Violence erupted in Cairo last night when supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsy clashed around the presidential palace in reaction to Morsy’s perceived grab for power. Demonstrators hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at each other. At least 5 were killed in the violence and hundreds were injured.
Tanks and armored personnel carriers are guarding the palace this morning. CNN’s Ian Lee has more for us live from Cairo. He joins us by phone. “Right now there’s kind of an uneasy calm in Cairo,” Lee says.
On Early Start this morning, Peter Brookes, the former deputy assistant of the Secretary of Defense, argues that the American response to unrest in the Middle East has been appropriate so far, but that more can be done.
“We have to secure our embassies and make sure that they are not breached,” Brookes adds. “We have to call upon the governments that are responsible for security outside of the embassies.”
The senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation also says that the United States needs to investigate who is responsible for the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Libya. "We've got to figure out who did this," he says. "That's the important thing. You've got to be able to figure out who do it.
Brookes adds that the U.S. must "call on these governments to tamp down the violence, to call on people to restrain from violence."
Across the Middle East protests have occurring in areas like Yemen and Egypt where demonstrators have been scaling embassy walls trying to gain access to interior parts of the compounds. The demonstrations come after a film produced in the United States depicting Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer was released online.
Fmr. U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns says the recent protests are “a time of testing” for the United States. “What we appear to be seeing in Egypt, in Libya and in Yemen are relatively moderate governments who are under some challenge for more conservative... reactionary forces in their own society.” Burns adds that the government forces in these areas are trying “to maintain their position, fend off conservative forces and unfortunately the United States has ended up in the middle of it.”
Some House conservatives are calling for foreign aid to be stripped from Libya and Egypt, while others are considering the message pulling aid might send to the region after the death of a U.S. Ambassador. Burns says, “The United States absolutely has reason to be outraged at what happened to our ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya….I actually think rather than to withdraw the aid right now, our focus should be on getting these Arab leaders to stand up, be accountable in their own societies and be responsible for law and order.”
A third day of protesting rang out near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, as demonstrators threw rocks and Molotov cocktails. Police fired back with tear gas canisters and tried to disperse the protestors as they drove through Tahrir Square. Several police trucks were set on fire as the protests grew more violent and demonstrators climbed through barbed wire fencing outside the embassy. At least 19 people were injured – 13 protesters and six police officers, Egyptian government officials said Thursday.
The clashes follow Tuesday's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other consular officials dead.
“What we’re seeing right now is a stalemate between the police and protestors. The protestors don’t seem to be giving up,” says CNN’s Ian Lee.
Lee adds, “These protestors that you see...the 200 or so… really don’t have the support of the entire city or the country because you’re not seeing more people come out and join them.” Lee says these demonstrators are different from the September 11 protestors. “That night we saw Islamists, we saw a very more ultra-conservatives, also some young youth but …these protestors are more or less disenfranchised youth...These are the hardcore protestors… The ones that we constantly see that are battling the police,” says Lee.
Peter Brookes, fmr. Deputy Asst. Sec. of State and fmr. CIA officer, weighs in on the attacks on US compounds in Egypt and Libya and whether the attack against US Ambassador to Libya was part of a bigger plot.
An online film considered offensive to Islam has sparked mass protests in Egypt and Libya. On Monday, Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that a state department officer at the U.S. consulate was United States ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. Later reports to CNN say the officer killed was United States ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. An eyewitness says it began with a radical Islamist group arriving to protest a web video that they call Anti-Muslim.
In Egypt, protesters tore down the U.S. embassy's flag after an all-day protest in Cairo. The fundamentalist protesters outside of the embassy walls under watch from Egyptian security forces are also saying the web video is their reason for protesting. CNN sources say it was unclear whether the two attacks were coordinated.
The film which has been featured on U.S. websites, including YouTube contain scenes where filmmakers depict Prophet Mohammed as a child molester, womanizer and ruthless killer. Egyptian groups and other communities in the Muslim world have flagged the movie whose filmmakers are still unknown.
Embassy officials in Egypt have issued a warning to Americans in their country to avoid the demonstrations while Sect. Clinton and U.S. Government forces are working to protect American citizens worldwide.
American-Egyptian Journalist Mona Eltahawy says, “What happened in Libya is absolutely outrageous and I’m hearing from many Libyans who are saddened by the death of the U.S. ambassador and the embassy staff. They’re saying this is not what our resolution is about.” Eltahawy adds, “In fact this is worse because it’s an insult to the revolution and an insult to the very prophet of Islam who people extensively are trying to defend here.”
Ian Lee reports on the release of two Americans who were kidnapped in Egypt over the weekend.
Family members of Michel Louis on their concern over Michel's health after he was kidnapped in Egypt.
Cairo (CNN) - Egyptian authorities said Sunday they are preparing for a new round of negotiations with the man who has kidnapped two Americans and an Egyptian tour guide to demand his uncle's release from an Alexandria jail.
This comes amid new reports that Louis's family is concerned that the diabetic pastor does not have his medication.
Gen. Ahmed Bakr, the head of security in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula, says Bedouin sheikhs who are acting as mediators have confirmed the hostages "are unharmed and well fed." They include Michel Louis, the pastor of a Pentecostal church in Boston; Lisa Alphonse, a parishoner at another American church; and an Egyptian tour guide.
Authorities have identified the hostage-taker as Germy Abu Masouh, a member of a prominent Bedouin tribe in the Sinai. He wants Egyptian police to free his uncle, whom Bakr said had been caught in Alexandria with a half-ton of drugs. Bakr said negotiators include top intelligence and police officials.
This morning on "Early Start," Mohamed Fahmy reports on concern for the health of Michel Louis.
Cairo (CNN) - The Egyptian parliament convened for less than an hour Tuesday, in a gesture of defiance against the country's military rulers, who dissolved the legislature last month.
The session was the first since the nation's highest court said parliamentary elections were unconstitutional, prompting the military to disband the body.
The lawmakers met after President Mohamed Morsy, who took office June 30, opted to override the edict of the military, which has run the country since the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.
This morning on "Early Start," Ivan Watson reports on the parliament meeting.