Libby's Stew: Egyptian Army's Massacre of 1000s of Sit-in Protesters
In "Clashes spread in Egypt amid rising death toll from army massacre" Alex Lantier writes:
Health Ministry sources reported yesterday that the death toll from Wednesday’s crackdown had risen to 638, with at least 4,200 injured—more than double the initial official figures. These figures, which do not include the bodies of protesters at facilities controlled by Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB), are still substantial underestimates. Reuters reporters counted a further 228 bodies at northeast Cairo’s Al-Imam mosque alone, and the MB has issued estimates that over 2,000 were killed and 10,000 wounded in Wednesday’s crackdown.
As the death toll rose, Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi issued a statement praising police for their “self-restraint” and justifying the massacre: “The state had to intervene to restore security and peace for Egyptians.”
Governments worldwide, fearing the explosive fallout from the massacre are cynically trying to downplay their ties to the junta. US President Barack Obama issued a brief statement yesterday canceling joint Egyptian-US military exercises, but made no shift in US support for the junta. Washington still refuses to label the army’s July 3 toppling of Mursi a “coup,” so it can continue providing $1.3 billion in yearly subsidies to the Egyptian army. (See: “Obama and the Egyptian massacre”)
The office of French President François Hollande also issued a statement, declaring that “everything must be done to avoid civil war,” after Hollande summoned Egypt’s ambassador in the wake of the crackdown.
Turkey’s Islamist premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan—who brutally suppressed mass protests against his own regime in June and fears a coup like the one that ousted Mursi—criticized the massacre in Egypt and US backing for the Egyptian army.
“Those who ignore the coup and don’t even display the honorable behavior of calling a ‘coup’ a ‘coup’ share in the guilt of the massacre of those children,” Erdogan said. “At this stage, what right do you have to speak of democracy, of universal values, of human rights and freedoms?”
Joannes Stern in "Obama and the Egyptian massacre":
The massacre of protesters in Cairo confirms again that US policy is not set by moral abstractions, but by a ruthless calculation of US imperialism’s geopolitical interests. Various “human rights” arguments served to manipulate public opinion and, with the assistance of a corrupt media establishment, secure the support of layers of the middle class for imperialist policies.
Washington apparently failed to fully foresee the implications of allowing the military and its supporters in the liberal bourgeoisie to settle accounts with the MB. It now fears that with the latest massacre, the army has overreached itself, irretrievably destabilizing Egypt and undermining US Middle East policy.
This accounts for Obama’s mealy-mouthed response, attempting to distance his administration from the massacre while indicating that it will continue supporting the army. He said that his administration “strongly condemns the steps that have been taken.” The centerpiece of his chastisement of the junta, however, was to postpone “our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month.”
This was simply window dressing for continuing US support for the junta, as it attempts to consolidate a dictatorship and drown the Egyptian revolution in blood. The White House still declines to recognize the July 3 toppling of Mursi as a coup, so it can continue its decades-long policy of funding the Egyptian army to the tune of billions of dollars per year.
While the Egyptian revolution inspired American workers, including mass protests against austerity in Wisconsin, Washington viewed it with fear and dismay. Obama backed the Mubarak regime to the bitter end, even as it murdered hundreds of protesters. His special envoy to Mubarak, Frank Wisner, stressed that Mubarak should “stay in office in order to steer those changes through.”
A striking difference of tone separated Obama’s speech on Martha’s Vineyard from the bellicose rhetoric his administration directed against Libya or Syria. In those countries—long targeted by Washington for regime change—the Obama administration and its accomplices in the petty-bourgeois “human rights” community declared that the risk that protesters might be killed by itself justified decisive action, including war.
In 2011 in Libya, Washington, London, Paris, and a horde of human rights activists insisted that everything had to be done to “prevent a massacre in Benghazi,” where opponents of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi had revolted. On this basis, they supported setting up “humanitarian corridors” and a no-fly zone in Libya. This led to a NATO war in which tens of thousands of people were killed, cities carpet-bombed, and Libya’s oil revenues seized by Western banks.
The same political double-bookkeeping can be observed among the academic supporters of “humanitarian” war. Despite the Egyptian junta’s documented massacre in Cairo against its “own people,” they are not producing outraged newspaper columns, blog posts, or demands for war to oust the junta and impose a no-fly zone to ground its helicopters over Cairo.
Esam Al-Amin in “Bloodbath on the Nile” writes:
Max Weber reasoned that a necessary condition for an entity to be a state is that it retains its claim on the monopoly of violence in the enforcement of its order. But when this monopoly of violence is used against the citizens of a civilized state to thwart their will, it could never be legitimate. That is a state ruled by the law of the jungle.
This is what is presently going on in Egypt. The army committed a “coup” -- created an illegitimate state -- with bloodbaths and the Obama administration is ready, willing and able now (despite the pathetic present rhetorical scolding of the violence) to endow this lawless military slaughtering Egyptian sit-in protesters by the thousands with a continuing yearly military offering of $1.3 billion.
Al-Amin describes the brutality:
There are moments in a nation’s history that become etched in stone. Such was the Palestinian Nakba, the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the September 11 attacks. The horrors unfolded on August 14 will go down in Egypt’s history as such a momentous event. Hundreds of thousands of people had been camped out for 48 days at the Nahda Square near Cairo University in the western side of the capital, and around Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Mosque on the eastern side.
The congregants had just finished celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan a few days earlier. They were determined to peacefully assert their will, as well as to stand firmly to defend the constitution and the democratic process expressed at the ballot box. They rejected the coup and loathed the return of the security state. They sought to restore democracy and President Morsi, who has been illegally detained and isolated for weeks.
Just as they finished their morning prayers, the people stood in both squares listening to spiritual invocations while reaffirming their commitment to stay the course peacefully. But at 6:30 AM on that fateful day, army tanks, armored vehicles, and bulldozers descended on the protesters from different directions. They were followed by the army’s special forces, the police, and thugs dressed in civilian clothes and protected by their state security handlers. The scene was eerily similar to the early days of the January 2011 uprising that overthrew Mubarak. Snipers were on rooftops, especially those of military buildings, including the Military Intelligence headquarters.
According to many international dispatches including a report by CNN, the protesters were peaceful and unarmed. A Guardian report stated, “The protesters were peaceful, and included many women and children.” The pro-coup Egyptian television media, embedded with the army, broadcast several caches of arms to show that the protesters were not peaceful, only to be exposed that such arms were brought by the police to be “discovered.”
Contrary to Gen. Ibrahim’s claims, the police never used loud speakers or water cannons. They immediately started shooting the unarmed protesters with live bullets. European human rights observer Ahmad Mufreh, offered his vivid testimony on live television, asserting that the police started shooting at people with the intent to kill. In fact, the police never meant to provide safe passage; those who chose to leave through it were brutally beaten and immediately arrested.
Another doctor at the field hospital at Rabaa mosque said on Al-Jazeera that he counted more than 2,600 bodies including 65 children. Asmaa El-Beltagy, the seventeen-year old daughter of MB leader Mohammad El-Beltagy was among the casualties. Later in the evening, MB spokesperson Ahmad Aref proclaimed that over three thousand people had been killed on that day across Egypt, and that as many as ten thousand were injured, many seriously.
The brutality and viciousness of the military crackdown is plain to see in the images captured in the links above and disseminated around the world. At least half a dozen journalists were also killed, including Sky News cameraman Mick Deane, and Gulf News reporter Habiba Abdelaziz. According to multiple witnesses, once in control, the security forces burned down the field hospital, the media center, and tents where the protesters’ corpses were laid to hide the military’s crimes.
To add insult to injury, the government has refused to hand over the bodies of the killed until their families sign a document that stated that the cause of death was “natural.” In many cases the coroner left the cause of death blank. Many families refused to comply with such immoral request leaving many corpses unclaimed and in danger of decomposition. As human rights and civil liberties organizations around the world such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch strongly condemned the massacre in Egypt, the Arab Organization for Human Rights, dominated by secular and liberal elites strangely enough blamed the MB for the bloodbath.
According to Esam Al-Amin Gen. Sisi, Gen. Ibrahim, civilians supporting them and Western country supporters SUCH AS THE USA knew the potential for massive war criminality and “degree of carnage” that would happen with armed forces going after peaceful sit-in protesters. Nevertheless, those of the cynical counterrevolution, the covert anti-Arab Spring group, wished the Islamist MB of Egypt be dealt a “fatal blow” declares Al-Amin.
Al-Amin explores the motivations of supporting the violent military:
The secular liberals recognized that they could not win in free and fair elections against the Islamists in future elections after their successive defeats at the ballot box during the past two years. Thus, excluding or weakening the Islamists would allow the liberal and nationalist parties the space needed to occupy the political landscape for the foreseeable future.
The army considers itself the defender of the nation and its institutions and wants to retain its economic and social privileges. It does not want to subject itself to any meaningful civilian oversight. The precedent set by the January 2011 uprising, they reasoned, might one day weaken the military or even compel it to give up its privileged status in society, as their counterparts in Turkey eventually had to do. The generals waited for the right moment to strike and end the public’s dalliance with democracy in order to delay, if not altogether end, the coming of that dreadful day when they become accountable to the people.
Many youth groups were disillusioned and frustrated with all parties. They were able to throw out the face of Mubarak’s repressive and corrupt regime. But given their disappointment and impatience with the slow progress, they thought they could just as easily get rid of what they perceived as the arrogance or incompetence of the MB. In the process, they naively not only handed back control to the military, but also made the dream of establishing a genuine democratic system based on the rule of law ever more distant.
However, the day after the bloodshed, Obama condemned the violence, which he said the interim government and security forces were responsible for. The statement was a step in the right direction, even though it was not strong enough, since it equivocated on its support for the restoration of the constitution and the democratically-elected deposed president.
Foreign powers care very little for Egypt or its people. Time and again, the West has proven that its rhetoric of lofty ideals and values are sacrificed at the altar of short-term interests.
Historically, the U.S. has often been more concerned about the security of Israel than serving its own long-term interests. Israel had considered Mubarak a strategic asset for three decades. It was the main reason the U.S. had to prop him up at the expense of supporting and building democratic institutions in the country. If Israel or its supporters in the U.S. favored Sisi and feared the ascendance of the Islamists, the U.S. would most likely then favor the military over the democratic will of the Egyptian people regardless of the consequences, which would actually put the long-term U.S. national security interests in the region in peril.
Al-Amin cites Secretary of State John Kerry and EU Foreign Chief Catherine Ashton expressing “reservations” about military intervention but “ACCEPTED ITS AFTERMATH.” Hypocrisy and cynical profiteering and gamesmanship.
Al-Amin compares this to the “bloody tactics” in Libya with Gadhafi and now in Syria with Assad. RESTRAINED CRITICISM on the part of the west on violent bloodbaths! Human lives sure are cheap to world power players.
According to Al-Amin, there is ample evidence from the internet and witnesses to charge the Egyptian military and its leadership and colluders with crimes against humanity from the coup down through this latest bloodbath. Several Western countries have called for the UN Security Council to refer these atrocities to the International Criminal Court cites Al-Amin.
Undoubtedly, the military coup has veered Egypt off the democracy track. The most effective way to get back on it is for ordinary Egyptians from all political strands to once again descend to the streets by the millions to challenge the authoritarianism and brutality of the state. Egyptians must reclaim their revolutionary zeal. They must also aspire to regain their unity: Muslims and Christians, men and women, young and old. The defining factor should be a true and genuine commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.
That means an absolute rejection of the military coup and the army’s intervention in politics, as well the purging of all corrupt elements of the deep state. That entails an absolute repudiation of any sectarian conflict. The burning of Coptic churches must not only be condemned, but the churches should be protected by Muslims like any revered mosque. ...
As if the pro-coup regime was not already illegitimate, the bloody massacre has completely stripped it from any semblance of legitimacy. An international BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) campaign and a global protest movement should immediately be put in place while a massive civil disobedience effort at home is mobilized until the criminal regime is overthrown and its murderous elements are brought to justice. According to international jurist and human rights legal expert, Professor Cherif Bassiouni it is possible for the UN Human Rights Commission to initiate a process to investigate the bloody massacre and to eventually file charges with the ICC.
In "The Cairo Junta and Its Washington Paymasters" RON JACOBS writes:
As we watch the Egyptian military and police forces kill and maim their fellow Egyptians we can wonder if Washington will cut off all aid to the Egyptian junta. That’s what it is, a junta. Even if it was a progressive military coup (which it is not), it would still be in power because of a coup. Therefore, it is a junta.
The revolution in Egypt is at a crossroads. The forces of reaction have laid another of their cards on the table. It is one of the bloodiest cards every played in Egypt’s recent history. Once the Muslim Brotherhood is crushed, the opposition forces secular and religious, leftist and liberal may be once again under the boot of the Egyptian generals, wondering how they could have supported the coup in the first place. Only those who have refused to support the Morsi regime at any time can claim revolutionary foresight. The junta’s paymasters in Washington, Cairo and beyond have much to answer for. It’s time we demand the answers.
In "Egyptian junta imposes martial law amid bloody crackdown" Johannes Stern and Alex Lantier write:
Starting early Wednesday morning, security forces backed by helicopters, armored vehicles and snipers assaulted protests and sit-ins by Mursi supporters in cities across Egypt. In the capital, Cairo, the army dispersed two pro-Mursi sit-ins and repeatedly attacked the central protest site, at the Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque.
“Tear gas (canisters) were falling from the sky like rain. There are no ambulances inside. They closed every entrance,” said protester Khaled Ahmed, 20, a student wearing a hard hat who had tears streaming down his face. “There are women and children in there. God help them. This is a siege, a military attack on a civilian protest camp.”
“At 7 AM they came. Helicopters from the top and bulldozers from below. They smashed through our walls. Police and soldiers, they fired tear gas at children,” teacher Saleh Abdulaziz told Reuters, while clutching a bleeding head wound. “They continued to fire at protesters even when we begged them to stop.”
Egyptian officials reported that 235 people were killed, including 100 in Cairo, and 2,001 wounded. AFP reporters said they had personally counted 124 dead in Cairo. Muslim Brotherhood (MB) officials, who run the protest sites and field hospitals, put the toll at 2,200 killed and 10,000 wounded.
The army tried to prevent coverage of the killings, fatally shooting at journalists who defied orders to avoid protest sites. The victims included Sky News cameraman Mick Deane and Habiba Ahmed Abd El-Aziz of the United Arab Emirates’ Xpress service.
The regime also closed down major highways and train lines into Cairo to keep protesters from traveling to the capital to reinforce the main protest sites. Outside Cairo, Egyptian Health Ministry figures showed that dozens were killed and hundreds wounded in protests in Minya and Fayoum. Dozens more were killed or wounded in protests in Suez, Sohag, and Assuit, and protesters marched in Alexandria and Beni Souif.
Emergency rule has been invoked according to Stern and Lanier to allow police and military to ARREST AND DETAIN ANY ONE. On August 15th the Egyptian police reportedly arrested 543. There has also been a curfew imposed from 7 pm o 6am in 12 of Egypt’s 27 so -called “governorates” disclose Stern and Lantier. By the way, any governors appointed by Mursi automatically thrown out. The replacements include 19 Mubarak-loyal generals and 2 Mubarak-loyal judges report Stern and Lanier. They go on:
In this, the Egyptian junta enjoys the support of Washington and its European allies. Washington has repeatedly backed the Egyptian army’s bloody crackdowns since the July 3 overthrow of Mursi, which it declined to call a coup so it could continue giving the Egyptian army $1.3 billion in yearly military aid. Earlier this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry praised the generals’ decision to topple Mursi as “restoring democracy.”
The responses of US and European diplomats to yesterday’s massacre were masterpieces of cynicism and hypocrisy. While Kerry said that he “strongly opposed” the state of emergency in Egypt, White House spokesman Josh Earnest made it clear that support for the junta would continue.
While a group of Egyptian billionaires and multimillionaires provided finance and pulled the strings behind the scenes, the necessary political conditions for the planned coup were created by a reactionary coalition of liberal, Nasserite, and pseudo-left parties and organizations, which provided the military with the needed “democratic” cover.
Now, with Egypt in the grip of a murderous dictatorship, these organizations are either backing the repression or trying to cover their tracks.
Hamdeen Sabbahi, the Nasserite leader of the Egyptian Popular Current, cynically blamed the bloodshed on the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a statement, his party wrote that the MB had “chosen a standoff scenario with the state.” It said it would “reject the Brotherhood’s attempt to enlarge the circle of violence in Cairo and the governorates, as well as their targeting of churches and police stations.” The statement further called upon the Egyptian people to support the police and the army in “confronting terrorism and upholding popular will.”
These liberal and “left” forces have blood on their hands. They are politically responsible for the mass murder of peaceful protesters, including women and children.
Another section of liberal politicians, who provided essential political support for the military seizure of power, now seek to cover up their responsibility for the massacre. Liberal leader and Egyptian vice president for international affairs, Mohamed ElBaradei, in an act of consummate political cynicism resigned from his position in the junta’s puppet government.
Can there be any doubt that ElBaradei’s letter was drafted in close consultation with the US State Department, which is fearful that this trusted political asset may be of no value to the United States if he is totally compromised by his association with the military?
Stern and Lanier see this coup and its violent crackdown as the crushing of “popular opposition” and restoration of “a police state." They underscore how the pro-Army Tamarod group was particularly craven in posing as "revolutionaries."
Stern and Lanier:
Yesterday’s bloody events do not signify the end of the revolution, but its baptism under fire as the different political forces reveal their class loyalties ever more openly. The working class did not participate in mass protests against Mursi in order to bring the military satraps of the Mubarak dictatorship back to power. As the military seeks to extend its repression of the MB into a generalized onslaught against the working class, it will encounter implacable resistance.
"Massacre in Egypt: A Collective Crime " ORHAN MİROĞLU writes:
Once more, the West has been a bystander to murder committed by an army with which they collaborated. Western countries played a significant role in the process leading up to the massacre.
The massacre in Egypt was committed as a result of the international community's support for the coup makers; it was perpetrated as a collective crime.
This fact should be considered and those who shed hypocritical tears should not be taken seriously. Western countries have remained bystanders to the emerging massacre. Now in their statements, they are saying that they are disappointed with the coup makers. What were they expecting? Were they thinking that the military that ousted a democratically elected president would bring democracy to Egypt?
There hasn't been a single violent attack so far against the coup makers in Egypt. The MB's policy dismisses violence and this fosters respect for them at the national and international levels. Massacres and the declaration of a state of emergency will shorten the life of the coup. The liberals, modernists and pro-Western intellectuals like Mohamed ElBaradei who have sided with the coup will not be able to shift the burden and crime of the massacre in Egypt.
It appears that they have committed a huge mistake by supporting the coup and taking part in the coup government. The coup bloc will not be able to preserve its integrity after this massacre. There are now reports indicating that ElBaradei is readying to step down. Egypt is now a country where the Arab Spring was interrupted by a coup. But there is no doubt that the same Egypt is a country where the expectations of the Arab Spring will be honored in the long term. A new history is being written for democracy in Egypt.