Archive for July 7, 2013

by Muath Freij | Jul 06, 2013

AMMAN — Around 300 Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian activists gathered outside the Egyptian embassy in ‎Amman on Friday night to protest against the ouster of ‎Egypt’s Islamist president ‎Mohamed ‎Morsi.

Demonstrators carried Egyptian flags and portraits of Morsi, who was removed from power last week by the Egyptian army in response to popular protests that called for his ouster and accused him of hijacking the Egyptian revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

The activists shouted slogans against the Egyptian army leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, and members of the opposition who sided with his decision to remove Morsi and appoint an interim leader.

During the demonstration, protesters also performed the isha prayer.

Muath Abu Al Rub, one of the demonstrators, said he was there to express his support for Morsi.

“Some people claim that he [Morsi] did not achieve anything for the good of the country. On the contrary, he boosted the economy of Egypt,” the 21-year-old told The Jordan Times outside the Egyptian embassy.

He charged that some countries do not want to see Egypt under Islamic rule.

“These countries do not want the stability of Egypt. They want Arabs to be busy fighting each other so that we keep depending on them,” Abu Al Rub noted.

Maher Othman, an Egyptian who took part in Friday’s demonstration, said his compatriots should have given Morsi more time to prove himself.

“We waited for 30 years until Hosni Mubarak’s regime collapsed. We could have waited for four years to see what Morsi was planning to do,” Othman noted.

“The army did not take the right decision by giving Morsi only 48 hours to put an end to instability,” he said.

“They should have met with him and discussed all the details,” added Othman, who took part in demonstrations against Mubarak.

Another protester, Mohammad Shanabo, said Morsi was legitimately elected to be the president of Egypt, and everyone should have respected that.

“He was elected in fair elections.”

One woman, who refused to give her name, said Egyptians were calling for democracy and what happened was the exact opposite.

“A military coup simply does not represent democracy. Also, after the ouster of Morsi, many Muslim Brotherhood members were detained and some TV channels were closed down. Is that democracy?”

Source: The Jordan Times.


July 07, 2013

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada arrived in Jordan on Sunday to face retrial on terrorism charges after his deportation from Britain, a Jordanian military prosecutor said.

The arrival is a victory for Jordan, whose extradition request was blocked in British and European courts for over a decade. Jordanian and Western intelligence accuse Abu Qatada of being a key al-Qaida operative in Europe. He had been previously sentenced in absentia to life in jail, but that has been lifted now that he faces a new trial.

Information Minister Mohammed Momani said Jordan “is keen on credibility and transparency” in handling Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman. The deportation of the Palestinian-born Jordanian cleric, he said, “sends a message to all fugitives that they will face justice in Jordan.”

The move comes after Britain and Jordan ratified a treaty on torture aimed at easing human rights concerns that had blocked previous attempts to deport him. In London, British Home Secretary Theresa May had announced Abu Qatada’s departure in a statement, expressing confidence that the U.K. public would welcome the conclusion of efforts dating back to 2001 to remove the radical cleric.

“This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country,” May said. The Home Office then posted a picture on Twitter of Abu Qatada climbing the steps of a plane.

Britain had tried since 2001 to deport Abu Qatada but courts had blocked extradition over concerns that evidence obtained under torture could be used against him. After years of successfully fighting the numerous attempts to expel him from the U.K., the 53-year-old preacher recently indicated he would voluntarily return to Jordan if that country and Britain ratified a treaty on torture.

That treaty — which explicitly bans the use of evidence “where there are serious and credible allegations that a statement from a person has been obtained by torture or ill-treatment” — was ratified by Britain and Jordan last month.

It paved the way for the long-awaited removal of the man described in courts in Britain and Spain as a senior al-Qaida figure in Europe who had close ties to the late Osama bin Laden. In 1999, a Jordanian military court sentenced Abu Qatada to death in absentia for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks, including a plot on the country’s American school in Amman. But the sentence was immediately commuted to life in jail with hard labor.

In 2000, the same court sentenced him to 15 years for plotting to carry out terror attacks on Israeli and American tourists and Western diplomats during the country’s millennium celebrations. In both trials, Abu Qatada was in London, where he entered on a forged passport in 1993 and was granted asylum a year later.

Associated Press writer Cassandra Vinograd in London contributed to this report.

July 07, 2013

LONDON (AP) — Radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada was deported early Sunday from Britain to Jordan to face terror charges, ending over a decade-long battle to remove a man described as a key al-Qaida operative in Europe.

The move comes after Britain and Jordan ratified a treaty on torture aimed at easing human rights concerns that had blocked previous attempts to deport the Palestinian-born Jordanian preacher. British Home Secretary Theresa May announced Abu Qatada’s departure in a statement early Sunday, expressing confidence that the public in the U.K. would welcome the conclusion of efforts dating back to 2001 to remove the radical cleric.

“This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country,” May said in a statement. The Home Office then posted a picture on Twitter of Abu Qatada climbing the steps of a plane.

Abu Qatada was wanted in Jordan for retrial in several terror cases in which he was sentenced in absentia. Britain had tried since 2001 to deport Abu Qatada — whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman — but courts have blocked extradition over concerns that evidence obtained under torture could be used against him.

After years of successfully fighting the numerous attempts to expel him from the U.K., the 53-year-old preacher recently indicated he would voluntarily return to Jordan if that country and Britain ratified a treaty on torture.

That treaty — which explicitly bans the use of evidence “where there are serious and credible allegations that a statement from a person has been obtained by torture or ill-treatment” — was ratified by Britain and Jordan last month.

It paved the way for the long-awaited removal of the man described in courts in Britain and Spain as a senior al-Qaida figure in Europe who had close ties to the late Osama bin Laden. Abu Qatada is accused by Britain of links with Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and with shoe bomber Richard Reid. Audio recordings of some of the cleric’s sermons were found in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, used by some of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Authorities first tried to deport Abu Qatada in 2001, then detained him in 2002 under anti-terrorism laws, which at the time allowed suspected terrorists to be jailed without charge. Though he was released in 2005 when the unpopular law was overturned, the cleric was kept under close surveillance and detained in various ways. He most recently was being held at London’s Belmarsh prison after breaching a bail condition in March which restricted the use of mobile phones and communication devices.

The British home secretary acknowledged the delays in the legal process in her statement announcing that “at last” Abu Qatada had been deported, saying it is “clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport.”

July 06, 2013

BEIRUT (AP) — A former Syrian political prisoner with close links to Saudi Arabia was picked Saturday to lead Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group, filling a post long vacant due to divisions among President Bashar Assad’s opponents.

Inside Syria, government troops advanced into rebel-held areas of the central city of Homs, pushing into a heavily contested neighborhood after pummeling it with artillery that drove out opposition fighters, an activist said.

The election of Ahmad al-Jarba as the head of the Syrian National Coalition came during a meeting in Turkey in what was the second attempt in recent months by Assad’s opponents to unify their ranks. The opposition bloc is primarily composed of exiled politicians with little support among Syrians back home who are trying to survive the third summer of conflict that has killed more than 93,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes.

Al-Jarba’s election suggests the opposition is trying to unite despite its differences after Assad’s forces gained ground last month in and around the strategic town of Qusair near the border with Lebanon.

It also underscored the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar who are vying for influence among the Sunni-dominated Syrian opposition. Both have been prominent backers of forces struggling to oust Assad.

The Saudi-backed al-Jarba won 55 votes, edging out Qatar-endorsed businessman Mustafa Sabbagh who got 52 votes, according to a statement from the 114-member SNC in Istanbul, where many of Syrian opposition figures are based. The SNC statement did not say who the remaining members voted for.

Al-Jarba, a 44-year-old lawyer with a law degree from Beirut’s Arab University, is from Syria’s northeastern province of Hassakeh and is a member of the powerful Shammar tribe that extends into Iraq. He was a little-known anti-Assad figure before Syria’s civil war though he was detained in March 2011 — days after the uprising against Assad began. It was his second arrest, following one in 1996 when he was held for two years because of anti-government activities.

After his release, al-Jarba left Syria in August in 2011 and became active in the opposition. He is close to secular politician Michel Kilo’s Democratic Bloc, which recently joined the SNC. Al-Jarba could not be immediately reached for comment after his election Saturday.

An SNC statement quoted him as saying that his priorities will be “to follow-up on the situation inside Syria, especially in Homs,” and that “all efforts should be in this direction.” But even with al-Jarba’s election, it is unclear if the SNC can overcome deep divisions among its politicians.

Also, the council has in many ways become irrelevant to rebels battling regime troops in Syria, despite its appointment in March of Ghassan Hitto as head of an interim government meant to administer areas seized by the rebels. So far, Hitto has not formed a Cabinet.

The vote in Turkey came as the U.S. and Russia hope to bring the warring sides in Syria together at an international conference in Geneva. The SNC said recently it will not attend the Geneva talks unless they are about Assad handing over power.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. welcomed al-Jarba’s election and would work with him “to prevent the total collapse of Syria into chaos.” The U.S. also urged the Syrian opposition to unite, Psaki said, adding that a “united opposition is essential to achieve a negotiated solution.”

Assad has repeatedly dismissed his political opponents as foreign-directed exiles who don’t represent the people of Syria. The president also has shrugged off international calls to step down, saying he will serve the rest of his term and may consider running for another one in next year’s presidential elections.

In Syria, meanwhile, government troops gained ground in the rebel-held Khaldiyeah district of Homs. The push was the first significant gain in the city for Assad’s forces. Government troops have been waging an eight-day campaign to seize parts of the central Syrian city that has been in rebel hands for more than a year.

Tariq Badrakhan, an activist based in the neighborhood, said government troops used rockets, mortars and cannon fire to flush out the area’s “first line of defenses” on Friday evening. The offensive continued Saturday morning, he said via Skype, as explosions were heard in the background.

“We feel like they are shaking the sky,” Badrakhan told The Associated Press. Another activist said eight rebels were killed in the fighting. He requested anonymity because rebels have accused him in the past of damaging their morale by reporting their casualties. He could not confirm that government forces had entered Khaldiyeh but said the report was consistent with the fighting he was following there. State-run media said government forces had seized buildings in the nearby Bab Houd area.

Fighting also continued Saturday in the northern city of Aleppo, a crucial stronghold for the rebels, as well as the Damascus suburb of Qaboun. The Syrian conflict, which began with months of peaceful protests against the Assad regime more than two years ago, deteriorated into an all-out civil war after a violent government crackdown.

Government forces, sometimes backed by fighters of the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, have recently launched a major countrywide offensive to reclaim territory lost to rebels, who operate in chaotic groups with ideologies ranging from secular to hard-line Islamic extremists. Hard-line Sunni Muslims from other countries have also joined the fighting.

The fighting in Syria has increasingly taken on sectarian undertones as Assad enjoys support from many in his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, while the rebels are mainly Sunnis. Activists, who consider Homs “the capital of the revolution,” say the regime wants to capture the entire city to include it in a future Alawite state stretching to the coast, where many believe Assad would take refuge in a last resort.

In the vote in Turkey, the SNC also elected three vice presidents, including Mohammed Farouk Taifour, a senior official with Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood. The other two vice presidents are Salem al-Muslit and prominent opposition figure Suhair Atassi. Badr Jamous was voted in as the SNC’s secretary general.

Associated Press writer Diaa Hadid contributed to this report.

July 07, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s new president moved to assert his authority and regain control of the streets Saturday even as his Islamist opponents declared his powers illegitimate and issued blood oaths to reinstate Mohammed Morsi, whose ouster by the military has led to dueling protests and deadly street battles between rival sides.

But underscoring the sharp divisions facing the untested leader, Adly Mansour, his office said pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei had been named as interim prime minister but later backtracked on the decision saying consultations were continuing. A politician close to ElBaradei said the reversal was due to objections by an ultraconservative Islamist party with which the new administration wants to cooperate.

Mansour’s administration, meanwhile, has begun trying to dismantle Morsi’s legacy. He replaced Morsi’s intelligence chief and the presidential palace’s chief of staff. Prosecutors, meanwhile, ordered four detained stalwarts of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood held for 15 days pending an investigation into the shooting deaths of eight protesters last week.

No major violence was reported between supporters and opponents of Morsi as the two sides sought to regroup after a night of fierce clashes that turned downtown Cairo into a battlefield. Clashes were also fierce in the port city of Alexandria, where thousands from both sides fought each other with automatic rifles, firebombs and clubs.

Friday’s violence left 36 dead, taking to at least 75 the number of people killed since the unrest began on June 30, when millions of protesters took to the streets on the anniversary of Morsi’s inauguration as Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

Morsi, a U.S.-trained engineer who was widely accused by critics of monopolizing power for himself and the Brotherhood as well as his failure to implement democratic and economic reforms, remained under detention in an undisclosed location.

Tensions were still high as tens of thousands of Morsi supporters rallied for a third day near a mosque in a Cairo neighborhood that has traditionally been a stronghold of Islamists, chanting angry slogans against what they called a coup by Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The general has denied the military staged a coup, saying he was acting on the wishes of millions of Egyptians protesting the ex-Islamist leader.

“El-Sissi is a traitor,” declared an English language banner bearing an image of the army’s chief and hoisted by Morsi’s supporters. Setting up another showdown, the youth opposition group behind the series of mass protests that led to Morsi’s ouster called on Egyptians to take to the streets on Sunday to show support for the new order.

Mansour, 67, the former chief justice of the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court who was installed by the military as an interim leader, is little-known in international circles and the choice of ElBaradei would have given his administration a prominent global face to make its case to Washington and other Western allies trying to reassess policies.

But news of ElBaradei’s appointment, which was reported by the state news agency MENA and others, proved divisive. The 71-year-old Nobel laureate was an inspiring figure to the youth groups behind the 2011 revolution that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak as well as the uprising against Morsi. His appointment as prime minister would cement Mansour’s support among the young anti-Morsi protesters.

But a senior opposition official close to ElBaradei, Munir Fakhry Abdelnur, told The Associated Press that the last minute reversal was because the ultraconservative Salafi el-Nour party was opposed. Mansour’s spokesman Ahmed el-Musalamani denied that the appointment of the former U.N. nuclear negotiator was ever certain. However, reporters gathered at the presidential palace ahead of his news conference were told earlier that the president would arrive shortly to announce it.

The dispute over ElBaradei underlines the fragmentation of Egypt’s politics as the country continues to be roiled by bout after bout of unrest and violence since Mubarak’s ouster. The 2011 uprising opened the way for the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was long suppressed by Mubarak’s Western-backed regime, and Morsi was elected last year by a narrow margin. The fundamentalist movement swiftly rejected ElBaradei’s appointment.

The Brotherhood has vowed to boycott the political process, saying the military maneuver was a coup that overturned a democratically elected government. “Now it’s clear that the Mubarak regime has the upper hand,” Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref alleged. “We cannot accept the strategy of arm twisting; we cannot accept the authority being snatched by force,” he told The AP.

The group’s powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater, former leader Mahdi Akef, Rashad Bayoumi and Saad el-Ketatni have been accused of inciting violence against protesters in Cairo. The silver-haired new president, meanwhile, insisted national reconciliation was his top priority.

“Enough already with divisions,” he told reporters on Saturday. “We need to mobilize our forces to build this nation,” he said. He also called on the Brotherhood to join the political process. “The Brotherhood is a part of this nation, if they decide to join, we will welcome them.”

“I want everyone to pray for me. Your prayers are what I need from you,” he told worshippers on Friday in comments published Saturday by the independent el-Tahrir daily. On Saturday, he met with el-Sissi and Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police. Later he met with the three young leaders of Tamarod, or Rebel, which organized the massive opposition protests that began June 30.

Despite his words, both sides braced for the possibility of more violence as Egypt’s political unraveling increasingly left little room for middle ground or dialogue. In the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, gunmen shot dead a Christian priest while he shopped for food in an outdoor market on Saturday. It was not immediately clear if the shooting was linked to the political crisis, but minority Christians have faced increased attacks in the wake of the Islamist rise to power in the nation of 90 million people.

South of the Sinai city of el-Arish, security officials said suspected Islamic militants bombed a natural gas pipeline to Jordan. The attacks early Sunday on two points on the pipeline started fires that were soon put out, but the flow of gas was disrupted, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

It was the first attack on Egypt’s natural gas pipelines in Sinai in over a year. In Cairo’s eastern suburb of Nasr City near the Rabaah al-Adawaiya mosque — the main rallying Muslim Brotherhood rallying point — lines of fighters brandished homemade weapons and body armor at road blocks decorated with Morsi’s picture.

“The people here and in all of Egypt’s squares are ready for martyrdom to restore legitimacy,” said Abdullah Shehatah, a senior leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political arm. “This coup and all its institutions are illegal.”

Next door in the relatively upscale Heliopolis district, people chanted against Morsi and honked car horns in appreciation of roadblocks manned by Egypt’s military. Security forces boosted their presence with armored personnel carriers and checkpoints across the nation’s capital.

By nightfall, however, the number of Morsi supporters swelled with people hoisting Morsi posters and, at one point, chanting in English for the benefit of the foreign media. “Free Egypt,” they chanted. Smaller crowds gathered elsewhere in Cairo, including about 2,000 outside the headquarters of the Republican Guard, where Morsi was first confined by the military before he was taken to an undisclosed Defense Ministry facility.

Soldiers in full combat gear watched from behind razor wire. A Cairo court, meanwhile, adjourned to Aug. 17 the retrial of Mubarak over charges of corruption and involvement in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ousted him. Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, who are on trial for corruption, appeared at the court session on Saturday.

Associated Press writers Paul Schemm, Mariam Rizk and Sarah El Deeb contributed to this report.

July 07, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s new president moved to assert his authority in the aftermath of the military’s ouster of Mohammed Morsi by holding crisis talks Saturday with security officials on efforts to reclaim control of the streets after 36 people died in clashes across the country the day before.

After an initial announcement that pro-reform leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei was named interim prime minister, a spokesman backed away, telling reporters Saturday that consultations on the post were still continuing.

Here are some key events from more than two years of turmoil and transition in Egypt: Jan. 25-Feb. 11, 2011 — Egyptians stage nationwide demonstrations against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak. Hundreds of protesters are killed as Mubarak and his allies try to crush the uprising.

Feb. 11 — Mubarak steps down and turns power over to the military. The military dissolves parliament and suspends the constitution, meeting two key demands of protesters. March 19 — In the first post-Mubarak vote, Egyptians cast ballots on constitutional amendments sponsored by the military. The measures are overwhelmingly approved.

Oct. 9 — Troops crush a protest by Christians in Cairo over a church attack, killing more than 25 protesters. Nov. 28, 2011-Feb 15, 2012 — Egypt holds multistage, weekslong parliamentary elections. In the lawmaking lower house, the Muslim Brotherhood wins nearly half the seats, and ultraconservative Salafis take another quarter. The remainder goes to liberal, independent and secular politicians. In the largely powerless upper house, Islamists take nearly 90 percent of the seats.

May 23-24, 2012 — The first round of voting in presidential elections has a field of 13 candidates. Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak, emerge as the top two finishers, to face each other in a runoff.

June 14 — The Supreme Constitutional Court orders the dissolving of the lower house of parliament. June 16-17 — Egyptians vote in the presidential runoff between Morsi and Shafiq. Morsi wins with 51.7 percent of the vote.

June 30 — Morsi takes his oath of office. Aug. 12 — Morsi orders the retirement of the top Mubarak-era leadership of the military. Nov. 19 — Members of liberal parties and representatives of Egypt’s churches withdraw from the 100-member assembly writing the constitution, protesting attempts by Islamists to impose their will.

Nov. 22 — Morsi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, giving his decisions immunity from judicial review and barring the courts from dissolving the constituent assembly and the upper house of parliament. The move sparks days of protests.

Nov. 30 —Islamists in the constituent assembly rush to complete the draft of the constitution. Morsi sets a Dec. 15 date for a referendum. Dec. 4 — More than 100,000 protesters march on the presidential palace, demanding the cancellation of the referendum and the writing of a new constitution. The next day, Islamists attack an anti-Morsi sit-in, sparking street battles that leave at least 10 dead.

Dec. 15, Dec. 22 — In the two-round referendum, Egyptians approve the constitution, with 63.8 percent voting in favor. Turnout is low. Dec. 29 — The Egyptian Central Bank announces that foreign reserves — drained to $15 billion from $36 billion in 2010 — have fallen to a “critical minimum” and tries to stop a sharp slide in the value of the Egyptian pound. It now stands at just more than 7 to the dollar, compared to 5.5 to the dollar in 2010.

Jan. 25, 2013 — Hundreds of thousands hold protests against Morsi on the 2-year anniversary of the start of the revolt against Mubarak, and clashes erupt in many places. Feb.-March 2013 — Protests rage in Port Said and other cities for weeks, with dozens more dying in clashes.

April 7 — A Muslim mob attacks the main cathedral of the Coptic Orthodox Church as Christians hold a funeral and protest there over four Christians killed in sectarian violence the day before. Pope Tawadros II publicly blames Morsi for failing to protect the building.

May 7 — Morsi reshuffles his Cabinet. Officials say the changes aim to finalize long-stalled negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a crucial $4.8 billion loan, which requires reductions to fuel and food subsidies. A deal on the loan has still not been reached.

June 23 — A mob beats to death four Egyptian Shiites in a village on the outskirts of Cairo. June 30 — Millions of Egyptians demonstrate, calling for Morsi to step down. Eight people are killed in clashes outside the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters.

July 1 — Large-scale demonstrations continue, and Egypt’s powerful military gives the president and the opposition 48 hours to resolve their disputes, or it will impose its own solution. July 2 — Military officials disclose main details of the army’s plan if no agreement is reached: replacing Morsi with an interim administration, canceling the Islamist-based constitution and calling elections in a year. Morsi delivers a late-night speech in which he pledges to defend his legitimacy and vows not to step down.

July 3 — Egypt’s military chief announces that Morsi has been deposed, to be replaced by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court until new presidential elections. No time frame is given. Muslim Brotherhood leaders are arrested.

July 4 — Supreme Constitutional Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour is sworn in as Egypt’s interim president. July 5 — Mansour dissolves the Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament as Morsi’s supporters stage mass protests demanding his return; clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi groups in Cairo and Alexandria, and violence elsewhere leave at least 36 dead. Brotherhood strongman, deputy head Khairat el-Shater, is arrested.

July 6 — After an initial announcement that Mansour had named ElBaradei to the key post of prime minister, a spokesman for the interim president backs away, saying consultations are still underway.

July 07, 2013

CAIRO (AP) — Contours are slowly emerging of Egypt’s new leadership, even though an initial announcement that a chief rival of deposed President Mohammed Morsi was named as interim prime minister was taken back later on Saturday.

Hours after the main opposition grouping said interim President Adly Mansour would swear in Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei as premier, a spokesman for Mansour said consultations on the post were still ongoing.

Here is a look at the top three figures today in Egypt. —INTERIM PRESIDENT: Adly Mansour, 67, a judge. Mansour emerged from near-obscurity when he became head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, two days before Egypt’s military chief announced Wednesday that Morsi had been deposed and was to be replaced by the chief justice.

Mansour’s career in the judiciary took a prominent turn in 1984, when he became a judge on the state council and then its vice president. In 1992, he was appointed vice president to the Supreme Constitutional Court. He became chief justice following his predecessor’s retirement on June 30.

He was sworn in as Egypt’s president on Thursday. —ARMY CHIEF: Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, 58, also the defense minister. El-Sissi stepped onto the center stage of Egyptian politics when the military on Monday gave Morsi a 48-hour ultimatum to resolve his differences with the opposition after millions took to the streets on June 30 to demand the Islamist leader leave power. On Wednesday, el-Sissi announced Morsi’s removal.

A graduate of the Egyptian military academy and the U.S. Army War College, el-Sissi was appointed commander in chief of the Egyptian armed forces in August 2012, replacing Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi who was ordered into retirement by Morsi.

—INTERIM PRIME MINISTER: After an initial announcement that Mohammed ElBaradei, 71, a former director of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was named interim prime minister, a Mansour spokesman, Ahmed el-Musalamani, said that appointment was still being discussed.

Another senior official, Munir Fakhry Abdelnur, told The Associated Press that the reversal came after the ultraconservative Salafi el-Nour party objected to ElBaradei’s appointment. With a long career on the international scene, ElBaradei first served as an Egyptian diplomat to the United Nations and later as an aide to Egypt’s foreign minister. He was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency for nearly 12 years. He and the IAEA shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

After popular protests toppled longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, ElBaradei emerged as a prominent democracy advocate and later as an opposition leader in the National Salvation Front. After a series of widely criticized moves by Morsi, ElBaradei said members of the dominant Muslim Brotherhood lived “in a delusion” for thinking they could manage the country on their own.

Rachel Shabi

Friday 5 July 2013

A Muslim Brotherhood witchhunt and an army takeover are not be celebrated. The principles of the revolution are at stake

There is a terrible smell of hypocrisy coming out of Egypt’s opposition camp. As Adli Mansour, the transitional president, was sworn following the ousting of Mohamed Morsi, the army has been busy rounding people up. But instead of condemning the arrest of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members (including the group’s spiritual leaders) and the forced closure of Islamist media, key opposition figures have been justifying it.

Speaking to the New York Times, the prominent opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei gave some caveats and guarantees, but broadly deferred to the military: “They are taking some precautionary measures to avoid violence; well, this is something that I guess they have to do as a security measure,” he said.

That’s an alarming stance to be taking right now, whilst also claiming to be dedicated to building consensus and inclusion – including for the Brotherhood.

One of the opposition’s many valid beefs with the Muslim Brotherhood was that arrests on jumped-up charges persisted under Morsi, and were in some ways worse than under the hated, overthrown dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. So how is it now OK for the opposition that fought so hard for such freedoms to be condoning what looks like a witchhunt of Brotherhood members?

It fits in with a wider pattern of dangerous inconsistency. Most obviously, the fact of inviting the army in to enforce this transitional period to begin with. To be clear, president Morsi was a disaster – power-grabbing and divisive, his majoritarian take forced the opposition out of any formal political process and left them with no choice but to play him at his own majority game, on the streets. The opposition’s resolve is both formidable and admirable: refusing to let go of those guiding principles of bread, freedom and dignity no matter what the military council and president Morsi have thrown at them over the past two years. That’s an enviable level of political engagement, as viewed from jaded, apathetic Britain.

But the manner of Morsi’s removal is nonetheless a tactical error. That’s not just because it gives the Brotherhood – already insular and defensive after years of persecution – a justified grudge to bear about being forcibly ejected from politics. It also comes across as an unprincipled flouting of the rules – the sort of flouting, in fact, that the Brotherhood became so hated for.

And, with Egypt being such a weather vane and influence in the Arab world the consequences of what just happened are far-reaching. Morsi’s foreign policy adviser Essam al-Haddad (now detained) had a point when he warned: “The message will resonate throughout the Muslim world loud and clear: democracy is not for Muslims.”

The Brotherhood has always been mocked by al-Qaida and other violent extremists for choosing democratic politics. Now, those same extremists can use this turn of events in Egypt to prove their point.

The trouble now is that the media focus on political polarization in Egypt – and its seeking out of voices to confirm that – has obscured the shading that exists between those two stark positions. Many Brotherhood supporters think that they messed up and need to learn hard lessons from the experience. Many revolutionaries are horrified at the sight of the army seemingly being welcomed back into power by cheering crowds. And some campaigners and protesters, such as Human Rights Watch Egypt director Heba Morayef, are speaking out over the arrest of Brotherhood members.

Those voices are critical now more than ever – and they need to be heeded. Like it or not, the Muslim Brotherhood is a sizeable part of the political landscape and has to be a part of Egypt’s political future.

Source: The Guardian.