The American Bear


The Saudis Aren’t Going Anywhere | LobeLog

It may be true that the rulers of Saudi Arabia are unhappy over some aspects of U.S. policy toward Syria, Iran and Egypt, but it does not follow that they will therefore seek to detach the kingdom from its longstanding security alliance with the United States. To understand why, it is useful to review the history of the U.S.-Saudi relationship and examine the reality of the security partnership today to evaluate whether Saudi Arabia would really consider recasting its international security ties. [more]

I cannot stand up to death today. Today I am a coward who can only write. I see the revolution being dragged away to be shot over a shallow grave and I don’t know what to do. But I do know that, before it’s too late, we will grab it, we will fight for it. We have to, or we will never be able to live with ourselves.

Everything was possible | Mada Masr

Egypt. Must read.

Egypt’s Counter Revolution | LRB

So this is how it ends: with the army killing more than 600 protesters, and injuring thousands of others, in the name of restoring order and defeating ‘terrorism’. The victims are Muslim Brothers and other supporters of the deposed president Mohammed Morsi, but the ultimate target of the massacres of 14 August is civilian rule. Cairo, the capital of revolutionary hope two years ago, is now its burial ground.

To each setback they have undergone since the overthrow of Mubarak, Egypt’s revolutionary forces have responded with the reassuring mantra: ‘revolution is a process.’ But so is counter-revolution, which seems to have prevailed for the foreseeable future. It won not only because the army and the feloul (remnants of the old regime) had superior resources at their disposal, but because they had a unified sense of their aims, something the leaderless revolutionaries conspicuously lacked. The revolution has been a ‘process’ in the manner of a 1960s happening, a meeting of different, often bickering forces that shared the stage only to go their own way after Mubarak’s overthrow. While accusing one another of betraying the revolution, both liberals and Islamists, at various intervals, tried to cut deals with the army, as if it might be a neutral force, as if the people and the army really were ‘one hand’, as people had once chanted in Tahrir Square. Neither had the ruthlessness, or the taste for blood, of Khomeini, who began to decapitate the Shah’s army as soon as he seized power. While the old regime reassembled its forces, Egypt’s revolutionaries mistook their belief in the revolution for the existence of a revolution. By the time Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seized power on 3 July, the revolution existed mainly in their imagination.

The triumph of the counter-revolution has been obvious for a while, but most of Egypt’s revolutionaries preferred to deny it, and some actively colluded in the process, telling themselves that they were allying themselves with the army only in order to defend the revolution. Al-Sisi was only too happy to flatter them in this self-perception, as he prepared to make his move. He, too, styles himself a defender of the revolution. According to the army’s narrative, al-Sisi and his colleagues saved Egypt two years ago not only from Mubarak but from his son Gamal, whom he was grooming as his successor and who, it so happens, championed a programme of neoliberal ‘reform’ that might have threatened the army’s economic interests. Now, once again, it is saving Egypt, this time from the Muslim Brotherhood and its foreign supporters, from Hamas to the former American ambassador, Anne Patterson, an object of especially passionate loathing in old regime circles. Among the many illusions to have crumbled since the overthrow of Mubarak is the notion that the military has no interest in direct rule, preferring to exert its influence from behind a civilian façade. Now there is talk of al-Sisi, a wildly popular figure in the anti-Morsi camp, ascending to the presidency (Adly Mansour is obviously a placeholder); most of the newly appointed provincial governors are generals closely allied with the old regime.

The story the army tells about the revolution plays well with a lot of Egyptians, perhaps a majority. The army remains a revered institution, in spite of its vast network of privileges, and even though it is essentially paid to stay out of the Arab-Israeli conflict. And al-Sisi speaks a language with considerable popular appeal, a language of narrow, chauvinistic, Egypt-first nationalism. Egyptian politics has long been poisoned by unusually high levels of xenophobia. Al-Sisi is tapping into a deep well of paranoia, fomented throughout the Mubarak era, when he accuses Morsi of having plotted with Hamas. Thanks to al-Sisi, Egypt’s 84 million people have been protected from the ‘terrorists’ in Gaza.

Al-Sisi’s rhetoric may be crude, but it is not desperate, and neither was the repression of 14 August. The attack on Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square and other protest camps was carried out in the confidence that many would approve of it, or at least look the other way. After more than two years of political turbulence, economic immiseration and heightened insecurity, few people were eager for another round of confrontation, and the Brothers hadn’t convinced anyone beyond their hard core of supporters that Morsi’s presidency was a cause worth fighting for. Al-Sisi and the army – praised by John Kerry for ‘restoring democracy’ when they ousted Morsi – launched their assault also knowing they would face few serious penalties from their foreign sponsors.

The Obama administration cancelled a joint military exercise and postponed the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets, but the military aid won’t be cut off. (Even if it were, the Saudis have promised to replace it, as they did when the Americans cut off aid to Pakistan in 1998 after its nuclear test.) Al-Sisi knows the Americans’ hands are tied in Egypt. Preserving the peace treaty with Israel and bringing order to the Sinai, an increasingly unruly zone of jihadism and drug smuggling, are the United States’ two overriding priorities. And an administration that can’t prevent its closest ally from building a thousand more homes for Jewish settlers in advance of peace talks can hardly prevent Egypt’s generals from clearing Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. In the absence of tougher measures, the only effect of Obama’s stern words is to enable the putschists to spar with their patrons in Washington, a confidence trick the Egyptian military has played on its people for years. Mansour said Obama’s remarks ‘would strengthen the violent armed groups and encourage them in their methods inimical to stability and the democratic transition’.

It was a revealing statement, because there is no stability, there is no democratic transition, and – so far – the Muslim Brothers haven’t succumbed to the temptation of violence. But surely one possible effect of the military’s campaign – as Mohammed ElBaradei warned when he resigned as vice president – will be to encourage Morsi’s supporters, and other, more radical Islamists, to take up arms. (ElBaradei learned, it seems, that he couldn’t keep his hands clean if he continued to sit at the generals’ table.) The mob attacks on Christians on 15 August are an early indication of who, besides state officials, might be targeted if Egypt’s Islamists turn to violence. As Issandr El Amrani has suggested, al-Sisi may be spoiling for a fight: Islamist violence could well play into his hands. If Egypt’s patrons in the West and in Saudi Arabia are capable of no more than toothless chastisement when peaceful protesters are killed, they aren’t likely to protest when the army kills armed insurgents – particularly if the insurgents are murdering liberals and Christians. We have seen the results of such a strategy in Algeria during the 1990s, and more recently in Syria. The road ahead in Egypt looks very dark indeed.

‘Bloodbath That Is Not A Bloodbath': Why Egypt Is Doomed | Pepe Escobar

Egypt’s ‘bloodbath that is not a bloodbath’ has shown that the forces of hardcore suppression and corruption reign supreme, while foreign interests - the House of Saud, Israel and the Pentagon - support the military’s merciless strategy.

Stop. Look at the photos. Linger on dozens of bodies lined up in a makeshift morgue. How can the appalling bloodbath in Egypt be justified? Take your pick. Either it’s Egypt’s remix of Tiananmen Square, or it’s the bloodbath that is not a bloodbath, conducted by the leaders of the coup that is not a coup, with the aim of fighting “terror”.

It certainly was not a crowd clearing operation – as in the New York Police Department ‘clearing’ Occupy Wall Street. As a Sky journalist tweeted, it was more like “a major military assault largely on unarmed civilians”, using everything from bulldozers to tear gas to snipers.

Thus the scores indiscriminately killed – with crossfire estimates ranging from the low hundreds (the “interim government”) to at least 4,500 (the Muslim Brotherhood), including at least four journalists and the 17-year-old Asmaa, daughter of top Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohamed El Beltagy.

El Beltagy, before being arrested, said, crucially, “If you do not take to the streets, he [as in General Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, the leader of the coup that is not a coup who appointed the interim government] will make the country like Syria.”

Wrong. Sisi is not Bashar al-Assad. Don’t expect passionate Western calls for “targeted strikes” or a no-fly zone over Egypt. He may be a military dictator killing his own people. But he’s one of “our” bastards.

Let’s look at the reactions. The lethargic poodles of the European Union called for “restraint” and described it all as “extremely worrying.” A White House statement said the interim government should “respect human rights” – which can be arguably interpreted as the Manning/Snowden/droning of Pakistan and Yemen school of human rights.

That pathetic excuse for a diplomat, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, at least was blunt: “Egypt is an important partner for NATO through the Mediterranean Dialogue.” Translation: the only thing we really care about is that those Arabs do as we say.

Stripped of all rhetoric – indignant or otherwise – the key point is that Washington won’t cut its $1.3 billion annual aid to Sisi’s army no matter what. Wily Sisi has declared a “war on terror”. The Pentagon is behind it. And the Obama administration is tagging along – reluctantly or not.

Now let’s see who’s in revolt. Predictably, Qatar condemned it; after all Qatar was bankrolling the Morsi presidency. The Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, encouraged Egyptians to keep protesting to “thwart the conspiracy” by the former regime – as in Mubarakists without Mubarak.

Turkey – which also supports the Muslim Brotherhood - urged the UN Security Council and the Arab League to act quickly to stop a “massacre”; as if the UN and the Saudi-controlled Arab League would interrupt their three-hour-long expense account lunches to do anything.

Iran – correctly - warned of the risk of civil war. That does not mean that Tehran is blindly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood – especially after Morsi had incited Egyptians to join a jihad against Assad in Syria. What Tehran has noted is that the civil war is already on.

“Byzantine” does not even begin to explain the blame game. The bloodbath that is not a bloodbath happened as the Sisi-appointed “government” had promised it would engage in a military-supported “transition” that would be politically all-inclusive.

Yet, fed up with six weeks of protests denouncing the “coup that is not a coup,” the interim government changed the narrative and decided to take no prisoners.

According to the best informed Egyptian media analyses, Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Baha Eldin and Vice President for foreign affairs Mohamed ElBaradei wanted to go soft against the protesters, while Interior Minister Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim Mustafa and the Defense Minister - Sisi himself - wanted to go medieval.

The first step was to pre-emptively blame the Muslim Brotherhood for the bloodshed – just as the Muslim Brotherhood blamed Jemaah Islamiyah for deploying Kalashnikovs and burning churches and police stations.

A key reason to launch the “bloodbath that is not a bloodbath” this Wednesday was an attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood to march on the perennially dreaded Interior Ministry. Hardcore Ibrahim Mustafa would have none of it.

Sisi’s minions appointed 25 provincial governors, of which 19 are generals, in perfect timing to “reward” the top military echelon and thus solidify the Egyptian “deep state”, or actually police state. And to crown the “bloodbath that is not a bloodbath,” Sisi’s minions declared martial law for a month. Under these circumstances, the resignation of Western darling ElBaradei won’t make Sisi lose any sleep.

The original spirit of Tahrir Square is now dead and buried , as a Yemeni miraculously not targeted by Obama’s drones, Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman, pointed out.

The key question is who profits from a hyper-polarized Egypt, with a civil war pitting the well-organized, fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood against the military-controlled “deep state”.

Both options are equally repulsive (not to mention incompetent). Yet the local winners are easily identifiable: the counter-revolution, as in the fulool – diehard Mubarakists – a bunch of corrupt oligarchs, and most of all the deep state itself.

Hardcore repression rules. Corruption rules. And foreign domination rules (as in Saudi Arabia, who’s now paying most of the bills, alongside the UAE).

Internationally, the big winners are Saudi Arabia (displacing Qatar), Israel (because the Egyptian army is even more docile than the Brotherhood), and – who else – the Pentagon, the Egyptian army’s pimp. Nowhere in the Milky Way this House of Saud/Israel/Pentagon axis can be spun as “good for the Egyptian people”.

A quick recap is in order. In 2011, the Obama administration never said, “Mubarak must go” until the last minute. Hilary Clinton wanted a “transition” led by CIA asset and spy chief Omar Suleiman – widely known in Tahrir Square as “Sheikh al-Torture”.

Then a Washington inside joke was that the Obama administration had gleefully become a Muslim Brotherhood cheerleader (allied with Qatar). Now, like a yo-yo, the Obama administration is weighing on how to spin the new narrative - the ‘loyal’ Egyptian army courageously wiping out the “terrorist” Muslim Brotherhood to “protect the revolution.”

There was never any revolution to begin with; the head of the snake (Mubarak) was gone, but the snake remained alive and kicking. Now it’s met the new snake, same as the old snake. Additionally, it’s so easy to sell to the uninformed galleries the Muslim Brotherhood = al-Qaeda equation.

Pentagon supremo Chuck Hagel was glued on the phone with Sisi as the July 3 “coup that is not a coup” was taking place. Pentagon spin would want us to believe that Sisi promised Hagel he would be on top of things in a heartbeat. Virtually 100% of the Beltway agreed. Thus the official Washington spin of “coup that is not a coup.” Tim Kaine from Virginia, at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, even extolled those model democracies, the UAE and Jordan, in their enthusiasm for the “coup that is not a coup.”

It’s essential to outline the five countries that have explicitly endorsed the “coup that is not a coup.” Four of them are GCC petro-monarchies (members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, also known as Gulf Counter-Revolution Club); Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain. And the fifth is that little monarchy, Jordan, the GCC wants to annex to the Gulf.

Even more pathetic than Egypt’s so-called liberals, some leftists, some Nasserists and assorted progressives defending Sisi’s bloodlust has been the volte-face of Mahmoud Badr, the founder of Tamarrod – the movement that spearheaded the massive demonstrations that led to Morsi’s ouster. In 2012, he blasted Saudi Arabia. After the coup, he prostrated himself in their honor. At least he knows who’s paying the bills.

And then there’s Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the Vatican of Sunni Islam. He said, “Al-Azhar…did not know about the methods used for the dispersal of the protests except through media channels.” Nonsense; he has repeatedly praised Sisi.

There’s no other way of saying it; from Washington’s point of view, Arabs can kill each other to Kingdom Come, be it Sunnis against Shiites, jihadis against secularists, peasants against urbanites, and Egyptians against Egyptians. The only thing that matters is the Camp David agreements; and nobody is allowed to antagonize Israel.

So it’s fitting that Sisi’s minions in boots asked Israel to keep their drones near the border, as they need to pursue their “war on terror” in the Sinai. For all practical purposes, Israel runs the Sinai.

But then there’s the cancellation of a delivery of F-16s to Sisi’s army. In real life, every US weapons sale across the Middle East has to be “cleared” with Israel. So a case can be made that Israel – for the moment - is not exactly sure what Sisi is really up to.

It’s quite instructive to read what Sisi thinks of “democracy” – as demonstrated when he was at the US War College. He’s essentially an Islamist – but most of all he craves power. And the MB is standing in his way. So they have to be disposed of.

Sisi’s “war on terror” is arguably a roaring success as a PR stunt to legitimize his run for a popular mandate. He’s trying to pose as the new Nasser. He’s Sisi the Savior, surrounded by a bunch of Sisi groupies. A columnist wrote in Al-Masry Al-Youm that Sisi doesn’t even need to issue an order; it’s enough to “just flutter his eyelashes”. The Sisi-for-president campaign is already on.

Anyone familiar with US-propped 1970s tin-pot Latin American dictators is able to spot one. This is no Savior. This is no more than an Al-Sisi-nator – the vainglorious tin-pot ruler of what my colleague Spengler bluntly defined as a banana republic without the bananas.

Israel Downplays Reports of Drone Strike in Sinai, But Does Not Deny It


August 11, 2013

Israel Downplays Sinai Drone Strike Reports

Associated Press

August 11, 2013

JERUSALEM — Israel’s defense minister said that his country won’t let recent “rumors and speculation” harm the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, an apparent attempt to downplay reports that an Israeli drone killed four militants in a cross-border strike into Egypt.

The late Saturday statement by Moshe Yaalon did not explicitly deny that Israel carried out the Friday attack.

The Israeli military said Friday it was looking into the report. On Sunday it said it had no further comment.

Egyptian officials initially said an Israeli drone carried out the attack, but an official quoted by the state media later claimed an Egyptian helicopter was responsible.

Yaalon said that Israel “appreciated” unspecified actions taken by Egypt against militants over the weekend.

"Israel respects the full sovereignty of Egypt," Yaalon said. He said Israel is "aware of the Egyptian military’s increased activity against terror infrastructures in the Sinai Peninsula" and praised the Egyptian military for "fighting first and foremost to protect Egypt’s citizens and sovereignty."

A little known militant group, Ansar Jerusalem, said its men were the target of Friday’s drone strike into Egyptian territory. It said four militants were killed as they were preparing to fire rockets into Israel.

The Israeli praise of Egypt protecting its citizens seemed intended to deflect reports that Israel carried out a rare cross-border attack to protect its own citizens. Egypt is highly sensitive to criticism about letting Israel carry out strikes on its soil.

The attack could indicate increased cooperation between Egypt and Israel against militants in northern Sinai after a coup ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last month. It also is likely to increase tensions in a border region that has seen other rocket attacks in the past.

Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979.

(Source: matthewaid)

Like clockwork every few months, state agents facilitated the conditions for collective violence, dispatching provocateurs to demonstrations, removing police from the streets, standing back as communal violence broke out, resisting civilian oversight, and then ominously forecasting an impending breakdown of social order. The message is clear: left to your own devices, you will kill each other. The ethos of collective self-confidence, cross-class cooperation, religious co-existence, and creative problem-solving on such magnificent display in the January 25 uprising spells the beginning of the end for the ruling military and civilian bureaucracy. So it had to be replaced with a manufactured mood of resignation and “realism,” the false realism that says: accept tutelage or face chaos. Fashioning a Coup

Baheyya | Egypt Analysis and Whimsy: Fashioning a Coup

I understand the outrage of honest citizens who went out to protest against Mohamed Morsi on June 30 only to have their efforts branded a coup. When you’re in the middle of a crowd of boisterous humanity that stretches farther than the eye can see, nothing exists outside of that overwhelming reality. The feeling of mutual recognition and collective empowerment erases all context and constraints. As well it should. You don’t go to a protest to think carefully or make necessary distinctions. But when you exit the protest and survey the big picture, you do have to face inconvenient facts.

One such fact is that the protests were unscrupulously appropriated and packaged for ends I’m pretty sure many protesters find abhorrent. A genuine popular protest and a military coup aren’t mutually exclusive. The massive protests of June 30 came in conjunction with a much larger scheme that began very soon after Morsi took office. This long term project by entrenched state elites seeks more than simply ejecting the Muslim Brothers from power, although that’s a highly prized outcome.

The overarching goal is to systematically reverse each halting step toward subjecting the state to popular control. As Leon Trotsky wrote long ago, in the aftermath of an uprising state managers will gradually push away the masses from participation in the leadership of the country. Popular depoliticization is the grand strategy.

The amazing breakthrough that was the mass mobilization of January-February 2011 shook the grip of the ruling caste on the Egyptian state and toppled its chief, Hosni Mubarak. But, alas, it did not smash that grip. The web of top military & police officers and their foreign patrons, the managers of the civil bureaucracy, cultural & media elites, and crony businessmen firmly believe that ruling over Egypt is their birthright, and its state is their possession.

The frightful specter conjured up by January 25 of power-rotation at the top had to be exorcised once and for all, principally by habituating Egyptians into thinking that regular political competition over the state is tantamount to civil war.

It’s soothing to believe that a popular uprising ejected an incompetent Islamist president. It’s not comforting to point out that a popular uprising was on the cusp of doing so, until the generals stepped in, aborted a vital political process, arrested the president, and proclaimed their own “roadmap” for how things will be from now on.

The constant equating of democracy with disorder and the positioning of the military as the stabilizer and guarantor, this is the stuff of the resurgent Egyptian counter-revolution. [continue]

The Revolution Shall be Cannibalized

Too much food makes one obese, or at the very least flabby; too much revolution strips the credentials of those who want it, destroys the premises with which it is started, and undermine the cause. We have seen how rebellions cannibalise themselves. Bolshevism moved into bureaucratic stasis and murderous Stalinism; the French Revolution ended up, like Saturn, eating its children by first severing them on the guillotine after attacking the aristocrats. The finest example of this analysis remains Albert Camus’ The Rebel (1951), a searing account about how rebellion can turn on itself.

That process is largely one of the utopian dreamer who dons the uniform of combat. The society makers, the dreamers, and the utopians strike in the hope that the next order is a more just one. The prisons are opened. The unjust institutions are either reformed or abolished. But disenchantment follows. As Camus observed, the atrocities that follow by means of terror are committed on the basis of a temporary emergency. You enslave people to free them.

The key to overcome this, suggests Camus, is the careful acknowledgment of transcendental values, be it the liberty of the subject, or the sanctity of life. Be aware of those who deny history, who demand the fresh start in a vacuum of intoxicated enthusiasm.

The Rebellion Movement Denounces Mansour's Constitutional Principles as Dictatorial | Juan Cole

If the Egyptian military and judicial elite thought that they could use the youthful Rebellion Movement, which put three or four million demonstrators in the streets a week and a half ago, to restore the status quo before the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, they probably miscalculated.

Rebellion denounced as “dictatorial” interim president Adly Mansour’s Monday declaration of the constitutional principles that would guide Egypt during the transition to a new constitution. The principles gave the president way too much power, including the power to appoint cabinet ministers (even though he is appointing a new prime minister), and they do not sufficiently safeguard individual liberties, Rebellion coordinator Mahmoud Badr said.

Badr announced that Mansour had agreed to amend the constitutional declaration. He told the newspaper “al-Misri al-Yawn” that Rebellion had expressed reservations about the constitutional declaration, including the paragraphs related to expanded powers for the president, to the role of the two houses of parliament, and the drafting committee for the constitution.

Badr had complained at Rebellion’s Facebook page that the organization had not been consulted about the constitutional declaration before it was announced, and that it had not been shown, either, to Dr. Muhammad Elbaradei, and both were surprised, as was everyone else. Elbaradei is admired by many Egyptian youth and has been appointed as a vice president for foreign affairs.

Mansour, who has no grass roots power base other than potentially the Rebellion Movement, might face demonstrations against himself if he continues to act so high-handedly. And it seems that he knows it.

Mansour on Tuesday appointed Hazem Biblawi, a well-regarded economist, as prime minister.

Deposed president Muhammad Morsi had been a poor steward of the economy, and Biblawi at least has some idea of the necessary steps to recovery.

Biblawi was greeted warmly in his new position by the hard line fundamentalist Salafi movement, which appears to have rejoined the ruling coalition. Manour wants the Salafis inside the ruling coalition if at all possible. That way, he can claim support from a stratum of the religious Right in Egypt and does not absolutely need the Muslim Brotherhood.

After the horrific shooting by the army of 51 Muslim Brothers in front of the Republican Guards’ barracks on Monday morning, Egypt has been extremely tense, but there was not substantial new violence on Tuesday. Interim President Mansour says that he is appointed a commission to investigate the deaths.

Stories circulating in the region appeared to indicate that at least from the Egyptian side, the military establishment was not that concerned about the possible cut-off of aid from the U.S., if indeed that was in the cards. The military was not concerned because it was able to play a new hand that it was given by states from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain – the dictatorial group of monarchies that is allied with the U.S. in the efforts to destabilize and dismember the Syrian state. The hand that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dealt the generals in Egypt was this: if the Obama Administration cut off the annual allocation of aid to the military, Saudi Arabia and the UAE would make up the budget’s shortfall.

Ajamu Baraka, From Egypt to Syria: Is The Gulf Cooperation Council the tail that wags the U.S. Dog?

Also: Arab Aid starts flowing after Morsi’s departure from Jadaliyya.

Egypt's second Islamist party opposes choice of ElBaradei as PM

CAIRO, July 6 (Reuters) - Egypt’s second biggest Islamist group, which had initially backed a military-led political roadmap to guide the country to new elections, opposed the nomination of liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei as interim prime minister, a party official told Reuters on Saturday.

The Nour Party’s deputy leader Ahmed Khalil told the state news website Al-Ahram that the party would withdraw from the political transition process if ElBaradei was confirmed in his post as expected.

Egypt: opposition leader named interim PM

Egypt’s new president moved to assert his authority Saturday by naming a chief rival of ousted leader Mohammed Morsi as interim prime minister and holding crisis talks with security officials on efforts to reclaim control of the streets.

The steps by the untested Adly Mansour, however, are likely to deepen the defiance by Islamist opponents who have turned parts of the Cairo into vigilante-guarded strongholds and have issued blood oaths to battle until Morsi is restored.

After a night of clashes that claimed at least 36 lives, both sides appeared to be preparing for the possibility of more violence as Egypt’s political unraveling increasingly left little room for middle ground or dialogue.

Mansour’s decision to bring pro-reform leader and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei into the key government role of prime minister is also certain to help cement the loyalties of the anti-Morsi forces.

The president planned to swear-in ElBaradei later Saturday, said Khaled Dawoud, an official with the main opposition National Salvation Front.

ElBaradei, a former director of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, [was an early leading voice in] the protests against President Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring uprising that ended his autocratic rule in February 2011.