- Clashes Erupt after Muslim Brotherhood supporters flood streets for "Friday of Rejection"
- Reuters: Egyptians reject accusations of "coup"
- Islamists stage deadly wave of attacks against security forces in Sinai Peninsula
- Gulf nations announce coordinated sanctions against Hezbollah over terror activities, fighting in Syria
What we’re watching today:
- Supporters of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi were reportedly shot and killed today trying to break into the military facility where the Islamist official has been placed in "preventative" detention by Egyptian military authorities. The army quickly denied reports that the demonstrators had been shot by Egyptian troops, emphasizing that the soldiers were armed only with blank rounds and tear gas, while reports of casualties ranged from one to three dead and many injured. The protest outside the Cairo barracks came in the aftermath of the Muslim Brotherhood calling for mass national marches - part of what the group dubbed a "Friday of Rejection" - to show support for Morsi. In another incident near Cairo, one man was killed and another seven injured in an attack on a police station. Liberals and others opposed to Morsi's rule, who last week organized mass protests that eventually led the army to oust the Islamist leader, called on Egyptian citizens to march in counter-demonstrations. Clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents began almost immediately after the army's actions Wednesday, with exchanges of fire that night in front of Cairo University killing at least 18 and people injuring another 360. Fears continue to deepen that the political clashes will not only escalate but take on sectarian dimensions. Violence near Luxor today saw a Copt attacked and injured after a Muslim man had been killed, while 23 homes belonging to Copts were reportedly burned to the ground.
- Reuters reports on popular sentiment inside Egypt - ranging from young demonstrators in Tahrir Square to elements of "polite, liberal society" - rejecting assertions that the army's moves against the country's former president Mohammed Morsi constituted a "coup." The outlet quotes a 19-year-old student flatly denying the characterization, and instead asserting that "this was our new revolution... Our president was very bad. The army are our brothers." The army's actions came in the aftermath of what were likely the largest national protests in human history, prompting some Egyptian officials to describe the ouster as a "popular impeachment." The administration of President Barack Obama has been pointedly careful to avoid accusing the army of having conducted a coup. At stake are U.S. laws that would cut off assistance to Egypt in the aftermath of a coup, a step that would endanger long-standing military ties between the two countries. Such ties have long been considered central to promoting U.S. influence in the region.
- Islamists launched a series of attacks early Friday against Egyptian security forces stationed in the Sinai Peninsula, deepening fears that supporters of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi would respond to his removal from power by escalating violence in the increasingly anarchic territory. One soldier was killed and two more were wounded in an attack on a police station near the Rafah area, along the border between the Egypt and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Egypt responded by shutting down the Rafah crossing until further notice. The army has taken similar steps in the past after attacks, both as routine security measures and to punish Hamas, which it blames for maintaining the tunnels that permit jihadists to move materials and personnel from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai. At least four other security checkpoints in the area have been attacked since early Friday morning, and Egyptian state media reported that Islamist gunmen also attacked the El Arish airport in the region.
- Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) officials have reportedly reached a consensus on measures to take against Hezbollah, after deputy interior ministers from the six member states met in Riyadh yesterday to coordinate moves against the Iran-backed terror group. New sanctions will reportedly target "assets, individuals, corporates, visas and residency." Arab nations have become increasingly vocal in demanding international action against the Shiite organization, which they blame for conducting terrorism on their soil and assisting Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime in massacring Sunnis at the behest of Tehran. GCC nations this week called for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting over the Syrian regime's offensive on the city of Homs and regarding the presence of Hezbollah in Syria, a request that was quickly blocked by Russia. Analysts have emphasized, however, that even unilateral GCC action against Hezbollah and Lebanon "could suffocate the country."
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