Eleven people died in attack on an Egyptian demonstration

11 people were killed and up to 100 injured in clashes at a demonstration against military rule outside Egypt’s defense ministry, although the situation is reportedly calmer now. The fighting erupted when unknown plain clothed attackers stormed the protest with shotguns, firebombs, clubs, and rocks. According to a statement from the army, extra troops were ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

11 people were killed and up to 100 injured in clashes at a demonstration against military rule outside Egypt's defense ministry, although the situation is reportedly calmer now. The fighting erupted when unknown plain clothed attackers stormed the protest with shotguns, firebombs, clubs, and rocks. According to a statement from the army, extra troops were deployed to control the protests, but "not to disperse the peaceful demonstrators. However, protesters attacked the armed forces." The sit-in began on Friday evening when supporters of the Salafist candidate Hazem Saleh Abu Ismail marched to Abbasiya to protest his disqualification from the presidential race. Presidential candidates Abdel Moneim Aboul Foutouh and Mohamed Morsi suspended their campaigns out of respect for the casualties. Also, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist al-Nour party boycotted a meeting with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Syria

11 people were killed and up to 100 injured in clashes at a demonstration against military rule outside Egypt’s defense ministry, although the situation is reportedly calmer now. The fighting erupted when unknown plain clothed attackers stormed the protest with shotguns, firebombs, clubs, and rocks. According to a statement from the army, extra troops were deployed to control the protests, but "not to disperse the peaceful demonstrators. However, protesters attacked the armed forces." The sit-in began on Friday evening when supporters of the Salafist candidate Hazem Saleh Abu Ismail marched to Abbasiya to protest his disqualification from the presidential race. Presidential candidates Abdel Moneim Aboul Foutouh and Mohamed Morsi suspended their campaigns out of respect for the casualties. Also, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist al-Nour party boycotted a meeting with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Syria

Clashes erupted across Syria as opposition forces have taken the offensive. Opposition fighters killed 15 Syrian troops in an ambush in the northern province of Aleppo. In another attack in Harasta outside Damascus, six troops were killed by opposition fighters during clashes. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch  (HRW) released a report on Wednesday citing war crimes committed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad before the April 12 negotiated truce. According to the group, government forces undertook an offensive in Idlib province in the two weeks prior to the ceasefire killing at least 95 civilians. HRW associate director Anna Neistat said, "It was as if the Syrian government forces used every minute before the ceasefire to cause harm." The report claims arbitrary detentions, summary executions, including of children, and destruction of civilian property. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Syria is looking for additional recruits as it slowly continues to build up. There are currently 24 monitors on the ground with a goal of 300 to be reached by the end of May.

Headlines  

  • The Israeli military has ended an internal investigation into the killing of 21 members of a Palestinian family during the 2009 Gaza war saying no one "acted negligently."
  • In an interview with the BBC, imprisoned Bahraini activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja said he would continue his hunger strike despite a recent order for a retrial, which his wife claims is meaningless.
  • Two Yemenis have died and a Frenchman was injured in an attack by suspected al Qaeda linked gunmen on a vehicle carrying staff from the French company Total.

Arguments and Analysis 

‘The radical transformation of Palestine’s environment’ (Yousef Abu Safieh, Al Jazeera English)

"Nowhere is the relationship between environmental protection and social justice displayed more clearly than between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPT). The Israeli government takes great care to guarantee that its citizens enjoy the benefits of a clean and comfortable environment. The opposite is true in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, over which Israel has maintained ultimate control for almost 45 years. There, Israel has instituted an exploitative regime that disregards the needs of the local population, and ignores the occupier’s responsibility as a custodian of the environment as stipulated by the Geneva Conventions. This is particularly evident in how Israel distributes water, permits the environmentally destructive behaviour of Israeli settlers and prevents Palestinian development on the land it directly controls."

‘The Lesser of Two Evils: The Salafi Turn to Party Politics in Egypt’ (William McCants, Brookings)

"The fact that some Salafis have embraced parliamentary politics in Egypt is neither new nor unprecedented in the region. However, their support for political participation has waxed and waned with their changing perceptions of the fairness of elections and the risks of sitting on the sidelines. In examining these shifting views, one can see that many of Egypt’s Salafis, especially in the wake of Hosni Mubarak’s fall, have accepted parliamentary party politics for a specific reason: they believe the benefit of shaping the nature and activity of Egypt’s new government would outweigh the cost of compromising their principles and leaving the work to their competitors, which include secularists and less conservative Islamists. Similar calculations will likely be made when there are open and fair elections in other Muslim-majority countries that have large Salafi populations with institutional clout they wish to protect. Such political participation has reduced, and may continue to reduce, the appeal of jihadi Salafis and their message of violent government overthrow. In this way, the United States’ interests may be best served when the electoral tent is as wide as possible in these countries."

"They Burned My Heart:’ War Crimes in Northern Idlib during Peace Plan Negotiations’ (Human Rights Watch)

"As United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan was negotiating with the Syrian government to end the fighting in Syria in late March 2012, government forces launched a series of large-scale attacks against opposition-controlled towns in the Idlib governorate east and north of Idlib city. This report documents government forces’ attacks on the towns of Sarmeen, Saraqeb, Taftanaz, Hazano, Kelly, and half a dozen smaller villages in this area between March 22 and April 6, 2012. In the course of these attacks, security forces and pro-government militias killed at least 95 civilians, burned, destroyed, and looted hundreds of houses and stores, and arbitrarily detained dozens of people in these towns. At least 35 of the killed civilians were summarily executed. Human Rights Watch visited the towns of Sarmeen, Saraqeb, Taftanaz, Hazano, Kelly between April 25 to 29 and interviewed 65 victims and witnesses to the attacks. During visits to affected towns, Human Rights Watch also examined physical evidence such as destroyed and burned buildings, remnants of ammunition, and traces of bullets and shells. In all of the towns, Human Rights Watch observed and photographed numerous destroyed, damaged, and burned houses, shops, mosques, and makeshift hospitals."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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