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Egyption Army Intervenes, Fails to End Police/Protestor Clashes

Crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square. (photo: Al Jazeera-English)

Reports from Egypt say the Egyptian military has move army troops and armored vehicles in an attempt to end the clashes between Egyptians protesting the military’s rule and police.  The efforts were joined by clerics and others hoping to induce a truce. However, it appears the intervention has failed and the clashes are continuing.  At least 33 people had already been killed and hundreds wounded.  From the New York Times:

The army dispatched armored vehicles and troops to separate the two sides, in a bid to halt clashes that wounded hundreds and cast a haze of tear gas over the iconic square. The attempt worked for a time, but after 90 minutes of relative calm, the mayhem resumed. In the chaos, it was unclear which side returned first to the fighting that has pitted police armed with tear gas and guns against rock-throwing protesters.

“They are thugs,” shouted one protester after a new round of tear gas canisters was fired. “I swear to God, they are thugs.”

There had been hopes that deal between the military and Muslim Brotherhood, calling for elections next June, would calm the situation. But crowds at Tahrir Square appeared to reject the deal, partly because of the fear of an overly restrictive Islamic rule.

Unlikely to satisfy the public demands for the military to leave power, the deal may have driven a new wedge into the opposition, reopening a divide between the seething public and the political elite, between liberals and Islamists and, as events unfolded, among the Islamists themselves.

“We refuse it, and the square has refused it already,” said Islam Lotfy, a former leader of the youth wing of the Muslim Brotherhood who was expelled from the organization with a group of others for starting a centrist political party. “They did not offer anything new. They are just bargaining with the people.” . . .

For Egyptian liberals, the open deal between the two most powerful and organized forces in the nation raised fears of being caught between groups at odds with their goals: a military reluctant to submit to democratic oversight, and an Islamist movement with a potentially narrow view of individual freedoms.

The effort now appears to have discredited the Brotherhood:

In Tahrir Square, many accused the Brotherhood of a shortsighted selling out that would only damage its standing. “Everyone knows the Brotherhood are opportunists; now we know it even more,” said Adham Hafez, an artist volunteering at a field clinic, adding that he learned of the deal when his parents called to tell him “how disgusting it is.”

As of this evening, there are still reports of continuing clashes and  use of tear gas.  One unconfirmed report says tear gas was fired at or near a hospital and a doctor has died as a result.


The Guardian, Egypt military in standoff with protestors — live updates

NYT, The old order stifles the birth of a new Egypt

BBC, UN human rights chiefs condemm Cairo deaths

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

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