Egypt Turning Deadly

Night Watch
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Posted: Jul 10, 2013 12:01 AM

Egypt: At least 51 pro-Mursi demonstrators were killed and 435 injured in clashes at Rabiah Square, near the Cairo headquarters of the Republican Guard. The army said "armed terrorists" tried to storm the base, killing one security officer and critically wounding six others. The Muslim Brotherhood said the demonstrators were massacred during dawn prayers.

The Brotherhood has called for a national uprising against the armed forces. The ultra-conservative Nour Party which supported Mursi's ouster has pulled out of talks about forming a new government.

Late on 8 July its leaders announced an alternative road map that more restores Mursi's policies, rump parliament and the political dominance of conservative Islamic scholars on constitutional matters. Nour leaders accused the new regime and the military of violating the military's road map to which Nour had agreed "only to prevent violence," they claimed.

Interim president, Adly Mansour, set up a judicial commission of inquiry into the killings.

Comment: A careful review of the reporting, including videos, indicates that both versions of what happened are partly accurate. Separate video clips show demonstrators attempting to use force to break into the Republican Guard building. The security force casualties appear to have come from shotguns fired by the and fire bombs thrown by Brothers. The action did coincide with morning prayers. The security forces reacted with overwhelming force.

This appears to have been the main scene of violent clashes reported on 8 July.

This was at least the second third time since Friday that pro-Mursi supporters tried to break into that building because that is one of the two places where Mursi has been reportedly held in custody. A Brother said the other was the Ministry of Defense itself. The Republican Guard building is near the Rabia al Adawiyah Mosque where the Brothers have been assembling since Friday for daily protests.

The Brothers are trying to rescue Mursi. More attempts are likely, which means more deadly clashes.

Official reports and photos indicate they stockpiled a variety of weapons and ammunition in the Brotherhood headquarters, which lends credibility to their leaders' calls to engage in violent protests. Eyewitnesses reported that armed Brothers threatened to shoot them and any pro-Mursi demonstrators who attempted to depart the Rabia Square protest site to return home.

Nour's alternative road map is a bargaining position, which means it is still negotiating.

Politics. Interim President Mansour issued a decree containing 33 articles which establish the procedure and a timetable for a return to elected civilian government. In the next five months, Egyptians are invited to submit amendments to the constitution. Three months later elections will be held.

Mansour has moved to try to start restoring the economy. He met the president of the central bank who just returned from a visit to Abu Dhabi looking for financial help. Concerning the prime minister, the one man whom most factions trust to run the new government as prime minister is former finance minister Samir Radwan.

Comment: Mansour appears to have picked up the pace of establishing a government.

Special comment: A very wise and brilliant senior analyst was fond of pointing out to less experienced analysts that capitals often are big cities with large populations and many neighborhoods. Most of the city goes about normal business while one or more neighborhood experiences trouble for a time.

The media headlines are about the area of trouble at the time of the trouble, and rightly so. However, repetition creates a visual impression that the rest of the city is in turmoil all day. That was the case in Istanbul last month at Taksim Square and in Cairo today at Rabia Square.

Today's violence began around 02:00 in the area of Rabia Square. It lasted until dawn and was essentially ended before most people went to work. No other violence was reported in open sources during the work day, though more demonstrations are being called for after work period.

This comment is not meant to minimize the importance of the clashes, but rather to put them in perspective. Security conditions can get much worse.

Tension is high and most factions are showing little inclination to compromise or even tolerate opposing viewpoints. Ultra conservative imams have called for the death of secularists. Brotherhood leaders not in custody have called for violence. All of that makes more clashes and killings inevitable, but all of Egypt is not rioting… at least not on 8 July.

Nigeria: Boko Haram Islamic militants attacked a boarding school in northeast Nigeria before dawn Saturday, killing 29 students and one teacher. Some of the pupils were burned alive when militants set the school on fire.

The governor of Nigeria's northeast Yobe State ordered all schools closed as a precaution against more attacks. The U.N. children's agency, meanwhile, said Monday that 48 boys and girls and seven teachers have been slain since June in northeast Nigeria.

Comment: A large task group of Nigerian Army soldiers supposedly suppressed Boko Haram in the northeast during the past two months. One of the obvious purposes of this attack was to demonstrate that the Army offensive failed.

End of NightWatch

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