Egypt's interim President Adli Mansour issued a constitutional declaration overnight outlining a political transition after the most violent day since the 2011 uprisings that led to the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak. At least 51 civilians were killed Monday and over 400 people wounded by Egyptian security forces at a rally of Mohamed Morsi supporters. According to health officials, almost all were hit by gunfire. The armed forces claimed the Islamist protesters attacked first with rocks, gunfire, and tear gas bombs. However, the protesters maintained they were performing peaceful dawn prayers. In efforts to ease tensions, Mansour issued a decree including a timetable for elections and a plan to amend within 15 days the Islamist-drafted constitution. It also included a controversial reference to Islamic sharia law, in what appeared to be an appeal to Islamists. Mansour announced that parliamentary elections would be held in six months, followed by a presidential election. Senior Muslim Brotherhood officials have reportedly rejected the decree calling for additional protests Tuesday.
The Syrian government has announced a shakeup in the leadership of its ruling Baath Party, including replacing Vice President Farouk al-Shara. The party published the names of 16 members of the new leadership, replacing all of the party's old leaders except President Bashar al-Assad, who is to remain the party's secretary general. Though Shara has been removed from the Baath Party leadership, he will remain vice president. Syria's state news agency, SANA, gave little explanation for the changes stating the party "should develop itself through adhering to reality." Senior Baath Party official Fayez Sayegh said the changes were made to pump new blood into the party. Addittionally, opposition Syrian National Coalition Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto has resigned after being unable to form an interim government. Hindered by a lack of international support and internal divisions, Hitto said, "The circumstances which have become known to all did not allow me to initiate work on the ground." Many opposition members have accused Hitto of being too closely aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar. Meanwhile, U.S. Congressional committees are stalling planned U.S. weapons deliveries to the Syrian opposition over concerns that arms will reach radical factions such as al-Nusra Front.
- A car bomb hit the Hezbollah stronghold of the southern suburbs of Lebanon's capital Beirut Tuesday injuring at least 38 people and possibly killing a parking lot employee.
- Turkish authorities reopened Istanbul's Gezi Park Tuesday after a night of protests and clashes.
Arguments and Analysis
‘On Sheep and Infidels' (Sarah Carr, Jadaliyya)
"Politically, Egypt finds itself once again in an almighty mess. As the euphoria fades, the opposition remembers that if they were asked to debate how many legs a cow before them had, one faction would question whether the animal was actually a cow, another would say four, and yet another would claim the tail a limb. The fun times have just started with the Salafi party, al-Nour vetoing Mohamed ElBaradei's nomination as prime minister on the grounds that he is divisive while Tamarod declares it is him or else.
If the army has any sense it will see that the legitimacy of the 30 June regime (for want of a better term) need not be predicated on crushing Islamists, no matter what the public appetite is. They have to be included because they are not going anywhere. The barely functioning political system born of 25 January has been replaced with something even more fragile: fractious squabbling with no clear means of resolution, the military as arbiter and an incensed MB that feels it has been cheated. Fasten your seatbelts."
"After the Egyptian military's July 3 removal of Mohamed Morsi from the presidency and suspension of the constitution, and amid mounting civil strife, Egypt's democratic future hangs in the balance. U.S. policy toward post-Mubarak Egypt also faces a critical test.
The United States should acknowledge that Morsi failed utterly as Egypt's first freely elected president, and that many Egyptians strongly support the army's action. But the reliance on military intervention rather than a political process to resolve crises severely threatens Egypt's progression to a stable democracy. The United States has drawn intense criticism from many Egyptians either for failing to criticize Morsi's governance when he was in office, or for not clearly condemning the military's moves. Now is the time to convey U.S. policy publicly and consistently in order to remove confusion over whether this administration supports Egypt's democratic aspirations.
In his statement soon after the military's actions, President Obama asserted that the United States is ‘committed to the democratic process' and that ‘the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order.' Obama's words are correct. It should be obvious by now that Egypt can only be a truly effective long-term U.S. partner and a moderating force in a volatile region if it stays on the path to becoming a stable and prosperous democracy. The high level of popular mobilization that now characterizes Egyptian politics makes long-term military rule, or any rule that excludes participation of all non-violent segments of society, impossible to sustain without vast repression. It is in the U.S. national interest to help Egyptians achieve a democratic political system. Yet, since the transition began in 2011, the administration has failed to follow through on its own declared policy."
--Mary Casey & Joshua Haber
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