Yesterday, a special US envoy arrived to congratulate Egyptians on their “second chance” at democracy, but not everyone was in a celebratory mood. A battle between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the military-run security forces in Cairo ended with seven dead and 262 wounded:
Deadly clashes erupted on the streets of Cairo on Monday night not long after a visiting U.S. diplomat hailed what he called a “second chance” for Egyptian democracy after the ouster of the country’s elected president this month.
Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns, the highest-level U.S. official to visit Cairo since President Mohamed Morsi was removed by the military July 3, signaled Washington’s readiness to stand with Egypt’s new leaders. Hours later, hundreds of thousands of Morsi supporters shut down major roads and highways in central Cairo and the coastal city of Alexandria, and police launched barrages of tear gas to clear them.
By Tuesday morning, at least seven people were dead and more than 260 injured, according to the state-run Middle East News Agency.
Ramses Square in the center of Egypt’s capital quickly turned into a battle zone early Tuesday, as clashes erupted between Morsi’s supporters and police who were joined by plainclothes men hurling stones at the protesters from an overpass.
Supporters of Morsi retreated to a local mosque for shelter after the battle, where they still remain. They plan to leave soon, but want to wait until the coast is clear. So far, more than five dozen Morsi supporters have been killed in fights with the police and perhaps ten times as many injured. A parallel protest involving hundreds more at a sit-in has gone more peacefully, but it’s clear that the Army won’t be able to intimidate the Brotherhood into acquiescence.
Neither will they have much luck at convincing them to join the new government, especially with the US tipping its hand. NBC notes that the aid has not been frozen but it’s still “under review”:
The U.S. supports Egypt with $1.5 billion in aid annually.
However, that aid was formally put under review last week in the wake of the military-backed power shift.
U.S. law requires that aid be cut off to a country that undergoes a military coup, but Western leaders have stopped short of declaring the July 3 transition a coup.
With Burns telling the Egyptians that the not-coup coup gave them a “second chance” at democracy, though, the aid is all but certain to continue. That not-so-subtle message is the strongest signal yet that the White House learned its lesson over the last two years that rushing into an election that favors radicals isn’t exactly smart power. Egyptians aren’t the only ones with a second chance here.