Massive protests in Egypt against Morsi

Tens of thousands of opponents of Egypt's president massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square and in cities around the country Sunday, launching an all-out push to force Mohammed Morsi from office on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. Fears of violence were high,according to CBS NEWS.

Waving Egyptian flags, crowds packed Tahrir, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and chants of "erhal!", or "leave!" rang out.

There is a sense among opponents and supporters of Morsi that Sunday is a make-or-break day, hiking worries that the two camps will come to blows, even as each side insists it won't start violence. Already at least seven people, including an American, have been killed in clashes the past week, mainly in Nile Delta cities and the coastal city of Alexandria.

The demonstrations are the culmination of polarization and instability that have been building since Morsi's June 30, 2012 inauguration as Egypt's new president. The past year has seen multiple political crises, bouts of bloody clashes and a steadily worsening economy, with power outages, fuel shortages, rising prices and persistent lawlessness and crime.

The opposition believes that with sheer numbers in the street, it can pressure Morsi to step down — perhaps with the added weight of the powerful military if it signals the president should go.

"Today is the Brotherhood's last day in power," predicted Suliman Mohammed, a manager of a seafood company who was protesting at Tahrir, where crowds neared 100,000 by early afternoon.

"I came here today because Morsi did not accomplish any of the (2011) revolution's goals. I don't need anything for myself, but the needs of the poor were not met."

Another Tahrir protester, 21-year-old Mohammed Abdel-Salam, said he came out because he wanted early presidential elections

Underlining the potential for deadly violence, a flurry of police reports on Sunday spoke of the seizure of firearms, explosives and even artillery shells in various locations of the

Traffic in Cairo's normally clogged streets was light at midday as many residents chose to stay home for fear of violence or a wave of crime similar to the one that swept Egypt during the 18-day, anti-Mubarak uprising. Banks were closing early and most government departments were either closed for the day or were thinly staffed. Most schools and colleges are already closed for the summer holidays.

The opposition protests emerge from a petition campaign by a youth activist group known as Tamarod, Arabic for "Rebel." For several months, the group has been collecting signatures on a call for Morsi to step down.

 

On Saturday the group announced it had more than 22 million signatures — proof, it claims, that a broad sector of the public no longer wants Morsi in office.

A week ago, with the public sense of worry growing over the upcoming confrontation, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi last week gave the president and his opponents a week to reach a compromise. He warned that the military would intervene to prevent the nation from entering a "dark tunnel."

Army troops backed by armored vehicles were deployed Sunday in some of Cairo's suburbs, with soldiers, some in combat gear, stood at traffic lights and major intersections. Army helicopters flew over Cairo on several occasions on Sunday, adding to the day's sense of foreboding.

R.S

Demonstrations Renewed in Turkey

ISTANBUL,(ST) _ Thousands of protesters returned to Istanbul's Taksim Square on Saturday, demanding justice for a demonstrator slain by police fire during demonstrations that have swept Turkey this month. Police later forced the protesters out of the square, pushing them back using their shields, according to AFP.

In the capital, Ankara, police fired tear gas and pressurized water to break up a similar protest by a group of about 200 people, the Dogan news agency reported.

Turkey has been hit by a wave of protests this month that were ignited by a brutal police crackdown on a peaceful environmental sit-in at a park near Taksim. The demonstrations soon turned into a wide outpouring of discontent with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government. Four people – three demonstrators and one police officer – have been killed and thousands injured.

The demonstrations have largely subsided in recent days, but thousands converged back on the square on Saturday, angry over a court decision this week that released a police officer from custody pending his trial for the killing of a protester in Ankara.

The protesters also denounced the killing of a Kurdish demonstrator by paramilitary police in a mainly Kurdish town on Friday.

Police allowed protesters to chant slogans for some two hours before issuing a warning for them to disperse. They then moved in, pushing the crowd away from the square. They arrested several people in the process, including some foreign nationals, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Earlier Saturday, hundreds in southeast Turkey attended the funeral of the Kurdish youth, who was shot while protesting the construction of a military post. Eight other people were injured in the same protest when security forces fired on them in the mainly Kurdish town of Lice.

 

Turkish artists and journalists demand  Erdogan government  to stop sedition in the country

In another context, Turkish  artists , journalists and writers appealed to the Turkish government to "desist hate statement  and fueling division in the country."

AFP yesterday quoted a statement by Turkish artists, journalists and writers including Nobel laureate for literature Orhan Pamuk as saying  " the statement " You're against us "fuels divisions within our society," expressing concern over this situation.

Among the artists is the known pianist Fadel Sai, who was sentenced in mid-May because of a Tweet via Twitter but the Turkish government cancelled the decision  following a  storm of criticism  against  the Turkish authorities .

It is noteworthy that Turkey is witnessing popular demonstrations demanding the departure of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government , resulted in the  death of several people and injuring  and the  arrest of more than 1,000 I others  as a result of repression Erdogan exercised the against  his opponents.

T. Fateh 

Egypt on edge ahead of more protests

CAIRO -Thousands of supporters and opponents of Egypt's embattled president held rival sit-ins in separate parts of Cairo Saturday on the eve of opposition-led mass protests aimed at forcing Mohammed Morsi from power, according to AP.

The demonstrations follow days of deadly clashes in a string of cities across the country that have left at least seven people dead, including an American, and hundreds injured. The violence — and wide expectation of more to come Sunday during rallies that the opposition says will bring millions into the streets — has fed an impending sense of doom in the country.

Egypt has been roiled by political unrest in the two years since uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, but the upcoming round of protests starting Sunday promises to be the largest and perhaps the bloodiest. The turmoil has compounded the country's social and economic woes, with crime surging, unemployment high and with shortages of basic items not uncommon.

That has all come in the buildup toward Sunday — the anniversary of Morsi's inauguration as Egypt's first freely elected leader — when opposition groups promise massive demonstrations to force the Egyptian leader from office. The June 30 protesters have vowed to remain peaceful, while the military said it would intervene if violence breaks out.

With expectations of violence running high, the military has dispatched troops backed by armored personnel carriers to reinforce military bases on the outskirts of cities expected to be flashpoints. In Cairo, the additional forces were deployed to military facilities in the suburbs and outlying districts. Army troops are also moving to reinforce police guarding the city's prisons to prevent a repeat of the nearly half dozen jail breaks during the chaos of the 2011 uprising.

The opposition counters by saying Morsi has lost his legitimacy through a series of missteps and authoritarian policies and insist that early presidential elections must be held within six months of his ouster.

Many Egyptians fear the new round of unrest could trigger a collapse in law and order similar to the one that occurred during the 2011 revolt. Already, residents in some of the residential compounds and neighborhoods to the west of the city are reporting gunmen showing up to demand protection money or risk being robbed.

Egypt group: 22 million signatures against Morsi

The youth group leading the campaign against Egypt's president says it has collected the signatures of 22 million Egyptians who want to remove the Morsi.

Mahmoud Badr, a leader of the Tamarod, or rebel, movement said Saturday that 22,134,460 Egyptians have signed the petition demanding President Mohammed Morsi's ouster.

Badr did not say whether there had been an independent audit of the signatures.

The announcement came on the eve of massive protests planned by Tamarod, which started off the campaign saying it wanted to collect more signatures than the some 13 million votes Morsi won in his narrow 2012 victory in the presidential election.

R.S

Rohani: Moderation in Foreign Policy Doesn't Mean Submission

TEHRAN- (ST)- Iranian President-elect Hassan Rohani has warned  against the foreign scheme to destroy the region.

"The Enemy wants to hit us, so in order to confront the foreign schemes, we need to prepare an accurate program to undermine the New Middle East project," Rohani said on Saturday in a speech to the 32nd Media Horizon Conference in Tehran.

The President-elect stressed the importance of “moderation” in all arenas, including foreign policy.

“Moderation in foreign policy means constructive interaction, not submission and confrontation,” Rohani said.

He urged interaction and dialog with other countries on an equal footing, based on mutual respect and one another’s interests, based on the bilateral removal of tensions, and in order to build mutual trust.

“This will be done while paying heed to all the rights of the Iranian nation and the entire national will and national dignity and with the support of the people and the guidelines of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei,” the Iranian president-elect told the gathering, which brought together the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

Rohani stated that moderation should strike a balance between realism and idealism with regard to the values and ideals of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Rohani won Iran's presidential election of June 14, which was marked by a high voter turnout, winning 50.7 percent of a total of 36,704,156 ballots counted.

H. Mustafa

Jordanians Suspect US Expanded Military Presence in Kingdom as Conspiratorial

AMMAN,(ST)_ Jordanians are suspicious as the US is deploying troops and weapons in the Kingdom.

A US defense official told (AFP) that Washington expanded its military presence in the country to 1,000 troops.

”Jordanians do not feel comfortable about the presence of US troops, weapons and equipment in the kingdom,” analyst Oraib Rintawi, who runs the Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies, told AFP.

”For Jordanians, the US military presence is linked to plots and conspiracies against their neighbors, a matter which would impact the country itself.”

Washington claims it is worried about the security of Jordan, which is already struggling to cope with around 550,000 refugees from Syria.

It kept F-16 warplanes and Patriot missiles in the country since a joint military exercise ended on June 20.

“For the Americans, protecting that stability is key and at the core of their strategy in the Middle East,” Rintawi added.

“But public opinion here does not welcome the Americans, even if they say they want to protect the country.

”Earlier this week, Wall Street Journal quoted diplomats and US officials as saying that the Central Intelligence Agency has begun moving weapons to Jordan from a secret network of warehouses and plans to start arming foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian people and country.

The diplomats and the US officials said that Washington plans to provide training, small arms, ammunition, and possibly certain types of antitank missiles. Last week, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur denied a Los Angeles Times report that the Central Intelligence Agency and US special forces have been training Syria armed groups at a new American desert base in southwest Jordan. “There is no training in our country whatsoever of Syrian opposition forces… the only Syrians we are dealing with in our country are refugees,” he told the press.

 

T. Fateh