Sunday, June 30, 2013

Egypt: Update--An Estimated 300,000 Egyptians Call for Morsi's Ouster, Foreign Travel Discouraged

According to The Associated Press, hundreds of thousands of opponents of Egypt's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, poured onto the streets in Cairo and across much of the nation Sunday (June 30), launching an all-out push to force Mohammed Morsi from office on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. 

Nationwide, the rallies were among the most gigantic Egypt has seen in nearly 2 ½ years of continuous upheaval, including during the square-packing, 18-day uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.

In a potentially volatile confrontation after nightfall, however, several dozen youths attacked the headquarters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood on a plateau overlooking the capital. They threw stones and firebombs at the building, and people inside the walled villa fired at the attackers with bird-shot.

Earlier in the day, two offices belonging to the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party, were attacked and ransacked in the city of Bani Suef, south of Cairo.

COMMENT: Despite having three years left on his term of office, Morsi defiantly said he would not step down, yet like Mubarak, Morsi may have no choice, particularly if hundreds of thousands of protesters continue to flood the streets.

Already at least seven people, including an American intern for AMIDEAST, have been killed in clashes during the past week, mainly in Nile Delta cities and the coastal city of Alexandria.

The past year has seen multiple political crises, bouts of bloody clashes and a steadily worsening economy, with power outages, fuel shortages, rising prices and persistent lawlessness and crime. Additionally, foreign tourism has come to a screech  halt.

Underlining the potential for deadly violence, a flurry of police reports on Sunday spoke of the seizure of firearms, explosives and even artillery shells in various locations of the country, including Alexandria and the outskirts of Cairo. Banks closed early and most government offices shut down on Sunday, a work day in Egypt.

The 270-seat chamber was elected early last year by less than 10 percent of Egypt's eligible voters, and is dominated by Islamists.

A legal adviser to Morsi also announced his resignation late Saturday in protest of what he said was Morsi's insult of judges in his latest speech on Wednesday.

As I emphasized in 2011, President Barack Obama and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are complicit in what is happening in Egypt today. Their respective failures to intercede and show genuine leadership in stabilizing Egypt serves as a message point as to why Egypt is in utter turmoil.  Surely they must have known what course the Muslim Brotherhood would take.