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Egypt army detains deposed president Mursi, aides

Egypt’s army overthrew and detained Mohammed Mursi in an abrupt end to the Islamist’s first year in office following days of bloodshed and protests demanding his resignation, as the head of Egypt’s Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, was sworn in as interim president Thursday.

A senior military officer told AFP on Thursday the army was “preventively” holding Mursi, whose government unraveled after the military gave him a 48 hour ultimatum in the wake of massive demonstrations against him on June 30, exactly a year into his rule.

Mursi’s defense minister, armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced Mursi’s overthrow on state television late Wednesday, even as police began rounding up key Mursi aides and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But according to state newspaper al-Ahram, Mursi was informed by the army at around 5:00pm on Wednesday that he was no longer president.

Speaking at the Constitutional Court in Cairo, interim president Mansour said he planned to hold new elections, but did not specify when.

He said Egypt had “corrected the path of its glorious revolution” through mass street protests calling for Mursi’s resignation, which ultimately sealed his fate.

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of a total of 300 Brotherhood officials, state media reported.

Police have begun arresting leaders of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, an interior ministry general told AFP.

Saad al-Katatni, head of Mursi’s Freedom and Justice Party, was already in custody, he added.

Top leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement were being held in the same Cairo prison as Mursi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak, state news agency MENA said on Thursday.

Mursi had been summoned for questioning by a court over his escape, along with other inmates, from prison during the revolt that overthrew his predecessor Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Mursi “is being held preventively for final preparations,” the military official said, suggesting the Islamist might face formal charges over accusations made by his opponents.

The military official suggested he may now be charged by prosecutors in the case.

Mursi was detained along with senior aides after issuing a defiant call for supporters to protect his elected “legitimacy,” in a recorded speech hours after the military announced his ouster.

“We had to confront it at some point, this threatening rhetoric,” the military officer said.

“He succeeded in creating enmity between Egyptians,” he added.

Staff of al-Jazeera’s Egyptian affiliate were also arrested after the channel aired a defiant speech by the deposed president, the station reported.

Egypt’s military-led authorities also shut down several Islamist-run TV stations on Wednesday including one operated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and arrested some of the personnel working there, al-Ahram reported.

In his speech, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi laid out details of the roadmap for a political transition.

The Islamist-drafted constitution would be frozen and presidential elections held early, he said, without specifying when.

The armed forces, which had deployed troops and armor across the country, would “remain far away from politics,” he stressed.

Opposition leader Mohammed el-Baradei, former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, sat beside army chief Sisi as he announced on state television that Mursi’s rule was over.

In Cairo, thousands of protestors began celebrations at the news immediately.

“It’s a new historical moment. We got rid of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood,” said one celebrator, Omar Sherif.

But at least seven of Mursi’s supporters were killed in clashes with security forces in Alexandria and the eastern city of Marsa Matrouh, security officials said.

The official MENA news agency also reported three people killed in the southern province of Minya when pro-Mursi supporters attacked the Islamist’s opponents.

Already in the week leading up to Mursi’s downfall, at least 50 people died in clashes between the Islamist’s supporters and opponents.

His year in power was marked by a spiraling economic crisis, shortages in fuel and often deadly opposition protests.

The embattled 61-year-old had proposed a “consensus government” as a way out of the crisis, the worst since the 2011 uprising that ended three decades of authoritarian rule by Hosni Mubarak.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

4 responses to “Egypt army detains deposed president Mursi, aides

  1. AllBorn Equalrights

    For any successful Egyptian social revolution the army would need to lose its institutional economic privileges!

    [This is a translation of a Jadaliyya article that was originally published in Arabic. The Arabic version is accessible from the full English version at http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/3732/the-army-and-the-economy-in-egypt . Below is an abridged English version where … indicates abridgement.]

    Should the production of pasta, mineral water, butane gas cylinders, and gas station services qualify as classified military secrets? And does discussing these enterprises in public pass as a crime of high treason? The leaders of the Egyptian Armed Forces believe the answer is “yes.”

    Until this very day, the role of the military establishment in the economy remains one of the major taboos in Egyptian politics. Over the past thirty years, the army has insisted on concealing information about its enormous interests in the economy and thereby keeping them out of reach of public transparency and accountability. The Egyptian Armed Forces owns a massive segment of Egypt’s economy—twenty-five to forty percent, according to some estimates. In charge of managing these enterprises are the army’s generals and colonels, notwithstanding the fact that they lack the relevant experience, training, or qualifications for this task.

    The military’s economic interests encompass a diverse range of revenue-generating activities, including the selling and buying of real estate on behalf of the government, domestic cleaning services, running cafeterias, managing gas stations, farming livestock, producing food products, and manufacturing plastic table covers. All this information is readily available on the websites of relevant companies and factories, which publicly and proudly disclose that they belong to the army. Yet for some reason the military establishment insists on outlawing any public mention of these activities…

    The army’s control over economy began in the aftermath of the 1952 revolution/coup, which paved the way for Egypt’s experience with state socialism under leadership of the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser. During this era, the state came to own all economic assets and means of production through nationalization programs. Austerity measures were adopted to limit consumption with the aim of enhancing the country’s economic independence. Egypt’s new ruling elite among army officers quickly installed themselves as the managers of state-owned enterprises—a task for which they were largely unqualified. “The people control all means of production,” according to the 1964 constitution, and Egypt’s military rulers in turn took the initiative to claim this control on behalf of the people. As corruption and mismanagement soon proliferated throughout the public sector, Nasser’s project ultimately failed to deliver the promise of economic prosperity. In some ways this failure was unsurprising given that officers, whose skills and knowledge base were limited to military affairs and warfare, came to assume responsibilities such as managing the economy and the means of production—tasks for which they were unprepared.

    In the 1970s, the army’s monopoly over power started to erode as late President Anwar al-Sadat decided to take Egypt off its socialist path, and reintroduced market economics as a means for fostering strategic and economic ties with the West. Sadat took steps to privatize parts of the state-owned sector, which military leaders tended to control, and pursued policies that gave Western consumer goods and services access to Egyptian markets. These policies came at the partial marginalization of military leaders, who now had to share influence with a rising community of crony capitalists, many of whom were close to Sadat and his family.

    Fortunately for military leaders, however, this humiliating situation did not last for very long as the 1979 peace treaty with Israel came to the rescue of army leaders, helping them recover some of the influence they had lost under Sadat’s presidency. After ending the state of war with Israel, Egyptian leaders reasoned that laying-off thousands of well-trained army officers is politically undesirable. Thus, the state established an economic body known as the “National Services Projects Organization,” (NSPO) which founded different commercial enterprises run by retired generals and colonels. Through various subsidies and tax exemptions, the state granted military-owned enterprises privileges not enjoyed by any other company in the public or private sectors. The military’s enterprises were not accountable to any government body, and were above the laws and regulations applied to all other companies.

    After 1992, when deposed President Hosni Mubarak began advancing full-fledged economic liberalization under US pressure—as proscribed by blueprints devised by the IMF and the World Bank—privatization programs steered clear of military-owned enterprises. Even when the Gamal Mubarak-controlled cabinet of businessmen accelerated privatization programs between 2004 and 2011, military-owned companies remained untouched. In fact, high-ranking army officers received their share of benefits from corruption-ridden privatization deals in the form of appointments to prestigious positions in recently privatized public sector enterprises.

    Generally speaking, the Egyptian military establishment does not believe in US-style neoliberalism or free market policies, particularly those that would result in the army’s loss of its valued companies and assets. Such feared measures include limiting the state’s economic role, privatization, and promoting the role of private capital. For instance, in a 2008 Wikileaks cable, a former US ambassador to Egypt indicated that Filed Marshal Tantawi was critical of economic liberalization on the ground that it undermined the state’s control over the economy. Tantawi’s skepticism of neoliberal economics has little to do with his loyalty to the socialist model of the Soviet Union, where he received his training as a young officer. Rather, it is privatization’s potential encroachments against the vast economic empire owned by the military that Tantawi fears the most.

    As managers, Egyptian army leaders usually run their enterprises in a traditional Soviet style inherited from the Cold War era. Yet as consumers, they tend to adopt a more “Americanized,” globalization-friendly orientation. There is no doubt that the ties between Egyptian military elites and their counterparts in the Pentagon play a role in fostering this “consumerist” orientation among Egypt’s military leaders. As part of defense cooperation programs between the two countries, many Egyptian officers travel on annual trips to the United States, getting exposed to a lifestyle that is radically different from the life of Soviet-style austerity through which they endured during the sixties and seventies. For instance, as he made his famous visit to Tahrir Square to meet with protesters during last winter’s eighteen-day uprising, Tantawi arrived in a fancy US-made jeep. Lieutenant General Sami Anan, prominent member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), is known for his fondness for American consumer goods, according to a New York Timesarticle. During his regular visits to Washington DC, Anan and his family are reported to shop for jeans, clothes, and electronics at Tysons Corner shopping mall in the suburbs of northern Virginia. In fact, American-style consumerism is rumored to be so prevalent among young army officers that many of them try to purchase their uniforms from American producers.

    If military leaders were in fact fine administrators who are capable of advancing the country’s social and economic development, it would make sense for them to continue to maintain their economic interests and assets for the greater good of Egypt. But are they really capable of managing these enterprises? Once again, the answer is no. For example, very few of us have heard of “Queen,” the army-produced brand of pasta. Those of us who know it have never once described it as the best brand on the market. Nor does one ever hear that the army’s “Wataniyyah” gas stations offer services superior to those of other stations. Nor have we once heard anyone raving about “Safi” mineral water and how every dining table should have it. In reality, the army manages to sell its products not due to their superior quality, but rather through draconian practices. For example, the army effectively forces enlisted soldiers to spend their meager salaries on military-produced food products at army canteens in remote areas where non-military brands are not sold. In other cases, the army gets civilian distributors to sell its products by offering them ‘favors’ through underhanded deals.

    Additionally, the military is heavily engaged in profiting from its control over vast amounts of land—thanks to a law that allows it to seize any public land for the purpose of “defending the nation.” In practice, military leaders use this law in order to use public lands for commercial investments, rather than the legally mandated purpose of national defense. An agency known as “The Armed Forces’ Land Projects” specializes—as its name suggests—in launching projects on lands controlled by the Armed Forces. Properties owned by this agency include lands in Nasr City on which residential units are currently being constructed. In the northern coast, the military is using its seized lands to build tourist resorts and hotels, as it has done in Sidi Crir. Recent newspaper advertisements indicate that the Armed Forces are currently engaged in the commercial sale of lands in the northern coast for the purpose of building tourist resorts and residences.

    Furthermore, as the managers of a state-owned economic empire built on corruption and oppression of working classes, military leaders have become decisively complicit in repressing labor and violating their rights.

    Being an army general, a member of the National Democratic Party (NDP), and a Member of Parliament for ten years almost guarantees that one is part of a corruption network. General Sayed Mishaal perfectly fits this profile. Before becoming Minister of Military Production, Mishaal was a director of the National Service Projects Organization (NSPO). During that time, he was also a member of the NDP, and as an MP for Cairo’s district of Helwan for three consecutive terms from 2000 to 2011. He used to proudly brag about managing to name the military-produced bottled mineral water Safi after his daughter. Mishaal was removed from his post after the revolution as a result of referrals to the General Prosecutor accusing him of wasteful spending of the ministry’s funds. Mishaal’s victory in parliamentary elections in Helwan was made easy by the fact that he could mobilize the votes of tens of thousands of individuals who work at “Military Factory 99,” located in the district. Mishaal used to show up at the factory to celebrate and make merry with the workers during election campaign events, only to disappear and hardly return after his victory.

    The name “Military Factory 99” has also become associated with the repression of workers, especially that labor-employer relations in the factory are not subject to traditional union or government regulations. In August of 2010, Factory 99’s workers broke out into intense protests after one of their colleagues died as a result of an explosion. The director of the factory, who was also a general, had brought in a number of gas cylinders in order to test them out, even though the workers were not trained to use them. When several cylinders exploded, he told the workers that it would not matter if one or two of them died. Then, when one of them did in fact die, they stormed his office, gave him a beating, and then staged a sit-in. Subsequently, the workers’ leaders were tried in military courts for charges of revealing “war secrets” on account that they spoke publicly about butane gas cylinders.

    This in turn leads us to the issue of the repressive treatment of workers on military-owned livestock farms. These workers are usually poor conscripts who end up laboring without pay. The typical story goes as follows. A soldier who hails from rural areas or poor cities is conscripted (supposedly) to learn to recite patriotic slogans and songs during morning assemblies and marches. He then forgets about all these, along with his own dignity, as he finds himself laboring with no pay in one of the military’s livestock farms, which usually extend over hundreds of thousands of acres. As he collects eggs and tends to livestock and chickens, he endures humiliation and subjugation at the hands of his supervising officers. There, he loses any feeling of national dignity, which the army allegedly seeks to instill in him. Should any war ever break out, his performance in the battlefield would be shockingly horrid, having not received any training in combat skills—thanks to the leaders who have recruited him and assigned him his post.

    The military establishment’s propagandists often argue through state controlled media outlets that the secrecy of the Armed Forces’ budget is a patriotic duty that we must honor and protect as Egyptians. It is hardly convincing, however, that those conscripts who are carrying out force labor at the NSPO agree with that statement. In fact, given their conditions, they may not even grasp the concept of “patriotism” to begin with.

    Any discussion of the relationship between the army and economy cannot ignore the military establishment’s near-absolute dominance of the local economy in various Egyptian governorates. It is well known to many that Egyptians outside of Cairo live under virtual military rule, wherein twenty-one of the twenty-nine appointed governors are retired army generals. This is in addition to dozens of posts in city and local governments that are reserved for retired officers. These individuals are responsible for managing wide-ranging economic sectors in each governorate. In other words, army generals—whose expertise does not go beyond operating armored tanks or fighter jets—are suddenly tasked with managing and overseeing significant economic activities, such as the critical tourism sectors of Luxor and Aswan, Qena’s sugar manufacturing enterprises, or Suez’s fishing and tucking industries.

    There is no shortage of corruption stories involving army generals and their mismanagement of local economies. For example, in one such incident former Luxor Governor General Samir Farag—who previously served as director of morale affairs of the Armed Forces—sold land to a local businessman below market prices. The land was initially designated for building an Olympic games stadium. In fact, after hundreds of millions of Egyptian pounds were spent on the project, all of a sudden construction was suspended and all the spent funds went to waste, as the land was sold to a businessman that owned a hotel across the street. Similarly, the residents of Aswan allege that their governor General Mustafa al-Sayed was involved in corruption cases involving public lands and the tourism sector. Al-Sayed recently appointed at least ten retired army brigadier generals as managers of the quarries and river ports and offered them exorbitant salaries, even though they lack relevant qualifications and experience.

    Given that those in charge of managing our local economies receive such jobs as a “retirement bonus,” it is unsurprising that local development throughout Egyptian governorates has remained stagnant for decades and lags behind other countries.

    It is for the sake of all the aforementioned interests and privileges that military leaders killed unarmed revolutionaries (and continue to do so) in Tahrir, Abbassiya, Maspero, Mohamed Mahmoud, and Qasr Al-Ayni.

    Completing the revolution and the triumph of Egyptian demonstrators would inaugurate a genuine democratic transformation in this country. It means full financial transparency and subjecting all budgets to the principle of accountability. Completing the revolution means the army must lose its institutional economic privileges, as military leaders return to their original role, namely national defense—and not the management of wedding halls.


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  2. http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2013/07/02/egyptian-intelligence-collaborated-with-mossad-in-sinai-kidnapping/

    What’s astonishing is that the Mossad operates inside Egypt with the willing collaboration of Egyptian intelligence. In fact, my confidential Israeli source relayed an almost boastful acknowledgement that harkened back to a disastrous Mossad operation which involved the 2011 kidnapping of Dirar Abusisi in the Ukraine:

    “As far as Mossad is concerned, the only difference between Cairo and Kiev is that the name of the river in Egypt’s capital is Nile, and in Ukraine’s capital is Dnieper.”

    The hubris of this statement exposes the reckless instincts of Israel’s covert spy agency. Just as it killed the wrong man in Lillehammer, and kidnapped Abusisi after being fooled by Hamas into believing he knew where Gilad Shalit was held captive, and was caught with its pants down after snuffing out the life of Mahmoud al-Mabouh in Dubai, it will continue behaving rashly. It will continue violating the sovereignty of any state anywhere for what it perceives to be its interests and its advantage.

    That isn’t so unusual as we’re seeing in the omniverous spookery of the NSA, which didn’t care whether it was spying on friend or foe, domestic or overseas targets. What is unusual is that the security services of countries like the Ukraine, Jordan (which collaborated with the Mossad in detaining Abusisi before his kidnapping), and Egypt are willing conspirators in the violation of their own territorial sovereignty.

    If these individuals kidnapped or murdered in Sinai by Mossad were guilty of engaging in terrorist acts, then one could understand Egypt’s interest in ridding itself of them. But do it yourself. Why farm out your intelligence operations on your own soil to foreign agencies? Frankly, I’m shocked that Egyptians aren’t more exercised by this. Of course, they are presently distracted by a few ‘minor skirmishes’ happening in Cairo including a military coup threat. So one can understand why this incident hasn’t gained more traction.

    But if countries want to rein in the Mossad’s overweening ambition to make the entire world its battlefield in the cause of combatting Palestinian militants, they’ll have to take more aggressive action than they have till now.

    There are, of course, hidden reasons why such foreign agencies collaborate with the Mossad. Israel makes a habit of dangling economic, trade and other goodies before the leaders of these countries. The Ukraine gained liberalized visa and trade tariffs shortly after the Abusisi kidnapping, when the country’s president came calling to Jerusalem. I don’t know what King Abdullah has been offered, nor what Egypt’s intelligence services are getting as quid pro quos. But you can be sure there is one (or two).

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  3. http://edition.presstv.ir/TextOnly/detail.aspx?id=312094

    U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has been in contact with his Egyptian counterpart Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi twice in the past week amid the country’s growing unrest.

    Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters about the calls without giving further details about their content, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

    The Pentagon did not disclose last week’s call until now because of the sensitivities of the situation, Little said.

    Supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi held rallies across the capital, Cairo, on Wednesday as the Army’s 48-hour deadline for the president to yield to the demands of the protesters or face military intervention approached.

    Since last week, more than 47 people have been killed and nearly 1,500 injured in clashes between pro and anti-Morsi protesters.

    The United States has said hundreds of its crisis-response Marines in Europe were positioned to deploy to Egypt.

    “I believe that any discussion about foreign interference in Egypt would be detrimental to the Egyptian people,” editor of Pan-African News Wire Abayomi Azikiwe said by phone on Wednesday.

    “I believe that the situation in Egypt should be resolved by the Egyptian people themselves. They should do this in conjunction with the African Union,” Azikiwe said.

    “The solution is for the Egyptian people to develop their own government of national unity and to form alliances throughout the African Union,” he added.

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/07/03/312096/hagel-in-contact-with-egypt-army/ Wed, 03 Jul 2013 17:07:30 GMT

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  4. For any successful Egyptian social revolution the army would need to lose its institutional economic privileges!

    [This is a translation of a Jadaliyya article by Zeinab Abul-Magd that was originally published in Arabic.

    http://fb-rayberau.newsvine.com/_news/2013/07/04/19286233-the-army-and-the-economy-in-egypt-a-corrupt-military-soviet-style-crony-capitalism

    It is for the sake of all the aforementioned interests and privileges that military leaders killed unarmed revolutionaries (and continue to do so) in Tahrir, Abbassiya, Maspero, Mohamed Mahmoud, and Qasr Al-Ayni.

    Completing the revolution and the triumph of Egyptian demonstrators would inaugurate a genuine democratic transformation in this country. It means full financial transparency and subjecting all budgets to the principle of accountability. Completing the revolution means the army must lose its institutional economic privileges, as military leaders return to their original role, namely national defense—and not the management of wedding halls.

    Like

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