Egyptian police orchestrated Mursi’s downfall

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
October 10, 2013

A Reuters report finds that Egypt’s police drove Mursi’s ouster, Libyan PM is kidnapped and promptly released, and exiled Iranian dissidents consider going home. Today is Thursday, October 10, and this is the World Wrap, brought to  you by @dwbronner.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi shout slogans against the military and interior ministry as they march towards Rabaa al-Adawiya, during a protest named “Friday of Loyalty to the Blood of the Martyrs” at Cairo’s Nasr City district, September 13, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Police plot. On January 28, 2011, a group of Muslim Brotherhood leaders staged a violent prison break in Egypt’s Wadi el-Natroun desert, prompting several others across the nation and leaving 200 policemen and security officers dead. Egypt’s Interior Ministry, in charge of Egypt’s state security, riot and other police, has not forgiven the Brotherhood for shedding police blood and, according to a Reuters special report, was the driving force behind former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi’s overthrow:

When army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appeared on television in July this year to announce the end of Mursi’s presidency and plans for elections, it was widely assumed that Egypt’s military leaders were the prime movers behind the country’s counter revolution. But dozens of interviews with officials from the army, state security and police, as well as diplomats and politicians, show the Interior Ministry was the key force behind removing Egypt’s first democratically elected president. Senior officials in Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) identified young activists unhappy with Mursi’s rule, according to four Interior Ministry sources, who like most people interviewed for this story, asked to remain anonymous. The intelligence officials met with the activists, who told them they thought the army and Interior Ministry were “handing the country to the Brotherhood.” The intelligence officials advised the activists to take to the streets and challenge Mursi… six weeks later, a youth movement called Tamarud – “rebellion” in Arabic – began a petition calling for Mursi to step down.

Reuters determined that the Interior Ministry held meetings with military leaders over the course of Mursi’s presidency, alleging that the Brotherhood posed a threat to national security. Several mid- and lower-ranking officers considered Mursi to be a “terrorist,” and served reluctantly during his tenure. Egyptians feared the Interior Ministry under Mubarak, when it was notorious for intruding into citizens’ lives and using brutal tactics to maintain security. Egyptians appear more supportive of police officials today, despite a number of deadly crackdowns on pro-Mursi supporters that have killed hundreds since the political upheaval. Read the full report here.

Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan (C) arrives at the headquarters of the Prime Minister’s Office in Tripoli, October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Micro-kidnap. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was held briefly by former rebel militiamen angered by a report that Libya’s government played a role in the capture of al Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Liby by U.S. troops:

Gunmen associated with the fragmented Libyan security apparatus had hauled him at dawn from the luxury hotel where he lives under heavy guard. Political sources said the group soon relented in the face of pressure from officials and freed him… After the Arab Spring revolts that ousted several autocratic leaders, Libya’s transition has been one of the messiest. It still has no new constitution, Zeidan faces a possible vote of no confidence and its transitional assembly, the General National Congress, is paralyzed by divisions between the secular National Forces Alliance and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Zeidan has not fulfilled his promise of ridding Libya of rival militia groups that clash in Tripoli and Benghazi. The country has lost roughly $5 billion in oil revenues due to a mix of militia activity, striking workers, and political activists who have blocked Libya’s oilfields and ports for more than two months.

Masih Alinejad, 37, a Britain-based Iranian journalist, poses for a portrait in London October 8, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Return to Tehran. Encouraged by the apparent openness of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian dissidents in exile consider returning home:

Rouhani enjoyed the support of prominent reformist politicians during his campaign and has pledged to relax restrictions at home. Inviting critics back into the fold could broaden his base of support, at a time when the economy is buckling under sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, and help wealthy Iranians abroad to feel secure enough to invest in the country. He stands to gain international plaudits as well: the release in September of prominent political prisoners, including human-rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, won Rouhani global praise. But there is no guarantee government critics will be safe if they return. The judiciary, dominated by conservatives and answering to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rather than Rouhani, can question those returning and pursue charges.

Some dissidents have lived abroad for years, and many expect a rough welcome in Iran. Writer and satirist Ebrahim Nabavi said “It’s possible that for a year or 18 months [the Iranian government] will be upset,” but added that he would be willing to compromise: “If I can’t say 100 percent of what I want to say, I’ll say 80 percent of it.”

Nota Bene: Nobel Peace prize contender Malala Yousafzai wins EU human rights award.

Standouts:

Budget models - Reuters columnist Anatole Kaletsky advises the U.S. to take lessons from Japan and Britain. (Reuters)

Medieval threat - There is a bubonic plague warning in Madagascar. (BBC)

Global warrrming - The hosts of the U.N.’s  upcoming climate change talks say arctic melt means more pirate chases. (The Guardian)

Snail mail sale - Portugal will sell up to 70 percent of its national postal service. (Associated Press)

Great Game - China goes energy shopping around the Caspian sea. (Al Jazeera)

From the File:

  • U.S. suggests destruction unit for Syria’s chemical weapons.
  • Observers call Azerbaijan vote unfair, opposition plans challenge.
  • Bulgarian government faces second no-confidence vote.
  • China arrests journalist amid crackdown on rumors.
  • Somalia looks to rickety port to rebuild state.
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