News / Middle East

West Increases Pressure on Egypt

An Egyptian takes video of the burning remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, in the center of the largest protest camp of Morsi supporters that was cleared by security forces, Nasr city, Cairo, August 15, 2013.
An Egyptian takes video of the burning remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, in the center of the largest protest camp of Morsi supporters that was cleared by security forces, Nasr city, Cairo, August 15, 2013.
VOA News
Western powers have stepped up pressure on Egypt's interim government, a day after its crackdown on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi left hundreds dead.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday he has canceled a major U.S.-Egypt joint military exercise scheduled for next month.  The "Bright Star" exercise typically is held every two years and boosts the prestige of the Egyptian army, whose ties to the United States go back decades.

Interrupting his vacation in the state of Massachusetts to announce the move, Obama said he wants to sustain U.S. cooperation with Egypt, which receives more than $1 billion in U.S. military aid annually.  But, he warned of further steps if Egyptian authorities continue to engage in what he called "violence against civilians."

Related video report by Michael Lipin:

Egypt's Protest Crackdown Draws Criticism in West, Pro-Morsi Nationsi
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August 15, 2013 12:15 PM
Egypt's violent crackdown on supporters of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi has triggered condemnations from Western powers and Muslim nations who backed the ousted leader. VOA's Michael Lipin has more from Washington
In Europe, Egyptian ambassadors were summoned by Britain, France, Germany and Italy to hear objections to Wednesday's crackdown on pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo.

Obama also called for an end to violence by supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, which has demanded the former president's reinstatement after the military deposed him on July 3.

"Let me say that the Egyptian people deserve better than what we have seen over the last several days. And to the Egyptian people, let me say the cycle of violence and escalation needs to stop," said President Obama.

French President Francois Hollande's office said he condemned the killings in Egypt and urged it to do everything possible to avoid a civil war.  German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also called for the fighting to end.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr appealed to the Egyptian government to exercise restraint.

"We underline the need for a peaceful resolution, a compromise between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood and an end to the loss of life, the resort to violence.  Respect for minorities.  I think that is a very important theme that needs to be underlined as well," said Carr.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who supported Morsi's year-long administration, called for the U.N. Security Council to respond quickly to what he described as Egypt's massacre of protesters.  Erdogan also criticized Western powers for not taking tougher action against Egypt.

"You remained silent in Palestine, Gaza, you remained silent in Syria.  One hundred thousand people lost their lives and you are still remaining silent.  Four hundred thousand people are seeking refuge in Turkey and still [you are] remaining silent.  You are still silent on Egypt," said Erdogan. "So how come you talk about democracy, freedom, global values and human rights?''

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the reports of mass fatalities in Egypt's unrest "point to an excessive, even extreme use of force against demonstrators."

Pillay called for an independent investigation of the conduct of Egyptian security forces. But, she also acknowledged allegations that some protesters were heavily armed and said demonstrators must remain peaceful.

China declined to criticize the Egyptian government as a state television anchorwoman read the Chinese foreign ministry's first reaction to the situation.

"China urges all relevant parties in Egypt to put national and the people's interest first, maintain the maximum restraint to avoid more casualties, bridge differences through dialogue and negotiations, restore order and social stability," she said.

Russia limited its comment on Egypt to a message urging Russian citizens to refrain from traveling to Egypt.

The United Arab Emirates expressed understanding for the Egyptian government, which it said took sovereign measures against the pro-Morsi protesters after exercising "maximum self-control."  The UAE is an opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood and provided $3 billion in aid to the interim government that replaced Morsi.

Pope Francis asked the faithful to pray for peace in Egypt.

"Painful news, unfortunately, reaches us from Egypt. I wish to ensure that my prayers are with all the victims and their families, the wounded and those who are suffering. Let us pray together for peace, dialogue and reconciliation in that beloved land and in the whole world," said Pope Francis.

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