Saudi Arabia has long relied on foreign workers to fill millions of low-paying construction, clerical and service jobs, in many cases illicitly. But as the government cracks down on illegal workers, tens of thousands of Filipino and Indonesian migrants are being forced to leave the country by November 3, or face up to two years in jail.
In response, senior Philippine officials flew to Saudi this week to negotiate the repatriation of 5,000 Filipino laborers who still have not been issued exit permits five days before the deadline, while Vice President Jejomar Binay wrote to Saudi King Abdullah pleading for more time. Indonesia, meanwhile, expects to repatriate 18,000 migrant workers, only 4,000 of whom have obtained exit permits. The repatriation process is costly for both governments and workers: The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has offered to shoulder penalties and fines imposed upon their citizens in Saudi, and opened a temporary shelter in Jeddah for undocumented mothers and children; the Indonesian government is trying to facilitate low-cost flights for its citizens.
The Saudis' crackdown on foreign workers is part of a broader push to create more jobs for its own citizens. The government began prioritizing job creation in 2011, in an effort to stave off popular unrest (At the time, 25 percent of Saudi youths were unemployed), and instituted a "Saudization" policy. Now, fewer firms are allowed to employ foreign workers and, because migrant laborers require employer sponsorship to obtain work permits, many lost their legal right to remain in the country. (Some were already in the country illegally, having entered with the help of recruiters who operate outside the regulatory system). Since then, more than 800,000 migrant laborers have been deported.
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images
The United States has cut off foreign aid because of a string of alleged killings by police. Just not in Egypt.
The State Department confirmed Thursday that it has suspended assistance to the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia because of 12 killings in 2011 by an "ad hoc task force within the police department." Reuters reports that five of the dead were on a hit list of people deemed to be criminals. The State Department said there has been only "limited progress" in investigating the killings.
The news comes against the backdrop of Egyptian security forces' violent crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsy, which began on Aug. 14 and left more than 1,000 people dead. Granted, the hit-list charges give the St. Lucia killings a more pre-meditated dimension.
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MONOFEYA, Egypt -- Anis Nasr al-Din was missing. The 21-year-old police conscript had spent the night of Aug. 18 in the city of Arish, and was heading back to his unit's base in the town of Rafah, along the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip, after a holiday. But the next day, his family was unable to reach him.
"At 5 a.m., I gave him a couple of phone calls, but he was hanging up," said Anis's brother Mohammed. "At 6:30 a.m., I tried to call four more times, but the phone was just ringing.
Mohammed kept trying to reach his brother throughout the day, but was unsuccessful. By the afternoon, he learned why: Armed gunmen ambushed two buses carrying the police conscripts at a checkpoint in a small village outside of Rafah, binding their arms and executing them in cold blood along the side of the road.
At least 25 police conscripts were killed in the assault, including Anis. It was the bloodiest attack yet on Egypt's security forces in the North Sinai, which is the site of an increasingly violent insurgency by Islamist militants.
The Egyptian government describes its struggle against jihadists in Sinai as a war on terror -- reaching for another phrase in the American political lexicon to describe its military campaign there, dubbing it "Operation Desert Storm." Its language does not leave much room for distinguishing between the jihadists in Sinai and Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Cairo: When army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Egyptians to take to the streets last month "to give me a mandate to end terrorism," his words were soon followed by a crackdown on the pro-Morsy demonstrations in the capital. And in the villages from which many of the conscripts hailed, their families and neighbors are now preparing for their own smaller wars on terror.
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
On Wednesday, an Egyptian court ordered Hosni Mubarak, the ousted Egyptian dictator, to be freed from prison, where he has been awaiting trial on a slew of charges related to abuses during his time in office.
Mubarak's release, which could occur as early as today or tomorrow, threatens to inflame the bloody week-long standoff between the military-backed government and the Muslim Brotherhood. Serious analyses of the implications of Mubarak's release for Egypt's future and democratic aspirations are sure to come. But, for now, reaction to the news is piling up fast on Twitter, with users highlighting the absurdity of the situation. Two years after Mubarak's ouster, the military is back in control, and the country's democratically elected president is behind bars at an undisclosed location. That bleak reality is underscored by this depressing fact: a Facebook page created two days ago that promotes a potential Mubarak re-election campaign in 2014 has already racked up nearly 2,000 likes.
Here's a snapshot of the disillusionment dominating the Twittersphere in the post-post-Mubarak era.
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
CAIRO -- Of all the ways to die, this was one of the most horrible. On Monday, the Egyptian government acknowledged that its security forces had killed 36 Islamist prisoners the day before -- the first time mass casualties had occurred involving Egyptians in government custody. Security officials said that the prisoners had rioted while in a prison truck and captured a guard, causing the officers to respond by firing tear gas and the prisoners to die of asphyxiation. If that's the case, crowd control experts say, the prisoners perished in agony -- gasping for air and incapable of resisting their guards.
The incident underlines the brutality of the struggle between the new Egyptian government and its opponents. While the death toll from last week primarily consisted of civilians and security forces caught up in the violence of mass demonstrations, this week's casualties have largely been the result of targeted attacks on particular groups. And Egypt's security forces have suffered casualties as well: Islamic militants executed 25 off-duty police conscripts on Monday near the city of Rafah, along the Israel-Egypt border.
JONATHAN RASHAD/AFP/Getty Images
CAIRO -- Is Hosni Mubarak about to be a free man? An Egyptian court ruled on Monday that the former president was not guilty in a case that accused him of misusing state funds to finance the construction of his presidential palaces. Mubarak's main attorney, Fareed el-Deeb, followed up the verdict by telling reporters that the deposed ruler "will be released [from prison] in 48 hours."
Mubarak's release would constitute the victory of a lifetime for Deeb, who has defended him to the hilt since his ouster. But the former president's release may not be as imminent as Deeb suggested, as state media reported that Mubarak would remain detained for at least another two weeks as judicial authorities determined his fate. What's more, while the colorful lawyer has proved adept at making headlines over the past two years, his proclamations have a habit of not surviving a news cycle.
CAIRO -- As the confrontation between Egypt's government and supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsy heats up, Cairo's new rulers have a new target for criticism -- the foreign press corps.
Egypt's State Information Service (SIS) released a statement Saturday criticizing some foreign correspondents for "steer[ing] away from objectivity and neutrality," which resulted in them communicating "a distorted image" of events in Egypt to their audiences. "Egypt is feeling severe bitterness towards some Western media coverage that is biased to the Muslim Brotherhood and ignores shedding light on violent and terror acts that are perpetrated by this group," the statement read.
On Aug. 14, Egyptian security forces violently disbanded sit-ins held by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Morsy. Hundreds of people died across the country in the ensuing clashes, and Egypt's interim president declared a state of emergency. Wednesday's chaotic events represent the "most serious juncture" Egypt has faced in at least 30 years, Mohamed Tawfik, Egypt's ambassador to the United States, said in an interview with Foreign Policy, in which he also blamed the Brotherhood for the latest wave of bloodshed and explained why he doesn't believe this is Egypt's Tiananmen Square moment. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Two journalists have now been confirmed killed in clashes that erupted last night as the Egyptian military began clearing sit-ins by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy. Mick Deane, a 15-year veteran cameraman for Sky News, and Habiba Abd El Aziz, a 26-year-old Emirati journalist for the publication Xpress, were both killed by gunfire.
Other journalists in Cairo have been wounded or detained by the military. Erin Cunningham, Middle East editor for GlobalPost, has compiled a series of their tweets, including:
Authorities knew full well that I'm a journalist while arresting me today. It actually seemed to get me some extra punches.— Mike Giglio (@mike_giglio) August 14, 2013
Cops took my laptop, opened it on the scene. Then punched me in the head until I gave them the password. Laptop, wallet, cell not returned.— Mike Giglio (@mike_giglio) August 14, 2013
Police officer who told me earlier I was "provoking" him by writing in my notebook now says: "if I see u again I will shoot you in the leg"— Abigail Hauslohner (@ahauslohner) August 14, 2013
Reuters photojournalist Asmaa Waguih is being moved to the international medical center after she was shot in the leg— Halim ???? (@HaleemElsharani) August 14, 2013
Press intimidation is hardly new in Egypt -- it was a staple of the Mubarak regime, and it continued during Egypt's military-led transition, under the Morsy government, and now under the military-backed government of President Adly Mansour, which came to power on July 3. But Sherif Mansour, program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa at the Committee to Protect Journalists, says it's getting worse.
MOSAAB EL-SHAMY/AFP/Getty Images
CAIRO -- The political fallout from Wednesday's bloodshed in Egypt is gathering pace -- and it's providing a revealing glimpse into the true convictions of the major figures on the non-Islamist side of the country's ideological spectrum.
Mohamed ElBaradei resigned as vice president today in protest of the government's decision to violently disperse sit-ins by backers of ousted President Mohamed Morsy. ElBaradei had previously threatened to resign if the security forces initiated such a wide-ranging crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and had reportedly feuded with army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over the issue.
CAIRO -- Right now, the "Anti-Coup Alliance," an umbrella group of organizations that oppose Egypt's new government, is claiming that 2,200 people have been killed in this morning's crackdown on pro-Morsy protesters in Cairo. Meanwhile, Egypt's Health Ministry reported that at least 15 people have been killed.
The disparity speaks not only to the murkiness of the information coming out of the pro-Morsy sit-ins, but also to the political polarization currently gripping Egypt. Both sides have created their own set of facts, and are wielding them to rally their ideological base.
Here's what we know so far: Around 7 a.m. this morning, riot police assaulted the demonstrations with tear gas and gunfire, moving quickly to bulldoze the barricades that the protesters had erected around the sit-ins. Within hours, they had succeeded in clearing the pro-Morsy sit-in at Nahda Square, which was the smaller of the two demonstrations. The security forces' move to disperse the sit-ins contradicted statements from anonymous Interior Ministry officials over the past few days, which indicated that they would establish a cordon around the demonstrations but not storm them.
CAIRO -- Egypt's new rulers have a problem: Tens of thousands of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsy are camped out in two large sit-ins across Cairo. The new government doesn't want them there -- in fact, it has been so insistent on this point that it authorized the police to take "all the necessary measures" to clear the demonstrations. Yesterday, security officials said they would besiege the sit-ins within 24 hours.
While that deadline appears to have been postponed, the fact remains that dispersing the pro-Morsy crowds is no simple task. A police assault on one of the sit-ins last month killed at least 72 people, without succeeding in breaking up the demonstration. A new bout of violence threatens to provoke international condemnation of the new government, while also weakening its domestic legitimacy.
Sid Heal made his career in resolving problems just like this one. As a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, he was a platoon commander during the 1992 L.A. riots, and then the principal advisor to the U.S. Marine Corps on non-lethal options for Operation United Shield in Somalia. And his experience has taught him that controlling a crowd depends not only on the tactics used, but also on having a "clearly defined, feasible end state" in mind.
In the long litany of complaints against the Muslim Brotherhood's ill-fated time in power, the group's inability to revive Egypt's once-prospering tourism industry ranks high. Now, a group of Egyptian youths are trying to succeed where the Brotherhood failed.
A group calling itself Rabaa Tour is trying to attract tourists to the most unlikely of places in Cairo: the central battleground between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood members. For weeks, Brothers and their supporters have been occupying the area around Rabaa al-Adaweya mosque, and Egyptian officials have repeatedly threatened to clear the sit-in. With tens of thousands of people camped out there, any effort to sweep away the protesters, who are clamoring for the re-instatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsy, will surely result in bloodshed. But this is where Rabaa Tour would like you -- yes you -- to come visit in order to learn the truth about the protesters. They even have a slogan: "Heard enough? Time to see!"
Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images
It's not easy being Robert Ford. The U.S. ambassador to Syria braved attacks on the American embassy in Damascus by pro-Assad mobs, and even risked his life by traveling to the city of Hama and northern Syria. Now, he has reportedly been recommended as the next American envoy in Cairo -- but Egyptians have already organized a campaign against his nomination.
Anti-Americanism soared to new heights in Egypt following the June 30 protests against President Mohamed Morsy. The primary target was U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson, whom protesters accused of backing the Islamist government -- many carried signs referring to her as a hayzeboon, a word that translates roughly to old hag. Posters in Tahrir Square also blamed President Barack Obama for supporting terrorism -- a reference, for the anti-Morsy crowd, to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now, it looks like Ford is in for the same treatment. A report posted on a Canadian conspiracy website accusing Ford of running "death squads" in Syria and Iraq has gone viral in Egypt: The daily al-Masry al-Youm reported the allegations credulously, without any attempt to establish the veracity of the claims. Egyptian reporter Yosri Fouda, one of the most trusted television presenters in the country, also tweeted a link to the report, calling it "a warning for all of Egypt."
I had a question for Nader Bakkar, the spokesman and co-founder of the Salafist Nour Party: How can Egypt avoid more of the bloodshed that has brought it to a crisis point since the military deposed Mohammed Morsy? There was a long silence.
"It's a very difficult question," he said eventually. "We understand that nobody can attack the military and they will stand without any reaction. But we don't want excessive reaction -- you should have the necessary emotional stability in front of civilians...At the same time, for the civilians who want to struggle against the military, we are trying to convince them that this will not lead to anything but more blood."
The message sums up the balancing act the Nour Party, the second-largest political movement only to the Brotherhood, is trying to achieve: It signed on to the "roadmap" that ousted Morsy, providing valuable Islamist cover for the coup, but has since been at odds with the new government and critical of the military crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood. They have taken the lead in pushing for a reconciliation with the Brotherhood -- but could gain the most if the Islamist movement is excluded from the political process.
David Degner/Getty Images
On July 11, the United States delivered its clearest message that it had made its peace with the military takeover in Egypt. Barely a week after President Mohammed Morsy was forced from office and three days after the army fired on pro-Morsy protesters, killing 54 of them, White House officials approved the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to the Egyptian military.
Now, Washington is making a U-turn. The Pentagon confirmed today that that the delivery of the fighter jets would be delayed due to the "current situation" in Cairo. "We do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s," said Defense Department spokesman George Little.
Michel Porro/Getty Images
Egypt's liberals have a powerful, outspoken new critic, and he's one of their own: "My dear anti-Brotherhood liberal, allow me to remind you that just a few weeks ago you were desperately complaining about how grim the future looked, but now that you have been 'relieved' of them you have become a carbon copy of their fascism and discrimination," the critic appealed in Egypt's al-Shorouk newspaper.
That critic? It's Bassem Youssef, the popular satirist whose TV show, al-Bernameg ("The Program"), is an incisive Egyptian version of The Daily Show.
GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images
Following Mohamed Morsy's overthrow in Egypt, I wrote about Ozan Varol's argument that under certain rare circumstances, coups can be described as "democratic" if they are staged against authoritarian regimes with the widespread support of the people. The three main examples cited in the paper are the 1960 Turkish Coup, 1974 Portuguese Coup, and the 2011 ouster of Hosni Mubarak In a post on the Opinio Juris blog yesterday day, Varol says recent events in Egypt don't fit the bill:
The Egyptian military deposed a president who was elected just a year ago via elections characterized by many as free and fair. To be sure, the military responded to the demands of a massive protest movement against an immensely unpopular and defiant president. There is much to criticize about President Morsi’s majoritarian governance style and the Constitution drafted under the Muslim Brotherhood’s tutelage. But the military’s actions were premature. Speculations aside, there was no indication at the time of the coup that Morsi would refuse to relinquish power upon an electoral loss or that any elections under his government would be rigged, as they were under Mubarak. Had the military not forcibly removed Morsi, opposition groups may have been able to capitalize on Morsi’s unpopularity to oust him at the ballot box. The military’s quick-fix short-circuited the established democratic procedures.
For more coup follow-up, see Jay Ulfelder on how they slow economic growth.
GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images
CAIRO — Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is currently in Egypt, making him the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit since Mohamed Morsy was ousted from power earlier this month. But the activists who organized the massive protests that helped force Morsy from office are pointedly refusing to meet with him.
CAIRO — As Egypt's new government takes shape, the appointments to key positions are providing the most revealing look yet at its priorities. A picture is emerging of a team focused on assuring the international community about Egypt's fate and improving the economic situation to lessen the chances of the sort of massive unrest that helped destabilize the country's former government.
MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images
CAIRO — During the height of Hosni Mubarak's autocracy, author Saad Eddine Ibrahim crafted a new word to describe his country's plight: Egypt, he said, was now a jumlukiya. The neologism combined the Arabic word for "republic" (jumhuriya) and "monarchy" (malakiya) -- conveying the idea that though Egypt was technically still governed by republican institutions, the state was increasingly at the whims of Mubarak, his sons, and those in his "court."
At another moment of crisis, Egyptians have coined a new term: sandooqratiye, a combination of the words sandooq ("[ballot] box") and demoqratiye ("democracy"). Groups opposed to deposed President Mohamed Morsy have popularized the term to convey what they see as the Muslim Brotherhood's approach to governance -- that winning an election gives one free reign to remake society and government however you see fit. The implicit message is that Egypt under Morsy was a distorted form of democracy -- not the real thing.
CAIRO -- On July 8, Suad, a Syrian woman residing in Egypt, returned home with her mother after a trip to Jordan to renew her passport. Her three daughters and husband were waiting for her in the city of Alexandria, just a few days before the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images
Two and a half years after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Hazem el-Beblawi must be experiencing a wave of déjà vu. Egypt watchers may recall that during the second half of 2011, Beblawi served as the minister of finance for the military's transitional government. Now, he has been elevated to the position of prime minister in the wake of President Mohamed Morsy's ouster. And the challenges he faces are remarkably similar to those he confronted two years ago.[[LATEST]]
Then, he faced an anemic Egyptian economy weighed down by slumping tourism revenues, shortages of basic goods, and a lack of foreign-exchange reserves. As if that wasn't enough, his term was marred by violence carried out by the army. Now, well, he faces an anemic Egyptian economy weighed down by slumping tourism revenues, shortages of basic goods, and a lack of foreign-exchange reserves. And as if that wasn't enough, the army just massacred at least 50 Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
In short, Beblawi's recent career is a case study in how maddeningly difficult it is to carry out reforms in Egypt today.
CAIRO -- It wasn't long ago that Egypt's second-richest man was being publicly shamed by his political enemies in the Muslim Brotherhood. So you might think that Naguib Sawiris would never want to see the Brothers back in the seat of power again.[[LATEST]]
Yet Sawiris, an Egyptian businessman and founder of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, says he wants to get Mohamed Morsy's clique back into politics, ASAP. He's also pressing his family to sue for the $1 billion that they feel the Morsy administration unfairly took from them.
ABDULQADER SAADI/AFP/Getty Images
As Egypt's political crisis has swelled in recent days, key actors ranging from ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsy to the opposition Tamarod movement have taken to Twitter to stake out their positions in the conflict. Now, a team of researchers is mining hashtags on the microblogging service to monitor those very tensions.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
CAIRO — On Wednesday, Egypt's prosecutor's office issued arrest warrants for Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide Mohammed Badie and nine other top officials in the movement. The officials are accused of inciting violence at the Republican Guard headquarters on Monday, when at least 51 people were killed, the vast majority of them supporters of former President Mohamed Morsy.[[LATEST]]
"It's political," said Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad. "The state and all its institutions are complicit in coming out with this decision. The judiciary is complicit in obeying orders [from political powers]."
The arrest warrants are just the latest sign that a rapprochement with the Muslim Brotherhood is further away than ever before. As Egypt's government moves quickly to put key figures in place, it seemed to be sending the message that the state would hold the Brotherhood responsible for any violence in this transitional period.
The new government is still in the process of being formed. A new prosecutor general, Hesham Barakat, was appointed shortly before the arrest warrants were issued. And on Tuesday, President Adly Mansour tapped Hazem el-Beblawi, an economist who previously served as finance minister, as prime minister. Beblawi has argued that the government must move quickly to cut Egypt's bloated subsidy programs for energy and food -- a position that, if he follows through on it, could galvanize protests against the new government.
MAHMUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images
A leaflet distributed outside Al Jazeera's offices in Cairo, reading "the lies and the other lies" -- a play on the station's slogan, "the opinion and the other opinion."
CAIRO — As the Cairo press corps gathered for a press conference with a spokesman for the Egyptian military, some journalists reserved their harshest criticism for one of their own. Before the beginning of the event, which was intended to shed light on this morning's violence, members of the press chanted for the removal of an Al Jazeera reporter. As the reporter left amid cheers from the crowd, the military spokesman assured the audience that he supported freedom of the press and that "Egypt is a country of freedom and democracy."
It wasn't the first obstacle faced by Al Jazeera, which is accused by foes of deposed President Mohamed Morsy of being too sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera English correspondent Sherine Tadros tweeted pictures of two leaflets being handed out near the bureau's office in Cairo. "A bullet may kill a man, but a lying camera kills a nation," reads one of leaflets.
Al Jazeera isn't the only media outlet that's under fire. Across the country, there's a media divide -- full of overheated rhetoric that wipes out any potential for middle ground -- that mirrors how politics are playing out on the street right now. How the country can come together after this shock, or even agree on a single narrative about what happened, remains a mystery.
Among American stations, CNN has come in for the most grief for what anti-Morsy demonstrators view as its unsympathetic coverage. Protesters criticized the network's immediate decision to call the events a "coup" and blasted the network for labeling an anti-Morsy demonstration in Tahrir as supporting the deposed president. Some protesters have carried signs reading "CNN supports terrorism," while Egyptians in New York City organized a march to protest the network's coverage.
Like Egyptian citizens themselves, the media increasingly appears to be operating in two separate universes. While Islamist channels were shuttered shortly after the military takeover, some anti-Morsy outlets have given their readers the impression that the nation was unanimously in support of the Muslim Brotherhood's fall from power.
Al-Gomhoreya (The Republic), a newspaper with a staunchly anti-Islamist stance, has largely ignored the sizable protests in support of Morsy. Its front page currently makes no mention of the killing of dozens of pro-Morsy protesters at Cairo's Republican Guard headquarters today -- its headline currently reads, "Our revolution … is not a coup." Another article quoted "judicial sources" revealing that the Muslim Brotherhood had sabotaged an investigation into an attack on a prison during Egypt's 2011 uprising, and that the case would not be reopened.
The television coverage is just as politicized, according to Adel Abdel Ghafar, a visiting fellow at the American University of Cairo. On anti-Morsy stations, the struggle is increasingly portrayed as a battle against terrorism rather than a contest between two political forces. Abdel Ghafar noted the message that decorated the bottom of the screen during a program by satellite channel CBC that played a triumphant video of the massive anti-Morsy protests in Tahrir: "Against terrorism."
"It has become acceptable to say 'the terrorists of Rabaa al-Adaweya,'" Abdel Ghafar said, referring to the site of a major pro-Morsy sit-in. "Meanwhile, of course, the people in Tahrir are referred to as 'revolutionaries'."
For many of the media big shots involved in this feud, it's not only about politics -- it's personal. During Morsy's defiant June 27 speech, he mentioned CBC owner Mohamed el-Amin and Dream owner Ahmed Bahgat by name, accusing them of tax fraud. The two stations have returned the favor by blasting the Islamist opposition at every chance following the military takeover.
The media outlets of the Muslim Brotherhood, of course, haven't been any better. The movement's official website ran an article claiming that the military-appointed president, Adly Mansour, was secretly a Jew, though it then pulled the piece. The Brotherhood's political party also published pictures of dead children that it said were killed during the bloodshed at the Republican Guard headquarters, but which were really taken in Syria. The Egyptian military spokesman seized on this mistake at today's press conference, saying it was evidence of a "campaign of lies and psychological warfare" against the state. It was just the latest salvo in what has become an increasingly ugly media war.
CAIRO -- In the early morning hours of Monday, the Egyptian military opened fire on pro-Mohamed Morsy demonstrators at the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, where the protesters had gathered to call for the release of the deposed president. At this point, the Egyptian Health Ministry is reporting that 42 people have been killed and over 300 injured.
It is unclear what precipitated the attack. While the overwhelming majority of those killed were pro-Morsy protesters, one army officer was also reported dead in the violence. Military officials are claiming that protesters attempted to storm the military building and kidnapped two soldiers. Morsy supporters, meanwhile, say the army opened fire on the sit-in during morning prayers.
CAIRO -- So far, there has been only one ironclad rule in post-Morsy Egypt: Don't trust breaking news. Reports that hardline Islamist groups had abandoned the Muslim Brotherhood? Reversed. News that Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie was arrested? Proven false when he appeared at a large Brotherhood rally.
And now: another doozy. On Saturday, the official state news agency reported that opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei would be sworn in as the new prime minister later that evening. A few hours later, however, the decision was reversed as the tenuous political alliance that supported Mohamed Morsy's ouster began to fray.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Cinema for Peace
In recent days, the protests and clashes over the Egyptian military's July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Morsy have transpired amid a parallel battle over semantics -- specifically whether the dramatic events of the past week constituted a "coup." Adopting the loaded word has very real implications for everything from the future of Egypt's fledgling democracy to the more than $1 billion in aid Washington sends to Cairo each year. And, as with past international crises, nowhere is the debate fiercer than in the dark netherworld of Wikipedia forums. The heated back-and-forth over the title for the English-language page "2013 Egyptian coup d'état" (at least that was the title at press time) is a case in point.
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