Civil war broke out in at a least dozen cities in Egypt on Wednesday as Egyptian soldiers and police, backed by bulldozers and helicopters, carried out an offensive on pro-Mohammed Morsi protesters in an effort to put a brutal and quick end to the Muslim Brotherhood opposition’s sit-in protests.
As reported earlier, there are reports of up to 250 people dead and thousands of others wounded or arrested. The Muslim Brotherhood movement now claims the death toll is in the thousands
Whereas Syrian President Bassar al-Assad figured that ignoring the protest movement would break down the opposition, only to use uncivil force after protesters were able to organize, Egyptian authorities decided to use the same tactic as Hosni Mubarak three years ago and shoot at will to break down the opposition.
Mubarak ended up ousted and in jail. Morsi, his successor who was elected in democratic elections championed by President Barack Obama, is in virtual jail, “detained” by the army and held in a secret location.
If the army thought that the Muslim Brotherhood opposition would fall without Morsi, it was wrong. Dead wrong.
After several days of massive sit-ins that have virtually shut down Cairo, the army moved in at dawn. It succeeded in clearing out demonstrators near the Cairo University campus, but protesters used their biggest weapon – massive human resistance – in eastern Cairo, where massive violence was reported.
Clashes also broke out in Alexandria in upper Egypt, Mansoura, Suez, Giza and Rabaa.
Al Arabiya reported that soldiers are besieging the neighborhood of Islamist preacher Mohamed El-Beltagi, who faces charges of incitement and attempted murder. One of his daughters was killed.
In Alexandria, demonstrators set fire to a government building, protesters attacked four police stations in Giza, and eight people were killed in an attack on a police station in Abu Kurkas. Hundreds of demonstrators clashed with security forces and set public buses on fire.
In Rabaa, British reporter Alistair Beach said he saw 42 bodies and tweeted, “Pro-Morsi protesters have barricaded themselves inside upper floors of field clinic as live fire crackles outside.” Three deaths were reported in Aswan, and a pro-Morsi crowd threw a security forces vehicle, with five people inside, off a bridge.
Protesters are using whatever guns they have, along with Molotov cocktails and rocks, to attack security forces.
Islamist mobs set fire to dozens of churches throughout the country. Pro-Morsi supporters set fire to a Christina youth center next to a Muslim youth center in the upper Egypt city of Fayoum, according to Al-Arabiya.
Live gunfire was reported in several cities, but Morsi supporters do not have the arms to match the automatic weapons that soldiers and police are firing to disperse crowds,
Regardless of whether the army wins the war in one day or it goes on endlessly, the violence is further evidence that the Obama administration’s campaign to make the Middle East safe for democracy, and vice versa, is not working.
All the United States and the entire international community can do is wring their collective hands and cry over the violence. Typically, the European Union issued a statement Wednesday that the violence is “extremely worrying,” and it called for restraint from Egyptian authorities.