News / Middle East

Egypt Welcomes US Remarks on Morsi

People gather as workers distribute free food for the needy from inside a mosque, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Cairo, July 10, 2013.
People gather as workers distribute free food for the needy from inside a mosque, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Cairo, July 10, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Egypt's interim rulers welcomed on Thursday remarks from the  U.S. State department describing the rule of toppled leader Mohamed Morsi as undemocratic, clearly hoping they signaled Washington would not cut off its $1.5 billion in annual aid.

In a stark illustration of the desperate state of Egypt's economy, a former minister from Morsi's ousted government said Egypt has less than two months' supply left of imported wheat, revealing a far worse shortage than previously disclosed.

The army's removal of Egypt's first democratically elected leader last week, after millions took to the streets to protest against him, has left the Arab world's most populous country polarized by divisions unseen in its modern history.

Violence between supporters of Morsi and soldiers at a military compound this week has deepened the fissures.

Washington has been treading a careful line. U.S. law bars aid to countries where a democratic government is removed in a coup. So far Washington has said it is too early to say whether the Egyptian events met that description.

Nevertheless, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Wednesday, Morsi's government “wasn't a democratic rule.”

“What I mean is what we've been referencing about the 22 million people who have been out there voicing their views and making clear that democracy is not just about simply winning the vote at the ballot box.”

Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Badr Abdelatty, said the comments “reflect understanding and realization... about the political developments that Egypt is witnessing in the recent days, as embodying the will of the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets starting on June 30 to ask for their legitimate rights and call for early elections.”

In the days before Morsi's downfall, the U.S. ambassador in Cairo attracted sharp criticism from Morsi's opponents for a speech that stressed that Morsi was democratically elected and discouraged street protests against him.

The White House on Monday refused to label the ouster of Egypt's president a military coup and said there would be no immediate cut-off in U.S. aid to Egypt. U.S. officials have since said they are still reviewing the matter. In the past, the U.S. government has taken more than two months to make up its mind on such questions.

Violence

Wounded supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi wait for treatment at a field hospital in Cairo, July 8, 2013.Wounded supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi wait for treatment at a field hospital in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
x
Wounded supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi wait for treatment at a field hospital in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
Wounded supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi wait for treatment at a field hospital in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
Two and a half years of political turmoil has left Egypt on the brink of economic collapse, scaring away tourists and investors, shriveling hard currency reserves and threatening its ability to import food and fuel for its 84 million people.

Speaking to Reuters near midnight in a tent at a vigil by thousands of Morsi supporters, the ousted president's supply minister, Bassem Ouda, revealed that government stocks held just 500,000 tons of imported wheat.

Egypt, the world's biggest buyer, usually imports about 10 million tons of wheat a year, half of which is given out by the state in the form of subsidized bread sold for less than one U.S. cent a loaf.

The imported wheat stock figure, previously a closely-guarded secret, means Egypt will need to urgently start spending a $12 billion financial aid lifeline it has been given in the past two days by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, rich Gulf states that welcomed Morsi's downfall.

Egypt had not bought any imported wheat since February, its longest absence from the market in years, until the eve of Morsi's downfall when it bought 180,000 tons.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report that Egypt risked serious food security problems if insecurity and a shortage of foreign currency hinder imports.

“I think the aim of the Arab countries is to make sure Egypt doesn't fail with respect to food security and financial commitments with the international banking system, so I would think they will push to get the aid through quickly,” said Kisan Gunjal, economist and food emergency Officer at the FAO.

Road map

Adli Mansour, the interim president named by the general who removed Morsi, has moved briskly to implement an army “road map” to restore civilian rule. This week he announced a temporary constitution, plans to amend it and a faster-than-expected schedule for parliamentary elections in about six months.

Egypt's then-Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi addressing media in Abu Dhabi, Sept. 7, 2011.Egypt's then-Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi addressing media in Abu Dhabi, Sept. 7, 2011.
x
Egypt's then-Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi addressing media in Abu Dhabi, Sept. 7, 2011.
Egypt's then-Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi addressing media in Abu Dhabi, Sept. 7, 2011.
He also named 76-year-old liberal economist Hazem el-Beblawi as interim prime minister. Beblawi held his first meetings with political leaders on Wednesday and told Reuters that he expects the transitional Cabinet to be in place early next week.

Negotiations are difficult, with the authorities trying to attract support from groups that range from secularists to ultra-orthodox Muslims, nearly all of whom expressed deep dissatisfaction with elements of the interim constitution.

Those political moves have been accompanied by a crackdown on the Brotherhood, the Islamist movement which worked in the shadows for 85 years before emerging as Egypt's best-organized political force when autocrat Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011.

On Wednesday, Egypt's public prosecutor ordered the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and several other senior Islamists, accusing them of inciting violence on Monday  when 53 Morsi supporters and four members of the security forces were killed in a dawn clash near a barracks.

Morsi's supporters say those killed were peacefully praying when fired upon. The army says terrorists provoked the violence by attacking its troops.

Morsi's whereabouts have not been revealed. The government says he is safe at an undisclosed location.

Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have maintained an around-the-clock vigil near a mosque in northeast Cairo demanding he be reinstated, an aim that now seems in vain.

The start of the Ramadan Muslim fasting month has done little to dampen the Brotherhood protest. Supporters are sheltering in tents from the summer heat during daylight hours when they are forbidden to eat or drink, and coming out in greater numbers in the evening.

They have called for protest marches on Friday, the Muslim prayer day, as has the anti-Morsi Tamarud group, raising the risk of more violence. Fighting between Morsi's supporters and foes killed 35 people last Friday, although the situation in Cairo and other cities has been calmer since Monday's clash.

Both sides in Egypt have become more anti-American in recent weeks. Morsi's opponents say President Barack Obama's administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood in power, while Morsi's supporters believe Washington was behind the plot to unseat him.

“Obama supports democracy, but only if it goes to those who aren't Islamists,” heavily bearded Morsi supporter El-Sayyed Abdel Rabennabi said at the Brotherhood vigil.

On Tahrir Square, where Morsi's opponents gather, the animosity is no less fierce.

“America made an alliance with the Brotherhood against the Egyptian people,” said aircraft mechanic Tawfiq Munir at a recent rally there. “Now the Brotherhood are fighting us in the streets, fighting to take back power, and America is sitting on the fence.”

  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi perform weekly Friday prayers at the Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo where they are camping, July 12, 2013.
  • A supporter of Morsi is doused with water on a hot day in Cairo, July 12, 2013.
  • Supporters of the ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout anti-army slogans during a sit-in protest in Cairo July 11, 2013.
  • Morsi Supporters pray after breaking their fast during Ramadan, in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, July 11, 2013.
  • An Egyptian boy stands among Morsi supporters who are offering the Tarawih prayer after the evening meal during Ramadan, in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during a rally in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi protest at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi joins in a protest at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • A supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi reads the Koran at the Rabaa Adawiya square, Cairo,  July 9, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at their camp in Rabaa Adawiy square, Cairo, July 9, 2013. 
  • A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi with a national flag gestures to army soldiers guard at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 9, 2013.
  • Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Morsi at Republican Guard headquarters in Nasr City, Cairo, July 8, 2013. 
  • Supporters Morsi carry the body of a fellow supporter killed by violence outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
  • Morsi supporters mourn protesters who died during clashes with army soldiers in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
  • Wounded supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi wait for treatment at a field hospital in Cairo, July 8, 2013. 

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid