LATEST: Egypt — Israeli Drone Attack Kills 5 in Sinai
On the first Friday after the end of Ramadan, we will be watching Egypt, where the interim Government has threatened to disperse the weeks-long sit-ins supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Throughout the week, the Government — set up by the military after the July 3 coup — has declared that it has issued orders to break up the rallies, which began just before Morsi was ousted. The main gatherings are in and near Cairo in Rabaa El-Adewaya and Nahda Squares.
Two weeks ago, security forces killed about 80 Morsi supporters after some of them moved onto the 6 October Bridge, but last Friday passed with little violence.
On Thursday, the demonstrators remained defiant. Naglaa Mahmoud, Morsi’s wife, addressed the crowd in Rabaa El-Adewaya Square. She appealed for her husband’s release from detention and reinstatement as President as the crowds roared, “Returning! Returning!”
“He is coming back, God willing,” she replied.
Two Egyptian security officials say an Israeli drone has killed five suspected insurgents in a missile attack in the northern Sinai Peninsula.
The officials said a rocket launcher was destroyed.
Egypt has faced a series of attacks by Islamist and Bedouin group in the Peninsula, with targeting of security forces and oil pipelines and kidnapping of tourists. The assaults have escalated since the July 3 military coup in Cairo.
A Palestinian news agency reported that the Israeli army ordered Eilat Airport at the southern tip of Israel to close briefly Thursday after Egypt warned of an attack from Sinai.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the main force behind the deposed Morsi Government, puts out a claim photo of a Friday march in Cairo for the former President:
— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) August 9, 2013
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh denied allegations that Hamas has interfered in Egypt’s political affairs yesterday.
Haniyeh said “We have stances regarding what occurs; however we don’t interfere in the internal matters of Arab nations.”
Deposed president Mohamed Morsi was given a court order detaining him for 15 days on 26 July for suspected collaboration with Hamas to escape from Wadi Al-Natroun Prison and destroy prison records during the 2011 revolution.
The American embassy in Cairo has evacuated four more staff members and remains closed until Saturday amid reports of “terror threats.”
The US announced last week the closure of its embassies until Saturday 10 August in 19 Muslim countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among others.
Minister of Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation Mohamed Amin al-Mahdy told Al-Masry Al-Youm yesterday that unless the government reunites Egyptians the country will face a cycle of revolutions.
Al-Mahdy said “The causes of the uprising of 25 January and 30 June were defects in the political and parliamentary composition of the state.”
He continued, “That is what the Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation Ministry is currently seeking to fix through comprehensive political reform and by addressing all the deficiencies that were apparent in all previous elections.”
Writing in the Financial Times, President Abdullah Gül has called on Egypt’s military leaders to “restore its fledgling democracy – and fast.”
He listed four steps designed to return democracy to the country:
First, a quick return to democracy – which was the aim of the revolution, through an inclusive transition process, is of utmost importance. Second, all political groups should be allowed to take part in the forthcoming elections. The exclusion of any political party will undermine the success of the ensuing period. Third, release of Mr. Morsi and his fellow politicians would make a tremendous contribution to reconciliation and stability. Fourth, everyone should exercise restraint to avoid further casualties. Further loss of life could make recovery unattainable, even if the leaders in Egypt act with their best intentions to break the deadlock.
Gül also urged Egyptians to put aside their differences, writing “What we need now in Egypt is not a people divided against themselves, but a nation rallying around its future. Daunting economic and social problems can only be overcome if Egyptians join their efforts together and do not spend their energy on political division.”
Three separate drone strikes targeting militants killed thirteen people yesterday.
The first, targeted two vehicles in Mareb in the early morning killing eight people. Local officials claim four had links to al Qaeda while two were civilians.
A second strike killed two militants in the southern province of Hadramout. The third strike also took place in Hadramout, killing three people, including one suspected militant.
A Turkish pilot and his colleague were abducted in Beirut during the early hours of this morning by armed men.
Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Levent Gumrukcu said “We immediately contacted the Lebanese authorities at every level … and they are conducting a very comprehensive investigation.”
“As yet, we do not know who did it or for what purpose,” he added.
Mariam Alkhawaja, the Acting President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and Co-Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, was banned from boarding a British Airways flight to Bahrain by the Bahrain government this morning.
Alkhawaja was planning to visit the country to monitor the situation ahead of protests due to take place on 14 August. In recent weeks the Bahrain government has ramped up its crackdown on activists and is continuing to prevent international journalists from entering the country.
She was also going to see her detained father, human rights defender Abdulhadi Alkhawaja who is serving a life sentence for his activism, and sister, Zainab Alkhawaja who is being held at the Isa Town Female Detention Centre.