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Links 20 July 2013

Wall Street Journal, In Egypt, the “Deep State” Rises Again:

    “In the months before the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s top generals met regularly with senior aides to opposition leaders, often at the Navy Officers’ Club nestled on the Nile.
    “The message: If the opposition could put enough protesters in the streets, the military would step in — and forcibly remove the president.
    “‘It was a simple question the opposition put to the military,’ said Ahmed Samih, who is close to several opposition attendees. ‘Will you be with us again?’ The military said it would. …
    “The two sides needed each other. Opposition parties had popular credibility, unlike Mubarak-era officials. Mubarak figures brought deep pockets and influence over the powerful state bureaucracy. …
    “As Mr. Morsi’s ouster neared, there were increasing meetings between the military and opposition. They included senior aides to [National Salvation Front leader Mohammed] ElBaradei, former presidential candidate and Arab League chief [Amr] Moussa, and another presidential candidate, Hamdeen Sabahy, according to Mr. Samih, and other people close to top NSF members. …
    “The generals said that if enough Egyptians joined public protests, the military would have little choice but to intervene, according to several activists close to Mr. ElBaradei and U.S. officials. ‘The military’s answer was, if enough people come out into the streets, then it will be exactly like Mubarak,’ Mr. Samih said.”
    [NOTE: To get past the subscriber paywall, search for the text of the first paragraph using Google and click on the link there.]

Kevin Drum in Mother Jones, Here’s How the Coup in Egypt Went Down:

    “The military, representing the ‘deep state,’ negotiated a deal with Morsi’s secular opponents…. The deep state’s job was to keep public services in shambles as a way of stoking public anger. The secularists provided the populist cover and the shock troops for widespread protests. The military provided the muscle to oust Morsi and take over the government. After the deed was done, public services were quickly restored, the secularists were given a share of political power, and the military regained much of its old influence and independence. All nice and neat.”

Associated Press, Disputes Between Morsi, Military Led to Egypt Coup:

    “The degree of [the] differences [between President Mohammed Morsi and armed forces chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi] suggests that the military had been planning for months to take greater control of the political reins in Egypt. When an activist group named Tamarod began a campaign to oust Morsi, building up to protests by millions nationwide that began June 30, it appears to have provided a golden opportunity for el-Sissi to get rid of the president. The military helped Tamarod from early on, communicating with it through third parties, according to the officials.
    “The reason, the officials said, was because of profound policy differences with Morsi. El-Sissi saw him as dangerously mismanaging a wave of protests early in the year that saw dozens killed by security forces. More significantly, however, the military also worried that Morsi was giving a free hand to Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula, ordering el-Sissi to stop crackdowns on jihadis who had killed Egyptian soldiers and were escalating a campaign of violence. …
    “In April, the youth activists of Tamarod, Arabic for ‘Rebel,’ began collecting signatures on a petition for Morsi to step down. When it said it had 2 million signatures in mid-May, the military took an interest and worked through third parties that connected the group with liberal and opposition-linked businessmen who would bank it, said two high-ranking Interior Ministry officials.
    “The campaign claimed in June to have more than 20 million signatures — though the number has never been independently confirmed — and called for mass rallies against Morsi to start June 30, the anniversary of his inauguration. El-Sissi issued a statement saying the armed forces would intervene to stop any violence at the protests, particularly to stop Morsi supporters from attacking the rallies. He gave the two sides a week to resolve their differences — with the deadline being June 30.”

Max Blumenthal in Al Jazeera English, People, Power, or Propaganda? Unraveling the Egyptian Opposition:

    “Among the first major Egyptian public figures to marvel at the historic size of the June 30 demonstrations was the billionaire tycoon Naguib Sawiris. On June 30, Sawiris informed his nearly one million Twitter followers that the BBC had just reported, ‘The number of people protesting today is the largest number in a political event in the history of mankind.’ …
    “Sawiris was not exactly a disinterested party. He had boasted of his support for Tamarod, lavishing the group with funding and providing them with office space. He also happened to be a stalwart of the old regime who had thrown his full weight behind the secular opposition to Morsi.
    “Two days after Sawiris’ remarkable statement, BBC Arabic’s lead anchor, Nour-Eddine Zorgui, responded to a query about it on Twitter by stating, “seen nothing to this effect, beware, only report on this from Egypt itself.” Sawiris seemed to have fabricated the riveting BBC dispatch from whole cloth. …
    “Some Egyptian opponents to Morsi appear to have fabricated Western media reports to validate the crowd estimates. Jihan Mansour, a presenter for Dream TV, a private Egyptian network owned by the longtime Mubarak business associate Ahmad Bahgat, announced, ‘CNN says 33 million people were in the streets today. BBC says the biggest gathering in history.’
    “There is no record of CNN or BBC reporting any such figure.”

Patrick Kingsley in The Guardian, Killing in Cairo: The Full Story of the Republican Guards’ Club Shootings:

    “In the early hours of 8 July 2013, 51 Muslim Brotherhood supporters camped outside the Republican Guards’ club in Cairo were killed by security forces. The Egyptian military claimed the demonstrators had attempted to break into the building with the aid of armed motorcyclists. …
    “The military has said that the assault on the protesters was provoked by a terrorist attack. At about 4 a.m., according to the army’s account, 15 armed motorcyclists approached the Republican Guards’ club compound. The army said that the motorcyclists fired shots, that people attempted to break into the compound, and that the soldiers then had no choice but to defend their property.
    “However, a week-long investigation — including interviews with 31 witnesses, local people and medics, as well as analysis of video evidence — found no evidence of the motorcyclist attack and points to a very different narrative, in which the security forces launched a co-ordinated assault on a group of largely peaceful and unarmed civilians.”

Reuters, Egypt’s Brotherhood Proposes Crisis Talk Framework via EU Envoy:

    “The Muslim Brotherhood said on Thursday it had proposed through an EU go-between a framework for talks to resolve Egypt’s political crisis, its first formal announcement of an offer for negotiations since President Mohamed Morsy was toppled.
    “Brotherhood official Gehad el-Haddad, who represented the movement in previous EU-facilitated talks, told Reuters…[that] the Brotherhood would be willing to negotiate over any political issue, including new elections to replace Morsy as president, but insisted that the army would first have to reverse its decree that unilaterally removed Morsy.
    “‘First they have to reverse the coup,’ he said. ‘You can’t come on a tank and remove an elected leader…. It is a stand-off, it is either a military coup or a democratic choice.”

Egypt Independent, Tamarod Calls for Protest Against Constitutional Declaration:

    “The Tamarod campaign and the 30 June Front have both said that they have strong misgivings concerning the roadmap announced by the Army, stressing that they want the constitution to be rewritten entirely. They have announced their dissatisfaction with the current Constitutional Declaration, and have called on the Egyptian people to participate in rallies in Tahrir Square and at the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace on Friday to make those demands.”

The Telegraph, Chinese Museum Found with 40,000 Fake Exhibits Forced to Close:

    “The museum’s public humiliation began earlier this month when Ma Boyong, a Chinese writer, noticed a series of inexplicable discrepancies during a visit and posted his findings online.
    “Among the most striking errors were artifacts engraved with writing purportedly showing that they dated back more than 4,000 years…. However, according to a report in the Shanghai Daily the writing appeared in simplified Chinese characters, which only came into widespread use in the 20th century. …
    “Wei Yingjun, the museum’s chief consultant…said he was ‘quite positive’ that at least 80 of the museum’s 40,000 objects had been confirmed as authentic. …
    “Mr. Wei said that objects of ‘dubious’ origin had been ‘marked very clearly’ so as not to mislead visitors and vowed to sue Mr. Ma, the whistle-blowing writer, for blackening the museum’s name.”

The Guardian, Dutch Art Heist Paintings May Have Been Burned by Suspect’s Mother:

    “Ash from an oven owned by a woman whose son is charged with stealing seven multimillion-pound paintings, including works by Matisse, Picasso and Monet, contained paint, canvas and nails, a Romanian museum official said on Wednesday.
    “The discovery could be evidence that Olga Dogaru was telling the truth when she claimed to have burned the paintings, which were taken from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal gallery last year in a daylight heist.
    “Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, director of Romania’s National History Museum, told the Associated Press that museum forensic specialists had found small fragments of painting primer, the remains of canvas and paint, and copper and steel nails, some of which pre-dated the 20th century.”

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