuwait Times