WASHINGTON -- After six weeks of posturing and threats, the Egyptian military
followed through on its vow to clear demonstrators from its streets, executing a
crackdown on Wednesday that killed at least 149 Egyptians and wounded
Speaking from the State Department, US Secretary of State John
Kerry said he called Egypt's foreign minister on Wednesday to condemn the
"Today's events are deplorable," Kerry said. ""It's a
serious blow to reconciliation." Kerry said that a peaceful transition to
civilian rule, and an agreement between the army and a deposed and angry Muslim
Brotherhood, would be "much, much harder" to achieve after today's
The military holds the "preponderance of power" in the conflict,
Kerry said, adding, ""I believe they know full well what a constructive process
would look like." The government of Turkey called events in Egypt on Wednesday a
"massacre" and urged action from the UN Security Council and Arab League to
address the crisis.
"What is required in Egypt is a genuine transition to
a genuine democracy," said UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
foreign ministry called for a "democratic process" in Egypt, and warned that the
current violence "strengthens the likelihood of civil war in this great Islamic
country." In a statement from Martha's Vineyard, where President Barack Obama is
on vacation, White House principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest "strongly
condemned" the violence.
"We have repeatedly called on the Egyptian
military and security forces to show restraint," Earnest said, adding that the
Obama administration planned on holding the interim Egyptian government
"accountable." Obama was briefed on the developments by national security
advisor Susan Rice, he said.
The US government has not called July's
ousting of Mohammed Morsi a military coup. Doing so would require Congress to
freeze its foreign aid to Egypt, and would compromise what little leverage the
president has over Egypt's military. For the first time since the fall of
longtime leader Hosni Mubarak over two years ago, the military announced a
nationwide state of emergency. Egyptian vice president Mohamed El Baradei, the
civilian face of the interim government, has resigned.
In recent weeks,
curfews in cities along the Suez Canal have neither been enforced nor
"The state of emergency should end as soon as possible," Kerry
Top Muslim Brotherhood politicians were also arrested as the
The air was thick with tear gas as dozens of
Egyptians laid together dead, wounded or cowering in the heart of Cairo. Snipers
could be seen on rooftops surrounding the demonstrations, according to reports.
Escaping the violence in the two Cairo camps, protestors once again marched on
the city's 6th of October bridge.
While casualties were concentrated in
Cairo, at least ten were killed in Alexandria and fifteen in Ismailia. pro-Morsi
supporters attacked Coptic churches across the country, fueled by belief that
Egypt's Christian community had allied itself with plotting Egyptian
Protests against the violence broke out throughout the day in
front of Egypt's embassies in Khartoum, Ankara and elsewhere.
Schenker, director of the program on Arab politics at the Washington Institute
for Near East Policy, says that the death toll will likely rise as the army
begins dispatching emergency security countrywide.
"At the most basic
level, the military considers its fight with the Brotherhood to be existential,
and they're willing to absorb a lot of censure to endure what they perceive to
be a life and death struggle," Schenker said. "It's possible we're seeing the
beginning of a deterioration similar to 1990s Egypt." Egypt experienced a spike
in terrorist activity in the 1990s when an Islamist group, al-Gama'a
al-Islamiyya, fought for the implementation of sharia law by targeting police,
government officials, civilians and tourists.
The Muslim Brotherhood
accused the military of firing on civilians Wednesday and drew a line in the
sand that they will not relent until Morsi is reinstalled as president. The
interim government denied these claims and again promised a smooth transition to
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said
she was following the situation in Egypt with great
"Confrontation and violence is not the way forward to resolve
key political issues. I deplore the loss of lives, injuries and destruction in
Cairo and other places in Egypt. I call on the security forces to exercise
utmost restraint and on all Egyptian citizens to avoid further provocations and
escalation," she said in a statement.
The office of the United Nations
secretary-general Ban Ki-moon also put out a statement calling for
"While the UN is still gathering precise information about
today's events, it appears that hundreds of people were killed or wounded in
clashes between security forces and demonstrators," the statement read,
condemning the violence "in the strongest terms." "While recognizing that
political clocks do not run backwards," the statement continues, "the
Secretary-General also believes firmly that violence and incitement from any
side are not the answers to the challengesEgypt faces." Reuters contributed to