August 15th, 2013
11:23 AM ET

State of Emergency in Egypt

Now in a state of emergency, Egypt is bracing for more protests after the bloodiest day since the 2011 revolution.

Hundreds of people were killed and thousands injured on Wednesday when security forces cracked down on supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy staging a six-week long sit-in.

The move was a promise Egypt's military backed interim government had been making for weeks.

“Authorities claim initially they used tear gas and water cannons to scatter protesters, but that was followed by gunfire,” reports CNN's Reza Sayah. (WATCH TOP VIDEO)

“They say Morsy supporters fired first and they were forced to fire back.”

The gunfire lasted for hours as security forces steadily pushed in and Morsy supporters desperately held on behind makeshift barriers.

“By roughly 6pm, security forces had taken full control of the sit-in, bulldozing hundreds of tents and torching protesters' belongings,” Sayah reports.

“Thousands of angry Morsy supporters, many of them walking wounded, left in despair. For Egypt's military backed interim government, it was mission accomplished at a steep cost.”

But the Muslim Brotherhood is promising there will be more demonstrations, signaling a movement for which they're determined to keep fighting.

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the bloody military crackdown, but so far the administration has not offered plans for a response.

“The tragedy here is that we don't really have a lot of leverage,” remarks Peter Beinart, the Senior Political Writer for the Daily Beast and a senior fellow with the New America Foundation. (WATCH VIDEO)

“Our point of maximum leverage would have been right after the coup, if we would have put U.S. aid on the line.”

Beinart admits the option is clearer in hindsight, “but perhaps at that point, we could have kept the military from going down this path of a violent confrontation.”

In retrospect, Beinart says the United States looked equivocal by not calling the ouster a coup from the beginning.

He believes the United States has also now lost credibility and influence with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists all over the world.

“The message for Islamists now is, the United States only supports elections where our side wins. And that we basically wink at coups,” Beinart says.

“We wink at coups when it's against people we don’t like. And that’s a very disturbing message I think.”

The feeling on the ground in Cairo seems to reflect that sense, according to Egyptian journalist and commentator Mona Eltahawy.

“I can safely tell you that most camps in Egypt right now do not like the United States very much,” says Eltahawy. (WATCH VIDEO)

Eltahawy says the reason for that “is the United States has a long history of supporting dictators in Egypt, as it does in many other countries, in the name of stability and at the expense of people and freedom.”

She stresses that while Morsy was elected democratically, he ceased to be a democratic leader for many Egyptians, and became an authoritarian like former president Hosni Mubarak, who lead for 30 years.

“And we didn’t want Morsy to turn into a 30-year dictator,” Eltahawy says. “But I also must emphasize, that we also do not want to return to military rule.”

Eltahawy, who was herself arrested and assaulted in 2011 while covering the revolution, says the Egyptian people will stand up to the interim military government just as they had with the military junta after they ended the rule of Mubarak.

“Because our revolution was not for military rule. It was not for Islamist rule,” Eltahawy says. “Our revolution was for freedom and dignity and we will achieve those things.”

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