Chaos and Lawlessness Grow After Days of Unrest in Egypt

Port Said - EgyptPolice fired indiscriminately into streets outside their besieged station, a group of protesters arrived with a crate of gasoline bombs, and others cheered a masked man on a motorcycle who arrived with a Kalashnikov. The growing chaos along vital canal zone showed little sign of abating on Monday as President Mohamed Morsi called out the army to try to regain control of three cities along the Suez Canal whose growing lawlessness is testing integrity of Egyptian state. In Port Said, street battles reached a bloody new peak with a death toll over three days of at least 45, with at least five more protesters killed by bullet wounds, hospital officials said. Morsi had already declared monthlong state of emergency here and other canal towns of Suez and Ismailia, applying a law that virtually eliminates due process protections against abuse by police. Angry crowds burned tires and hurled rocks at the police. And the police, with little training and less credibility, hunkered down behind barrages of tear gas, birdshot and occasional bullets. The sense that the state was unraveling may have been strongest here in Port Said, where demonstrators have proclaimed their city an independent nation. But in recent days, unrest has risen in towns across country and Cairo as well. In the capital on Monday, a mob of protesters managed to steal an armored police vehicle, drive it to Tahrir Square and make it a bonfire. After 2 years of torturous transition, Egyptians have watched with growing anxiety as the erosion of the public trust in government and a persistent security vacuum have fostered new temptation resort to violence to resolve disputes, said Michael Hanna, researcher at New York-based Century Foundation who is now in Cairo. “There is a clear political crisis that has eroded the moral authority of the state”. And the spectacular evaporation of government’s authority here in Port Said has put that crisis on vivid display, most conspicuously in rejection of Mr. Morsi’s declarations of the curfew and state of emergency. As in Suez and Ismailia, thousands of residents of Port Said poured into the streets in defiance just as a 9 p.m. curfew was set to begin. Bursts of gunfire echoed through the city for the next hours, and from 9 to 11 p.m. hospital officials raised the death count to seven from two. When 2 armored personnel carriers approached a funeral Monday morning for some of the seven protesters killed the day before, a stone-throwing mob of thousands quickly chased them away. And within a few hours, demonstrators had resumed their siege of a nearby police station, burning tires to create a smoke screen to hide behind amid tear gas and gunfire. Many in the city said they saw no alternative but to continue to stay in streets. They complained hated security police remained unchanged, unaccountable, even after Mubarak was ousted 2 years ago (…..)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/world/middleeast/egypt-protests-cairo-port-said.html

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6 Responses to Chaos and Lawlessness Grow After Days of Unrest in Egypt

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Morsi was DEMOCRATICALLY elected president of Egypt. He is entitled to use any available constitutional instrument — including internal security and armed forces — to keep public order and preserve his government. What is happening in Egypt is not difficult to understand. Internal political factions (pro Mubarak groups) and foreign governments (ideological enemies of Muslim Brotherhood) seek to deny and reverse the results of the first free general election ever to take place in Egypt. Domestic and foreign enemies of the Muslim Brotherhood are attempting to transform Egypt into another Algeria, via a civil war similar to the one in Syria. Pres Morsi is alone in this struggle. His only chance to stay in power is to mobilize and bring thousands/millions of supporters to the streets. Something that Hugo Chavez associates did during the coup attempt to depose him in 2002.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/world/middleeast/egypt-protests-cairo-port-said.html

  2. Mike: You’re using Chavez as an example of how to react to street protests? Much too funny.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/world/middleeast/egypt-protests-cairo-port-said.html

  3. Jim: A lot of people refused to vote in this election…..and they watched the constitution process get hijacked…so legitimacy is in question, naturally.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/world/middleeast/egypt-protests-cairo-port-said.html

  4. A consortium minding security issues for journalists working in hostile territory warned that credible reports revealed a threat to oil installations in Libya. Islamists based in Libya were said to have played a role in deadly January attacks on the In Amenas natural gas facility in eastern Algeria. Those attacks were said to be in response to an Algerian decision to let French forces use its airspace to fight al-Qaida supporters in nearby Mali. Now, it seems the threat focus has shifted back to Libya, where the government of Moamar Gadhafi has ended and the new war on terror begins. The International News Safety Institute said it was alerted by “credible sources’” that terrorist groups may be planning attacks on oil fields in Libya. The warning said it considered Benghazi a likely target given the large number of oil fields in the western port city. INSI’s advisory came as the U.S. and British government issued similar warning for citizens remaining in Libya. “We are aware of a specific, imminent threat to Westerners in Benghazi,” a warning from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office read. “We advise against all travel to Benghazi and urge any British nationals who are there against our advice to leave immediately.” In mid-January, a faction of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb stormed the In Amenas natural gas facility in eastern Algeria. That raid left several hostages and foreign fighters dead. Sources close to militant groups in Libya said the Algerian attack had the logistical support of Islamic fighters who traveled across the western border. For post-war Libya, oil and natural gas makes up nearly all of the country’s export revenues and about 80 percent of all government revenues. The government in response to renewed al-Qaida tensions and a high level of violence in Benghazi ordered a petroleum security team on high alert. In Algeria, the military there wasted no time, and gave no quarter, when al-Qaida stormed its energy interests. Oil and natural gas accounts for about 98 percent of the country’s exports, prompting the IMF in 2011 to warn that the government needed to take action to diversify its economy.


    Revealed in the documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, were al-Qaida plots to target oil tankers. Those documents prompted the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2011 to issue warnings to the energy sector of a possible al-Qaida threat. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer now working for the Brookings Institution, notes that “al-Qaida 3.0″ is more decentralized than its predecessor and more ready to learn from its past mistakes. The 9/11 Commissionreport notes that resentment over oil riches was in part the reason for bin Laden’s frustrations in the 1990s when he declared war on the United States. With the Pentagon tilting toward Asia, it’s not the West, but the rest, that may have to fight the new war on terror.

    http://www.economonitor.com/blog/2013/01/the-coming-oil-war-against-al-qaeda/

  5. Egypt’s military chief warned Tuesday of a potential “collapse of the state” after a fourth night of violent street battles between protesters and Egyptian security forces in Cairo and other major cities, heightening the prospect that the country’s military might be forced to intervene. The warning from Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who also serves as defense minister, indicated that troops could be pressed into action soon, analysts said. But it remained unclear on whose behalf the generals might interfere, underscoring the lingering questions about the scope of President Mohamed Morsi’s control over the armed forces and state institutions that once answered to Hosni Mubarak (…..) Political analysts and activists interpreted Sissi’s remarks Tuesday as a warning to the perpetrators of violence as well as a signal that the military could soon stage a broader intervention, as it did during the uprising in 2011. At the start of that revolt, anti-Mubarak protesters engaged in fierce street battles with police forces, before the latter withdrew from the streets and cleared the way for the military rule that continued for nearly a year and a half after Mubarak’s fall. Some analysts have speculated that Sissi, who was promoted by Morsi to head the military as other senior generals were forced out, is far more loyal to the Islamist government than the previous generals would have been. “A coup isn’t possible at the moment or the medium-term,” said Khalil al-Anani, a Middle East scholar at Britain’s Durham University. Others aren’t so sure. The military is fundamentally neutral, said Sameh Seif el-Yazal, a retired general and military analyst in Cairo. That the army took control of the country and faced its own opposition in Tahrir Square has left it deeply unwilling to do so again, he said. But if it does, it’s unlikely to do Morsi’s bidding. “Morsi cannot order the units and barracks of different forces in Egypt to do whatever he wants,” Yazal said. But the crisis, Yazal and others said, is likely to escalate (…..)

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egypts-military-chief-says-clashes-threaten-the-state/2013/01/29/8a8ee7ae-6a1b-11e2-ada3-d86a4806d5ee_story.html

  6. The chaos at the second anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprising is only the latest and most vivid illustration that Egypt’s revolution is going off the rails. It has revived talk about the failure of the Arab Spring and even some nostalgia for the old order. But Arab dictators such as Hosni Mubarak could not have held onto power without even greater troubles; look at Syria. Events in the Middle East the past two years underscore that constitutions are as vital as elections and that good leadership is crucial in these transitions. Compare the differences between Egypt and Jordan. At the start of the Arab Spring, it appeared that Egypt had responded to the will of its people, had made a clean break with its tyrannical past and was ushering in a new birth of freedom. Jordan, by contrast, responded with a few personnel changes, some promises to study the situation and talk of reform. But then Egypt started going down the wrong path, and Jordan made a set of wise choices (…..) The Arab world’s two largest experiments in democracy, Iraq and Egypt, have, unfortunately, poor choices in common. Both placed elections ahead of constitutions and popular participation ahead of individual rights. Both have had as their first elected leaders strongmen with Islamist backgrounds who have no real dedication to liberal democracy. The results have been the establishment of “illiberal democracy” in Iraq and the danger of a similar system in Egypt. The best role models for the region might well be two small monarchies. Jordan and Morocco have gone the opposite route, making measured reforms and liberalizing their existing systems.


    The monarchies have chosen evolution over revolution.

    So far, it seems the better course.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-arab-springs-hits-and-misses/2013/01/30/fc72dcc2-6b15-11e2-af53-7b2b2a7510a8_story.html

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