National Security Brief: Kerry Calls Egyptian Crackdown ‘Deplorable’




Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that the Egyptian military’s assault on supporters of recently ousted President Mohammed Morsi was “deplorable” and “run counter to Egyptians’ aspirations for peace, inclusion and genuine democracy” (Kerry said recently that the military was “restoring democracy” when it took power from Morsi last month).

Kerry however, “announced no punitive measures,” the New York Times reports, while officials have suggested the U.S. might cancel an upcoming military training exercise in response.

More than 500 were killed and thousands wounded after Egyptian security officers raided two encampments of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters on Wednesday “in a scorched-earth assault” that “set off a violent backlash across Egypt and underscored the new government’s determination to crush the Islamists who dominated two years of free elections.”

Brotherhood supporters urged Morsi’s followers to take to the streets once again on Thursday. “We will always be nonviolent and peaceful. We remain strong, defiant and resolved,” Gehad El-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, wrote in a message on Twitter. “We will push forward until we bring down this military coup.”

In a statement, the interim Egyptian government, however, urged Morsi’s backers to “listen to the voice of reason” and back down. “The government holds these [Muslim Brotherhood] leaders fully responsible for any spilt blood, and for all the rioting and violence going on,” the statement said.

In other news:

  • Defense News reports: Warning of protracted, destabilizing conflict in Syria, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon urged the visiting chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to prevent Iran and its Lebanon-based Hezbollah proxies from prevailing on behalf of embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
  • The New York Times reports: With no end in sight to the violence in Syria, which has already sent a half-million refugees into Jordan, authorities here appealed to the United States on Wednesday for surveillance airplanes and intelligence help to secure a border that is favored by arms smugglers.
  • Breaking Defense reported on Wednesday: The Navy’s experimental carrier stealth drone, the X-47B, would have made a third landing on the USS George H.W. Bush last month but for the fact the plane knew it was doing a test and decided to waive itself off, Adm. Mathias Winter said here this morning.
  • The AP reports: Al-Qaida fighters have been using secretive chat rooms and encrypted Internet message boards for planning and coordinating attacks — including the threatened if vague plot that U.S. officials say closed 19 diplomatic posts across Africa and the Middle East for more than a week.
  • The Washington Post reports: Pfc. Bradley Manning told a military judge during his sentencing hearing Wednesday that he is sorry he hurt the United States by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks and he asked for leniency.
  • Los Angeles Times reports: Until just two years ago, the U.S. military barred openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the armed forces, regarding them as unfit for duty. In a sign of how quickly society is changing, the Pentagon said Wednesday it would grant special leave to thousands of military personnel in same-sex relationships so they can get married in the 13 states where such unions are legal — making them eligible for the first time for full benefits provided to other military families.
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