Egypt: Ikhwan unleash rage on Copts

As the death toll from the previous day's operation to clear Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) protest camps in Cairo was estimated as high as 600, Ikhwan supporters on Aug. 15 staged new marches in the capital, where a government building was set alight, as well as in Alexandria, where street clashes were reported. A governorate building was also torched in Giza, while seven soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen near El Arish in the Sinai peninsula. Ikhwan supporters also unleashed their rage on Coptic Christians, with several churches, homes, and Copt-owned businesses attacked throughout the country. Coptic rights group the Maspero Youth Union (MYU) estimated that as many as 36 churches were "completely" devastated by fire across nine governorates, including Minya, Sohag and Assiut. Egyptians on Twitter used #EgyChurch to crowd-source images and reports of attacks on churches. (Ahram Online, Ahram OnlineMiddle East Online, BBC News, Aug. 15; Al Jazeera, Aug. 12)

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What happened at Rabaa al-Adawiyah mosque?

The Rabaa al-Adawiyah mosque, near the main Ikhwan protest camp that was cleared by the security forces, was apparently turned into a makeshift field hospital and morgue as the wounded and dead were taken there. Troops apparently then attacked the mosque itself; a report on HuffPost has photos showing the building gutted, with quotes from a Reuters interview with a protester who said: "They smashed through our walls. Police and soldiers, they fired tear gas at children. We are peaceful, no weapons, we didn't fire a shot, we threw stones. They continued to fire at protesters even when we begged them to stop."  A harrowing report on the BBC World Service tonight describes prayers amid the day-old corpses in the partially destroyed mosque—but also says the authorities are accusing the protesters of setting the mosque on fire themselves to blame it on the government.

Will Obama cut Egypt military aid?

Another 60 people have been killed today in ongoing street clashes between Ikhwan supporters and security forces. Troops opened fire on protesters in Ramsey Square, while the Egyptian state TV is displaying images said to be Ikhwan militants armed with rifles at the demonstrations.

In Washington, President Obama has decried the violence and called off planned joint military exercises with Egypt, but has not yet decided to label the ousting of Morsi a "coup" and cut off $1.3 billion in aid. On Aug. 14, asked if the changes in Egypt should now be considered a coup, deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest said,  "It is not in the interests of the United States to make that determination."

Interestingly, there seems to be a split among the Gulf states as to which faction to support in Egypt. Qatar provided $8 billion to Morsi's government (which now ironically may be being used to repress Morsi's supporters), while Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait immediately promised $12 billion to the interim regime after the coup. (Ahram Online, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 16; AP, Quartz, Aug. 15; New Yorker, July 22)