ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 54

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Egypt: Obama remarks ‘strengthen’ armed groups

Egyptian Presidency says country is fighting ‘terrorist acts’; UNSC calls to ‘advance national reconciliation’

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Tech Israel editor and reporter.

Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour makes his first address to the nation since taking his post after the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, July 18, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Egyptian State Television)
Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour makes his first address to the nation since taking his post after the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, July 18, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Egyptian State Television)

The Egyptian Presidency’s office issued a statement late Thursday in response to US President Barack Obama’s earlier remarks on the crisis, saying that the country was fighting “terrorist acts” and that Obama’s comments are not based “on the truth of matters” and could be seen as “strengthening the armed violent groups and encouraging them in their path.”

The response, issued by the office of interim President Adly Mansour, said that while Egypt “appreciates the American concern of the developing events, it would like things to be put in their correct context and the real facts of the situation on the ground to be understood.”

The Presidency’s statement said that Egypt was facing “terrorist acts targeting government buildings and vital facilities … [that] have included tens of churches, courthouses, and police stations, as well as many public facilities and private properties.”

In response to international reactions to the security forces’ crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters, Egypt said it appreciates “the faithful positions of the world’s nations, but absolutely confirms its full sovereignty and independent decision.”

Earlier Thursday, Obama scrapped plans for joint American-Egyptian military exercises, while the State Department renewed its travel warning to the country.

The US president, speaking from his rented vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard Thursday, warned that continued fighting would lead Egypt down a “dangerous path,” and he called on both the government and protesters to show restraint. He said that while close engagement with Egypt was in US national security interests, “our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.”

More than 600 were confirmed killed and thousands wounded since Wednesday in clashes between Egypt’s military-backed interim government and supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. The government has declared a nationwide state of emergency and nighttime curfew.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council met Thursday to discuss the ongoing crisis in the Middle East country.

“The members of the council express sympathy with victims and regret loss of life,” said President of the Security Council and Argentinian Ambassador to the UN Maria Cristina Perceval, adding that member states felt it was “important to end the violence” while calling on the “parties to exercise maximum restraint.

“We feel there is a need to stop violence and advance national reconciliation,” said Perceval.

The meeting was called for at the request of France, the UK and Australia.

Earlier Thursday, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Egypt, following harsh statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who accused the West of ignoring bloodshed in Egypt and urged the United Nations Security Council to meet urgently to discuss the situation in the country where hundreds of people were reported killed.

In response, Egypt summoned the Turkish ambassador for consultations.

In a televised statement before departing for a visit to Turkmenistan, Erdogan also said Egypt’s leaders should stand a “fair and transparent” trial for what he called a “massacre” that unfolded live on television as police smashed two protest camps of supporters of the deposed Islamist president.

AP contributed to this report.

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