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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tanks in the Streets and Defiance

Protests continue in Egypt between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ... everyone else? (Do I dare hope that the anti-Morsi protesters represent the silent majority?). The Daily Mail reports:
Firebombs and stones were thrown in the bloodiest outbreak since last year's uprising that toppled authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Armoured troop carriers have deployed and soldiers unfurled barbed wire to protect the palace and help police pacify what has become a chaotic battleground.

With at least seven tanks at the palace corners, backed by about 10 armoured troop carriers and 20 police trucks, the two sides mostly shouted slogans at each other from a distance.
But the commander of the Republican Guard said his intention was to separate the opposing sides, not to repress them.
'The armed forces, and at the forefront of them the Republican Guard, will not be used as a tool to oppress the demonstrators,' General Mohamed Zaki told the state news agency.

. . . State television quoted the health ministry as saying five people were killed and 446 were injured as mobs battled outside the presidential complex in the Heliopolis district of the capital.
The fighting erupted late yesterday when members of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood chased the protesters away from their base outside the palace's main gate and tore down their tents.
After a brief lull, hundreds of opponents arrived and began throwing firebombs at the president's backers, who responded with rocks.

The crowds swelled and the clashes continued well after nightfall, spreading from the immediate vicinity of the palace to residential streets nearby.
Hundreds of riot police could not stop the fighting as officers fired tear gas in a bid to disperse Mr Morsi's opponents.
In an televised address, however, Morsi remained defiant. The Telegraph indicates:
Speaking in a televised address, the president remained defiant, saying he would not tolerate anyone working towards the overthrow of his “legitimate” government.
“We respect peaceful freedom of speech but will never allow anyone to take part in killings and sabotage,” he said.
Mr Morsi vowed to push on with a Dec 15 referendum on a controversial new constitution, saying “afterwards, there should be no obstacle and everyone must follow its will.”
He invited political groups, judges and the opposition to meet on Saturday for talks over the political crisis gripping the country.
“I call for a full, productive dialogue with all figures and heads of parties, revolutionary youth and senior legal figures to meet this Saturday.”
Following the speech, the main opposition alliance, the National Salvation Front, said it was assessing Mr Morsi’s offer of talks, but some pro-democracy activists declared they would not take part. The speech did little to quell ongoing violence on the streets of Cairo, which has left at least six dead and some 700 injured, with angry protestors storming the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood and setting fire to the building.

. . . He said he would form a new assembly to write a new version of the constitution if the current draft was rejected.
 So, does he want a dialogue, or simply to get the opposition leaders all in one place so he can make a mass arrest . . . or worse?

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