Islamists call for more protests after 638 Dead, 3000 Injured after Army Crackdown

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A Health Ministry official in Egypt reported that at least 525 people were killed and more than 3,500 injured in fighting after Army crackdown on protesters Wednesday.  Giving an update on the death toll, the military-backed interim government said 137 people had died near the mosque, 57 in Nahda Square and 29 in Helwan, in the south of the city. The other 198 deaths occurred in the provinces. (UPDATE: As of August 15th, the death toll rose to 638 in total).

“Marches are planned this afternoon (Thursday) from Al-Iman mosque to protest the deaths,” the Islamist group said in a statement to Reuters.

This is the third major clash between the Army and pro-Morsi supporters in the six weeks and brings the death toll of Muslim Brotherhood supporters to over 700 since President Morsi was ousted from government in a military led takeover.  Seeking “more peaceful ways” for government leadership, VP Mohammed Baradei also resigned Wednesday in disagreement with the violence used against protestors. Egypt’s interim government has subsequently imposed a State of Emergency for at least one month in a countrywide curfew from dusk to dawn- not seen since the days just after President Mubarak’s resignation in 2011.

Despite repeated attempts from US and EU envoys peace talks between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Military Backed interim government, President Adly Mansour announced that talks “have failed” just last week following a special visit from US Senator McCain and Graham. Diplomatic efforts to avoid violence and dissuade Army Commander Sisi from using force against the protestors persisted however, with EU envoy Bernardino Leon who co-led the mediation effort with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. The US had also warned General Sisi that a forceful move against the protestors would only result in political and economic damage which Egypt was not in a position to sustain.

Many pro-military supporters in Egypt agree with the measures taken by the interim government claiming their security was threatened by armed and militant Muslim Brotherhood members that have targeted civilians and security forces through out Egypt.  “More police and army soldiers are being killed and burned alive while on duty than protestors,” says A. Galal, an Egyptian mother of two. “The Army gave them a safe exit and they chose to fight with their machine guns and weapons that are a threat to me as a civilian, my family and loved ones. The pro-Morsi supporters chose war not politics.” The Egyptian Ministry of Interior has reported that Wednesday alone, 43 police officers were killed. Sinai has also become a target for Islamist militants with several deadly attacks on Egyptian security posts bordering Israel.

The aftermath of the Army crackdown has also left Egypt’s relationship with its western allies even more polarized and volatile.

In Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called on Thursday for the U.N. Security Council to convene quickly and act after what he described as a massacre in Egypt.

“I am calling on Western countries. You remained silent in Gaza, you remained silent in Syria … You are still silent on Egypt. So how come you talk about democracy, freedom, global values and human rights?” he told a news conference.

A U.S. official told Reuters that the Obama administration was considering cancelling the “Bright Star” military exercise with Egypt, which has been a cornerstone of U.S.-Egyptian military relations since Camp David in 1981.

However Gulf State allies of Egypt such as the the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have expressed support of the army crackdown, saying that the Egyptian government had “exercised maximum self-control” and that its actions were “sovereign measures” to ensure national security.

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