TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A PITA PLACE
BEIRUT The Syrian opposition said Wednesday that state security forces had launched intense artillery and rocket barrages on the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus, claiming that hundreds of people died in what was being called a “poisonous gas” attack.
The attack coincided with the visit by a 20-member U.N. chemical weapons team to Syria to investigate three sites where chemical weapons attacks allegedly occurred during the past year. Their presence raises questions about why the regime – which called the claims of the attack Wednesday “absolutely baseless” – would use chemical agents at this time.
In a statement, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said the U.S. is deeply concerned by reports chemical weapons use in Syria, and that the Obama administration is “working urgently to gather additional information.
“If the Syrian government has nothing to hide and is truly committed to an impartial and credible investigation of chemical weapons use in Syria, it will facilitate the U.N. team’s immediate and unfettered access to this site,” Earnest said.
Egypt’s former autocrat, Hosni Mubarak, could leave prison as early as Wednesday night, government officials and legal experts said, after a Cairo court ordered his release. Mubarak’s release would constitute another dramatic blow to the protest movement that led to his removal from office in February, 2011, and has rallied in recent weeks against the July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
What do you think? Should we suspend foreign aid to Egypt?
CAIRO – As the sun set on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, families across Cairo gathered for the fast-breaking iftar meal in a country that in the last two weeks has seen protests by millions, a coup against an elected president and the deaths of dozens of people in clashes with the military.
Ramadan is traditionally a time of personal reflection and feeling a sense of brotherhood with fellow Muslims, but in the aftermath of the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, the divisions among Egyptians extend even down to this traditional meal.
On one side of the city, Tahrir Square remains the symbolic center of the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak and later opposed Morsi. Across town in an eastern district, Morsi’s supporters have coalesced around a major intersection in front of the mosque of Rabaah al-Adawiya.
Breaking their fast outdoors, the people in the two camps expressed bafflement and disdain for the other side.
“I don’t know if the people at Rabaah al-Adawiya are out of their minds or if they are brainwashed,” said Shenouda William, a 35-year-old lawyer, who sat with about 100 people in the echoing emptiness of Tahrir Square to break their fast. Others described the Morsi supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood as ignorant peasants or possibly Palestinian and Syrian refugees looking for food and a place to sleep.
Morsy was said to be held there, CNN’s Reza Sayah reported from outside the building.
He said he had seen a body around which hundreds of people were huddled, some of them crying. A few feet away, a few thousand pro-Morsy demonstrators faced off across a barbed-wire barricade against a line of soldiers, who then detonated flash grenades and fired tear gas in an apparent attempt to get the demonstrators to move away.
Many of them did just that, though some remained in defiance. Demonstrators could be seen carrying away a wounded man. Some demonstrators waved flags and held pictures of Morsy.
State broadcaster Nile TV, citing a security source, said live ammunition was not used against demonstrators and no one had been hurt or killed outside the Republican Guard headquarters.
THE GUARDIAN UK
Egypt is braced for further dramatic events on Friday as the vanquishedMuslim Brotherhood called for a “day of rejection” following a widespread crackdown on its leadership by the country’s new interim president, Adly Mansour.
Supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi, still reeling from the military coup that removed their leader from power, are expected to take to the streets after Friday prayers following a series of raids and arrests that decimated the Muslim Brotherhood’s senior ranks and consolidated the miltary’s hold on the country.
In a stark sign of Egypt’s new political reality, the group’s supreme leader, Mohamed al-Badie, who was untouchable under Morsi’s rule, was one of those arrested.
Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, said: “We are being headhunted all over the country. We are holding a mass rally after Friday prayers to take all peaceful steps necessary to bring down this coup.” He called for demonstrations to be peaceful, despite fears that anger may spill over into violence.
State prosecutors announced on Thursday that Morsi, who is in military custody, would face an investigation starting next week into claims that he had “insulted the presidency” – a move that would appear to put an end to any hopes of a political resurrection.
At his inauguration on Thursday, Mansour, who was appointed as head of the constitutional court on Sunday, said this week’s protests had “corrected the path of the glorious revolution that took place on 25 January 2011″, and that continued revolution was needed until “we stop producing tyrants.”
He also reached out to members of the Muslim Brotherhood, calling the organisation “part of the fabric of Egyptian society”.
“They are just one of its parties and they are invited to integrate. If they answer the call, they will be welcomed,” he told Channel 4 in his first interview.
Our $Billion in foreign aid to Egypt
should continue only if
the military sets up a truer democracy
with a guarantee of
peace with Israel.
An Associated Press video journalist at the scene says protesters stormed the six-story building in an eastern Cairo district Monday morning, leaving the heavily fortified villa with furniture and files.
Footage on local TV networks showed smashed windows and smoke billowing out of the building. One protester was seen removing the Muslim Brotherhood sign from the building’s front wall.
The storming of the Brotherhood’s headquarters followed overnight clashes between armed Morsi supporters barricaded inside the building and young protesters pelting it with firebombs and rocks.
At least 10 people were killed during Sunday’s protests, five of them in provinces south of the capital Cairo. Activists said five more were killed outside the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
On Sunday, supporters of the Islamist leader barricaded inside the Brotherhood office opened fire on protesters pelting the suburban villa with rocks and firebombs. A fire broke out in the heavily fortified building.