Egypt Military Launches Crackdown

Under the title: Egypt Launches Military Crackdown .., Mr. CHARLES LEVINSON
and Mr. MATT BRADLEY wrote in The Wall Street Journal 
Updated July 5, 2013

CAIRO—Egypt’s military reclaimed its role as the country’s dominant political force as it installed a new president and pressed for the arrests of Islamist leaders it had forced from power, deepening international concern for the stability and democratic future of the largest country in the Arab world

A day after the army seized on antigovernment protests to overthrow President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, a dozen fighter jets buzzed downtown Cairo with trails of red, white and black smoke, the colors of the Egyptian flag

As the military sounded a victorious chord, Mr. Morsi and some top Muslim Brotherhood allies were already in police custody and the Islamist organization was reviving its longtime role as an opposition force, organizing large-scale nationwide protests for Friday

The military’s sudden recalibration of political forces followed an outpouring of popular discontent with Mr. Morsi and the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. An array of voices backed those protests, among them a contingent of re-emergent loyalists to Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted by a popular revolution—with military support—over two years ago

Some of those former Mubarak loyalists have re-emerged to take new roles in the transition ahead, according to people close to discussions between the military and anti-Morsi activists

That transition—and a new era of potential turmoil—kicked off on Thursday with the swearing-in of military-appointed president Adly Mansour, a judge who had been named head of the Supreme Constitutional Court on Monday. Mr. Mansour took two oaths on Thursday morning: The first made him chief justice and the second elevated him to the presidency. Mr. Mansour is to remain president until new elections are held, at an unspecified date, according to the military’s transition plan. The military has also suspended Egypt’s new constitution, which was drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Constituent Assembly and signed into law by Mr. Morsi in December, after a national referendum

In a sign of this week’s reversal of fortunes, Egypt’s acting attorney general on Thursday issued arrest warrants for Muslim Brotherhood supreme leader Mohamed Badie and his deputy, Khairat al Shater, according to Mena, the state news agency. The two are wanted on charges of inciting the killing of eight protesters in front of the Brotherhood’s headquarters in Cairo

The leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, Saad al-Katatni and his deputy Rashad Bayoumi had already been arrested, state media reported. Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad al-Haddad said the deposed president, Mr. Morsi, was in custody inside the Ministry of Defense. The military also closed television channels affiliated with the Brotherhood

Much of the predominantly secular opposition remain jubilant over the Brotherhood’s ouster and praised the military’s intervention. But some prominent Egyptian human-rights and pro-democracy activists, as well as many Western governments, voiced concerns

The official U.S. government reaction was muted. President Barack Obama, without mentioning Mr. Morsi, called on the Egyptian military to restore a democratically elected civilian government

 Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), on a visit with troops in Afghanistan on Thursday, affirmed that continued assistance from Washington would hinge on a swift restoration of civilian rule

If the democratically elected government is overthrown by the military, you would suspend all assistance, said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. It looks like a coup, it sounds like a coup, but I’m in the camp with Sen. McCain: Let’s look and see how this unfolds

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called the military’s move “a major setback for democracy in Egypt. North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was “gravely concerned.” French President François Hollande said, “It’s a defeat when a democratically elected president such as Morsi is deposed

“I don’t think it’s a positive sign when you go around arresting the leadership of the biggest, most organized political party. That’s the worst possible beginning to a fresh democratic transition,” said Heba Morayef, Human Rights Watch’s Egypt director

Egypt’s top general said the military intervened reluctantly only after an upswell of discontent with Brotherhood rule left it little other choice

Many Egyptians, however, said they believed the military played a role in stoking public anger. Some noted power cuts and long gasoline lines had suddenly abated, after growing acute in the weeks leading up to June 30 protests marking the anniversary of Mr. Morsi’s rule. “I’m having a hard time understanding how the gas lines and electricity cuts can just miraculously disappear after Morsi has been deposed. It’s almost as if the state apparatus decided that it would flip a switch,” said Josh Stacher, a professor of political science and Egypt expert at Kent State University

There were extremely severe shortages in the period right before the June 30 protests that angered everybody and then suddenly everything was fine,” said Ms. Morayef. “There has been a lot of sabotage

Egypt’s military began planning for the possible ouster of Mr. Morsi at least three weeks before Sunday’s protest, as a petition campaign calling for Mr. Morsi to step down picked up steam, according to an aide to opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who was among those consulted by the military

In recent months, friction had grown between top military officers and Mr. Morsi over how to handle growing militancy in the Sinai, said retired Egyptian Gen. Sameh Seif Al Yazal

The abduction of seven Egyptian soldiers in Sinai in May aggravated tensions, Mr. Yazal said. In June, top military commanders felt Mr. Morsi had humiliated Egypt by televising a meeting with the president’s advisers about how to handle Ethiopia’s construction of a dam on the Nile River. Those present weren’t told they were being televised and proceeded to suggest various proposals to sabotage the dam

Later in June, as the military was debating whether to intervene, Mr. Morsi spoke out against Syria’s Assad regime, alongside radical sheiks calling for jihad and denouncing Shiites, unnerving senior officers, Mr. Yazal said

Soon after, the military assured opposition leaders they would intervene if the anti-Morsi protests were large enough, the aide to Mr. ElBaradei said. They also asked opposition leaders for advice on how to handle the intervention, to avoid many of the pitfalls that plagued the last transition. Unlike when they unseated Hosni Mubarak in 2011, this time Egypt’s generals appointed a civilian head of state immediately. Egypt’s top general announced Mr. Morsi’s overthrow flanked by top Muslim and Christian clerics, Mr. ElBaradei and other opposition activists

I think the military and the armed forces have learned their lesson,” said Wael Nawara, co-founder of Mr. ElBaradei’s Dustour Party. “They are trying to stay away from the political process and be a standby force to insure a democratic transformation

But some democracy and opposition activists are worried about the re-emergence of Mubarak-regime figures that has coincided with the growing protest movement against Mr. Morsi

Former State Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, whose verdicts exonerating Mubarak regime officials made him the scourge of revolutionaries, was reappointed on Thursday

Hossam Badrawy, the last head of Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, has started appearing in recent weeks as a regular guest on local talk shows. So too has Mortada Mansour, who was accused by activists of playing a role in orchestrating the attack on protesters by thugs on camelback during the 2011 uprising, a charge he has denied

The military appears to be reaching out to figures from the Mubarak regime who are now affiliated with postrevolution opposition parties, said Rabab al-Mahdi, a political-science professor at the American University in Cairo who is close to many senior opposition leaders. The military sees them as compromise figures who both the military and opposition can be comfortable with, she said

Among the names that have emerged for possible roles as advisers during the recent round of opposition talks with the military are a pair of former Mubarak ruling-party officials who are now members of Mr. ElBaradei’s party

Hani Sarie-Eldin, a former head of the stock market and lawyer for imprisoned steel magnate and Mubarak regime heavyweight Ahmed Ezz, has emerged as a military favorite for a role in the transition, according to Ms. Mahdi. Another is Mona Zulfiqar, who worked closely on women’s issues with former first lady Suzanne Mubarak

A lot of old regime faces are very visible again suddenly,” said Ms. Mahdi. “It makes you think this is a counterrevolution, not a continuation of January 25th

—Reem Abd-Ellatif in Cairo contributed to this article.

سمير يوسف

أول صحفى فى النمسا منذ سنة 1970 عمل فى الصحافة وعمره 18 سنة فى جريدة الجمهورية والمساء وحريتى ثم الجرائد الألمانية دير إشبيجل وفى النمسا جريدة الإخو تسليتومج لمدة عشرون عاما وفى سنة 1991 اصدر اول صحيفة باللغة العربية والألمانية وهى جريدة الوطن لمدة 11 سنة ، عمل مراسل جريدة الجمهورية والمساء فى النمسا لمدة 31 سنة.

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