Update, 4:30 PM: The AP is reporting that Health Ministry’s estimate for civilian death may be as high as 238.
New York Times or no, the news from Egypt is dire today. Journalists on the ground are reporting widespread clashes, violence, death, and attacks on protesters and journalists. The cause is the stalemated six-week standoff between the Egyptian military and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, many of whom are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The violence set off early when the Egyptian military tried to clear pro-Morsi camps.
By afternoon, the interim government appointed by Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi had declared a one-month state of emergency across the country, suspending all rights to a trial or due process. The declaration returned Egypt to the state of virtual martial law that was in place for three decades former President Hosni Mubarak, who was forced from power in 2011.
Symbolic of American impotence in the crisis, the advocate most trusted by the West to help stabilize the country has quit the government.
Mohamed ElBaradei, an interim vice president and Nobel Prize-winning former diplomat who had lent his reputation to convincing the West of the military-appointed government’s democratic intentions, resigned in protest, a spokeswoman said.
Earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, Tablet contributor Eric Trager offered three suggestions for how the United States can use its diminished sway with Egypt to avoid this kind of outcome. In light of today’s news, this seems like the most important one:
Second, the U.S. should insist that the military and security forces deal with the Brotherhood’s protests through containment instead of crackdown. Responding to violent instigations and preventing these protests from invading major thoroughfares is one thing; launching an all-out assault on demonstrators, as the military has signaled it intends to do, is quite another. Washington can tell the generals that each incident in which scores of Mr. Morsi supporters are killed makes our foreign aid policy that much harder to defend to the American people.
Sadly, if those sentiments were conveyed, they were ignored. Some are estimating that at least 150 people have died in clashes across the country and nearly a 1,000 people have been injured. For a compelling account, read Mike Giglio’s dispatch for the Daily Beast.