CAIRO — In the early morning hours of Monday, the Egyptian military opened fire on pro-Mohamed Morsy demonstrators at the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, where the protesters had gathered to call for the release of the deposed president. At this point, the Egyptian Health Ministry is reporting that 42 people have been killed and over 300 injured.
It is unclear what precipitated the attack. While the overwhelming majority of those killed were pro-Morsy protesters, one army officer was also reported dead in the violence. Military officials are claiming that protesters attempted to storm the military building and kidnapped two soldiers. Morsy supporters, meanwhile, say the army opened fire on the sit-in during morning prayers.
Many of the injured were taken to a field hospital at the pro-Morsy demonstration near the Rabaa al-Adaweya mosque. The area is expected to be the site of pro-Morsy protests later in the day, and the Egyptian military has moved its forces close to the sit-in — raising the potential of further clashes later in the day. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party released a statement in response to the attack calling for an "intifada," or uprising, against those who would "steal their revolt with tanks and massacres."
The implications of this bloodshed are going to be severe — both in the political realm and on the street. Just as the attacks at Maspero or Port Said struck a blow against the post-Hosni Mubarak military government’s legitimacy, this attack threatens to seriously weaken the administration chosen to replace Morsy. President Adly Mansour, who is almost completely unknown to the Egyptian people, faces the first challenge of his administration.
The violence is already threatening to break apart the alliance between some political forces and the military. The Salafist Nour Party, which was already feuding with other opposition forces over the selection of the next prime minister, has withdrawn from any negotiations on government formation, while a spokesman said that "[i]t is as if the former regime is back fully fleshed." Secular leader Mohamed ElBaradei, meanwhile, called for an independent investigation into the events.
The Egyptian military has said that it does not want to rule directly, but today’s events make it clear just how central a role it plays in the country’s future. If such bloodshed continues, the government’s civilian veneer will be harder to maintain — and Egypt will find itself further away from democracy than ever before.
A massacre in Cairo; Pentagon furloughs start; What worries Dempsey; DOD’s MIA Department is MIA; Flournoy on procurement; Afghans arrest a terp; and a bit more.Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |