EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Egypt Tragedy: Appeals from outside make little difference…

  • August 18th, 2013
  • Posted by EU Australia

Egypt pyramids 2-1Egypt’s military-based regime looked determined to break resistance from the Moslem Brotherhood movement, no matter what pressure it received from outside; moving on the weekend against resistants congregated in mosques.

European governments and the United States tried to get restraint after security forces began their advance against protestors assembled within large compounds in two parts of Cairo, on Wednesday (14.8.13) – causing hundreds of deaths.

BACKDROP TO THE WEEK’S  VIOLENCE

Morsi MThe half-week of action against the demonstrators was to put an end to opposition by the Muslim Brotherhood, after the shutting down of parliament and the removal of its leader, Mohammed Morsi (picture), as President of Egypt (on 3.7.13).

The party had emerged a year ago from decades as a banned organisation, in the “Arab Spring” revolution, bringing out huge numbers of supporters.

It won national elections (November 2011-February 2012), and the Presidency (17.6.12), but then ran into bitter resistance and destabilisation as it took office, producing mass demonstrations by its opponents, ahead of military intervention.

Egypt camp attack Egypt camps 3 Egypt camps 2Hundreds of thousands, indignant at the overthrow, had been rallying.

The death toll since the start of the military crack-down on Wednesday is widely believed to be in the range of 1000.

It’s inexact because many have been taking dead bodies to makeshift mortuaries in mosques, saying they’re afraid to go near the hospitals.

On Saturday troops moved on and occupied the Al-Fateh mosque, a last bastion of massed resistance.

Leaders in the political coalition around the armed forces have shown signs of faltering; the moderate figure, Mohammed ElBaradei, resigned as the interim Egyptian Vice-President.

ACCUSATIONS, MAYHEM

Beyond the violence, accusations are the main political currency.

The military-government side say their forces were being fired on from the Moslem Brotherhood positions. They accuse the movement of involvement in arson attacks on government buildings and several Christian churches.

The movement, on its part, may have made the classic blunder well known to history, of a long-repressed opposition that comes to power in terrible economic times; pushes to implement its radical program; alienates power-holders still in positions of power throughout the society; and frightens large elements of the population, which begin to rebel.

It has been winning moral arguments as the underdog in the crisis, and is repeating the one main claim: it won the elections; it became the legitimate and rightful government; it has been the victim of mortal state violence against its followers; it demands the return of Mohammed Morsi and his government to power.

OUTSIDE WORLD

Little more relief or sympathy was available outside of the country this week than within, though the European Union was among the first to press for a peace.

Ashton CThe High Representative, Catherine Ashton (picture), had already got through to meet Mr Morsi in detention, and condemned the outbreaks of violence and destruction, “leaving the country in a state of emergency and heading into an uncertain future.

It was, she said, “a future that could be different if all sides embark on a political process that will restore democratic structures through elections and allows for the peaceful participation of all political forces.”

“Only a concerted effort by all Egyptians and the international community might lead the country back on a path to inclusive democracy, and overcome Egypt’s challenges”, she said.

“I call on the security forces to exercise utmost restraint and on the interim government to end the state of emergency as soon as possible, to allow the resumption of normal life.”

The governments of Britain, France and Germany called in their Egyptian Ambassadors to make similar demands; similar gestures followed, in Washington and in Canberra.

 

PEACEFUL END – NO CHANCE?

 

Outside observers are driven to see the cruel events as bad psychology for  getting any true peace.

 

Phil WilliamsAn ABC Australia correspondent working Cairo, Phil Williams (picture), said on Radio Australia (19.8.13), on the streets of the city, chances of reconciliation looked very poor.

“People are absolutely incandescent with rage about the killings”, he said.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, told the same program, the crack-down against the defenders of Mohammed Morsi “was very bad for a peaceful resolution olther than dictatorship.”

“It is tragic to contemplate the loss of life and likely radicalisation of the Moslem Brotherhood, which has been committed to an electoral process”, he said.

The  attacks on the movement were “positively short-sighted, with alienation and a sense of victimhood …”

“What was needed was for that interim government to take up a policy of building bridges and reconciliation.”

The large country, paralysed and divided, faces economic ruin. Its second life-blood after the Nile River, income from tourism, stands to evaporate in the midst of uproar and the degradation of the streets.

Reference

EU (EEAS), Brussels, Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the latest developments in Egypt, EUROPEA2 U2102, A 419/13, 14.8.13.

David D. Kirkpatrick, Blood and Chaos Prevail in Egypt, Testing Control, NYT, NY, 16.8.13. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/world/middleeast/egypt.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0, (17.8.13).

Le Monde, Paris, Un “vendredi de la colère” meurtrier en Egypte (Bloodshed in “Friday of Anger” in Egypt), 17.8.13.

USA Today, McLean Va., Security forces storm Egyptian mosque, 17.8.13. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/08/17/egypt-muslim-brotherhood-morsi/2666877/, (17.8.13).

Leave a Reply