Egypt has been in political turmoil since 2011, when long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak was removed from office by the army after a wave of public protests. In June 2012 the post was taken over by Mohamed Morsi, the first-ever democratically elected president of Egypt. But Mr Morsi, a prominent figure in the powerful Muslim Brotherhood movement, quickly lost support and was removed a year later, once again with the help of the Egyptian army.
The violence in Egypt that began in mid-August has already claimed over 600 civilian lives
Army leaders promised that the transition would be swift and that they would retain control of the country only until a new president was elected. But hopes for a peaceful resolution were dashed after the military brutally dispersed the Muslim Brotherhood’s protest camps in Cairo. As of press time, the resulting clashes between Mr Morsi’s supporters and military and police forces had led to over 600 civilian deaths.
That number is, unfortunately, expected to rise. Interim authorities have enforced emergency laws, which have essentially handed over power to the military and authorized security forces to use live ammunition if vital security and military posts come under attack.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood appealed to its supporters to demonstrate against the military’s activities, and are calling for Mr Morsi to be reinstated as president. On August 16, a Muslim Brotherhood demonstration took place in Cairo under the slogan “the people want to topple the coup.” As WBJ went to press, the situation in Cairo was volatile, with large numbers of dead and injured being reported by media outlets.
World leaders reacted to the situation unfolding in Egypt with caution. US President Barack Obama condemned the government’s actions in ordering security forces to break up the protesters’ camps, and canceled joint military exercises, saying that cooperation could not continue while civilians were being killed.
Mr Obama has thus far not rescinded US financial aid to Egypt, which amounts to $1.3 billion a year. He did however say that he would ask his staff to “reassess” the aid. US Senator John McCain criticized the White House’s hesitation, telling the BBC that “the ousting of President Morsi was a ‘coup’ and President Obama should have cut off aid to Egypt as a result.”
UN Security Council met in emergency session and called for the Egyptian government and the Muslim Brotherhood to exercise “maximum restraint” and put an end to the violence.
The rest of the world is similarly indignant at what is currently happening in the African country. Turkey described the events as a “massacre,” and has recalled its ambassador to Cairo, “to discuss the latest developments.”
On Friday, the German government warned that further clashes “could plunge Egypt into a chaos of violence” and advised its citizens not to travel there.
‘Resorts are safe’
The Polish Foreign Ministry was less cautious at first, saying that traveling to Egypt was safe, at least to tourist resorts. It later changed its mind however, advising Poles not to travel there at all, adding that tourists who are already there should be safe as long as they stay in the resort areas.
The ministry also issued a statement expressing its concern about the “escalation of the conflict and violence in Egypt, which finds its tragic manifestation in the dead and wounded.”
“We are saddened and worried about the lack of willingness to reach an agreement inside Egypt,” the ministry said. “We urge all parties to the conflict to get back to the negotiating table.”
Meanwhile a group of no more than 20 Polish tourists were still stranded in Egypt as WBJ went to press. They had not been able to get to the airport in time for their flight, after the interim government declared a state of emergency, which made traveling through the country difficult.
Travel agency Alfa Star, which organized their excursion, has made assurances that all of the tourists are safe and that their prolonged stay has been paid for by the company. The tourists are expected to return in the coming days. The rest of the travelers staying in Egypt returned from their holidays safely and according to schedule.
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