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June 29th, 2013 · No Comments

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Military Deployed Throughout Egypt Ahead of Mass Protests
By Johannes Stern

28 June, 2013

After a defiant speech
Wednesday night, Egypt’s US-backed Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi,
gave the Egyptian military police powers on Thursday. Gehad El-Haddad, a top advisor to the ruling Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the
political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), declared that Mursi had
given the police and the armed forces “judicial arrest powers to secure
major government buildings” and to ensure law and order.
On Thursday the army took up positions throughout the
country, moving tanks and soldiers to strategic locations, including
government ministries, the Egyptian central bank and the presidential
palace in Cairo, where presidential guard forces were deployed. The army also increased its presence at the entrances of some neighborhoods in
Cairo and in the three major cities at the strategic Suez Canal: Port
Said, Suez and Ismailia.
The deployments come ahead of expected mass protests
against Mursi and the MB scheduled for Sunday to mark Mursi’s first year in office. The “Tamarod” or “rebel” campaign has called the protests.
It is a new oppositional platform, supported by the National Salvation
Front (NSF), an umbrella group of liberal, pseudo-left or
secular-leaning opposition parties. The organizers of “Tamarod” claim
they have collected 13 million signatures against Mursi in recent weeks.
The MB also announced in a press conference yesterday
that its members and supporters would hold counterdemonstrations today
in Cairo.
In his speech before an invited audience of top
officials—including Defence Minister and Commander in Chief of the
Egyptian Armed Forces General Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi—Mursi announced that that the armed forces will be “deployed in several areas to
safeguard the public and defend the nation, if need be.”
In the speech, Mursi threatened opponents as “enemies” and “saboteurs” trying to undermine Egypt. “The political polarization
and infighting have reached a point that endangers our nascent
democracy, and it threatens the whole country with a state of paralysis
and chaos,” he declared.
However, he also reached out to opposition groups. He
declared that he “made mistakes on a number of issues” in the past year, offering talks on “national reconciliation” and changes to the
controversial new constitution.
After Mursi’s speech, police forces attacked
protesters in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, killing one and injuring
up to 225 people. There were also reports of dozens of tents being set
up again to occupy Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Al-Sisi had threatened in a speech last Sunday that if the political parties fail to reach a consensus and the situation gets
out of their control, then the Egyptian army would intervene. US
Ambassador Anne Patterson signaled Washington’s disapproval of the
protests, saying they could be counterproductive.
While Mursi and Al-Sisi’s comments reflect the
divisions inside the Egyptian ruling elite after the ouster of former
dictator Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, their main target is the Egyptian
working class.
“From day one, I have been facing conspiracies one
after another to topple me as Egypt’s first freely and democratically
elected president,” Mursi declared, adding: “How can the best of leaders make major achievements in such a poisonous atmosphere? In just one
year, there have been up to 4,900 strikes and 22 calls for million-man
protests. The ex-associates of the ousted regime are plotting for the
collapse of the state.”
Mursi’s attempt to identify the mass protests and
strikes by Egyptian workers and youth with the former Mubarak regime is
an absurd lie. In fact, the working class was the main social force
behind the Egyptian Revolution and is waging strikes and protests
against Mursi precisely because Mursi is continuing the anti-working
class and pro-imperialist policies identified with the Mubarak regime.
Inside Egypt itself, Mursi is associated with massive
attacks on the social and democratic rights of the working class. His
regime is in continuous talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure a $4.8 billion loan based on plans to cut critical price
subsidies and further liberalize Egypt’s economy. Like Mubarak, Mursi
tries to brutally suppress any opposition against his rule. During his
first years in office, dozens of workers and youth have been killed and
thousands wounded in repeated crackdowns by military and police forces.
On foreign policy, Mursi functions, like his
predecessor, as one of US imperialism’s main stooges in the region.
After supporting the Israeli onslaught against Gaza last autumn, Mursi
is now emerging as one of Washington’s main regional proxies in the
imperialist intervention in Syria.
Speaking at a “Support for Syria” meeting called by
Sunni Islamist clerics in Cairo two weeks ago, Mursi declared that he
would back a no-fly zone against Syria and “materially and morally”
support the Western-backed Syrian opposition.
A recent poll by the Egyptian Centre for Public
Opinion Research (Baseera) testifies to the fact that Mursi is deeply
unpopular amongst workers and youth in Egypt. While his approval ratings stood at 78 percent at the end of his first 100 days in power, they
have fallen sharply to 32 percent.
Public anger over expanding power cuts, water
cut-offs, fuel shortages and rising prices during the past weeks was
further fueled by Mursi’s provocative speech.
“The people are tired and they’re fed up,” Rifaat
Hosni, a cafe owner who watched the speech was quoted in the Washington
Post. “Everyone is even angrier now.”
Khaled Abdel Nasser, a taxi driver who had waited for
five hours for gas, stated angrily: “I’m going to protest on Sunday at
Ittihadiya [the presidential palace]. Everyone is going to Ittihadiya.”
The last two years have produced critical political
lessons for workers seeking to fight the reactionary policies of the
Mursi regime. The fight for democratic and social rights cannot be
entrusted to any section of the Middle Eastern bourgeoisie, but falls to the working class in a revolutionary struggle for socialism against the ruling class.
Despite their sharp conflicts over power and influence inside the state machine, the army, the Islamists and secular-leaning
opposition parties defend the same interests against the same enemy:
they defend the power and wealth of the ruling elite against the working class and the poor. From the standpoint of the working class, the
policies of the leaders of “Tamarod” and the NSF have no substantial
differences with those advanced by Mursi.
In a statement, National Salvation Front leader Amr
Moussa criticized Mursi for not offering a “clear” economic recovery
plan and for blaming the nation’s woes on street protests and strikes.
He later told the Associated Press that Mursi and the Islamists “don’t
want to recognize there is anger. They are missing the point, a major
point. They are in a state of denial.”
Moussa said the opposition, like the military, wanted a genuine reconciliation, something he said was not mentioned in the
president’s speech.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/06/28/egyp-j28.html

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Tents Return To Tahrir: Muslim Brotherhood Faces Mass Resistance
By Countercurrents.org
28 June, 2013
Countercurrents.org
Protesters carrying a sign reading “Leave” (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
Anti-government protesters began sit-in in Cairo ‘s Tahrir Square before mass street protests on
June 30 to demand president Morsi’s removal, said media reports from
Egypt .
Some 32 tents were pitched in the middle of the square on June 27-
morning and four others were set up near the Egyptian Museum .
The planned June 30 protests are being spearheaded by
the Rebel campaign, a mammoth anti-Morsi petition drive. President
Morsi’s Islamist backers have geared up counter-demonstrations.
Angry protesters chanted against the president and the Muslim Brotherhood. Others held aloft shoes and red cards as a sign of
their contempt.
Meanwhile, dozens of people hold anti-Morsi rally in Sharqiya.
Two hundred and forty-three were injured in Daqahliya governorate, 53 in Sharqiya and two in Gharbiya in clashes between supporters and
opponents of Morsi.
Dozens of Brotherhood supporters were trapped inside
Mansoura’s Al-Gamieya Al-Sharaiya Mosque by angry residents who besieged the building on June 26, 2013 afternoon. Police failed to disperse the
protesters.
In the Nile Delta’s Menoufiya governorate opposition
supporters locked horns with around three thousand pro-Morsi protesters
in Shibin Al-Koum city.
Thousands of angry protesters went on several mass
marches in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate after the president’s speech,
which lasted almost three hours and ended after midnight.
In the canal city of Suez , hundreds of protesters
from youth and revolutionary movements took to the streets in the early
hours of June 27 to voice their anger at the speech.
In Cairo , thousands gathered outside the defense ministry and in Tahrir Square .
Some protesters in Tahrir Square held their shoes
aloft in a sign of contempt during the speech, while others held up red
cards in reference to mounting demands for the president to step down.
A divided police
An Ahram Online report said:
Egypt ‘s frustrated police apparatus appears divided
regarding the planned demonstrations to demand Morsi’s ouster and early
presidential elections.
With nationwide mass protests planned on June 30 to oppose Morsi, the role of the police during the protests remains uncertain.
Since the January 2011 uprising, the police have been on the receiving
end of public attacks, owing to torture practices during the Mubarak era and the killing of hundreds of protestors during the revolution.
Recurrent police excesses have been identified as one
of the primary triggers of the 2011 uprising, leading to the torching of approximately 90 police stations since the revolution.
Considering widespread fears regarding planned
anti-Morsi rallies on June 30 and the possibility of military
intervention or civil war, the security apparatus is in a quandary in
terms of its response to the planned demonstrations.
Minister of interior Mohamed Ibrahim was pressed to take a stand, albeit a shaky one.
On June 10, he declared: “Police officers will not be
present in protest areas, enabling peaceful protesters to convey their
opinions freely.”
The contentious statement was widely criticized. Dalia Youssef, security expert and vice president of the Risk Free Egypt
consultancy, like many, highlighted “its absurdity and obvious paradox.”
The announcement was followed by a contradictory
statement just days later on June 12. “Police forces are legally
committed to securing the June 30 protests to ensure the safety of all
citizens irrespective of political allegiances,” said Ibrahim.
Experts say the shift was influenced by pressure from
high-ranking security officials and opposition forces, such as Egypt ‘s
anti-Morsi ‘Rebel’ campaign.
‘Rebel’ is a signature drive instigated in May aiming
to “withdraw confidence” from the president. It has received support
from members of the police apparatus, who have been seen signing the
petition, as reported by various media sources.
Moreover, police discontent concerning the lack of
justice and accountability in relation to policemen killed in the line
of duty since the revolution appears to be another factor influencing
the minister’s revised standpoint on the June 30 protests.
Hesham Saleh, Egyptian Police Officers Club spokesman, recently spoke on satellite channel ONtv, expressing police
dissatisfaction with the Islamist regime’s disregard for what he
estimated at 205 police casualties.
Saleh also cited the kidnappings of seven soldiers
last month and the lack of accountability for the perpetrators, despite
government pledges to the contrary.
Angered Egyptian police went so far as to close the
Rafah crossing to Gaza to protest the kidnapping of their colleagues and demand guarantees that attacks on them would not be repeated. Even
though the kidnapped men were released, the kidnappers have not been
arrested.
The increased anti-Morsi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood
sentiment on the part of the police was further illustrated by numerous
soldiers’ funerals, which were transformed into anti-government
demonstrations.
During the funeral of Captain Mohamed Abdel-Aziz Abu
Shakra on June 10, a 30-year-old officer killed by unidentified
militants in North Sinai , mourners, including police, called for
Morsi’s ouster.
Angry officers at the Al-Shorta Mosque in Cairo ‘s
Al-Darassa district where the funeral was held forced Ibrahim and senior ministry officials to leave the funeral following prayers.
Videos of high-ranking police officials verbally
insulting the president and the Muslim Brotherhood at Abdel-Aziz’s
funeral, and at other police funerals, are posted all over the internet.
Moreover, the unexpected shift in the minister’s
statement further illustrates what observers describe as “the fickle
nature of state security,” which is also reflected by the diverging
opinions of security officials.
The Police Officers Club, the acting body for officers which recently held elections for the first time in history, held a
meeting on June 15 to determine the security apparatuses’ strategy for
30 June.
The conference clarified the role of officers on duty
who will be in uniform, along with those who plan to participate as
civilians.
“On June 30, the police will remain neutral, defending demonstrators, the interior ministry and state property,” said police
spokesperson.
Despite pledges during the conference to protect
protesters and state property, police officials declared that they would not guard Muslim Brotherhood offices and the group’s headquarters in
Cairo ‘s Moqattam district.
And even though the minister himself made it clear
that the police would not protect the headquarters of any political
party, conference attendees said that protecting the Brotherhood’s
offices would not amount to maintaining neutrality between different
factions.
The Brotherhood’s famed campaign slogan “Islam is the
solution” was central to police’s critique, alluded to as “a farce”
owing to the country’s ongoing socio-economic decline.
Away from official declarations and events, in the
streets, the deep divisions between and within higher-ranking officers,
as well as in the middle and lower ranks, is patent.
Different attitudes among low-ranking officers are
indicative of this. Some low-ranking officers like Shafiq, who
cautiously refrained from giving his full name, said he was against
participating, emphasizing the police’s responsibility to remain
apolitical and detached from political events.
Others refused to talk to the media and some announced that they would simply adhere to ministerial instructions and work on
30 June, yet also suggested that participation ultimately was the choice of each individual officer.
Conversely, numerous young soldiers, advocates of the
‘Rebel’ campaign, voiced their intention to demonstrate with the people
irrespective of orders from the controversial minister of interior.
“We will be with the people on June 30, wearing
t-shirts expressing our support,” explained Ahmed, a young soldier
sporting a black Central Security Forces uniform.
Many of these young underpaid and overworked Central
Security Forces soldiers support and sympathize with the sentiments and
demands of the protesters, many of whom include members of their own
families.
Though, admittedly, reasons to participate vary, one
of the main motives relates to the police’s historic dislike and
distrust of the Islamists.
According to security expert Ihab Youssef, ex-police
officer, secretary-general of the People and Police for Egypt NGO and
president of the Risk Free Egypt consultancy, the newfound power of the
Brotherhood has been traumatic for the police.
Amir Salem, security expert, renowned lawyer and
author of ‘The State of Police in Egypt ,’ also cites sentiments of
guilt on the part of some officers, concerning their involvement in
torture and corrupt practices, as another possible reason for
participation.
Opponents pick holes in Morsi’s speech
Morsi’s long Wednesday-speech was badly received by Egypt ‘s opposition figures along with swathes of
the public who protested across different cities in the early hours of
Thursday against his address
Prominent writer Alaa Al-Aswany slammed the speech as “miserable”.
Al-Aswany took a swipe at how Morsi perceives the
current political deadlock as a mere “conflict” with old-regime figures
and thugs aiming to ignite chaos, while turning his back on the
opposition, the people it represents, and their demands.
“Are the 16 million who signed the Rebel [petition]
thugs and remnants [of the old regime]?” Al-Aswany, a leading member of
the opposition Constitution Party, wrote on Twitter.
Rights lawyer Gamal Eid, for his part, slammed the
president for “bragging that he knows thugs by name, while ignoring the
murder of Shia Egyptians by his supporters.”

http://www.countercurrents.org/cc280613A.htm

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