Obama Warns Egyptian Officials, as Police Clear Tahrir Square
On Saturday, Egyptian police cleared out protesters who have been clashing with Egyptian security forces for some four days near to the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Protests have spread to 20 countries in the Muslim world. In Cairo, the first Egyptian was killed in a Tahrir Square protest since President Morsi was elected to office this summer. A 36-year-old succumbed to rubber bullet wounds near the embassy.
On Wednesday, last week, U.S. President Barack Obama gave an interview with the Spanish-language news network, Telemundo, in which he failed to list Egypt as an American ally, saying that the government run by the former Muslim Brotherhood moderate Islamist, Mohammed Morsi, is still “a work in progress.” The comment stirred speculation that the U.S. could be reducing its relations with Cairo.
In a 20-minute phone conversation held between President Obama and President Morsi at the start of rioting near the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Obama warned his Egyptian counterpart that relations between the two countries would be put into jeopardy if Egyptian authorities were not successful in protecting American diplomats, according to a media dispatch.
Other U.S. representatives however maintain they are steadfast on helping Egypt’s transition to democracy. Last month, Washington slashed the debt of the economically rickety nation. The bill, after last year’s coup, that ousted former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, came to $3.2 billion. The economic aid (debt relief) from the United States was set at about $1 billion, a figure close to the $1.3 billion that America awarded Egypt’s military in March, prior to Mohammed Morsy’s inauguration.
In further action to assist the Egyptian economy, in early September, American firms Coca Cola, Pfizer and Exxon Mobil, sent U.S. representatives to meet with Egyptian ministers in Cairo, to outsource in an attempt to restore the economy there.
The EU has pledged to assist Egypt’s debt and struggling economy with a $580 million aid basket from 2011 until 2013.
Meanwhile, on Friday, violence was reported in the Sinai Peninsula, Israel’s border to the south. Mujaheeds from the Bedouin Salafi Gunmen brigade attacked a base manned by the Multination Force & Observers, and injured four soldiers, Friday. The attackers also torched a vehicle and one guard tower, stealing ammunition and equipment from the base. The base was located in the al Gura region of the northern Sinai desert. The Egyptian army reportedly moved in troops. Soroka Medical Center, Be’er Sheva said that two of the wounded were transferred to a hospital in southern Israel for treatment, according to a media dispatch.