Egyptian Violence Goes Misreported

Posted: Jul 24, 2013 12:01 AM

South Korea-North Korea: Update. Negotiators met for the fifth time on 22 July to try to reach agreement on resuming operations at the Kaesong industrial complex. They failed again. Another round of talks is set for Thursday.

Comment: The sticking points remain the North's refusal to take responsibility for closing the complex and to provide guarantees against future closures. The good news is the North is still willing to engage in talks, for now.

Egypt: Update. Pro-Mursi/anti-government demonstrations occurred in several Nile River delta cities, including Alexandria, and in Cairo near Tahrir Square. Some resulted in clashes between pro- and anti-government groups. A clash in Suez resulted in 112 wounded, according to official sources. The Brotherhood claimed one killed and 150 wounded in the same clashes.

In Cairo, pro-Mursi protestors attempted to march against pro-government campers in Tahrir Square. Security forces intervened using armor and tear gas. One person died and seven were wounded

Comment: Almost daily clashes are reported in Cairo and some of the Nile River delta cities. Most clashes are between pro- and anti-government groups. Usually, the police intervene after the violence occurs to disperse the protestors. In Cairo, clashes with security forces have occurred near the US Embassy, the Republican Guard headquarters and near important ministry buildings, especially the ministry of defense.

Fatalities tend to occur mainly when anti-government protestors clash directly with the police or army units. The numbers of wounded seem to range in the 100's but the types and extent of the injuries are seldom reported in detail.

Two weeks ago, injuries resulted from stone throwing and clubs. Demonstrators are still throwing stones, but most deaths result from gunshot wounds. Both the pro- and anti-government demonstrators have members who carry guns.

Government security authorities appear willing to allow the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters to use the al Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque complex, in eastern Cairo, as a base and rallying point, provided they stay separated from the anti-Mursi campers at Tahrir Square in the city center. Security forces intervene to try to keep the two groups separated.

Sinai: The daily or near daily attacks continue, despite the buildup of army forces. On the 22d, anti-government militants mounted 10 attacks in Rafah and el-Arish, killing six and wounding 11 people.

Economy. The new administration is focused on attracting outside investment to revive economic activity, without ending subsidies or instituting austerity measures that almost certainly would backfire by inciting public protests. Austerity is not at the front of the economic agenda and will not be until after parliamentary elections in six months.

In terms of outside support, the Egyptian Central Bank announced that the UAE transferred $3 billion to Egypt on Thursday. The Egyptian press reported on 22 July that Saudi Arabia had deposited $2 billion in aid and loans with the Central bank. These raised Egypt's foreign reserves to over $20 billion, enough to finance three months of imports.

Comment: The speed with which the two Gulf states transferred funds to Egypt measures their commitment to the new administration. They are notorious for promising funds to various Arab causes, but not delivering. They made promises to the Mursi government, but did not transfer funds to an administration of which they disapproved.

This time they showed their support by transferring cash with uncharacteristic speed. The Egyptian stock market rose.

Kuwait has not yet transferred its commitment of $4 billion and Saudi Arabia has committed to provide a further $2 billion in energy products and $1 billion in cash. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait are the benefactors of the al-Mansour administration.

Tunisia: The prime minister denounced the Tunisian offshoot of the Egyptian Tamarrud (Rebel) movement.

"This copycat group which calls itself Tamarrud is clear, and I think it represents a danger to the democratic process, an attempt to make it fail in Tunisia," Prime Minister Larayedh said in a radio interview.

"I don't think this movement will succeed. It's a copy of something foreign in Tunisia," referring to Egypt's grass-roots movement.

Comment: Larayedh leads the Islamist Ennahda-led coalition government which has maintained close ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, according to Tunisian analysts. Ennahda won the October 2011 elections but its record of governance has been marked by ineptitude, corruption and political unrest.

The Tunisian Tamarrud claims to have gathered 870,000 signatures on its petition to dissolve the national assembly, in which Ennahda holds the most seats. Tamarrud wants an end to Islamist-led government and wants the two-year old National Constituent Assembly to disband because of its failure to produce a draft constitution that a referendum would pass.

Panama: The government has arrested the 35 North Korean crew members for weapons smuggling and placed them in jail, which has living conditions better than those they experienced on the North Korean freighter, according to Panamanian authorities. Panamanian public health officials attempted to clean up the crew quarters over the weekend with partial success.

The search of the ship's cargo holds continues. Over the weekend, police cadets were engaged in removing the 200,000 bags of sugar covering the weapons cargo holds. The latest discovery was containers with two fuselages for MiG-21 fighters.

Comment: The nature of the Cuban-North Korean transaction remains unclear. The Cubans claim the sugar was a gift of the Cuban people in return for weapons repairs. North Korea still flies MiG-21 fighters and still has operational Vietnam-era air defense systems. It needs spare and repair parts, but only a series of shipments would make much difference in North Korean or Cuban readiness or capabilities. Two proliferation monitoring centers asserted that North Korean merchant ships have made at least seven trips to Cuba in the last few years.

End of NightWatch


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