At least 42 people have been killed as tensions rise in Egypt

At least 42 people have been killed Monday outside Egypt’s Republican Guard compound in the Nasr City district of Cairo where ousted President Mohamed Morsi is believed to be held. An estimated 40 of those killed were Islamist demonstrators demanding the reinstatement of Morsi. Morsi supporters said the army opened fire on the protesters during ...

MAHMOUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images
MAHMOUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images
MAHMOUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images

At least 42 people have been killed Monday outside Egypt's Republican Guard compound in the Nasr City district of Cairo where ousted President Mohamed Morsi is believed to be held. An estimated 40 of those killed were Islamist demonstrators demanding the reinstatement of Morsi. Morsi supporters said the army opened fire on the protesters during dawn prayers, while the military said an "armed terrorist group" attempted to storm the compound, killing one officer and wounding 40 others. According to Egypt's emergency services, over 320 people have been injured in a sharp escalation in the country's political crisis fueled by Morsi's ouster last Wednesday. In response to Monday's violence, Egypt's Salafist Nour Party, which had supported Morsi's removal, withdrew from negotiations to form an interim government, calling the incident a "massacre." The Nour Party had supported the army's "roadmap" to elections, but has blocked the appointment of two potential prime ministers including leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei. Hundreds of thousands of opponents and supporters of Morsi continued to rally across Egypt Sunday after clashes on Friday and Saturday left an estimated 35 people dead.

Syria

In a close run-off election in Istanbul Saturday, the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group, elected Ahmad Asi al-Jarba to serve as its new president. The post has been vacant since former President Moaz al-Khatib resigned in April over frustration over lack of international support. In his first interview since his election, Jarba said the opposition would not participate in a peace conference in Geneva proposed by the United States and Russia while in its weakened military state. However, he said he expects advanced weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia "will arrive in Syria soon." Continued divisions have been rampant in the opposition, with suggestions that the prime minister of the Syrian Interim Government, Ghassan Hitto, would resign over his inability to form a cabinet. However, Hitto said he is hoping the election of Jarba will help speed up the process. Meanwhile, fierce clashes continue in the strategic city of Homs, where the government has launched a major offensive. Regime officials reported they had overtaken the Khaldiyeh district of Homs, however opposition activists denied the claims. 

At least 42 people have been killed Monday outside Egypt’s Republican Guard compound in the Nasr City district of Cairo where ousted President Mohamed Morsi is believed to be held. An estimated 40 of those killed were Islamist demonstrators demanding the reinstatement of Morsi. Morsi supporters said the army opened fire on the protesters during dawn prayers, while the military said an "armed terrorist group" attempted to storm the compound, killing one officer and wounding 40 others. According to Egypt’s emergency services, over 320 people have been injured in a sharp escalation in the country’s political crisis fueled by Morsi’s ouster last Wednesday. In response to Monday’s violence, Egypt’s Salafist Nour Party, which had supported Morsi’s removal, withdrew from negotiations to form an interim government, calling the incident a "massacre." The Nour Party had supported the army’s "roadmap" to elections, but has blocked the appointment of two potential prime ministers including leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei. Hundreds of thousands of opponents and supporters of Morsi continued to rally across Egypt Sunday after clashes on Friday and Saturday left an estimated 35 people dead.

Syria

In a close run-off election in Istanbul Saturday, the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group, elected Ahmad Asi al-Jarba to serve as its new president. The post has been vacant since former President Moaz al-Khatib resigned in April over frustration over lack of international support. In his first interview since his election, Jarba said the opposition would not participate in a peace conference in Geneva proposed by the United States and Russia while in its weakened military state. However, he said he expects advanced weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia "will arrive in Syria soon." Continued divisions have been rampant in the opposition, with suggestions that the prime minister of the Syrian Interim Government, Ghassan Hitto, would resign over his inability to form a cabinet. However, Hitto said he is hoping the election of Jarba will help speed up the process. Meanwhile, fierce clashes continue in the strategic city of Homs, where the government has launched a major offensive. Regime officials reported they had overtaken the Khaldiyeh district of Homs, however opposition activists denied the claims. 

Headlines

  • Two attacks in Bahrain’s Shiite-majority villages of Sitra and Janabiya have killed one police officer and wounded three others.
  • After years of legal efforts, the British government has deported radical cleric Abu Qatada, who will stand trial in Jordan.
  • A series of attacks killed at least 15 people across Iraq on Sunday night and Monday.

Arguments and Analysis

Time to Break Out of a Rut in Egypt‘ (Robert Kagan, The Washington Post)

"Egypt is not starting over. It has taken a large step backward. And the Obama administration bears much blame. It put little or no meaningful pressure on Mubarak to make even minor political reforms that might have been enough to prevent the anti-regime outburst that exploded at the end of 2010. Then it put little or no tangible pressure on Morsi to end his undemocratic practices, which might have forestalled the most recent crisis.

It has become fashionable in today’s ‘post-American world’ milieu to argue that the United States had no ability to shape events in Egypt. This is absurd. The United States is far from being all-powerful, but neither is it powerless. Americans provide $1.5 billion a year in assistance to Egypt, $1.3 billion of which goes to the Egyptian military. It has leverage over the decisions of the IMF and influence with other international donors on whom Egypt’s economy depends. The U.S. ambassador to Egypt wields so much potential influence that Egyptians obsess daily over whom she is meeting, and they concoct wild conspiracies based on trivial events. The assumption in Egypt, as in much of the Arab world, is that nothing happens unless the United States wills it. The problem is not that the United States has no power but that the Obama administration has been either insufficiently interested or too cautious and afraid to use what power the United States has."

How Syria’s Civil War Became a Holy Crusade‘ (Thomas Hegghammer and Aaron Zelin, Foreign Affairs)

"Now, with Qaradawi’s intervention, the arrival of Sunni rebels will likely speed up. It is not that all of his followers will suddenly pack their bags, but a certain number of fence-sitters can be expected to be swayed by his pronouncement. In that way, there is a good chance that there will be more than 10,000 foreign fighters on either side of the Syrian war within a year or two. 

The involvement of nonstate military actors on this scale will create a host of security challenges in Syria and beyond. Within Syria, the presence of radical foreign fighters will make peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction efforts vastly more complicated. Regionally, there are already sectarian hostilities spilling over from Syria to neighboring Lebanon and Iraq. Further afield, the fledgling democracies in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt will have their hands full when hundreds of battle-hardened jihadists return home. Western governments in both Europe and North America also have reason to be concerned about Muslim citizens returning radicalized from Syria. The most worrying prospect of all, however, is that states in the region will get more directly involved in the war to defend what they see as their suffering brethren in Syria. This could lead to an all-out proxy war with unforeseeable consequences."

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

<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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