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Teargas fired at clashing rival factions in Egypt’s Alexandria

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Cairo university students and members of the Muslim Brotherhood carry a banner with the four-fingered symbol of Rabaa, representing the six-week sit-in in Cairo that was disbanded by the military on August 14. (Reuters)

Friday, 11 October 2013

Al Arabiya

Police fired tear gas to break up clashes between opponents and supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria on Friday, Reuters reported security sources as saying.

Since the overthrow of Mursi by mass protests on July 3, Egypt has been gripped by turmoil. Muslim Brotherhood supporters calling for Mursi’s reinstatement worked to organize almost daily protests in the streets.

Meanwhile, an Islamist alliance urged its supporters to stay away from Cairo’s Tahrir Square during protests Friday to avoid more bloodshed after a week in which nearly 80 Egyptians were killed.

The alliance, which demands bringing Mursi back to power, called “for marchers to evade places of bloodshed, be it Tahrir or other squares,” Agence France-Presse quoted its statement as saying.

The alliance said its appeal follows calls made by several intellectuals and political forces as marches to the iconic square “will lead to more bloodshed.”

The alliance had repeatedly called on its supporters to march on Friday towards Tahrir, the main symbol of the Arab Spring-inspired uprising that toppled former strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

“We are just limiting our marches” on Friday, the alliance said, adding it “preserves the right to protest in all squares including Tahrir, Rabaa and Nahda in the coming weeks.”

Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares were sites of a brutal crackdown by security forces on Mursi’s supporters on August 14. Hundreds of people were killed in some of the worst carnage in Egypt’s modern history.

Since the bloody August 14 crackdown, more than 1,000 people have been killed across Egypt, while more than 2,000, mostly Islamists, have been detained.

(With Reuters and AFP)

Egypt’s Mursi to stand trial in November over protester killings

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Mursi is already being held by the military at an unknown location. (File photo: Reuters)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Al Arabiya

The trial of Egypt’s deposed Islamist president Mohammad Mursi on charges of inciting the murder of protesters will start on November 4, the official MENA news agency reported Wednesday.

Mursi will stand trial with 14 other defendants over the killings of protesters outside his presidential palace in December 2012, almost six months before his ouster in a military coup.

Mursi is also facing charges of insulting the country’s judiciary, state media reported on last month.

Egypt’s general prosecutor issued a new detention order for Mursi over his comments that judges had rigged a 2005 parliamentary election.

Mursi is already being held by the military at an unknown location.

He was ousted by the military on July 3 following massive protests demanding his resignation after only a year in office.

Since Mursi’s removal from office, the government has been leading a crackdown against Muslim Brotherhood members, or Islamists linked to the group.

At least two Egyptians were killed on Friday as Mursi supporters clashed with opponents during mass protests against the government, the Health Ministry said.

(With AFP)

U.S. will announce military aid to Egypt in ‘coming days’

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Egypt has received billions in aid from the U.S. since the 1979 Camp David peace deal with Israel. (File photo: Reuters)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Al Arabiya

The United States will announce the future of assistance to Egypt after making appropriate diplomatic and congressional notifications, the White House said on Wednesday.

The White House earlier  denied reports reports that the military aid to Egypt would be cut.

“The reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

“We will announce the future of our assistance relationship with Egypt in the coming days, but as the president made clear at UNGA (the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York), that assistance relationship will continue,” Hayden added.

The reports came after U.S. officials said on Wednesday that the United States is leaning towards the suspension of much of its military aid to Egypt due to the current crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammad Mursi, AFP reported.

Following Mursi’s ouster by the military in July, the Pentagon cancelled a planned exercise with Egypt and postponed the delivery of four F-16 fighters.

The officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the decision would halt the delivery of major weapons, including Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets and M1A1 Abrams tanks,  according to AFP.

But the officials said the American aid focused on counter-terrorism efforts which include operations in the Sinai desert near Israel’s border would likely continue.

The United States has provided billions in aid to Cairo since the 1979 Camp David peace deal that ensures peace between Egypt and Israel. The aid was also aimed for priority access to the Suez Canal and anti-terrorism cooperation.

The United States has deposited $584 million in remaining military aid funds for the fiscal year 2013 in a federal reserve account pending the outcome of the policy review, according to State Department officials.

(With Reuters and AFP)

Gunmen launch string of attacks across Egypt

Monday, October 7th, 2013

The recent clashes are certain to set back efforts by Egyptian’s fragile transitional government. (AP)

Monday, 7 October 2013

Al Arabiya

Suspected Islamist gunmen launched a string of attacks against Egyptian security forces across the country on Monday, a day after more than 50 were killed in protests against the military-backed government.

A car bomb hit security headquarters in a southern Sinai town, killing two people and injuring around 50 after, security and medical officials said.

In the northeastern city of Ismailia, five soldiers were killed when gunmen opened fire on the soldiers while they were sitting in a car at a checkpoint, a vital global trade route, according to Reuters.

In Cairo, unknown assailants fired rocket propelled grenades at communication satellite dishes damaging one, security officials told AFP.

The officials said one of the rockets left a 25 centimeter (nine inch) breach in a satellite dish used for international phone calls. It is not yet known if the attacks are related to Sunday’s protests, in which clashes between rival factions killed 53 people.

War anniversary clashes

The day was described as one of the bloodiest days since the ousting of former Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi in July this year. Mursi supporters battled security forces and army supporters, mainly in Cairo, on the anniversary of the 1973 war with Israel.

State radio reported that security had regained full control of Egypt but that the clashes had left 271 people wounded, according to Reuters. The Muslim Brotherhood has urged Egyptians to stage more protests against the army takeover in Tahrir Square on Friday.

The recent clashes are certain to set back efforts by Egyptian’s fragile transitional government to revive the country’s stagnant economy, particularly the vital tourism sector, and bring order to the streets of Cairo, where crime and chaos have been rife.

The scene of the fighting contrasted with a festive mood in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, where thousands waved Egyptian flags, blew whistles and touted posters of army chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to the tune of a military band playing.

Taking part in the festivities, Sisi and interim President Adly Mansour attended a fireworks extravaganza late on Sunday at a military-owned stadium in eastern Cairo.

The Anti-Coup Alliance, the Pro-Mursi Islamist group led by the Brotherhood has repeatedly called for protests against the military’s overthrow of Mursi, but its ability to mobilize large crowds has declined as security forces have detained more than 2,000 Islamists including several top Brotherhood leaders.

Interim President Adly Mansour has also called on Egyptians to take to the streets to commemorate the day. In a televised speech on Saturday he said that authorities will “defeat much-hated terrorism and blind violence with the rule of law that will protect the freedom of citizens and resources.”

Egypt braces for rival protests on 1973 October War anniversary

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Members of the army at the tomb of late President Sadat during the 40th anniversary of the 1973 war. (Reuters)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Al Arabiya

Egypt on Sunday braced for rival demonstrations called by supporters and opponents of ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi, marking the 1973 Arab-Israeli war anniversary.

The protests come after attempts by Islamists to reach Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday sparked clashes with Mursi opponents and police forces leaving at least four people dead making it the deadliest street fighting in more than a month.

Opponents of Mursi, which include the Tamarod movement that led a campaign against him earlier this year, began gathering at the square from Saturday evening chanting pro-military slogans, an Agence France-Presse correspondent reported

“We call all Egyptians to come out tomorrow across all squares in the country to assert that this nation will not allow its revolution to be stolen,” prominent Tamarod leader Mahmoud Badr told reporters Saturday.

Authorities deployed several armored vehicles around the square and installed metal detectors at two entrances to allow people inside. All other entrances were sealed, AFP reported.

The interior ministry warned against “attempts that may disturb the October 6 celebrations in Egypt,” state news agency MENA quoted it as saying.

“The ministry asserts its determination to firmly confront all violence and infringements of law by the Muslim Brotherhood supporters through their marches.”

Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated president was ousted and jailed by the army on July 3, following nationwide protests asking for his resignation.

The Anti-Coup Alliance, the Pro-Mursi Islamist group led by the MBs has repeatedly called for protests against the military’s overthrow of Mursi, but its ability to mobilize large crowds has declined as security forces have arrested more than 2,000 Islamists including several top Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

“The Egypt Anti-Coup Alliance repeats its call to all Egyptians to continue their protests in every part of Egypt, and to gather in Tahrir Square on Sunday, October 6, to celebrate the army of that victory and its leaders,” the pro-Mursi Islamist group led by the Muslim Brotherhood said Saturday.

Interim President Adly Mansour has also called on Egyptians to take to the streets to commemorate the day. In a televised speech on Saturday he said that authorities will “defeat much-hated terrorism and blind violence with the rule of law that will protect the freedom of citizens and resources.”

The conflict, known as the October war in the Arab world and the Yom Kippur war in Israel, is remembered proudly by the Egyptian army as it caught Israel’s defenses unawares and led ultimately to Egypt’s recovery of the Sinai Peninsula in the 1979 peace treaty.

(With AFP)

Muslim Brotherhood supporter killed in clash in Egypt

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

A demonstrator with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, gestures the ‘Rabaa hand,’ during a protest against the military in Rabaa al-Adaweya square in Cairo October 4, 2013. (Reuters)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Reuters, Cairo

A supporter of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was killed and at least two were wounded during a clash with police in a town south of Cairo on Sunday, security and medical sources said.

They said supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohammad Mursi had been marching in Delga, about 300 km (190 miles) south of Cairo, when the clash erupted as protesters neared a police station.

The security and medical sources said the protesters threw stones at police who responded with live fire. It was not immediately possible to verify what started the clash.

Egypt police tear-gas Islamists near Cairo square

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Islamist protesters confront Egyptian security forces as they take part in a march against the military in the capital Cairo on October 4, 2013. (AFP)

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Al Arabiya

Egyptian police used tear gas Saturday to prevent Islamist students from entering a Cairo square that was site of a deadly security crackdown in August, a security official told Reuters.

Groups of students tried to enter Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in the Nasr City district when they were stopped by police who fired tear gas to disperse them, the official said.

Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares were sites of a bloody crackdown on Aug. 14 against supporters of ousted President Mohammad Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The Ministry of Interior asserts its determination on confronting violence and infringements of the law by Muslim Brotherhood supporters,” a ministry statement said.

“Security has been stepped up on highways, in all cities and at important installations. The Ministry of Interior warns against attempting to spoil the 6th of October commemoration,” it added, referring to Sunday’s 1973 Arab-Israeli war anniversary.

The attempt to return to Rabaa al-Adawiya comes after Islamists staged anti-military protests on Friday in some Cairo districts and around the iconic Tahrir Square.

Four people were killed when protesters clashed with their opponents and security forces, reported Agence France-Presse.

Islamists led by the banned Muslim Brotherhood have regularly tried to stage protests against the military-backed authorities since the army ousted Mursi on July 3.

On Sunday, as Egypt marks the 40th anniversary of the Arab-Israeli war, supporters and opponents of Mursi have called for rival demonstrations across the country, raising fears of fresh violence.


(With AFP and Reuters)

Mursi supporters clash with Egypt riot police

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Supporters of deposed President Mohammed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood clash with anti-Mursi protesters during a march in Shubra street in Cairo October 4, 2013. (Reuters)

Friday, 4 October 2013

Al Arabiya

Thousands of supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi took to the streets nationwide on Friday, clashing with security forces amid reports of gunfire in central Cairo, Al Arabiya television reported.

Brotherhood supporters, who have been protesting to re-install Mursi, clashed with police on the road leading to the pyramids in the suburb of Giza.

Protesters marched toward the Defense Ministry and presidential palace in Cairo, in defiance of the crackdown on the Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, thousands of the movement’s loyalists marched through a Cairo suburb toward the site of a former protest camp that was cleared by security forces in August, Reuters reported.

Soldiers and policemen boosted their presence around Rabaa al-Adaweya mosque, the larger of the Brotherhood’s two former Cairo sit-ins, as the march approached, Reuters reported the state news agency as saying.

A Reuters witness said an Egyptian army vehicle fired live rounds in the direction of Brotherhood supporters who had been pushed away from Cairo’s Tahrir Square by security forces.

Egypt’s Health Ministry said one protester was killed and 14 others injured in the clashes.

Mahmoud Abde Erradi, a journalist from Youm7 newspaper, told Al Arabiya from Cairo that the clashes erupted when Brotherhood members attempted to storm the square.

He denied security forces have opened fire on protesters, saying that tear gas was used to disperse protesters who attacked public properties.
(With Reuters)

Egypt court upholds sentence against Mursi PM

Monday, September 30th, 2013

A file photo shows former Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil gestures during a press conference in Cairo, Egypt. (AFP)

Monday, 30 September 2013

Al Arabiya

An Egyptian court upheld a one-year sentence handed to former Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, in the latest blow to deposed President Mohamed Mursi’s inner circle.

Qandil was sentenced last April, prior to Mursi’s ouster in July, for failing to implement a court ruling to ordering the annulment of a public company’s sale and the reinstatement of its employees. The textile company was originally sold off by the administration of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Judge Khaled Hassan said the prison sentence must now be carried out.

“There will be an order for his arrest and he will have to serve his sentence,” a security official said according to AFP.

Earlier this month, prosecutors ordered the freezing of Qandil’s assets and he was prevented from leaving the country pending the investigation.

Egypt’s army-installed authorities have launched a massive crackdown on Islamists that has seen hundreds killed and over 2,000 jailed.

(With Reuters and AFP)

Egypt forces hunt down militants in Islamist bastion

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Security forces aim their weapons as they stand guard during clashes with gunmen in Kerdasah, a town 14 km (9 miles) from Cairo September 19, 2013. (Reuters)

Friday, 20 September 2013

AFP, Cairo

Security forces on Friday hunted down militants in a village near Cairo amid a lull in clashes with gunmen, as Egyptian state media praised the “liberation” of Islamist bastion Kerdasah.

A police general was shot dead when security forces stormed the village near the Giza pyramids on Thursday in the latest crackdown on Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi.

The funeral of Giza deputy security chief Nabil Farrag was due to take place after Friday prayers — at the same time as fresh protests called by Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood group.

State television said the fighting in Kerdasah had now eased and that troops were carrying out house-to-house searches for Islamists militants on the run.

State television said they were hunting for those responsible for an August “massacre” of 11 policemen in Kerdasah.

The interior ministry said 68 wanted men have now been arrested along with their weapons in the operation launched after dawn on Thursday.

The 11 policemen were found killed on August 14, just hours after security forces cracked down on two camps of Mursi supporters in the capital.

Egyptian media on Friday poured praise on the Kerdasah operation.

“Kerdasah liberated of terrorism,” said a front-page headline in state newspaper Al-Gomhuriya, while independent daily Al-Shoruk said: “The state is back, terrorism fades.”

However Brotherhood newspaper Al-Hurriya Wal Adala blasted security operations in Kerdasah and Delga earlier in the week as “a war on Egyptians”.

Security forces on Monday raided the central town of Delga in Minya province, which was held by hardline Islamists for more than a month.

Egypt has been gripped by security-related problems since the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak, but the unrest surged after the military’s ouster of Mursi on July 3.

The army has also been engaged in a campaign in the Sinai Peninsula, pouring in troops and amour to crush militant attacks, which increased after Mursi’s ouster.

The Islamist president’s removal came after millions took to the streets to demand his overthrow following a year-long turbulent rule that deeply polarized the people.

Egyptian forces seize control of Cairo district after clash with militants

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Security forces exchanged gunfire and fired tear gas as they stormed the Kerdasah district on Thursday to arrest people accused of torching police stations and killing security officers last August. (Al Arabiya)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Al Arabiya

Egyptian police and military forces took control of Kerdasah district on the outskirts of Cairo on Thursday following an operation to against armed groups.

Military and police vehicles surrounded Kerdasah in the shadow of landmark pyramids after dawn, as police special forces were deployed to confront “terrorists” in the village, the interior ministry said.

Security forces exchanged gunfire and fired tear gas as they stormed the area to arrest people accused of torching police stations and killing about 11 security officers last August.

The clashes left Giza Security Chief Nabil Farrag dead and about 50 suspected armed men were arrested, Al Arabiya television reported.

Authorities said they found unexploded bombs on the tracks briefly halted Cairo’s metro.

The situation in the Cairo district has escalated since the army’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi earlier in July. Police forces were denied entrance to Kerdasah since then.

On Aug. 14, just hours after authorities launched a crackdown on two pro-Mursi protest camps in Cairo, 11 policemen were found dead at the Kerdasah police station.

The Islamist president’s exit was triggered by mass protests that led to nationwide protests. Clashes between his supporters and security forces included massive attacks on police stations, security officers and churches.

Several other police stations near the village were also torched.

Television footage on Thursday showed thick teargas hanging over the rural patch near the Giza pyramids, as army and police vehicles moved around deserted parts of Kerdasah, a stronghold of hardline supporters of Mursi.

But police forces took control of the area on Thursday and imposed a curfew, state media reported.

At least 1,000 people have died in the violence with most deaths coming during the security forces’ dispersal of two pro-Mursi sit-ins on Aug. 14. About 100 police officers also died in the clashes.

Nearly 2,000 Islamist activists and politicians have been arrested since Mursi’s ouster.

Kerdasah, known for producing and selling fine fabrics is 14 kilometers from Cairo and is known to be an Islamist stronghold.

Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities on Thursday briefly grounded several metro lines in the capital after two unexploded bombs were found on the tracks in a south Cairo station, security officials said.

Bomb experts dispatched to the scene combed the tracks for more devices before the services resumed, one official and state media said.


(With AFP and Reuters)

Chuck Hagel holds talks with Egypt’s Sisi on political roadmap

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (2nd L) walks with Egyptian Defence Minister General Abdel Fattah Sisi during an arrival ceremony at the Ministry of Defence in Cairo April 24, 2013. (Reuters)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

AFP, Washington

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged Egypt’s interim authorities to “advance the political roadmap” in a phone call with the country’s army chief on Tuesday, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Hagel and General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also discussed Egypt’s efforts “to maintain security” on the Sinai peninsula and “to secure and rebuild Coptic Christian communities” hit by violence, Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.

Hagel “urged Minister Al-Sisi to continue to take steps to demonstrate the interim government’s commitment to advance the political roadmap,” he said.

Relations between Washington and Cairo have come under strain since Sisi led a July 3 coup against President Mohamed Mursi, the country’s first elected leader, followed by a violent crackdown against his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hagel’s phone conversation came after the United States last week renewed calls for Egypt to lift a state of emergency in force since August, and amid more arrests of Mursi supporters.

Since Mursi’s overthrow by the army in July and his detention, more than 2,000 members of the Brotherhood have been arrested and several are facing trial.

Churches, shops and schools belonging to Coptic Christians meanwhile have come under attack in recent weeks by Mursi loyalists, who accuse the Christian community of backing the military that toppled the head of state.

And in the Sinai, the Egyptian military has poured in troops and armor to counter an insurgency that surged after Mursi’s overthrow.

Throughout the crisis and despite tensions with Cairo, the U.S. defense secretary has maintained regular contact with Sisi, partly as a result of America’s deep ties to Egypt’s military dating back decades.

Washington has cancelled military exercises with Cairo and delayed the delivery of fighter jets since Mursi’s ouster.

However, the U.S. government has yet to cut off military and economic aid, worth $1.55 billion a year, though officials say the issue is still under review.

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