Egyptian General’s Conciliatory Tone Still Sounds Threatening
(CAIRO) — The death toll in Egypt keeps mounting, with neither Egypt’s armed forces nor the supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi willing to give up their battle for control of the government.
By Sunday, fatalities were well over 800 over the past five days, including 36 detained members of the Muslim Brotherhood who suffocated while inhaling tear gas after they tried to escape from a police van while being transported to a prison.
Meanwhile, military strongman Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi told army and police members in a speech Sunday that “there is room for everyone” — an attempt at reconciliation that his critics maintain is disingenuous.
Al-Sisi exhorted Brotherhood supporters to help “rebuild the democratic path” and “integrate in the political process” but also issued a warning that the military would not tolerate peaceful demonstrations that turn violent.
The general, who led the July 3 ouster of Morsi, the democratically-elected president, promised, “We will not stand by silently watching the destruction of the country and the people or the torching the nation and terrorizing the citizens.”
Last Wednesday’s destruction of two encampments in Cairo where Morsi supporters staged sit-ins resulted in more than 600 deaths, while 173 people died last Friday when civilian government supporters joined the military in taking up arms to fight Islamists, a dangerous new turn in the violence.
A siege at al-Fath mosque in Cairo also turned bloody on Saturday as 79 deaths were reported nationwide.
Nonetheless, the Brotherhood has stepped up its call for daily demonstrations even as a state of emergency exists.
Adding to the confusion were comments Sunday by Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, who said his country was reviewing its strategic partnerships with the U.S. and the West, a suggestion that Cairo is unhappy with the way the international community has reacted to the crisis. Speculation is growing that the Egyptian government could turn to Russia or China if it feels Washington might cut off a $1.3 billion aid package.
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