Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Egypt News Update: Military Uses US, Israeli Weapons Against Demonstrations; Three More Killed in Clashes

Egypt's Interim Rulers Use US, Israeli Weapons against Protestors

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Egyptian politician revealed on Wednesday that the interim military rulers of the country are using US and Israeli-made hi-tech weapons against Egyptian protestors.

"There is ample evidence showing that the security forces use prohibited weapons against the citizens, which have recently been imported from Israel and the US," Taqadom al-Khatib told FNA.

He also disclosed that a senior member of Egypt's Military Council has been appointed as the caretaker of the interior ministry and personally directs the operations for suppressing the popular rallies and protestors.

Also, another senior Egyptian politician said on Tuesday that the country's interim authorities were using Israeli-made weapons and riot gear, including tear gas canisters, against the people.

"The weapons and bullets have undoubtedly been imported from Israel which is considered as the enemy of the Egyptian nation," Deputy Head of the Egyptian Al-Wasat Party Osam Sultan told FNA.

He made the remarks referring to the recent bloody crackdown on Egyptian protesters in al-Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Egypt's interim military rulers battled a reinvigorated protest movement calling for its ouster, as thousands of demonstrators forced troops to retreat from Tahrir Square.

Many compared the breadth and intensity of the new battles for the square - the iconic heart of the Egyptian revolt and the Arab Spring - to the early days of the uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak, only this time the target of the protesters' ire was the ruling military council and its leader, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

After the escalation of rallies, the ruling military council agreed on Tuesday to speed up the transition to civilian rule in a deal made with Islamist groups but that seemed unlikely to satisfy the demands of liberal parties and the more than 100,000 protesters who gathered in the center of the capital to demand an immediate transfer of power.

The agreement came after the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces met with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in a session that was boycotted by most other political parties. The deal called for a new constitution and a presidential election no later than next June, as well as a new civilian Cabinet to be led by a technocrat prime minister rather than a politician.

Under the agreement, the first round of elections for a national assembly would go ahead as scheduled on Monday, a major goal of the Brotherhood, which stands to win a large share of the seats. But it would also leave the civilian government reporting to the military - effectively a continuation of what amounts to martial law in civilian clothes - until next June.

Shortly after the Islamist parties emerged from talks with the military to announce a deal for the military council's full exit from power in June, the military's top officer, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, declared in a televised speech that the army did not seek power.

Tantawi spoke as protesters fought army soldiers and police for a fourth day in streets leading to the iconic square that was the birthplace of Egypt's uprising, particularly near the heavily fortified Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police. Nearly 30 people have been killed in the rallies, mostly in Cairo, and at least 2,000 have been wounded.

Regime forces, protesters clash in Cairo

Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:50AM

Egyptian riot police during a demonstration by protesters demanding that the ruling military council hand over power to a civilian authority, Cairo, November 22, 2011.

Egyptian security forces have clashed with anti-regime protesters in Cairo, as the demonstrators continue to demand the immediate transfer of power to a civilian authority, Press TV reports.

Thousands of protesters, who had remained in Cairo's landmark Liberation Square, stood their ground as riot police opened fire on them and used tear gas.

The protests came despite an announcement by the military rulers to transfer power immediately to civilian rule via a referendum.

The head of the military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, said in a televised speech on Tuesday that presidential elections would be held by July 2012, but he did not specifically mention a date for the transfer of power.

The pledge came after days of clashes between protesters and security forces that have left over 30 people dead and many others injured.

The protesters say they will continue rallying until the military hands power over to a civilian government.

Egypt anti-military protests continue

Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:15PM GMT

Egyptians protesters shout slogans against military ruler council in Liberation Square in Cairo on November 21, 2011.
Fresh clashes have erupted in Cairo's iconic Liberation Square for the fourth straight day as Egyptians are being urged to take part in another million-man march.

Egyptian protesters are still camped out in the square for the fourth consecutive day despite the ruling junta's deadly crackdown on fresh peaceful protest rallies in the capital and other cities.

Thousands of Egyptians are flocking to the square to join the several thousands of protesters already there in a move to put pressure on the military council to hand over power to a civilian government.

The United States is "deeply concerned" by the violence and Amnesty International said that the military council's record on human rights was worse than the former regime of Hosni Mubarak.

The Egyptian government resigned on Monday after three days of mass protests against the junta that left at least 33 dead and more than 1,830 injured.

Anti-junta protesters reject the military council's efforts to hold on to power, despite an election process that is due to start next week.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took power in February after the US-backed regime of former dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular revolution.

The council has refused to hand over power to a civilian government as promised, triggering mass protests across the country.

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