The PJ Tatler

Egyptian Security Forces Crack Down on Pro-Morsi Protests

It’s a good old-fashioned bloodbath perpetrated by a government under the control of the military. More than 150 people have been slaughtered at two protest camps — a number that almost certainly undercounts the dead by a considerable margin.

How do we know? This is how the police say “good morning” in Egypt these days:

Black-clad riot police and plainclothes men in flak jackets moved into the camps at about 7 a.m., confronting protesters with a barrage of tear gas, and then gunfire, as armored vehicles plowed through tents.

Plumes of black smoke rose from the Rabaa al-Adawiya encampment, and the sting of tear gas filled the side streets around the sit-in, where security force opened fire on civilian spectators. Some of the security forces moved through the streets carrying assault rifles and wearing black face masks to conceal their identities. A police officer ordered journalists to leave the area or be shot.

Can you imagine if Mubarak had used these tactics? He might still be in power if he had.

Bulldozers running over tents, snipers firing from rooftops, security forces firing into crowds — and then there’s this:

“At 7 a.m. they came. Helicopters from the top and bulldozers from below. They smashed through our walls. Police and soldiers, they fired tear gas at children,” Saleh Abdulaziz, a 39-year-old teacher, told Reuters.”They continued to fire at protesters even when we begged them to stop.”

A Reuters correspondent said pools of blood were everywhere, with dozens of people lying in the street after suffering bullet and birdshot wounds.

The smaller of the two camps was cleared of protesters by late morning, with most of them taking refuge in the nearby Orman botanical gardens, inside the sprawling campus of Cairo University and the zoo.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said security forces were chasing the protesters inside the zoo. At one point, a dozen protesters, mostly men with beards wearing traditional Islamist garb, were seen handcuffed and sitting on a sidewalk under guard outside the university campus. The private ONTV network showed firearms and rounds of ammunition allegedly seized from protesters there.

Security forces later stormed the larger camp in the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City.

An Associated Press television video journalist there said he could hear the screams of women as a cloud of white smoke hung over the protest encampment. He said a bulldozer was removing mounds of sand bags and brick walls built earlier by the protesters as a defense line in their camp.

Mewanwhile, the most internationally prominent member of the government, Vice President Mohammed ElBaradei, has resigned:

Mohamed ElBaradei, the No. 2 man in Egypt’s embattled interim government, abruptly resigned Wednesday in an apparent split with the nation’s leader, as fighting intensified between security forces and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a resignation letter sent to Interim President Adly Mansour as the day’s death toll from clashes throughout Egypt mounted, ElBaradei cited “decisions I do not agree with” regarding the government’s crackdown on the political turmoil which began on July 3 with the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi, Reuters reports.

“It has become difficult for me to continue bearing responsibility for decisions that I do not agree with and whose consequences I fear,” ElBaradei wrote. “I cannot bear the responsibility for one drop of blood.”

ElBaradei would never have been able to show his face at a UN cocktail party again unless he had stepped down and disassociated himself from the carnage.

No doubt the Obama administration will pretend that nothing is amiss and aid to the military in Egypt will continue. Good thing because at the rate they’re expending bullets, they’re going to need a resupply soon.

Yes, Islamists are bad, bad people and the Muslim Brotherhood are the worst of them. We don’t want them in power. We don’t want them spreading their poisonous ideology. But guess what? The Islamists won 70% of the seats in the Egyptian parliament in an election last year. This isn’t some fringe opposition group they’re trying to suppress. The Egyptian people may be mad at the way that Morsi incompetently dealt with the economy and tried to suppress the opposition himself, but if the election were held tomorrow, Islamists would almost certainly receive a majority of the vote.

I’m just cynical enough to think it’s a good thing they’re out of power, but firing live bullets into a crowd? Tear gassing women and children?

Egypt’s travails are just beginning.