Protesters attack presidential palace in Cairo
By Ben Wedeman, Cairo (CNN) — A fire erupted at the entrance of Egypt’s presidential palace Friday night as protesters hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks in a battle with security forces, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Egypt has been rocked by violence since last week’s two-year anniversary of its 2011 revolution. Protesters have fumed over the slow pace of change and recent edicts by President Mohammed Morsy, who imposed a 30-day curfew on areas engulfed by violence.
State television reported that security forces were clearing the area in front of the palace as rioting continued.
“The continued attacks suggest a real breakdown in central power, we’re coming close to that,” said Steven Cook, a Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow. “… None of the political forces have control over the people in the streets.”
A rash of political and economic discontent mixed with anarchists as both Morsy and opposition groups vowed to keep their supporters off the streets in an effort to avoid further bloodshed.
Earlier this week, anti-government protesters ignored Morsy’s curfew in cities along the Suez Canal and clashed with police and troops, raising more questions about the stability of the Middle East’s most populous nation.
Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with CNN this week, echoed concerns about what a collapse of the Egyptian state could mean for the broader region.
“I think that would lead to incredible chaos and violence on a scale that would be devastating,” she said Tuesday at the State Department. “There has to be some understanding by the new government that the aspirations that the people were expressing during the revolution in Egypt have to be taken seriously.”
Friday’s protests are the latest in the seesaw struggle between Egypt’s first democratically elected president and dissidents who say his tenure is a throwback to past dictatorships, particularly the reign of President Hosni Mubarak, toppled in the popular revolt two years ago.
Could Egypt fall apart?
Dozens of deaths have resulted, prompting Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, to denounce the violence and call for dialogue among all parties.
She said Morsy’s state of emergency declaration should be governed by the rule of law, in line with international standards, and urged him to listen to the demands of demonstrators and take action to deal with problems in the judicial system.
Published Date: Friday, February 1st, 2013 | 12:55 PM