Connect to share and comment

Millions took to the streets to oust elected leader Mohamed Morsi, ushering in a military coup. But his supporters have stayed in the streets, where violent crackdowns have reached a new high. As the country reels from crisis, the death toll just keeps rising.

Egypt Sinai ambush funeral 20 8 2013
Egyptian army surround coffins covered with the national flags at Almaza military airbase in Cairo on on August 19, 2013, during a funeral for 25 policemen who were killed near the border town of Rafah, North Sinai. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Egypt

Muslim Brotherhood's top leader arrested amid Egypt unrest (LIVE BLOG)

While Egypt declares three days of mourning for the 25 policemen killed in the Sinai peninsula, security forces arrest the Muslim Brotherhood's top leader.

GLOBALPOST LIVE BLOG: EGYPT'S DAYS OF RAGE

UPDATE: 8/20/13 5:35 PM ET

Signing off

This live blog is now closed. Please check here for further developments.

UPDATE: 8/20/13 5:07 PM ET

9 foreigners arrested in Egypt face another 2 weeks behind bars

Nine foreign nationals swept up by the Muslim Brotherhood protests in Egypt face another two weeks in jail before their cases can be heard, the Canadian Press reported. Among the nine are two Canadians, four from Ireland, a Syrian and a Turk.

The Canadians — Dr. Tarek Loubani from London, Ont., and Toronto filmmaker John Greyson — were reportedly traveling to Gaza and were arrested Aug. 15. Friends in Canada said the pair was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

All face serious charges, including being members of an armed gang, threatening the peace, possession of firearms and disabling public transport or communications.

The Turk is photojournalist Metin Turan. The four from Ireland are siblings who took refuge in the al-Fateh mosque before police stormed the building.

UPDATE: 8/20/13 3:40 PM ET

Would the Muslim Brotherhood go back underground?

Agence France-Presse wrote:

A campaign of repression by Egypt's government against the Muslim Brotherhood could force the group back into the shadows, once again becoming a clandestine organisation.

A return to the underground could allow the group, which has seen its victorious presidential candidate ousted from office and its top leaders arrested, a chance to regroup and review strategy.

But it could also divide its ranks, with the most radical among its supporters peeling away to become militants, experts say.

For decades, the Islamist group thrived in the shadows in the Arab world's most populous nation.

Meanwhile, Charles Lister, the Middle East and North Africa head for UK-based Jane's Terrorism & Insurgency Center, tweeted the following information:

"He recommends joining AQ-linked groups in #Egypt, such as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis & Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen (both in #Sinai) & swearing allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri. Then store gasoline & diesel & convert all your money to gold (to avoid currency devaluation)"

"Once involved in jihad, Abu Ubayda warns against falling for "extremism" or vain desires of individual prominence or leadership. He highlights the wide range of "murtadeen" in #Egypt: army, police, Christians, judges & counsellors & informants and the money-obsessed."

"He stresses the importance of developing "community relations" with other groups & appointing a local as the group's leader. He suggests not forcing your will on others in local area & emphasises value of the "muhajireen", who should be treated with utmost respect."

Along with advice from Syria, Egypt is getting support from Pakistan. Or more specifically, Morsi is:

UPDATE: 8/20/13 2:30 PM ET

A photojournalist remembers 2011, witnesses 2013

Egyptian photographer Mosa'ab Elshamy started his foray into photojournalism in the hopeful and dream-like days of the Arab Spring, when Egyptians gathered to force Egyptian Presiden Hosni Mubarak from office.

He continues to document the violence now, in Egypt's days of rage.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Elshamy said, "Back in 2011, when the possibilities were endless, there were signs of hope and determination and resilience. All these things synonymous with a revolution. It was still dreamlike. But it’s gone really bad."

When asked whether he looked back at the photos he took in 2011, Elshamy said he had been avoiding that.

"A friend mentioned that it was like looking at a wedding photo album after getting divorced," he told The Post. "I think that expressed it well because the current situation just makes it much more difficult to look back at a moment when people did stand together and stood for something that was right and true and was worth it."

These are some images Elshamy took for GlobalPost on Aug. 14:

A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi fires a flare during clashes with security forces on August 14, 2013. Mosa'ab Elshamy - GlobalPost

A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adaweya mosque on August 14, 2013. Mosa'ab Elshamy - GlobalPost

See more here.

UPDATE: 8/20/13 9:30 AM ET

US aid to Egypt not cut off

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said reports that assistance to Egypt had been cut off were "not accurate." Speaking Tuesday afternoon during a press briefing, he said foreign aid was not like a "spigot" that could be turned on and off.

Earnest reiterated that the issue of US military aid to Egypt was "under review," adding that the violence of the last two weeks was contrary to the interim government's promise of a roadmap to democratic elections.

Earnest said smaller packages of aid had gone forward, though he did not clarify whether it was military or otherwise. The briefing was ensnared in semantics, with Earnest not confirming or denying whether aid to Egypt was "flowing" or not. "That aid and assistance is not a faucet. It is a package of tranches" which have to be individually evaluated.

Earnest deferred to the Department of Defense, saying some assistance may have gone out since the issue of aid to Egypt was under review.

UPDATE: 8/20/13 11:30 AM ET

First Badie, now ElBaradei

Earlier Tuesday, the Muslim Brotherhood's leader, Mohamed Badie, was arrested.

Now, reports suggest the recently-resigned interim vice president, Mohamed ElBaradei will appear in court to face charges of "breaching national trust."

ElBaradei, who once headed the International Atomic Energy Agency and won the Nobel Peace Prize, served in his most recent capacity for exactly a month before resigning. Before the coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi, ElBaradei was a significant leader of the opposition.

According to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram, the charges against ElBaradei — filed by a law professor — accuse him of "betraying" the Egyptian public by resigning his post.

If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, ElBaradei might have to pay a fine of $1,430.

Read more on the charge against ElBaradei.

UPDATE: 8/20/13 10:40 AM ET

Death in Rabaa Square

Manar Mohsen, a journalist living near Cairo's Rabaa Square, describes the scenes of the bloodshed on Aug. 14:

NASR CITY, Egypt — It was a combination of the stinging smell of tear gas wafting through my window and the sound of continuous gunfire that woke me up around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 14, a day that would turn out to be one of the bloodiest in Egypt’s modern history.

Two plumes of both black and white smoke from burning tires and tear gas rose over Rabaa al-Adaweya Square, just meters from my home and where thousands of supporters of deposed president and Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi had been camped out for weeks.

I joined my neighbors on Nasr Road — which runs alongside the square, in the middle class northeast Cairo suburb of Nasr City — to observe the police and army operation to disperse the sit-in. It was something we all knew was coming as the country's political crisis deepened.

To our right, police and army troops had surrounded and were attacking the sit-in. On the left, there was another battle between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters toward Abbas al-Akkad Street.

At the beginning of what would be an hours-long operation, and that would eventually remove protesters from the square, some security forces actually appeared to be in a state of panic.

 

The above picture of Rabaa Square was posted on July 7.

Read the full account here.

UPDATE: 8/20/13 9:40 AM ET

Journalist shot dead

An Egyptian journalist who was finishing up a late-night interview for the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper was shot dead by soldiers, according to security officials.

The Associated Press said Tamer Abdel-Raouf and a colleague were stopped at a checkpoint and asked to show ID. The soldiers told the men they had broken a curfew after seeing their press cards.

When the journalists got in a car and drove off - without permission, according to the officials - a soldier opened fire, hitting Abdel-Raouf.

UPDATE: 8/20/13 8:15 AM ET

Turkey accuses Israel over Morsi's overthrow

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been making some pretty inflammatory remarks about the events in Egypt. He's been one of the loudest voices defending the Muslim Brotherhood and calling for international condemnation of Egypt's interim leaders — and now he claims that Israel is also to blame.

According to an Agence France-Presse report:

"What do they say about Egypt: democracy is not the ballot box. Who is behind this? It's Israel," Erdogan, an outspoken critic of the Jewish state, told a meeting of his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

"We have the evidence," he said, citing what he said were comments by an Israeli justice minister to a 2011 forum in France in which he allegedly said Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood would not be able to remain in power even if it won elections. 

UPDATE: 8/20/13 8:00 AM ET

Muslim Brotherhood's "iron man" takes over

The Brotherhood has appointed a temporary replacement for Mohamed Badie, its spiritual leader arrested in the early hours of this morning. 

Mahmoud Ezzat, a 69-year-old doctor who has been described as the Brotherhood's "iron man," is considered a hardliner who leads from the top down.

Read the Washington Institute's profile of him here

UPDATE: 8/20/13 4:55 AM ET

Has the US quietly suspended its military aid to Egypt?

That's what the Daily Beast claims in an exclusive based on information from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee.

According to reporter Josh Rogin:

"In the latest example of its poorly understood Egypt policy, the Obama administration has decided to temporarily suspend the disbursement of most direct military aid, the delivery of weapons to the Egyptian military, and some forms of economic aid to the Egyptian government while it conducts a broad review of the relationship. The administration won’t publicly acknowledge all aspects of the aid suspension and maintains its rhetorical line that no official coup determination has been made, but behind the scenes, extensive measures to treat the military takeover of Egypt last month as a coup are being implemented on a temporary basis."

That seems to fit with a New York Times report on Sunday that the State Department had taken preliminary steps to suspend economic aid to Egypt.  

Read GlobalPost analyst Jean MacKenzie's take on the Obama administration's handling of the Egypt crisis here

UPDATE: 8/20/13 4:40 AM ET

Sinai police given hero's funeral

The interim government has declared three days of national mourning for the 25 Egyptian police killed in an ambush in the northern Sinai peninsula yesterday.

The officers were given a ceremonial burial in Cairo with full honors, and hailed as heroes on the front pages of state newspapers.

Suspected Islamist militants have been blamed for their deaths.

UPDATE: 8/20/13 3:55 AM ET

Muslim Brotherhood leader jailed

Egyptian security forces this morning arrested Mohamed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual guide and one of its last remaining leaders not already in custody.

Egyptian TV has been showing pictures of Badie under armed guard, in what observers say is an attempt to humiliate not just him but the entire Brotherhood. With his arrest, almost all of the movement's political and spiritual leaders are now in the hands of the military-appointed interim government.

Read the full story here.  

UPDATE: 8/19/13 5:15 PM ET

UN Sec. Gen. strongly condemns attacks

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm at the "widespread outbreak of violent protests and excessive use of force" in Egypt.

Speaking on Monday, Ban said, "I strongly condemn attacks on churches, hospitals and other public facilities. There is no justification for targeting civilians or destroying infrastructure and property so important for Egypt's future.

"Preventing further loss of life should be the highest priority. I urge all Egyptians to exercise maximum restraint and resolve differences peacefully."

Ban also called for an investigation into the killing of 37 prisoners.

Egypt's state news agency MENA said two policemen were arrested in connection with the deaths.

The United States also questioned the official account of how the prisoners died, saying it was "deeply troubled by the suspicious deaths."

However, the State Department said it has made no decision regarding aid to Egypt, despite the ongoing violence.

UPDATE: 8/19/13 2:50 PM ET

US delivery of military hardware under review

As the US State Department said it was deeply troubled by the "suspicious" deaths of prisoners in Egyptian custody, Bloomberg reported that deliveries of helicopters and patrol boats to Egypt might be delayed or withheld in the upcoming months.

According to a State Dept. document sent to Congress, the Obama administration has put deliveries of F-16 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache helicopters and M1A1 battle tank kits "under review."

The document was dated July 16, just weeks after President Morsi was ousted by the army on July 3.

Read more on the military deliveries here.

On August 15, President Barack Obama said the US was not going to hold a joint military exercise with Egypt.

However, nothing has been said of canceling the $1.3 billion a year in US military aid.

When asked about the continued aid, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US had many interests in the area including securing peace between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Hagel also said Monday, "The interim government of Egypt must get back to an inclusive approach to reconciliation in Egypt."

UPDATE: 8/19/13 2:00 PM ET

Egypt's protesters: Why are they willing to die?

Anti-coup protesters were back on the streets Monday evening. Al Jazeera reported crowds gathering in Helwan in Cairo, Assuit, Zagazig and Gharbia.

Meanwhile, relatives mourn for those killed in last week's violence:

Last Wednesday, nearly 600 people were killed throughout Egypt in violence that accompanied the forcible dispersal by security forces of two Cairo protest camps.

The tent cities had been set up by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, many of whom were killed as their protest camps were cleared.

On Monday, five days later, the bodies of dozens of those killed in the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp remain at the morgue.

When its brown metal door swings open, they can be seen inside.

But they are also outside, stacked up in two refrigerator trucks, waiting to be collected by relatives, many of whom live in provinces far from Cairo.

In the morgue's courtyard, incense sticks have been lit and strategically placed in corners in a bid to cover the smell of decay.

But when the doors to the morgue open, a wave of the smell of dead bodies overwhelms their feeble perfumed smoke.

This photo is from August 17:

An anti-coup protester wrote for CNN about why he is willing to die.

Egyptians do not want to live as slaves anymore, and we are extremely discouraged. Most of our people who peacefully protested are young people who are looking for a good future and a good life as you have in the West. Egyptians are hopeful, but unfortunately we now face guns and many have been killed.

Since the coup, many days have been bloody and the army has been extremely violent. The large-scale murders have angered and horrified many Egyptians. We were so happy to have a civilian president for the first time: a person who would put Egypt in his heart and stop corruption and not steal from us, but now we feel hopeless and desperate about the future of Egypt.

Read the full account here.

UPDATE: 8/19/13 1:30 PM ET

Egypt must not turn into a 'failed country'

Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur said Egypt's military must stay "firm" on Monday.

"Jordan's position towards what is happening in Egypt seeks to support the state. The Egyptian state must not melt or erode or turn into a failed country," he said during a news conference.

"If the Egyptian army goes, Egypt goes. The army must remain firm and strong" Nsur said.

Jordan is not alone in its support of the Egyptian military.

As Reuters notes, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and others stand by the army even as the West calls for resolution.

Saudi King Abdullah called the Muslim Brotherhood's protests in Egypt "terrorism and sedition."

"There's a lot of concern throughout the Gulf that the Brotherhood is attempting to infiltrate and to destabilize governments," Robert Jordan, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Reuters.

The Gulf states' support is not just ideological but monetary. In the days after Morsi's July 3 ouster, Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged $8 billion in aid. Kuwait tacked on another $4 billion.

Read the full report here.

UPDATE: 8/19/13 12:40 PM ET

Foreign minister: Egypt is on the 'right path'

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said his country was on the "right path," while on a trip to Sudan Monday.

"Yes, there is a crisis, but we are on the right path and I believe in the future," Fahmy said.

"Our top priority is the national security of Egypt," he added, saying the government would follow a roadmap laid out by the army that provides for elections in 2014.

"The coming Egyptian political system will be a democratic, open regime and open to all according to constitutional rules that will be written soon," Fahmy said while the death toll from last week's violence hovered near 1,000.

UPDATE: 8/19/13 12:20 PM ET

August 14 killings 'most serious' in modern Egyptian history, says HRW

The New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report Monday on Egyptian security forces' use of excessive lethal force.

The report says:

Egyptian security forces’ rapid and massive use of lethal force to disperse sit-ins on August 14, 2013 led to the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history.

The ongoing Human Rights Watch investigation indicates that the decision to use live ammunition on a large scale from the outset reflected a failure to observe basic international policing standards on use of lethal force and was not justified by the disruptions caused by the demonstrations or the limited possession of arms by some protesters. The failure of the authorities to provide safe exit from the sit-in, including for people wounded by live fire and needing urgent medical attention, was a serious violation of international standards, Human Rights Watch said.

The full report can be found here.

The death toll for August 14, according to Egypt's Ministry of the Interior, was 638.

Watch HRW's report:

UPDATE: 8/19/13 11:35 AM ET

Morsi detained, while Mubarak released?

While Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president who was deposed in 2011, may be released in the next 48 hours, the more recently ousted President Mohamed Morsi might be in for a stretch.

Egypt's state news agency reported that Egypt's prosecutor ordered the detention of Morsi for 15 days in a new case of inciting violence.

These aren't the first charges against Morsi hasn't been seen in public since the army deposed him on July 3.

UPDATE: 8/19/13 10:45 AM ET

Where does Egypt stand now?

Unrest in Egypt continues on Monday, with estimates of the death toll ranging from 800 to more than 1,000.

On Sunday, the Egyptian government confirmed that 36 Islamists had died while in its custody. While the interior ministry maintained that they died while attempting to escape, the Muslim Brotherhood called the deaths "assassinations."

On Monday, 24 policemen were killed in the Sinai peninsula near Rafah, the crossing between Egypt and Israel.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian court dropped a corruption charge against Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president ousted in 2011. Another corruption charge against Mubarak is still pending, but his lawyer said, "All we have left is a simple administrative procedure that should take no more than 48 hours. He should be freed by the end of the week."

The European Union's foreign ministers are set to hold talks on the bloc's relations with Egypt this Wednesday.

Recent developments in Egypt, and more particularly the violence of the last days, are extremely worrying," the presidents of the European Council and European Commission, Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso, said in a rare joint foreign policy statement.

"It is crucial that violence ends immediately," they said before a meeting Monday.

UPDATE: 8/19/13 8:10 AM ET

Hosni Mubarak to go free?

According to his lawyer, Egypt's last deposed president but one could be released this week.

Hosni Mubarak has been in jail on charges from embezzlement to killing protesters since he was overthrown in the 2011 revolution. Now all but one of the corruption cases has been resolved, his lawyer tells Reuters, clearing the way for Mubarak to walk free in "no more than 48 hours."

But what about his retrial — repeatedly adjourned and currently in limbo — for complicity in the deaths of hundreds of protesters in 2011? 

Read the full story here.

UPDATE: 8/19/13 3:20 AM ET

Ambush in the Sinai

At least 24 policemen were killed in the Sinai peninsula today, Egyptian security officials tell the Associated Press.

They blame the attack on "suspected militants" who reportedly fired rocket-propelled grenades at two police buses as they drove through the northern Sinai, near the border town of Rafah.

The BBC reports that armed men forced officers to disembark and then shot them. Three survived with injuries.

FOR MORE:

Missed our coverage last week?

Catch up on the events from August 14 - 18.

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/130819/hosni-mubarak-may-be-freed-amid-egypt-unrest-live-blo