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.
    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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora