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The Middle East, explained

Cairo clashes leave downtown streets in rubble

Cairo's downtown streets now resemble more of a war zone than a dirtied, crumbling testament to the capital's Belle Époque.
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An Egyptian protester walks past flames during clashes with riot police near the interior ministry in the capital Cairo. (AFP/Getty Images)

Entering Tahrir Square, the chest almost immediately constricts.

The severe amount of tear gas fired into the vicinty of the square in the past few days assaults the senses.

Clouds of the potent smoke, fired by police to disperse demonstrators outside Egypt's interior ministry, hang over downtown Cairo's colonial-era plazas. 

It's been five days since demonstrators marched on the ministry of interior to protest police inaction during a football riot that left at least 76 dead last week in the Suez canal town of Port Said.  


Egypt: Trial takes NGO worker by surprise

Forty-three NGO workers are being tried in a Cairo court. One of them speaks to GlobalPost.
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Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of the US National Democratic Institute, an NGO (non-governmental) rights group in downtown Cairo on December 29, 2011. Egyptian police were searching the Cairo offices of American and Egyptian rights group following orders by the prosecution service which is investigating how the rights groups are financed. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

Forty-three NGO workers, including 19 Americans, are being referred to a Cairo criminal court to stand trial for illegally receiving foreign funds, the ministry of justice announced today.

The move will likely deteriorate further an ongoing row between US and Egyptian officials over foreign aid to organizations involved in political activities here.

A trial date for the accused has not yet been set.

One of those charged, an Egyptian woman who wished to remain anonymous for fear of legal repercussions, spoke to GlobalPost minutes after the names of the accused were announced.


Egypt clashes erupt over need for police reform

Fresh clashes break out in Cairo as soccer fans blame police for Wednesday's riot.
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Egyptian fans of Al-Ahly take part in a demonstration in Cairo on Feb. 2, 2012 against the previous day's clashes after a football match. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
CAIRO — Clashes between police and protesters angry over Wednesday's deadly violence at a soccer game have erupted at the interior ministry near Tahrir Square.

Egypt: Islamists and liberal activists clash outside parliament

The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's young revolutionaries brawl near parliament building.
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Hundreds of Egyptian protesters demanding the end of military rule were prevented from reaching parliament by backers of the Muslim Brotherhood, which holds the majority in the assembly. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

And so it is. A year after Egyptians rose up in solidarity against their decades-long dictator, the two largest political mobilizing forces are now at each other's throats — quite literally.

At a landmark session of Egypt's new parliament in Cairo today, supporters of the winning party of the Muslim Brotherhood and hundreds of anti-military activists that descended on parliament came to blows on the downtown streets of the capital. 

The activists, many of whom spearheaded the uprising last year, had organized a series of marches to coincide with the speech of the military-appointed prime minister's speech at the session, calling for a more swift transfer of power to civilian authorities. Egypt is now run by a military junta that seized control during the revolt in February 2011.

More from GlobalPost: Jimmy Carter says Egypt's military won't fully submit to civilian rule

But, according to witnesses, they were met with a meters-deep shield of Muslim Brotherhood loyalists, who once formed a protective human chain around Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square but who were now forcibly preventing the revolutionaries from reaching parliament. 


Egypt votes ... again?

Few Egyptians go to polls in yet another round of elections -- this time for a consultative council with unclear powers.
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Egyptian electoral officials wait for voters at an empty polling station in Cairo during the first stage of voting for Egypt's upper house of parliament, the Shura Council. Polling got under way with only a handful of voters at several stations. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Even Egypt's winning Muslim Brotherhood can't get into this next round of elections here. 

Yes, Egypt is voting again -- this time for a consultative Shura Council with vaguely-defined powers.