Kerry Says Egypt At ‘Pivotal Moment’ After Deadly Violence
A man searches for bodies of his relatives who were supporters of ousted Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi after scores were killed in Cairo.
July 28, 2013
In a statement from Washington, Kerry urged all of Egypt’s political leaders to “act immediately" and help the country “step back from the brink" after security forces on July 27 reportedly killed scores of supporters of ousted Islamist President Muhammad Morsi.
Kerry said Egypt’s “final verdict is not yet decided, but it will be forever impacted by what happens right now."
Kerry’s statement came as thousands of supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood remained hunkered down near a Cairo mosque early on July 28, vowing to stand their ground “until death" after the killings there a day earlier.
Egypt’s Health Ministry said 65 people were killed near the mosque early on July 27 in clashes between security forces and Morsi’s supporters.
The Muslim Brotherhood said more than 100 were killed and accused Egypt’s security forces of “shooting to kill" unarmed demonstrators.
But Egypt’s interior minister denied police had fired on protesters in Cairo.
Nine other people have also been killed in Alexandria since July 26 as a result of clashes between Morsi’s supporters and those who oppose the Islamist leader.
Morsi was ousted by Egypt’s armed forces on July 3 after mass demonstrations demanding his removal.
Kerry says he spoke by telephone on July 27 with Egypt’s interim Vice President Muhammad ElBaradei, interim Foreign Minister Nbil Fahmy, and European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton to express Washington’s deep concern about the bloodshed in Cairo and Alexandria.
He said that in the “extremely volatile environment, Egyptian authorities have a moral and legal obligation" to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
Kerry reiterated Washington’s call for an end to politicized detentions and the release of political leaders so that a meaningful political dialogue can move forward.
He also urged “an independent and impartial inquiry" into the July 27 violence
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP.
Finian Cunningham said the general’s inflammatory tone in dealing with supporters of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi “is tantamount to pushing Egypt – the Arab region’s most populous country – into a civil war.”
“Egypt’s military strongman General Al Sisi is playing with fire that may engulf the North African country with even more internecine bloodshed,” Cunningham stated.
Tension has intensified in Egypt since General al-Sisi announced on July 3 that Morsi was no longer in office. He also suspended the constitution and dissolved the parliament.
On July 27, at least 150 people were killed and scores of others injured in clashes during rival demonstrations by supporters and opponents of Morsi across the country.
Supporters of Morsi have called for a million-man march on Tuesday, despite warnings of decisive action by authorities.
“The reprehensible thing about this is that … Al Sisi is indulging in reckless demagoguery to incite violence in order to cover up the fact that it is he who violated the law and constitution of his country,” wrote Cunningham.
He said the general is legally obliged to “protect the nation from harm”, adding, “But what he appears to be doing is plunging the nation into chaos and conflict by way of concealing his own selfish ambitions.”
“This is the politics of fascism, conducted with the imprimatur of Western so-called democratic governments,” added Cunningham.
Kerry: Egypt must “step back from the brink"
Secretary of State John Kerry urged Egypt’s leaders to bring their country “back from the brink" after violence in Cairo early Saturday left scores dead and hundreds injured.
“This is a pivotal moment for Egypt," Kerry said in a statement. “Over two years ago, a revolution began. Its final verdict is not yet decided, but it will be forever impacted by what happens right now."
Crackdown on Morsi supporters leaves dozens dead in Egypt
He called for an independent inquiry into the outburst of violence and urged Egypt’s interim leaders to respect the rights of peaceful protesters. He also repeated his call for the interim government, which was installed after the military deposed former President Mohammed Morsi in early July, to hold new elections “as soon as possible"
The Egyptian Interior Ministry initially said 20 people were killed after police tried to disperse a group of pro-Morsi demonstrators who were blocking a bridge. The Health Ministry later said at least 72 people had died in the clashes, CBS News’ Clarissa Ward reports. The Muslim Brotherhood had said at least 129 people were killed.
Ward and her CBS News crew saw at least 39 dead bodies at a makeshift morgue at a mosque in Cairo where Morsi’s supporters have gathered since he was ousted. At least 37 of those killed were Muslim Brotherhood supporters, Ward reports.
On Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced that the U.S. would not suspend foreign aid to Egypt in the wake of the regime change, suggesting it would not be in our “national interest" to formally label Morsi’s removal a coup. U.S. officials have suggested that Egypt is too crucial as a pillar of regional security – and too fragile in its current state – to risk suspending aid.
Kerry: Egypt at a ‘pivotal moment’ in history
In this March 3, 2013, file photo U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with members of non-governmental organizations in Cairo, Egypt.. (AP)
WASHINGTON – As violence in Egypt turned increasingly deadly Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Mideast nation was at “a pivotal moment" more than two years since the uprising ousted the longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
Clashes between security forces and supporters of democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi in eastern Cairo early Saturday left at least 65 protesters dead. The Islamist-led protests over Morsi’s removal earlier this month followed nationwide rallies on Friday that drew millions in support of military-backed authorities.
In 2011 a revolution ended Mubarak’s rule and brought Morsi to power last year as Egypt’s first democratically elected leader. Military authorities toppled Morsi last month, calling into question the future of democracy in Egypt and the nature of the U.S.-Egyptian partnership in the region.
The U.S. has not taken sides but for weeks has called for peaceful protests and calm responses.
The Obama administration has avoided defining the ouster of Morsi as a coup. Under federal law, U.S. assistance must be suspended if a country’s democratic government is overthrown by military force. Egypt received $1.5 billion a year in aid from the U.S., nearly all of it for the military.
“This is a pivotal moment for Egypt," Kerry said in a statement. “Over two years ago, a revolution began. Its final verdict is not yet decided, but it will be forever impacted by what happens right now. In this extremely volatile environment, Egyptian authorities have a moral and legal obligation to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Both are essential components of the inclusive democratic process they have publicly embraced."
Kerry said the continued violence sets back efforts of “reconciliation and democratization," and affects regional stability. The U.S. is urging “an independent and impartial inquiry" and that political leaders must help their country “take a step back from the brink," he said.
“A meaningful political dialogue, for which interim government officials have themselves called, requires participants who represent all the political parts of Egyptian society," Kerry said. “To enable such a dialogue, the United States reiterates our call for an end to politicized detentions and the release of political leaders consistent with the law."