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Posts tagged ‘Cairo’

Egypt Designates Muslim Brotherhood as Terrorist Group.


Image: Egypt Designates Muslim Brotherhood as Terrorist GroupEgyptians set fire to a microbus, said to be belong to a company owned by a businessman who supports the Muslim Brotherhood, after passengers allegedly held up four fingers, the symbol known as “Rabaa”, during the Dec. 24 funeral of those killed in a car bomb attack earlier in the day in the city of Mansoura.

The Egyptian government intensified its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday, formally listing the group as a terrorist organization after accusing it of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16 people.The move marked a major escalation in the army-backed government’s campaign to suppress the Islamist movement that propelled Mohamed Morsi to the presidency 18 months ago but has been driven underground since the army toppled him in July.

It gives the authorities the power to charge any member of the Brotherhood with belonging to a terrorist group, as well as anyone who finances the group or promotes it “verbally, or in writing”.

“This is a turning point in the confrontation. This is an important tool for the government to close any door in the face of the Brotherhood’s return to political life,” said Khalil al-Anani, a Washington-based expert on the movement.

The Brotherhood condemned the attack on Tuesday in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, north of Cairo. Earlier on Wednesday, a Sinai-based militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, had claimed responsibility for the attack that wounded some 140 people.

In Washington, the State Department also condemned the attack but urged Egypt to have an “inclusive political process.”

“We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific, terrorist bombing yesterday. There can be no place for such violence. The Egyptian people deserve peace and calm,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said but added: “We also note that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt condemned the bombing shortly after it occurred yesterday.

“We are concerned about the current atmosphere and its potential effects on a democratic transition in Egypt,” she added.

The Brotherhood, which estimates its membership at up to a million people, was Egypt’s best organized political force until this summer’s crackdown. A political and social movement founded in 1928, it won five elections after the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

“The government decision aims to liquidate its political opponents,” Mohamed Touson, a member of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, told Al-Ahram online, a state-run news portal.

Since Morsi’s overthrow, the state has killed hundreds of his supporters in the streets and arrested thousands more. Morsi and other top Brotherhood leaders were last week charged with terrorism and plotting with foreign militants against Egypt.

They could face the death penalty.

A court ruling has also formally outlawed the group.

WAR ON TERROR

The army deposed Morsi in July following mass protests against his rule. Following Tuesday’s attack, the Brotherhood’s opponents took to the airwaves of the overwhelmingly hostile media to demand the group be declared terrorists.

Since Morsi’s downfall, at least 350 members of the security forces have been killed in bombings and shootings. The government has declared itself in “a war on terror”.

Analysts say the government decision points to the influence wielded by hawks in security services. Though it has been outlawed for most of its existence, this marks the first time the group has been formally designated a terrorist movement.

In a statement, the government said: “All of Egypt … was terrified by the ugly crime that the Muslim Brotherhood group committed by blowing up the building of the Dakahlyia security directorate.”

The statement did not say what evidence the government had to back up the accusation or name any suspects.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, meaning “Supporters of Jerusalem”, has claimed responsibility for a number of the attacks since Morsi’s downfall, including a failed bid to kill the interior minister in September.

In its statement claiming responsibility for the Mansoura attack, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis blamed the army-backed government for fighting “Islamic legitimacy” and spilling the blood of “oppressed Muslims”.

The government is pushing ahead with a political transition plan. A mid-January referendum is the next step, to be followed by parliamentary polls and a presidential election. Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is widely tipped to win, assuming he runs.

The Brotherhood says it remains committed to peacefully resisting what it calls a bloody military coup against a freely elected leader. Its supporters are pressing a campaign of protest focused on university campuses.

Anani said: “The only party that will benefit from this is the radical Islamists who will capitalize on the despair and disenchantment.”

Some observers have drawn parallels with Algeria, where a civil war erupted in 1991 when the army aborted an experiment with democracy because the Islamists looked set to win.

“We might witness another insurgency, an Algeria scenario. You might see the emergence of a violent faction in the Brotherhood,” Anani said.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Egypt: Three Christians Sentenced for Killing a Muslim.


CAIRO — An Egyptian criminal court convicted three Christians of killing a Muslim man, a judicial official and the state news agency said, in a dispute that that left nine people dead in some of this year’s worst sectarian violence.

Six Christians died in the clashes, which took place in a small town just outside Cairo in April, but no one was arrested or convicted for their killings, lawyers said.

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In its ruling, the criminal court of Qalubiya province sentenced one Christian man, Hani Farouk Awad, to life imprisonment and two others to 15 years for the killing of a Muslim resident of Khosoos, where the violence took place. Nine Muslims were sentenced to up to five years for vandalizing Christian properties while 32 were acquitted, the official said.

He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Egypt’s Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s population, have long complained of discrimination and sectarian strife — usually fueled by hate speech from religious extremists, attempts to build new houses of worship or interfaith love affairs.

The sense of fear was heightened when Islamists rose to power following the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The Khosoos dispute was the worst violence during the one-year rule of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was removed in a popularly backed coup in July.

The fight started when young Muslims drew inflammatory symbols on an Islamic school and the vandalism was blamed on local Christians.

Two defense lawyers in the case said a cleric of the local mosque urged revenge for the death of the Muslim man, leading to three consecutive days of violence that also saw a church attacked and private shops and homes of Christians looted and burned.

Assailants doused one of the Christians with gasoline and set him on fire. They contend that only two Christians were convicted in the case. The difference with the court’s number of convicted could not be reconciled.

Samaan Youssef, one of the Christians’ lawyers in the case told The Associated Press that the prosecution failed to identify any of the suspects in the killing of Christians because local witnesses were afraid to speak out and possibly provoke revenge attacks and renewed violence.

The violence later spread to the doorsteps of the country’s main Coptic Cathedral after funerals for the Christian victims. An angry mob of Muslims threw firebombs and rocks at the church forcing a group of Christians, who attempted to march against the government, back into the church.

Editor’s Note: US Abandons Bulwark Against Terror in Western Hemisphere 

The violence left two dead, including one Christian. Reports at the scene said few police were present.

Iskandar Samir, another lawyer and relative of some of the defendants, said he would appeal the verdict. He described it as the “continuation of a series of sectarian rulings,” adding that few Muslims are ever held responsible for violence against Christians.

Ishaq Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said investigations into the attack on the cathedral were never completed and no one stands charged. He lamented what he called selective justice in the case.

“This opens the door for more sectarian strife,” he said. “The prosecution neglected the investigation.”

Both the two lawyers and Ibrahim said one of those acquitted has been dead for five years, “raising questions about the prosecution’s handling of the case.”

With hundreds of people killed in the past three years of turmoil, rights groups have criticized prosecutors and police for weak evidence collection and shoddy prosecution. The groups say the weak process perpetuates a culture of impunity.

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© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Many Egyptians Turning to Christ Despite Violence, Persecution.


Egypt damaged church
A Coptic Orthodox leader prays with residents at the burned and damaged Evangelical Church in Minya governorate, about 152 miles south of Cairo. (Reuters/Louafi Larbi )

Pro-Islamist President Mohammed Morsi supporters took to the streets over the weekend. Thousands took part in the protests in Alexandria, Suez and other cities calling for Morsi to be reinstated and urging military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to step aside.

According to an I.N. Network worker we’ll call David, these protests put his family at risk. David says protesters surrounded his home for 50 days a few months ago.

“They consider the area as a holy place, and they try to come back to the area again and again,” he says. “So the police and the army surround the area. Every Friday there is a big group of the Muslim Brotherhood. They try to come back, and they fight with the army and police.”

While David and his family have had to leave their home for a time, they are safe.

Since the Muslim Brotherhood took power, Christians have been the targets of violence. Once the government was sacked, Christians had hoped that would change. But, David says, it hasn’t.

“They are still creating troubles and problems,” he says. “The last two months, they’ve gotten very crazy. They want to destroy the country. They attack many churches. More than 80 churches have been burned. Many Christians have been killed.”

David says that’s why the I.N. Network has established an emergency fund to help survivors of the violence.

“Winter is approaching in Egypt,” he says. “And many families—especially in the south—don’t have enough clothes. They need blankets, so we’re doing a project to distribute blankets.”

While the violence has been difficult, David says there is good news.

“Churches are united together. And the spirit of prayer is happening in all the churches. People are praying all the time,” he says.

The response to the violence against burned churches has also been remarkable. Christians posted signs on their burned-out churches that read, “You burned our church, but we love you.”

David says ,”It’s a great message of forgiveness. This makes many Muslims discover the reality of Christianity, and many of them come to know Jesus.”

While Muslims are turning, that’s creating another problem.

“Until now, they find difficulty for security reasons to join local churches, so they meet underground in a secret way,” David says. “They worship the Lord together, and they’re growing.”

As Muslims come to Christ, they’re uniquely qualified to share the gospel. “The easiest way to reach Muslims is through converted Muslims,” David says.

While David isn’t praying for more persecution, he’s excited about the Holy Spirit working.

“It’s always like this,” he says. “When there is pressure over the churches, the Holy Spirit is working, and many people are coming to know Jesus as Savior.”

This article originally appeared on mnnonline.org.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

MISSION NETWORK NEWS

Insurgency Against Christians Underway in Egypt.


 

Egypt
Relatives mourn during the funeral for four victims killed in an attack at a wedding on Sunday, at Virgin Church in Cairo on Monday. (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany )

More unrest and violence in Egypt this weekend suggests an Islamist-led insurgency against Christians and the government may now be underway.

An Islamist gunman riding on a motorcycle fired 15 shots at members of a wedding party as they left a Cairo church Sunday.

“Everyone knows that every Sunday there is a wedding in the church,” a witness said. “There was a lot of traffic outside the church when a motorbike and a car approached the crowd outside the church. The car stopped and the gunman on the motorcycle started shooting and ran away.”

The attack killed four people, including 8-year-old Nermien, who was excited about wearing her new dress and boots to the wedding.

“What is happening is targeting all of Egypt and not only the Christians. This is enough, people are getting sick and tired of this,” Father Dawoud, a priest from Virgin Mary Coptic Church, said.

Meanwhile, on Saturday northwest of Cairo in Islamiya, members of a jihadist group that calls itself “Supporters of the Mahdi” claimed responsibility for a car bombing outside a military intelligence.

The group warned Egyptians to avoid military and police buildings, saying they are “legitimate targets for the Mujahadeen.”

The Islamiya bombing and other similar attacks in the Sinai indicate Egypt may be facing the start of an insurgency.

The supporters of the Mahdi accuse Egyptian intelligence services and the military of waging war on Egyptians, which they claim only benefits the enemies of the nation—Jews and Christians.

Militant Islamists blame Christians and the military for the uprising last July that ended Mohammed Morsi‘s presidency and led to a crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood.

And it doesn’t look like attacks against Christians, the military, and police will end anytime soon. At Cairo’s Al Azar University Sunday, pro-Morsi student rioters opposed police.

It was another weekend of political unrest, suggesting Egyptians are likely to face more violence and instability in the days ahead.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Egyptian Christian Leader: ‘Enemy’ at Work Again in Wedding Party Attack.


 

Coptic Christians
Coptic Christians pray during a Coptic Orthodox Easter mass at the main cathedral in Cairo May 4. (Reuters/Asmaa Waguih)

Editor’s Note: The following is the reaction of an Egyptian Christian leader to the attack and killing of several Christians attending a wedding at a Coptic church in Cairo on Sunday.

The “enemy” is shooting at us; Egyptian Christians are facing what seems to be painful and exhausting spiritual warfare. The tactics of the devil vary in nature and shape, but the outcome is the same; to break down the church and steal her testimony and peace granted by the loving Father. An awful incident took place Sunday that manifests this fact.

Last night there was a happy wedding of a young couple who had waited for the day to come when they could finally stand together, facing the altar of the Orthodox church of Virgin Mary, to exchange vows and rings for a lifelong happy marriage. Friends, neighbors and family attended in their best clothes and biggest smiles. Hugs and kisses were exchanged between family members who had not seen each other for a long time. The Church of Virgin Mary where the wedding service took place is located northwest of the capital in one of Cairo’s problematic and overpopulated districts.

The wedding was over and the couple was announced as husband and wife. They walked down the aisle to the outside entrance of the church, where bouquets of flowers were set outside the church entrance for guests to greet the happily married couple before they went home.

As soon as the bride and groom were outside the church, two masked attackers drove fast by the church and opened fire on the crowd. At least three women were instantly killed and 17 other guests where severely injured and rushed to nearby hospitals; some of them are lying in critical conditions. Fortunately, the newlyweds survived the attack. They were left alone, standing among shattered flower bouquets, pieces of broken window glass and the hysterical wedding guests.

Egypt‘s large Christian population, estimated at 10 million, was shocked with the news; a happy wedding was converted into sad and devastating funerals in just a few seconds.

Please pray for Egypt!

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

OPEN DOORS USA

Egypt Prime Minister Condemns Deadly Coptic Christians Attack.


Image: Egypt Prime Minister Condemns Deadly Coptic Christians Attack

Egyptians gather at a Coptic Christian church in the Waraa neighborhood of Cairo on Oct. 20 after gunmen on motorcycles opened fire, killing three people and wounding several others.

By Newsmax Wires

CAIRO — Egypt’s interim prime minister Monday condemned an attack outside a Cairo Coptic church that killed three people, including an 8-year-old girl, pledging police would do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said in a statement that the attack on Sunday night was a “callous and criminal act.”

He says such attacks will “not succeed in sowing divisions between the nation’s Muslims and Christians.”

The attack took place in the Waraa neighborhood of the Egyptian capital, when masked gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a wedding party outside a Coptic church, killing a man, a woman, and the child.

A Coptic priest at the wedding told Reuters he was inside the church when gunfire broke out. Thomas Daoud Ibrahim said he rushed outside to find a dead man, a dead woman, and “many injured.”Coptic Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people, and have generally coexisted peacefully with majority Sunni Muslims for centuries, despite bouts of sectarian tension.

But the army’s overthrow of elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on July 3 has been followed by the worst attacks on churches and Christian properties in years.

The immediate trigger for the attacks was a bloody security crackdown in Cairo on Aug. 14, when police dispersed two Islamist protest camps set up to demand the reinstatement of Morsi, and killed hundreds of his supporters.© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Egyptian Foreign Minister: Cairo-Washington Relations in Turmoil.


Image: Egyptian Foreign Minister: Cairo-Washington Relations in Turmoil

CAIRO — Relations between the United States and Egypt are now in turmoil and the entire Middle East could suffer, the Egyptian foreign minister said in remarks made a week after Washington moved to curtail military aid to Cairo.Nabil Fahmy told state-run Al-Ahram newspaper that Egypt had been dependent on U.S. aid for too long but Washington was wrong to assume the Cairo government would always follow its line.

“We are now in a delicate state reflecting the turmoil in the relationship and anyone who says otherwise is not speaking honestly,” he said in comments published on Wednesday.

U.S. officials said the aid cut reflected Washington’s unhappiness with Egypt’s path since the army overthrew freely-elected President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood on July 3.

Egypt has already criticized the decision and suggested it could turn to other countries for military aid, possibly Russia.

Egyptian security forces have cracked down hard on Islamists since the army seized power, killing hundreds and arresting thousands, including Morsi and other leaders accused of inciting or carrying out violence.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders say they face more severe repression than under veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled by a popular uprising in 2011. The army-backed government calls the Brotherhood terrorists.

Islamists accuse the military of staging a coup and sabotaging democratic gains made since Mubarak’s demise.

Egypt has long been the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel and its military – the largest in the Arab world — has worked closely with Washington for decades.

The United States now faces a policy dilemma — how to promote democracy while not alienating an Arab ally which has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the strategic Suez Canal.

Fahmy said an extended period of instability in ties would “reflect negatively on the entire region, including American interests.”

The current situation was not solely the result of the U.S. decision to withhold aid, he said.

“The truth is that the problem goes back much earlier, and is caused by the dependence of Egypt on the U.S. aid for 30 years. [The aid] made us choose the easy option and not diversify our options,” he said.

The long-standing military relationship caused Washington to wrongly assume that Egypt would always go along with its policies and goals, Fahmy said.

TURN TO RUSSIA?

Most worrying for the United States is the possibility that the army will turn to a rival country for military aid.

Egypt’s army is exploring its options. Military sources told Reuters last week that the army is planning to diversify its source of weapons, including a possible turn to Russia.

The government has insisted Egypt would not bow to U.S. pressure, saying it found American policy strange at a time when the country was facing what it calls a war against terrorism.

U.S. military aid to Cairo, put at $1.3 billion a year, was born out of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

The State Department made clear it was not cutting off all aid and would continue military support for counterterrorism and security in the Sinai, bordering Israel, where al-Qaida-inspired militants have stepped up attacks on soldiers and police since Morsi’s overthrow.

Egypt’s Western allies had been trying to persuade the government and Muslim Brotherhood to engage in an inclusive political process, but neither side demonstrated enough flexibility to ease the crisis.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Egypt: Detained US Citizen Found Hanged in Cell.


CAIRO — A U.S. citizen was found dead in an Egyptian prison on Sunday in an apparent suicide six weeks after he was arrested for breaking a curfew, security sources said.

James Henry Lunn had been held at Ismailia, northeast of Cairo, since his arrest on Aug. 28 near the border with the Gaza Strip.

A U.S. embassy official said a U.S. citizen had died as the result of an apparent suicide at the Ismailia prison. Egyptian authorities made no immediate comment.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement confirming Lunn’s death and said it had contacted his family and was providing consular assistance, including helping repatriate his remains and protecting his personal property.

At the time of Lunn’s arrest, security sources had said that he was on his way to Gaza.

He was arrested in the town of Sheik Zwayed in North Sinai for breaking a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed amid clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Lunn’s detention had been extended by 30 days on Saturday for further investigation.

The State Department said it was first informed of Lunn’s case on Aug. 28, a day after his arrest, and had been in regular contact with him and with Egyptian authorities.

The prisoner had hung himself with his shoe laces and an autopsy was now being carried out, one security source said.

In September, a Frenchman accused of breaking the curfew was beaten to death by fellow detainees in Cairo, security sources said.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Freeze of Aid Whips Up Anti-US Sentiment in Egypt.


CAIRO — Washington’s decision to withhold millions of dollars in mostly military aid to Egypt is fueling anti-U.S. sentiment and the perception that Washington supports Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president the military ousted in a July coup.

That could boost the popularity of the military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, whom the United States is trying to pressure to ensure a transition to democracy and ease the fierce crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

The aid freeze could also embolden Morsi’s supporters to intensify their campaign of street protests in the belief that the military-backed government is losing the goodwill of its top foreign backer.

The protests, met by a fierce response by security forces that has left hundreds dead, have kept the new government from tackling Egypt’s pressing problems after 2 ½ years of turmoil.

Still, Egypt’s military-backed government is unlikely to abandon the road map it announced when Morsi was removed in a July 3 coup — to amend the nation’s Islamist-tilted constitution and put the changes to a nationwide vote before the end of the year, and hold parliamentary and presidential ballots in early 2014.

“Egypt is not so desperate that it needs to compromise on its political agenda,” George Friedman, founder of the U.S.-based global intelligence firm, Stratfor, wrote this week. “The United States will be the one to eventually readjust to the old reality of backing unpopular regimes that can preserve U.S. influence in the Nile River Valley.”

Warnings that Washington might cut off aid were met with a defiant response in the Egyptian media.

“Let American aid go to hell,” screamed the banner headline of Thursday’s edition of Al-Tahrir, an independent daily that is a sworn critic of the Brotherhood and the United States.

Egyptian newspapers and television have for weeks taken a deeply hostile line toward the United States, portraying Washington as unhappy to see Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood lose power and lambasting it for allegedly meddling in Cairo’s affairs.

The United States announced it was freezing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, most of it meant for the armed forces, as a show of displeasure over Morsi’s ouster and the subsequent crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist allies. Washington said the aid would be restored if “credible progress” was made toward setting up an inclusive, democratically elected government.

In its announcement Wednesday, the State Department did not provide a dollar amount of what was being withheld, most of it linked to military aid, but officials in Washington said it included 10 Apache helicopters at a cost of more than $500 million, M1A1 tank kits and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

The United States. also is withholding $260 million in cash assistance to the government. The United States had already suspended the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets and canceled biennial U.S.-Egyptian military exercises.

In Egypt’s first official reaction, the Foreign Ministry said the United States move raised questions about Washington’s commitment to supporting the Arab nation’s security goals at a time when it is facing terrorist challenges.

That was a reference to a burgeoning insurgency by Islamic militants, some with al-Qaida links, in the strategic Sinai Peninsula, as well as scattered attacks in other parts of the country.

In its statement, the Foreign Ministry said Cairo was keen to maintain good relations with Washington, but will independently decide its domestic policies. It also said Egypt will work to secure its “vital needs” on national security, a thinly veiled threat that it would shop elsewhere for arms and military hardware.

One official said the military was considering stripping U.S. warships of preferential treatment in transiting the Suez Canal or curbing use of Egypt’s air space by U.S. military aircraft. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue with the media.

Cairo has built close ties with Washington in the 34 years since Egypt became the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel. The aid has long been seen as Washington’s reward for Egypt’s commitment to peace after it fought four wars against Israel between 1948 and 1973.

The Egyptian military may have gained the most from those close relations, using $1.3 billion annually to replace its aging Soviet-era arms and warplanes with high-tech American weapon systems, state of the art jet-fighters, Apache gunships and battlefield tanks.

Over the years, thousands of Egyptian officers from all branches of the military traveled to the United States for training or to attend military schools.

The biennial war games, codenamed “Bright Star,” gave the two militaries large-scale human contact in a simulated battlefield and in 1991, Egyptian troops fought alongside the Americans as part of the U.S.-led coalition that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

El-Sissi, a career infantry officer who attended the U.S. War Academy, has credited the United States for its huge role in modernizing the Egyptian military over the past three decades.

In a three-part interview published this week in a Cairo daily, he said he appreciated the dilemma the Obama administration found itself in after Morsi’s ouster, having to carefully navigate between respect for U.S. laws on aid to foreign nations where a democratically elected government is toppled and a reliable ally that has for decades safeguarded its interests in a volatile and strategic region.

But the suspension is unlikely to push him to back down.

The military-backed regime in Egypt enjoys the support of key Arab nations, including ones with deep pockets like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These allies have poured billions of dollars into Egypt’s anemic coffers and are likely to continue to do so to win the common fight against Islamists.

The 58-year-old el-Sissi, who has not ruled out a presidential run in elections due next year, stands to gain more popularity at home. In a country where anti-U.S. sentiment runs high, mostly over Washington’s perceived bias in support of Israel, anyone seen to be standing up to the United States gains in popularity.

Already el-Sissi is being widely compared to the late charismatic president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, whose socialist-leaning rule and tense relations with Washington earned him near divine status among Egyptians and fellow Arabs.

In contrast, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s toppled autocratic leader, jealously protected and maintained close ties with the U.S. from the time he took office in 1981 and for the next 29 years. One goal of the revolution that toppled him was to end what many Egyptians see as Washington’s undue influence over Cairo’s policies under Mubarak.

“The popular mood does not seem to care” about the aid suspension, said Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a prominent Egyptian scholar who has a dual-Egyptian-U.S. nationality. “As a matter of fact, most Egyptians who can speak out feel, ‘Just as well, we would like to end this Catholic marriage with the U.S.,’” he told Associated Press Television in an interview.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Pundits Slam Obama for Egypt Aid Cut.


Image: Pundits Slam Obama for Egypt Aid Cut

Supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi demonstrate against the military in Cairo on Oct. 4.

By Elliot Jager

The Obama Administration’s decision Wednesday to suspend military aid to Egypt has been met with criticism across the political spectrum with U.S. conservatives warning it will bolster the Islamist opposition and beleaguered Egyptians seeing it as too late to promote democracy.

Senior administration officials in a background briefing to reporters confirmed that the U.S. would not provide $260 million in cash assistance now in the pipeline — part of $1.2 billion in annual military aid. Also being embargoed is delivery of F-16s, M1A1 tank kits, Harpoon missiles, and Apaches helicopters. The U.S. had already postponed a joint military exercise. Food and other civilian aid to the mostly impoverished country of 85 million is unaffected.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel — the administration’s point man on Egypt — and Gen. Abdel el-Sisi who heads the interim government agreed that counter-terrorism and intelligence cooperation would continue.

Critics say the policy sends the wrong signal. “The aid cutoff will be trumpeted by the administration as a sign that it is serious about supporting democracy and upholding the rule of law. But if the goal here is to help end the violence in Egypt or bolster stability in the region, this is the worst mistake President Obama can make,” Jonathan Tobin wrote in Commentary. “The choice in Egypt is not between democracy and the military but between an Islamist dictatorship and secular authoritarians.”

The Wall Street Journal cautioned that “The U.S. is managing to anger nearly everyone in Cairo. The Islamists who demand President Morsi’s return and the shrinking band of liberal democrats will see this as continued U.S. support for the generals. The generals get to feel the back of Washington’s hand without being given an incentive to change their behavior at home. Israel is also upset, since its peace with Cairo was premised in part on U.S. aid.”

Writing in The New Republic, Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy termed the aid cut-off “a terrible mistake.”

He characterized it as “lose-lose” because it “will cost Washington substantial influence within Egypt without achieving any gains for either American geo-strategy or democratic prospects within Egypt.”

To ordinary Egyptians, the BBC reported, American policy looks to be in tatters along with America’s “reputation and credibility.”

The administration can expect the backing of at least one Republican. Sen. John McCain of Arizona has long pushed for the aid cut-off.

The Egyptian military has been ruling the country since the July ouster of Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government. He had been freely elected to replace Hosni Mubarak, the country’s aged authoritarian ruler, who was forced to step down in February 2011 in the face of massive street protests.

Since July, el-Sisi’s security forces have put down pro-Morsi Islamist protests leaving between up to 2,000 dead and many thousands injured.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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