Muslim Brotherhood candidate takes early lead in Egypt’s presidential elections

Early polling shows Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi will face off with former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq for presidential election run-offs scheduled for June 16 and 17. While official results are not expect to be released by the electoral commission until May 27, the Muslim Brotherhood’s estimate was reported after 90 percent of the country’s ...

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

Early polling shows Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi will face off with former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq for presidential election run-offs scheduled for June 16 and 17. While official results are not expect to be released by the electoral commission until May 27, the Muslim Brotherhood's estimate was reported after 90 percent of the country's votes were tallied. Over 50 percent of the 50 million eligible voters were estimated to have turned out to vote. The two days of the first round of polling were considered to be mostly calm with minor violations reported by election monitors, Observers Without Borders. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the "historic" election saying, "We will continue to stand with the Egyptian people." If early reports are correct, the election will be a contest between two of the field's most polarizing candidates. Morsi, who was the Brotherhood's selection after their preferred candidate, Khairat el Shater, was disqualified, has appealed to Islamists, but is criticized as being nothing more than a new face on Shater's platform. At the same time, revolutionaries fear that Shafiq symbolizes a return to the old regime. But, he is supported by Coptic Christians and secularists.

Syria

As the United Nations' observer mission has neared its full deployment of 300 monitors, international envoy Kofi Annan is preparing to travel to Syria to meet with the government to discuss the failing peace plan. The mission's mandate is for 90 days and is set to expire in July. However, demonstrations and extensive violence continue throughout the country. Protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers in Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, and Deir el-Zour. According to the activist Local Coordination Committees, about 40 civilians were killed across Syria Thursday, and eight more on Friday. Prominent opposition member, Brigadier General Aqil Hashem, spoke to Britain's House of Commons Thursday, appealing for an international intervention, in the form of targeted air strikes, to halt the fighting in Syria. His comments, however, highlighted the increasing divisions within the opposition. Meanwhile, Syria's diplomatic mission in New York has been prevented from opening a bank account, and has complained that the United States, as the host country of the United Nations, is adopting "discriminatory" practices.

Early polling shows Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi will face off with former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq for presidential election run-offs scheduled for June 16 and 17. While official results are not expect to be released by the electoral commission until May 27, the Muslim Brotherhood’s estimate was reported after 90 percent of the country’s votes were tallied. Over 50 percent of the 50 million eligible voters were estimated to have turned out to vote. The two days of the first round of polling were considered to be mostly calm with minor violations reported by election monitors, Observers Without Borders. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the "historic" election saying, "We will continue to stand with the Egyptian people." If early reports are correct, the election will be a contest between two of the field’s most polarizing candidates. Morsi, who was the Brotherhood’s selection after their preferred candidate, Khairat el Shater, was disqualified, has appealed to Islamists, but is criticized as being nothing more than a new face on Shater’s platform. At the same time, revolutionaries fear that Shafiq symbolizes a return to the old regime. But, he is supported by Coptic Christians and secularists.

Syria

As the United Nations’ observer mission has neared its full deployment of 300 monitors, international envoy Kofi Annan is preparing to travel to Syria to meet with the government to discuss the failing peace plan. The mission’s mandate is for 90 days and is set to expire in July. However, demonstrations and extensive violence continue throughout the country. Protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers in Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, and Deir el-Zour. According to the activist Local Coordination Committees, about 40 civilians were killed across Syria Thursday, and eight more on Friday. Prominent opposition member, Brigadier General Aqil Hashem, spoke to Britain’s House of Commons Thursday, appealing for an international intervention, in the form of targeted air strikes, to halt the fighting in Syria. His comments, however, highlighted the increasing divisions within the opposition. Meanwhile, Syria’s diplomatic mission in New York has been prevented from opening a bank account, and has complained that the United States, as the host country of the United Nations, is adopting "discriminatory" practices.

Headlines

  • After failure to reach a deal in two days of negotiations in Baghdad, a third round of nuclear talks with Iran are scheduled for June 18 and 19 in Moscow.
  • A suicide car bombing, preceded by a gunfight outside of a police station in the central Turkish town of Pinarbasi, has killed two police officers and wounded 16 people.
  • Yemen’s army has claimed to have killed 35 al Qaeda linked militants in the south, and took control of Wadi Banaa Arab, near the al Qaeda stronghold of Jaar.

Arguments & Analysis 

‘Yemen must not be allowed to become another Somalia’ (David Hearst, The Guardian)

"With two conflicts carrying on simultaneously, that of the Houthi Shia in the north and the secessionist movement in the south, the militarisation of Yemen and the primary US focus on it as another battlefield in which to engage al-Qaida, is only set to continue. And yet in the past two months alone over 95,000 people have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the fighting from all the conflicts raging in the country. If this continues, the humanitarian crisis will become a challenge not just for aid agencies on the ground but for Washington’s foreign policy in Yemen itself. Bringing the fight to al-Qaida with drone attacks is one thing; having to shoulder the burden of a country in a state of collapse is quite another. It is different but the road that Yemen is travelling has been gone down before. Somalia comes to mind."

‘Beyond Bashar, Syria’s rebels are facing far more significant resistance’ (Charles Rizk, The Daily Star)

"Although this insurrection has already cost the lives of 10,000 people, the regime is still in place. There are reasons for this: It is not only the regime of President Bashar Assad that the rebels are facing, but a much more significant force. Assad is just one part of a geostrategic ensemble that extends beyond Syria to the Middle East, and further…Today, it is this powerful Iranian-Syrian bloc, with its Iraqi extension, that is covering Bashar Assad’s back and confronting the Syrian rebels. That explains the regime’s capacity for endurance and its indifference to international pressure. This indifference is all the more pronounced in that it is sustained by the backing of Russia, which has been able to reconstitute itself and stage a strong comeback in the Middle East by taking advantage of events in Syria."

–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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