quarta-feira, 3 de julho de 2013

The Washington Post, um bom informe sobre o Egito.

Top Morsi adviser says coup is underway after deadline for Egypt accord passes

CAIRO — As huge crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters massed in the streets of Cairo Wednesday afternoon and the army deployed armored vehicles, a top adviser to embattled Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi declared that a military coup was underway and warned that “considerable bloodshed” could ensue.

Dozens of armored vehicles were deployed at eastern Cairo’s Rabaa Adawiya Mosque and outside Cairo University, where hundreds of thousands of Morsi supporters gathered. The president’s supporters and opponents were waiting to see whether Egypt’s powerful army would take action, as promised, once its deadline for Morsi and his opponents to forge a political agreement had expired.

There were unconfirmed reports, meanwhile, that Morsi and the top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that constitutes the president’s main base of support, were being banned from travel.

Two top Brotherhood officials reached by phone on Wednesday dismissed rumors that Morsi and his aides had been put under house arrest or barred from leaving the country. “This is not true. This is all empty talk,” said Abdullah Shehata, a prominent Brotherhood member. “Everything is fine.”
[For the latest updates on Egypt, click here.]
At Cairo University, several thousand Morsi supporters milled about as the sun set Wednesday, and armored vehicles packed with troops pulled up alongside the demonstrators. As they watched the troops arrive, many of the president’s supporters said they were prepared to fight.

“If the army comes out tonight, or tomorrow, the whole country might turn into another Syria,” said Alaa Hossam, a government bureaucrat and Morsi supporter. “It doesn’t mean that we will go fight the liberals,” he added. “It means we will fight against the army.”

Morsi posted a Facebook message about an hour before the 5 p.m. deadline (11 a.m. Eastern time) calling for a coalition government and an independent committee to propose amendments to the constitution. They were concessions that Morsi’s opponents dismissed as nominal — and far too late.
Celebratory cheers, whistles and fireworks erupted from the thousands of flag-waving, anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square shortly after 5 p.m., as the rumors circulated that the military had placed Morsi and his inner circle under house arrest.

The military was expected to make a statement soon.

News agencies reported that top military commanders summoned civilian political leaders, including prominent Morsi critics, to an emergency meeting Wednesday. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, a former diplomat who once headed the International Atomic Energy Agency, was among those who attended, along with Muslim and Christian religious leaders, the agencies said.

Essam al-Haddad, a top presidential aide, declared Egypt’s predicament “a military coup” in a post on his office’s official Facebook page at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. And he warned that no coup could succeed without bloodshed.

“In this day and age, no military coup can succeed in the face of sizable popular force without considerable bloodshed,” Haddad wrote. Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered to support the president and Egypt’s pursuit of democracy, the statement continued. “To move them, there will have to be violence.” There would be “considerable bloodshed.”

“As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page,” Haddad wrote. “For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup.”

Gamal Abdel Fatah, the head of Egypt’s international media center, denied reports that the military had taken over state media operations at the towering downtown headquarters of Egypt’s state television. “The army is protecting the building, but the situation is normal inside the building,” Fatah said.Edward Snowden was not found on board President Evo Morales’s plane, and the diversion created a furor.

Among those awaiting the military’s statement Wednesday afternoon was Mohamed Farouk, a bus driver who stood shoulder to shoulder with other Egyptians in a huge throng at Tahrir Square. “I’m very excited to be here among these crowds as we wait for such a historic moment,” he said. “I trust that the army will force [Morsi] to step down, as the deadline has already passed. And I’m very optimistic about the future of Egypt after Morsi.”

Ahmed el-Shennawy, an accountant, said, “Not since Adam’s time have there been so many people on the street. You see the square is completely full, even in the burning sun.” Shennawy said he had voted for Morsi but rapidly lost faith in the Islamist leader as the year wore on and the nation’s economy slumped. “He thought he was like a god, but he was never accepted by real, free Egyptians,” he said.

“Today: dismissal or resignation” read the bold, red headline in Wednesday’s edition of the state-run al-Ahram newspaper. It was the same font and color that the paper used for its historic front page on February 12, 2011, the day after the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. That headline stated: “The people toppled the regime.”

Officials with the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, said they refused an invitation Wednesday afternoon to meet with ElBaradei and the Tamarod group, which helped organize the massive demonstrations that spurred the military to say it would act. Instead, top Brotherhood officials took to a stage before thousands of the president’s supporters in eastern Cairo, striking angry and defiant tones.

Burnt cars and motorcycles, shards of twisted metal, broken glass and shell casings littered the streets around Cairo University on Wednesday, where supporters and opponents of Morsi had clashed overnight, leaving at least 18 people dead and hundreds injured, according to state television.

“We swear to God that we will sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool,” the army said in a message posted to its Facebook page overnight.

On Wednesday afternoon, Egypt’s interior ministry posted a Facebook message saying police and state security forces were committed “to the safety of the Egyptian people, side by side with the armed forces.”

Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, delivered a fiery televised speech Tuesday night that made it clear he would not cede power. Waving his hands and shaking his fists, he swore that he was committed to the process that led to the historic elections last year and said that any attempts to subvert the constitution were “unacceptable.”
Morsi acknowledged that he had made mistakes during his year in office as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. But he appealed to Egyptians to give him more time to deal with the country’s problems. 
The speech represented a direct challenge to the nation’s military and a signal that efforts to mediate the crisis have so far failed. Earlier on Tuesday, Morsi met with his defense minister, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, in an apparent bid to reach an accord.

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Although Sissi was appointed by Morsi, the general’s announcement Monday afternoon that he would give the president and his opponents 48 hours to resolve their differences before the military implemented its own “road map” for the country was seen here as a direct threat to Morsi’s hold on power.

Morsi’s backers in the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood have described the statement as a pledge for “a coup,” and are vowing that they will not go quietly if their president is forced out.

As night fell Tuesday, bursts of automatic gunfire crackled along the Nile as the president’s supporters and opponents came to blows in the working-class neighborhood of Kit Kat in central Cairo and near the university, where the president’s supporters had gathered.

On Wednesday, the two camps staged rival protests in neighborhoods across the city, awaiting the countdown to the military’s deadline.

By afternoon, fewer than 200 Morsi supporters milled about near the main gate of Cairo University, where thousands had gathered the day before. At another gate a few blocks away, opposition protesters gathered to block Islamists from approaching the area.

“They have beards! They have beards! There are beards inside!” shouted one of those anti-government demonstrators, Mohamed Mustafa, as a minibus approached the gate, packed with more than a dozen Brotherhood supporters.

Mustafa, a lawyer, and his friends, rushed the bus and forced the passengers to flee, leaving behind pro-Morsi banners, several gallons of kerosene and cloth sacks of marbles, stones, nails and screws, which the activists concluded would have been used in slingshots.

Seven of Morsi’s cabinet ministers have resigned in the past two days, including the foreign minister on Tuesday, according to local news media reports. A governor, a military adviser and the cabinet’s spokesman also quit their posts. The ultraconservative Salafist Nour party, which won the second-largest bloc in parliament, distanced itself from Morsi on Tuesday, saying that it supported the protesters’ calls for early elections.

Egyptian police officers have said they will no longer protect the president or his Muslim Brotherhood backers, and protesters have pressed in closer to the palace where Morsi is thought to be staying.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has urged Morsi to be responsive to protesters’ concerns. The White House said Obama spoke with Morsi by phone on Monday and “stressed that democracy is about more than elections; it is also about ensuring that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government, including the many Egyptians demonstrating throughout the country.”
Should Morsi be forced to resign — as the hundreds of thousands of opposition protesters are demanding — his Islamist supporters have said they will defend him with their lives. 
“We are clearly standing before an official coup by the old regime,” Mohamed El-Beltagy, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood member, wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday. He urged Morsi’s backers to choose “martyrdom” in order to “prevent this from happening.”

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But for political analysts — and indeed for Morsi’s opponents — the president’s eviction from office has become a foregone conclusion.

“From my point of view, as soon as that military statement came out yesterday with the 48-hour timeline, it was over,” said Michele Dunne, director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

“Setting such a short fuse was just telling the demonstrators: Look, this isn’t going to take 18 days,” Dunne said, in a reference to the 2011 uprising that brought down President Hosni Mubarak. “This will take two days.”

Opposition activists angrily dismissed Morsi’s speech Tuesday night as intransigent and delusional. Many of the protesters who remained camped in Tahrir Square said they felt confident that their battle was largely won.

“The military’s statement was clear,” said Ali Rabia, a building painter. “Just as they forced Mubarak to resign, they will force Morsi to resign as well.”

Thousands of the president’s supporters stood their ground in demonstrations across the country Tuesday, chanting their slogan, “Legitimacy” — a word that Morsi repeated at least two dozen times in his late-night speech — to counter their opponents’ mantra, “Leave.” Some Brotherhood members said that if a coup did happen, they would await orders from Brotherhood leaders.

But many said they remain convinced that the military would soon change its mind to avoid making a dangerous mistake. And Morsi appeared to signal Tuesday night that he was banking on that too. Bloodshed and violence are “a trap,” he warned. But “if we fall, it will be into an endless pit.”

“The military is afraid of a Syrian situation,” said Mahmoud Mehdat, a university student, who manned the periphery of the Brotherhood’s demonstration in eastern Cairo, armed with a white hard-hat and a plastic pipe. “They know the Islamists will not keep quiet if there is a coup. They know we will not accept a return to military rule.”

The demonstrations that have raged for nearly a week have been tarnished by a wave of sexual assaults and rape, Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday, saying that at least 91 women had been attacked in just four days of protests.

One of the victims required surgery “after being raped with a ‘sharp object,’” the rights group said in a statement, citing reports from the Egyptian activist group, Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment. The group runs an emergency hotline and rescue efforts for assault victims in Tahrir Square.

Egypt’s government and police force have long neglected what Human Rights Watch calls an “epidemic” of sexual violence in Egypt. Attacks on women, particularly at protests, have been on the rise in recent months.

Analysts say that if Morsi is sidelined — or forced out entirely — his Islamist backers will probably have two options: They either agree to participate in whatever political role the military allows them to occupy, or they go on the offensive.

“Rarely in history do elected presidents leave power without a lot of bloodshed,” said Joshua Stacher, an Egypt expert and a political scientist at Kent State University in Ohio. “The Brotherhood is viewing what happened yesterday as an existential threat.”

Egypt’s Islamists, empowered by Mubarak’s fall and the country’s young democracy, have no intention of going back to the prisons and the torture chambers that they suffered at the hands of previous military regimes, Stacher said.

“So they’re going to fight their way out, because they believe they have an electoral mandate, which they do,” he said.

William Booth and Amro Hassan contributed to this report.