Thursday, July 04, 2013

Egypt: mechanics of a coup

This will no doubt be hotly debated for some time, but in my view it is foolish for supposedly leftist, liberal people to call for and celebrate the intervention of the army to overthrow a democratically elected president, however badly you think he has governed, or however much, as a secularist, you hate islamism.

But first, how events unfolded, from some TV and radio reports.

3/7 Cairo, increased presence of military in state TV building (BBC24, 15:00). Tanks on the street, Morsi supporter: comms to president have been severed, no doubt coup under way (BBCR4, 17:00). Increased presence of military  Al Jazeera Arabic reporting that presidential aides have left, leaving only Morsi (BBCR4, 17:55). Morsi adviser says what is happening is military coup (BBCWS, 18:00). Army says it is providing security, keeping anti- and pro-Morsi protestors apart (Sky News, 17:50) Military presence most noticeable around Cairo University, where the pro-Morsi protestors are. Video of APCs on back of trucks (Al J, 18:30) Bread, economy, Morsi refused IMF, accepted aid from Saudi and Qatar (Sky News, 18:20)

Syrian government calls on Morsi to stand down in accordance with his people's wishes (BBCWS, 18:30). According to Lindsey Hilsum on Channel 4 News, one of Morsi's mistakes was to call on Egyptians to join the fight in Syria - the army feared the creation of jihadists. Jonathan Rugman reports that during the night of 2-3 July around Cairo University, there were 23 deaths and hundreds injured,  in violence between pro- and anti-Morsi protestors. Rocks and fireworks were thrown, but those killed were apparently shot by a sniper on the library roof (Military coup in Egypt signals Morsi's exit, 2:25-2:50)

Anti-Morsi people, including ElBaradei, say the overthrow of the president was in the spirit of the 25 Jan (2011) revolution (BBCWS, Newshour, 22:00).

4/7 Religious TV stations, and Al Jazeera Egyptian, blacked out.
Al Jazeera English has yet another interview with anti-Morsi leader, Khaled Dawoud. He justifies TV stations being taken off air, saying it is regrettable, but necessary "for a short time", since Morsi in his statement had called for a holy war and in any case it does not matter what with the the internet; he said Obama had said he was deeply concerned, but did not call it a coup. Marwan Bishara, their political analyst, speaking of the Tahrir crowd, says they got what they wanted, but will they want what they got (00:15).
02:37: World powers are weighing in on the news. Here, Al-Jazeera rounds up reaction from around the world, from Syria to the UK (BBC Live: Crisis in Egypt).
(9:03) Ambassador Becomes Focus of Egyptians’ Mistrust of U.S. - 3 hours agoAnne W. Patterson, a press-shy career diplomat who has been American ambassador to Cairo since 2011, has suddenly found herself a target in a dangerous political upheaval.  

Obama has not described it as a coup, US law would then not allow aid ... (BBCWS, 9:00)
Egypt crisis: Interim president to be sworn in after Morsi ousted -

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To fill in a few gaps, from the BBC's Live: Crisis in Egypt (obviously with my own selection and bias).
09:21: An Islamist TV station, Al-Nas, reports that the death toll from last night's violence at Cairo University has risen to 18 with 367 people injured. People were killed when unknown gunmen opened fire on a crowd of Morsi supporters.
10:04 Samer Shehata University of Oklahoma writes in the New York Times: "Egypt has a dilemma: its politics are dominated by democrats who are not liberals and liberals who are not democrats. The Muslim Brotherhood, Mr Morsi's Islamist movement, accepts - indeed excels at - electoral competition... Many in the opposition, on the other hand, believe fiercely in minority rights, personal freedoms, civil liberties and electoral coalition-building - as long as the elections keep Islamists out of power."
11:36: The UK's Guardian newspaper reports that Gen Sisi rejected concessions offered by President Morsi when the two men met on Tuesday. Mr Morsi had reportedly suggested forming a government that would include all parties, and hinted he would agree to a referendum on his presidency.
11:57: In this photo, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood shows a spent bullet found at the scene of Tuesday's fighting at Cairo University. Party members have accused the security forces of failing to protect them at rallies, or even colluding in attacks.   

13:03: Former Brigadier General Ayman Salama, who teaches at Cairo's military academy, has told BBC World Service's World Update programme that the army is "protecting the whole nation from falling down into a dark and unprecedented tunnel". But surely Mr Morsi is the country's elected president? "The cries, the shouting of the people demonstrating downtown, the millions of people, is above any institution, any voting boxes," he argues.
13:14: Senior Sunni Muslim and Christian clerics are reportedly meeting Gen Sisi along with opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei.
13:40:
The Muslim Brotherhood has turned down an invitation to meet Gen Sisi - Reuters.
13:28: It would be better for President Morsi to die in defence of democracy than be blamed by history, his spokesman says (Reuters).
13:53: That quote from Mr Morsi's spokesman in full (via Reuters): "It is better for a president, who would otherwise be returning Egypt to the days of dictatorship, from which God and the will of the people has saved us, to die standing like a tree, rather than be condemned by history and future generations for throwing away the hopes of Egyptians for establishing a democratic life."
14:21:  Aleem Maqbool, BBC News, Cairo tweets: Staff at Egypt state TV building say an army officer went round this morning telling non-essential staff to leave.
14:43: Breaking News: Military officers are present in Egypt's state TV newsroom, monitoring content before the ultimatum deadline, according to Associated Press.
14:49: Claire Read BBC Arabic tweets: Confirmed: The Salafi Nour party has also met with the Defence Minister #Egypt

15:18: Dr Imad el-Anis Middle East expert at Notting Trent University emails: A tipping point for the opposition to Mohammed Morsi may have come on June 15 when Morsi attended a rally held in Cairo by hard-line Islamists and Salafists calling for a holy war against the Assad regime in Syria. He openly called for foreign intervention in Syria to topple the government. The opposition and the military are equally unhappy with this level of attention on regional politics and disregard for getting Egypt itself back to business

16:45: Essam al-Hadded, a senior Morsi aide, says a "military coup" is taking place.
16:48: "As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page," Mr Hadded wrote on Facebook. "For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let's call what is happening by its real name: military coup."
16:50: Egypt's security services have placed a travel ban on President Morsi and senior Islamists - AFP. 
17:09: A Morsi aide has said the president's message to all Egyptians is to resist a military coup peacefully and "not use violence", Reuters reports.
Breaking News - Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad al-Haddad says in a tweet a "full military coup" is under way in Egypt. "Tanks have started moving through the streets," he writes.
17:45: Al-Jazeera Arabic is reporting that all presidential aides have left the presidential palace, and that only President Morsi is still around.
17:55: Shashank Joshi Royal United Services Institute tweets: Anyone who thinks that a coup was a necessary evil to end Morsi's overreach clearly has a very short memory of the Egyptian military's conduct.
Presidential aide Yasser Haddara says Mr Morsi spent Wednesday working normally at a regular presidential office in a compound of the Republican Guard in suburban Cairo. He adds that it is unclear whether the president will be allowed to leave later and return to the palace - Reuters
Claire Read BBC Arabic tweets: Ambulances are trying to make their way through the crowds in Tahrir at the moment but there's just too many people!

18:02: An official source at Cairo's airport tells BBC Arabic that the authorities have been told to forbid any politicians who belong to religious parties from leaving the country, without referring to "sovereign entities".
18:19: The Egyptian army has erected barbed wire around a barracks where President Morsi was working and deployed armoured vehicles and troops to prevent his supporters marching from a nearby rally to his palace - Reuters
18:28: The Syrian government, which is seeking to crush a more than two-year revolt against its own rule, has urged President Morsi to step down in line with his people's wishes. Last month, Mr Morsi announced Cairo was cutting off diplomatic ties with Damascus.
18:39: Claire Read BBC Arabic tweets: [Freedom and Justice Party's] Amr Zaki confirms Morsi is at the Republican Guard building #Egypt
 18:58: The BBC Monitoring team says Egyptian private TV channels are siding with the anti-Morsi protests, while state TV is running laudatory footage of the armed forces.
Breaking News - Political roadmap to be announced shortly by Egypt's leading Islamic institution, the Sheikh of al-Azhar University, with key opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei and the Coptic Pope - Egyptian state news agency MENA

19:23: Egypt's army has posted a statement on Facebook denying that troops fired on pro-Morsi demonstrators earlier today. "These allegations are entirely false, mere lies and fabrications", the statement reads.19:27: A security source confirms to BBC Arabic that Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie was prevented from crossing into Libya via the Saloum crossing. They denied reports he was arrested.
19:52: Egypt's state-run al-Ahram newspaper quotes an unnamed source as saying the army told Mr Morsi at 19:00 local time (17:00 GMT) that he was no longer president - Reuters
20:16: Breaking News - The head of Egypt's army, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, suspends the constitution and announces the formation of a technocratic interim government ahead of new presidential elections.
20:17: Tahrir Square has erupted in cheers and fireworks after the statement of the head of the army. 
20:22: Egypt's most senior Sunni authority, The Sheikh of al-Azhar, said on state TV the military and others had chosen the lesser of two evils.
20:25: There are reports of heavy firing at a Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo's Nasr City.
20:34: Egypt's new interim leader is 68-year-old Adly Mansour, Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
20:36:Local media reports that Egyptian Islamist channels Al Hafez, Al Nas and Misr 25 have gone off air.
20:46: In a statement on social media, Mohammed Morsi has denounced the army's announcement as a military coup and called for the restoration of the constitution.

21:15: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an opponent of Mr Morsi, has said "whoever uses religion for political aims, or to benefit some and not others, will fall". Speaking to a Syrian state newspaper, he said: "You can't fool all the people all the time, let alone the Egyptian people who have a civilisation that is thousands of years old, and who espouse clear, Arab nationalist thought."
21:22: Unconfirmed reports are emerging of police arresting crews of local TV stations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad has said in a tweet: "First military decision: cutting the feed of all #Pro_Legitimacy satellite channels feeds. #Freedom_of_Expression ! #Egypt !!"
21:42: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood TV station has been taken off air and its managers arrested, state media reports.
21:59: here is the army's earlier televised statement announcing the suspension of the constitution.

22:07: Police are trying to separate fighting groups in the southern city of Aswan amid gunfire exchanges, a source has told the BBC. They added that people are also looting gold shops there and two police cars have been wrecked.
Susannah George NPR tweets: Senator Leahy says US law is clear: "aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree." #egypt
22:13: Graham Boyce Former British Ambassador to Egypt told the BBC: "Whatever else you say about President Morsi, he was elected in a fair election. And there is a great danger that if you can depose a president on the basis of a big popular uprising, who's to say that isn't going to happen to other presidents who are democratically elected in the future."
22:18: Egyptian military leaders have assured the Obama administration that they are not interested in long-term rule, in an apparent bid to forestall potential US sanctions, US officials have said. - AP
22:28: A key US Democrat, Senator Leahy, has said US law mandates cutting off aid when an elected government is deposed by a coup. He said Washington will review aid to Egypt as the administration waits for a clearer picture on the unfolding events - Reuters22:31: Four people have been killed in clashes in the northern city of Marsa Matrouh. Early reports suggest they were supporters of ousted President Morsi.
22:44: In a new analysis piece following the ousting of President Morsi, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace asks: "Where does the Muslim Brotherhood go from here?"
22:54:Calling the situation "clearly dangerous", British Foreign Minister William Hague urges "leadership and vision" to restore "democratic transition" in Egypt.

23:02: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has sent a message of congratulations to Egypt's new caretaker president, saying his appointment comes at a "critical" time in the nation's history. It is the first message of congratulations by an Arab leader to Adly Mansour - Saudi Press Agency
23:03 :Many women were among the crowds celebrating the ousting of President Morsi in Tahrir Square on Wednesday evening. Some women's rights groups felt that the Muslim Brotherhood's rule had failed them.
2310: Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Mona al-Qazzaz tells BBC Newsnight: This is a coup and the world has to stop this coup from happening. 
23:16: Al Jazeera's Egyptian channel was reportedly raided by security forces on Wednesday. Karim el-Assuiti from the Mubashr Misr station said the journalists were prevented from broadcasting a pro-Morsi rally and five staff were detained. The channel is seen in some quarters as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood - Reuters
Ayman Mohyeldin NBC tweets: Just had a group of men come to our office overlooking #Tahrir looking for Al Jazeera journalists 
23:35: Egyptian security forces have arrested two senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, officials say. Saad al-Katatni, who heads the Freedom and Justice Party - the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood - and the Islamist movement's deputy head, Rashad al-Bayoumi, have been detained - AFP
23:53: Armed clashes have broken out in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Local officials told Egyptian state news agency Mena that one person had been killed and at least 50 wounded amid gunfire and rock throwing. 
23:55: US President Barack Obama has said he is "deeply concerned" by the Egyptian military's decision to remove Mr Morsi and called for a swift return to civilian government - Reuters

4/7 00:05: US President Barack Obama: "Given today's developments, I have directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under US law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt." Read his full statement on Egypt here

Following reports of tanks heading in the direction of a pro-Morsi rally near Cairo University, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper says that Egyptian security forces are preparing to clear the protest.

Aleem Maqbool, BBC News Cairo correspondent tweets: (Deposed) Investment Minister speaks at pro-Morsi rally at Nasr City. Says he was with Morsi few hours ago & wants to convey 2 messages...
Aleem Maqbool tweets: Former minister delivers messages from Morsi to supporters: 1.Patience will lead to victory 2.Continue sit-ins in squares across the country

Gehad El-Haddad, works for Muslim Brotherhood, in Cairo tweets: And #Egypt enters another military coup cycle. Will the ppl of #Egypt take it, AGAIN !!
00:47: Reuters news agency reports that clashes have claimed three lives in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria; four in the northern city of Marsa Matrouh; and reportedly three more in the southern city of Minya, including two police officers.
00:57: Meanwhile, senior commanders in Egypt's military have reportedly had phone conversations with their US counterparts. Unnamed US officials told the Associated Press that Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, had been reassured that a civilian government would be put into place swiftly.

01:06: In addition to reports that Mohammed Morsi has been detained, state-run Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram says there are arrest warrants out for 300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
01:55: Saudi Arabia and the UAE have welcomed the news. There have been diplomatic tensions between Cairo and Riyadh, while the UAE was said to be worried the success of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood might rouse Islamists at home. No word yet from Qatar, the only Gulf Arab country to have backed Mr Morsi.
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Some more odds and ends: 
Egyptian state-owned Channel One TV adopted critical tone against President Morsi in morning show, previously was balanced 4:54 AM - 3 Jul 13

Leading protester Khaled Dawoud told Channel 4 News in Cairo, that the president was "living in a bubble" and called on the Muslim Brotherhood to refrain from violence. "We ask them, we appeal to them, to save the blood of the Egyptian people and to think long-term," he said. "They still have a political role to play, but not at this particular stage." 02 July 2013 Morsi clings to office amid protests and resignations

Update:  filling in some gaps between 18:39 and 4/7 01:55.


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