Egypt's military-backed presidency said Wednesday that foreign diplomatic efforts to resolve the political turmoil with the Muslim Brotherhood have failed. Over the past 10 days envoys from the United States, EU, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates have met with MB and government representatives in efforts to diffuse the crisis. In the statement Wednesday, interim President Adly Mansour said the international efforts had "ended today." Additionally, the statement said the Brotherhood and its allies bear "full responsibility for the failure and what will follow." After meetings Tuesday, U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham expressed concerns that mediation efforts might fail. McCain said, "These folks are just days or weeks away from all-out bloodshed." Earlier, the senators said they considered the army's July 3 removal of President Mohamed Morsi a military coup, angering Egypt's interim leaders. Meanwhile, an anonymous security official said clashes broke out in the Manshiya district of Alexandria early Wednesday between residents and pro-Morsi marches killing one person and wounding 46 others.
Syrian government forces killed at least 62 rebel fighters Wednesday in an ambush in the Damascus suburb of Adra. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the casualties were mainly youths, and the activist group did not report any casualties among the government troops. Syrian state news agency, SANA, confirmed the attack reporting "dozens" killed. It said the rebels were from the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra, and included foreign fighters. A car bomb killed at least 18 people Tuesday evening in the loyalist Damascus suburb of Jaramana. The area has been hit by several explosions since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011. Meanwhile, fierce clashes were reported in the northern city of Aleppo Wednesday, a day after opposition fighters seized the regime's Minakh air base north of the city.
- Yemen remains on "high alert" over warning of terrorist attack, meanwhile the United States said it had ordered a series of recent drone strikes after intercepting al Qaeda communications.
- In his first news conference, Iran's new President Hassan Rowhani called for "serious negotiations" over the country's nuclear program suggesting direct talks with the United States.
- The United States has filed sealed criminal charges against one or more suspects in association with the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
- A wave of car bombings in and around the Iraqi capital of Baghdad killed an estimated 51 people Tuesday and injured over 100 others.
- Tens of thousands of Tunisians have gathered in the capital of Tunis calling for the resignation of the government and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly.
Arguments and Analysis
'Egypt's Economy of Dependence' (Adeel Malik and Ty McCormick, International Herald Tribune)
"Every time Egypt's foreign reserves fall to a critical threshold and there is pressure on its currency, rich Gulf neighbors come to the rescue. During Mohamed Morsi's tenure as president, Qatar was the chief patron, extending some $8 billion in assistance since the removal of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Following Morsi's ouster, it has been Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates that have shored up its finances.
As a result, Egypt has been able to avoid making hard choices. In particular, it has been able to sustain a bloated subsidy regime -- mostly devoted to fuel and wheat -- that eats up as much as 25 percent of total state expenditures and overwhelmingly benefits rich urban residents. A recent African Development Bank report estimates that in urban areas, more than 90 percent of gasoline subsidies go to the top 40 percent of the population.
Likewise, the leaders have been able to put off financial and regulatory reforms that would make the economy more competitive in the long run. Two-and-a-half years after Mubarak, finance still remains inaccessible for small firms (though numerous donor initiatives have sprouted up). Meanwhile, Egypt's archaic bankruptcy laws impose a heavy penalty for business failure, effectively discouraging experimentation. Declaring bankruptcy can land a merchant in jail, barred from doing business in the future and still liable for the debt.
Despite Egypt's brief experiment with Muslim Brotherhood rule, the underlying balance of economic power has changed very little since Mubarak's day. Many of the old crony capitalists have been sidelined (and a few are in jail) but the basic rules of the game remain skewed in favor of a tiny elite -- chief among which is the Egyptian military."
'Egyptian military opens new chapter of fear' (Ahmed Maher, Washington Post)
"This spring, I participated in the grass-roots 'Tamarod' campaign organized to protest the government of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. My group, the April 6 Youth Movement, collected more than 2 million signatures from people seeking to withdraw confidence in Morsi and calling for early presidential elections. I also took part in the June 30 protests of the regime and in most of the activities of the new revolutionary wave. And why not? Morsi and his government failed to serve the people. We gave them our confidence and support, and all we received in return was a coup against the goals of the revolution and a reproduction of Hosni Mubarak's policies.
While in power, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood made countless mistakes that angered the public and encouraged people to work toward their removal. For that reason, it is difficult to sympathize with them now, especially because they have instigated violence and exhibited consistent stubbornness. Even today, as we seek moderate solutions and engagement with the Brotherhood, we find no willingness on their part to admit to any mistakes or negotiate moderate solutions. They continue to stipulate that Morsi must be reinstated as president before negotiations can take place, despite the fact that few outside the Brotherhood would accept that condition under any circumstances.
There are, however, reasons for serious concern with the actions of the Egyptian military. Our support for the transitional road map to new elections was predicated on the military's pledge that it would not interfere in Egypt's political life. The expanding role of the military in the political process that we are nonetheless witnessing is disconcerting."
--Mary Casey & Joshua Haber
GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images