TIME Greece

Greek Voters Face Uncertain Future

In the end, it was all over in an instant.

Greeks on Sunday returned a decisive ‘No’ vote on a historical referendum to decide whether it would keep its crippling bailout program in order to repay international creditors, or support its government’s plan to demand a better deal for its citizens.

As soon as the result was secure – within an hour it was evident that Greeks were not as divided as polls and politicians suggested, triumphant ‘No’ campaigners flocked to Syntagma Square, or Constitution Square — the soul of the Greek anti-austerity movement.

Within 2 hours of polls closing, the result was absolute. At that point, 40 per cent of votes were counted and the ‘No’ side retained a steady lead – rarely dipping below 60 percent.

The question itself was confusing; given the bailout program had actually expired a week earlier and the actual consequences of voting “Yes” or “No,” having not been fully explained voters.

Those consequences remain unknown, but Greeks believe their futures are safe and Europe won’t force them out.

“This a cheap joke,” says 26-year-old Dimitrius, when asked whether Sunday’s result spells the end for Greece in the euro.

“Everybody who knows geopolitics and economics knows that if Greece leaves the eurozone then the eurozone will collapse in 2 years, maximum,” he added.

Wrapped in an oversize Greek flag, 32-year old Olyssea says today was about governments realising that they’re “dealing with people, and not numbers or objects.”

“Can we pay the money back? No we can’t – that’s why we voted ‘No’ – we can’t pay that money back and it’s not our debt. … I don’t give a damn about the money – it’s nothing to do with me, why should I pay it. … Yes, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but we will be brave.”

Tied to 2 bailouts in 5 years, Greece owes 340 billion euros to its creditors and last week failed to payback 1.6 billion euros to the IMF.

Its fate in the eurozone now hangs in the balance, and it’s highly unlikely that that it’s banks will reopen this week.

The banks are dangerously low on cash, and a crucial meeting at the European Central Bank Monday will decide whether to provide emergency funding to keep money in Greek ATMs.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insists a better deal is in the offing, even though the Syriza-led government has lost practically lost all its allies in Europe at least among its fellow eurozone states.

Tsipras reiterated his position on Sunday night, saying that the mandate given to him as a result of the poll doesn’t call for a break with Europe but “rather gives me greater negotiating strength.”

He said his “immediate priority is to restore our banking systems and economic stability”.

Late into the night, thousands of young Greeks continued the rallying cry of the campaign “Oxi, Oxi, Oxi” – “No, No, No.”

Banging drums, sounding foghorns and waving Greek flags, the mood was celebratory amid a large presence of riot police.

“We Greeks have a great culture; going back ancient times and centuries – it can’t be lost or taken away by (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel or anyone else in Europe,” said 29-year-old Nathalie.

“We have our country back in our hands now.”

TIME Pope Francis

Pope Francis Returns to South America

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Latin America’s first pope returned to Spanish-speaking South America on Sunday for the first time, beginning a nine-day tour that will take him to three of the continent’s poorest countries.

Children in traditional dress greeted Pope Francis at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre airport, the wind blowing off his skullcap and whipping his white cassock as he descended from the plane following a 13-hour flight from Rome. He personally greeted and kissed several indigenous youths waiting for him on the side of the red carpet.

The “pope of the poor” will highlight in his visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay his priorities of protecting the marginalized and the planet from injustice and exploitation.

In a speech in front of President Rafael Correa, he immediately signaled key themes: the need to care for society’s most marginal, ensuring socially responsible economic development and, turning to Ecuador specifically, defending “the singular beauty of your country.”

“From the peak of Chimborazo to the Pacific coast, from the Amazon rainforest to the Galapagos Islands, may you never lose the ability to thank God for what he has done and is doing for you,” he said, praising Ecuador’s “singular beauty.”

The Pacific nation of 15 million is home to more than 20,000 plant species as well as the Galapagos Islands, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1535.

Thousands lined the motorcade route that would take Francis him to the Vatican ambassador’s residence, many hopeful the pope will have a calming effect.

Travel agency worker Veronica Valdeon called the Argentine pontiff “a light in the darkness.” “We are living difficult moments in our country,” she said, “and Francis brings a bit of joy.”

Francis is to preside over two big open-air Masses in his three days in Ecuador — one in the steaming Pacific port of Guayaquil on Monday, the other Tuesday in the capital on the site of the city’s former airport.

Francis’ stops later include a violent Bolivian prison, a flood-prone Paraguayan shantytown and a meeting with grass-roots groups in Bolivia, the sort of people he ministered to in the slums of Buenos Aires as archbishop.

Crowds are expected to be huge. While the countries themselves are small, they are fervently Catholic: 79 percent of the population is Catholic in Ecuador, 77 percent in Bolivia and 89 percent in Paraguay, according to the Pew Research Center.

Beyond the major public Masses in each country, Vatican organizers have scheduled plenty of time for the pope to meander through the throngs expected to line his motorcade route.

TIME Foreign Policy

Kerry Says Iran Nuke Talks ‘Could Go Either Way’

John Kerry iran nuclear talks
Carlos Barria—AP U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a statement on the Iran talks in Vienna on July 5, 2015.

"We are not yet where we need to be"

(VIENNA)—Nine days into marathon nuclear talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said the diplomatic efforts “could go either way,” cutting off all potential pathways for an Iranian atomic bomb or ending without an agreement that American officials have sometimes described as the only alternative to war.

“I want to absolutely clear to with everybody: We are not yet where we need to be on several of the most critical issues,” Kerry told reporters outside the 19th-century Viennese palace that has hosted the negotiations.

World powers and Iran are hoping to clinch a deal by Tuesday, setting a decade of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and granting Iran significant relief from international sanctions. Kerry met for 3 ½ hours on Sunday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as top diplomats from the five other negotiating countries planned to return to Austria’s capital later in the evening.

“It is now time to see whether or not we are able to close an agreement,” Kerry said, after hobbling on crutches through 97-degree heat to a podium set up in a city square.

While “genuine progress” had been made and the sides “have never been closer, at this point, this negotiation could go either way. If the hard choices get made in the next couple of days, and made quickly, we could get an agreement this week,” Kerry said. “But if they are not made, we will not.”

The talks had appeared to be moving forward. On Saturday, diplomats reported tentative agreement on the speed and scope of sanctions relief for Iran in the accord, even as issues such as inspection guidelines and limits on Iran’s nuclear research and development remained contentious.

Tuesday’s deadline is the latest that has been set for a comprehensive pact that would replace the interim deal world powers and Iran reached in November 2013. That package was extended three times, most recently on June 30, and Kerry appeared to be partly addressing critics of the diplomacy in the United States who’ve argued that President Barack Obama’s administration has been too conciliatory over the course of the negotiations.

Obama and U.S. officials say that is untrue. But they’ve also fiercely defended their overtures to Tehran and their willingness to allow the Iranians to maintain significant nuclear infrastructure, on the argument that a diplomatic agreement is preferable to military conflict.

Speaking at the same time as Sunday news shows aired in the U.S., Kerry said that “if we don’t have a deal, if there’s absolute intransigence with the things that are important, President Obama has always said we would walk away.”

“It’s not what anybody wants. We want to get an agreement,” he said. “What I have said from the moment I became involved in this: We want a good agreement, only a good agreement and we are not going to shave anywhere at the margins in order just to get an agreement. This is something that the world will analyze, experts everywhere will look at. There are plenty of people in the nonproliferation community, nuclear experts who will look at this and none of us are going to be content to do something that can’t pass scrutiny.”

Appearing on a nationally broadcast interview show Sunday, Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he had spoken to Kerry Saturday and voiced his concerns about rushing too quickly toward a settlement.

“Well, obviously they’re very anxious,” the Tennessee Republican said of Obama administration officials. “I mean, I think they look at this as a legacy issue.”

“I’ve had several conversations with him (Kerry) in meetings to say, ‘Look, you create just as much as a legacy walking away from a bad deal as you do head-long rushing into breaking into a bad deal,” Corker said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

While talks continue in Vienna, Iranian media reported that a high-level delegation from the U.N. nuclear agency would meet senior Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday night.

TIME celebrity

See Princess Charlotte’s First Months in Pictures

Princess Charlotte was christened Sunday, just over two months after becoming the newest member of the royal family. Here's her life so far in pictures

TIME Greece

Greeks Reject Demands for More Austerity in Key Referendum

"Democracy is defeating fear," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Voters in Greece resoundingly rejected creditors’ demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans Sunday, backing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who insisted the vote would give him a stronger hand to reach a better deal.

The opposition accused Tsipras of jeopardizing the country’s membership in the 19-nation club that uses the euro and said a “yes” vote was about keeping the common currency.

With 87 percent of the votes counted, the “no” side had more than 60 percent.

“Today we celebrate the victory of democracy,” Tsipras, who gambled the future of his 5-month-old left-wing government on the vote, said in an address to the nation.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Sunday night that creditors planned from the start to shut down banks to humiliate Greeks and force them to make a statement of contrition for showing that debt and loans are unsustainable.

On Sunday night’s result, he said that “‘no’ is a big ‘yes’ to democratic Europe. It’s a no to the vision of Europe an infinite cage for its people. It is a loud yes to the vision of the Eurozone as a common area of prosperity and social justice.”

Thousands of government supporters gathered in central Athens in celebration, waving Greek flags and chanting “No, No, No.”

“We don’t want austerity measures anymore, this has been happening for the last five years and it has driven so many into poverty, we simply can’t take any more austerity,” said Athens resident Yiannis Gkovesis, 26, holding a large Greek flag in the city’s main square.

Governing left-wing Syriza party Eurodeputy Dimitris Papadimoulis said that “Greek people are proving they want to remain in Europe” as equal members “and not as a debt colony.” The referendum was Greece’s first in 41 years.

Minister of State Nikos Papas, speaking on Alpha television, said it would be “wrong to link a ‘no’ result to an exit from the eurozone. If a ‘no’ prevails that will help us get a better agreement.”

Tsipras’ high-stakes brinkmanship with lenders from the eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund resulted in Greece defaulting on its debts this week and shutting down its banks to avoid their collapse. He called the referendum last weekend, giving both sides just a week to campaign.

“Today, democracy is defeating fear … I am very optimistic,” Tsipras said earlier in the day after voting in in Athens.

European officials had openly urged Greeks to vote against the government’s recommendation. The leaders of Germany and France called for a European Union summit Tuesday to discuss the situation.

“I hope people say ‘yes,'” European Parliament President Martin Schulz told German public radio. “If after the referendum, the majority is a ‘no,’ they will have to introduce another currency because the euro will no longer be available for a means of payment.”

Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt was one of the first eurozone ministers to react to the initial results.

“This likely ‘no’ complicates matters,” he told Belgium’s VRT network, but insisted the door remained open to resume talks with the Greek government within hours.

The vote was held amid banking restrictions imposed last Monday to halt a bank run, with Greeks queuing up at ATMs across the country to withdraw a maximum 60 euros per day. Banks have been shut all week, and it is uncertain when they will reopen. Large lines once again formed at ATMs on Sunday.

Daniel Tsangaridis, a 35-year-old Athens resident, said he didn’t expect banks to reopen soon, despite a government pledge that they would do so Tuesday.

“It’s not going to happen in the next 48 hours,” he said. “If the situation improves and we can have a deal, then the banks will open.”

The Syriza party came to power in January after a six-year recession. Since then, the standoff between Athens and its international lenders has grown more bitter, and early signs of some economic growth and recovering employment in Greece have disappeared.

The debt-wracked nation also suffered repeated ratings downgrades and lost access to billions of euros after its existing bailout deal expired last week.

Polls published Friday showed the two sides in a dead heat with an overwhelming majority — about 75 percent — wanting Greece to remain in the euro currency.

“Today, we Greeks decide on the fate of our country,” conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras said. “We vote ‘yes’ to Greece. We vote ‘yes’ to Europe.”

The sense of urgency was palpable as Greeks struggled to decipher a convoluted referendum question after being bombarded with frenzied messages warning of the country’s swiftly approaching financial collapse.

Neither result on Sunday, however, would lead to a clear answer on what Greece should do about its overstretched finances.

Greece is no longer in a bailout program since its previous package expired last Tuesday. It now has to negotiate a new one with its creditors that involves even more money for the government and banks and new economic austerity measures.

Despite the Greek government’s assertion that a “no” vote will not lead to a euro exit, most experts agree it would open up more uncertain financial outcomes.

A number of European politicians, including Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the top eurozone official, have said a “no” vote would jeopardize Greece’s place in the 19-nation eurozone. Investors are also likely to believe a “no” win increases the chance of a so-called “Grexit,” where Greece returns to its own old currency.

TIME Greece

Voting Winds Down in Greece Amid High Anxiety

The country's future in Europe is at stake

Correction appended, July 5

Greeks went to the polls Sunday to cast their votes in the first referendum there in four decades, which may decide the country’s fate as a member of the euro currency.

But fears of a lengthened closure of all banking institutions—regardless of the outcome of the vote—are rife in Greece following a week of shuttered banks and uncertainty. ATM’s are said to be running out of money, and already many are only able to dispense €50 notes due to the shortage of smaller tender—despite capital controls of €60 per person permitted.

Voting ended at 7 p.m. local time, with three opinion polls indicating that the “no” campaign supported by the ruling government had likely prevailed by a narrow margin, the Associated Press reports.

Polls earlier had been too tight to say whether the country is poised to support or reject the bailout plan proposed by Greece’s creditors—never mind the fact that the program has already expired, contributing to a confusing day of voting.

Turnout was expected to exceed the 40% threshold for the result the be deemed legitimate. At issue is whether to accept the terms of an international bailout package that is no longer officially on the table. But the bigger backdrop is the future of the country’s status in Europe and whether Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government will continue to have the political standing to negotiate with European creditors.

Still, a calm, sober mood was prevalent in Athens, save for when Tsipras arrived at his polling booth in his neighborhood of Kipseli, where he was greeted by about 100 rapturous supporters, all chanting “Oxi, Oxi, Oxi”—”No, no no.”

President Prokopis Pavlopoulos is urging Greeks to remain united no matter the result, which will be known later Sunday night.

“This day belongs to the citizen alone,” Pavlopoulos said. “He is called to decide, in accordance to his conscience and exclusively guided by the national best interests, on the future of our country and our people.”

“This is what our forebears did at crucial times and this is our obligation today. We proceed, therefore, all together,” he told reporters and fellow voters while casting his ballot.

People close to the ruling Syriza party told TIME that a return to the drachma currency is inevitable if emergency liquidity assistance is not provided to Greek banks by the European Central Bank (ECB)—a decision to be made by the governing council of the ECB Monday.

There is “no other solution but return to national currency if the ECB doesn’t give us any money for our banks”, a senior party adviser said.

Other European Union officials said that, despite protestations by Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis, banks will reopen on Tuesday.

Lines at ATM machines have remained long and arduous over the last week, with uncertainty as to what the future holds for Greece.

The precise ramifications of a vote in favor of—or against—the referendum are also unclear. When asked by TIME what could be guaranteed in the event of a “No” vote, the Syriza source replied “this is the one-billion-dollar question; it’s also about how the other side reacts.”

Upon arrival at his polling station, Tsipras told supporters that “while many can reject a government’s will, nobody can reject the will of the people.”

The charismatic leader contends that if he’s given a mandate to reject the now non-existent bailout proposal, the government will renegotiate a better new one in the proceeding 48 hours—despite the fact that after six months of negotiations, Greece and its international creditors are further apart than ever before.

Opposition leader Theodoros Fortsakis submitted a legal challenge Sunday morning to the referendum, saying it was unconstitutional. Fortsakis, said there are three specific elements making the vote unconstitutional: there was “not enough time” given to voters to consider the question, “the question is not clear,” and “according to the Greek constitution, no financial questions can be submitted to referendum and it is clear that this is a question directly linked to financial matters.”

Counting begins immediately after voting ends.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the translation of the Greek word “Oxi.” It means “no.”

TIME russia

Putin Wishes Obama a Happy Independence Day

Vladimir Putin
Sergei Karpukhin—AP In this May 28, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow.

"Russian-American relations remain the most important factor of international stability and security"

Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized the importance of U.S.-Russian relations in a congratulatory July 4 message to President Barack Obama Saturday.

“In his message of congratulations, the Russian President noted that, despite the differences between the two countries, Russian-American relations remain the most important factor of international stability and security,” the Kremlin said, Reuters reports.

The message comes as diplomatic relations between the countries remain frayed, with Russia considering fresh sanctions against Western nations in the ongoing diplomatic feud over eastern Ukraine.

The head of Russia’s Security Council said Friday the country might target Finland over its refusal to issue a visa for the head of its lower house.

Nikolai Patrushev also singled out Washington for blame Friday for the protests in early 2014 that saw the pro-Moscow leadership driven from office. “The United States has initiated all those events in Ukraine. It has initiated a coup and put the current Ukrainian leadership in power,” he said, the AP reports.

Putin’s message, however, did not mention Ukraine or the Western sanctions imposed by the U.S. and others following the annexation of Crimea.


TIME Tunisia

Tunisia President Declares State of Emergency

Tunisia Attack state emergency
Abdeljalil Bounhar—AP In this Sunday, June 28, 2015 file photo, a book and flowers lay at the scene of the attack in Sousse, Tunisia.

Says country is "not safe"

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia’s president declared a state of emergency on Saturday in response to a second deadly attack on foreigners in three months, saying the country is “not safe” and risks collapse from further extremist attacks.

With a nationwide televised address, President Beji Caid Essebsi officially reintroduced urgent security measures for Tunisia that had been lifted in March 2014.

Essebsi said an “exceptional situation required exceptional measures” but pledged to respect freedom of expression.

The decision came just over a week after a gunman at the popular beach resort of Sousse attacked foreign tourists, killing 38 people. Essebsi said the state of emergency would last 30 days.

“Tunisia faces a very serious danger and it should take any possible measures to maintain security and safety,” he said. “As we see in other countries, if attacks like Sousse happen again, the country will collapse.”

Essebsi blamed the poor security in Libya for Tunisia’s problems, and the lack of international resolve in targeting the Islamic State group throughout the region. He said Tunisia specifically had been a target of the extremist group because it had a functioning, secular democracy.

The gunman behind the beach attack was killed by police and IS later claimed responsibility for the massacre, a blow to Tunisia’s tourism industry. Thirty of the 38 dead in the attack were British tourists.

In March, gunmen killed 22 people, again mostly tourists, at The National Bardo Museum outside Tunis.

Tunisia’s government has promised new laws to increase police powers and provide for harsher penalties for terrorism convictions. Immediately after the Sousse attack, the prime minister pledged to post armed guards at tourist sites and close mosques outside government control.

The country was under a state of emergency from January 2011, at the outbreak of the Arab Spring, until March 2014. It initially included a curfew and a ban on meetings of more than three people. Although those measures were relaxed, police and the military retained powers to intervene in unrest or for security reasons.

TIME Egypt

Egypt Marks Two Years Since Islamist Leader’s Ouster

Protest Giza Morsi death penalty
Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Egyptians, who call themselves as an anti-coup group, shout slogans and light flares as they protest against the coup regime and the mass death sentence decisions including Egypt's former president Mohamed Morsi, in Giza, Egypt on July 3, 2015.

Mohammed Morsi has since been sentenced to death

CAIRO (AP) — Two years to the day after the army overthrew Egypt’s Islamist president, the sounds coming from the mosque at Cairo’s Tahrir Square were sadly telling. At the focal point of Egypt’s upheavals, where authorities had hoped to stage celebrations, there was instead a prayer for the week’s dead, including soldiers cut down by militants in Sinai and the country’s chief prosecutor, assassinated by car bomb in the capital.

A sense of foreboding fills the air, with officials and media speaking of a state of war and urging national unity. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has promised swift justice, which critics fear will mean a further step away from democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood, banned but unbowed, has upped the ante by calling for revolt against his rule. There is fear of even worse attacks of the kind that have become sadly familiar around the region.

It all presents a major challenge for el-Sissi, who as army chief led the takeover against Morsi two years ago, when millions filled the streets outraged over what they saw as Brotherhood misrule. He was later elected president, and the deal he has offered Egyptians — a curtailing of freedoms in exchange for stability and security — was one many seemed eagerly willing to embrace after several years of upheaval, in which the wider region has gone up in flames.

The first part of that equation has been carried out: the once-ruling Muslim Brotherhood has been largely crushed, thousands of its members and scores of leaders in jail and hundreds — including Morsi — handed the death penalty. Public protests are restricted, as is political activity. The media has been cowed amid an atmosphere that seems to equate criticism with disloyalty, and even many liberal activists are in jail. The result has been quieter streets, without protests that often turned to riots the past three years, and violence against Christian and Shiite minorities has lessened, though not stopped.

But stability, which for a time seemed attainable, seems to be in danger of unraveling. Militants affiliated with the regional Islamic State group have turned the northern part of the Sinai peninsula into a war zone, this week staging a brazen multi-pronged attack on army positions. Last month a key tourist site at Luxor was attacked, and on Tuesday chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat was assassinated while leaving his Cairo home for work.

Islamic radicals have claimed responsibility for the attacks. Authorities generally blame the Muslim Brotherhood itself, claiming its leaders issue orders from behind bars. Some believe the group’s denials while others don’t, and proof is scarce.

Michael Hanna, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Century Foundation, sees an “escalatory cycle … deteriorating security is eroding confidence in the capacity of the regime but at the same time also reinforcing hard-line trends in Egyptian society with respect of how to deal with these security threats.”

After the killing of Barakat, an angry el-Sissi went on TV to promise more efficient justice. He also suggested that the death penalties against the Islamist leaders would — contrary to expectations — actually be carried out.

Action will be taken within days “to enable us to execute the law, and bring justice as soon as possible,” he said. In a thinly veiled reference to jailed members of the Brotherhood, el-Sissi blamed the violence on those “issuing orders from behind bars,” and warned: “If there is a death sentence, it will be carried out.”

“We will stand in the face of the whole world, and fight the whole world,” el-Sissi said.

El-Sissi was alluding to the widespread global criticism of his heavy-handed rule — charges certainly also echoed by domestic opponents, not all of them Islamists.

On Friday, hundreds of mostly young Islamist demonstrators held several small protests in Cairo suburbs, carrying pro-Morsi signs and chanting “down with military rule.”

But el-Sissi also has wide support among Egyptians who have come to feel that liberal democracy is a bad fit in a society where almost half the people are illiterate and significant political forces would, if allowed, create a theocracy which would hardly be democratic.

“There’s progress and stability, we feel more order in the streets and the economy. But there’s nobody who’s not sad in Egypt these days because of the attacks in Sinai,” said Ibrahim Hamdy, a shopkeeper at a hardware store in a popular neighborhood of central Cairo, where Ramadan decorations hung from the buildings.

The crackdown on the Brotherhood and other opponents following Morsi’s ouster claimed hundreds of lives and landed thousands in jail. With most of the Brotherhood cadres imprisoned, youth supporters have been left leaderless. Some still protest several times a week in dilapidated Cairo suburbs and narrow alleyways, or restive rural areas off-limits to the state.

Unprecedented, coordinated attacks by militants including massive suicide bombings on the army in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday underlined the failure to stem an insurgency that blossomed in the area after Morsi’s overthrow, despite a heavy-handed crackdown.

The army said 17 soldiers and over 100 militants were killed, although before the release of its official statement, several senior security officials from multiple branches of Egypt’s forces in Sinai had said that scores more troops also died in the fighting. The same day, a special forces raid on a Cairo apartment killed nine leaders of the outlawed Brotherhood, which said they were innocents “murdered in cold blood,” and called for a “rebellion.”

Sinai’s main insurgent organization, which calls itself the Sinai Province of the Islamic State group, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s assault. El-Sissi has yet to address the public about the attacks, but in the past he has described the Brotherhood as the root of all Islamic extremist groups. Just two days earlier, the assassination of Barakat was claimed by an obscure militant group.

The week’s events have pushed aside, for now, the talk of Egypt’s budding economic recovery. GDP is accelerating, foreign investment has jumped and the stock market is rising. Unemployment is down and the country’s credit ratings are up. Gas lines are gone and the country has capital to invest, thanks in part to a multi-billion dollar aid package from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Among Brotherhood’s supporters, calls to abandon non-violence are growing, deepening an internal split over the issue. Wednesday’s call for revolt may reinforce those urging the use of force.

Security expert H.A. Hellyer said it was not inevitable but “increasingly likely” that the call will result in “a more militant and insurgency-style route.” Hellyer, of London’s Royal United Services Institute, said such calls would find “a much more receptive audience against the backdrop of the political realities in Egypt and the crackdown.”

The events do not bode well for attempts to support democracy, form a more pluralistic society, or even elect a parliament, which el-Sissi had said would come at the end of the year.

Those elections, whenever they take place, are likely to produce a strongly pro-el-Sissi legislature. Islamists, in various forms, may still have a solid base of support but are likely to largely boycott — something that allowed el-Sissi to easily win election a year ago. The existing non-Islamic parties, an assortment of nationalists and liberals, were disorganized and hapless in opposition to Morsi and largely back el-Sissi now.

TIME Greece

Greek Referendum Could Threaten Government, Analysts Say

Athens greece referendum
Socrates Baltagiannis—AP A woman with stickers on her hands that say NO during a demonstration at Sunday's referendum in Athens on July 3, 2015.

No matter which way the vote goes

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Whether Greeks decide in Sunday’s referendum to accept their lenders’ bailout deal or reject it, the government’s hold on power may be shakier than its brash prime minister has calculated, analysts say.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is banking on fellow Greeks to deliver a resounding “no” in the popular vote that he believes will give him strong leverage in his negotiations with creditors to swing a softer bailout deal for a country ravaged by years of harsh austerity, deep recession and crushing poverty.

A win for the No campaign, the reasoning goes, could also furnish Tsipras with an endorsement for his five-month rule and allow his government to consolidate — and extend — its grip on power.

That may not be the case, analysts say, since a “no” vote could still plunge Tsipras’ position into uncertainty if negotiations drag on with lenders who see such the outcome as a Greek snub of the euro. Without a quick deal, banks could stay shuttered to keep their reserves from running dry.

“A deteriorating import-dependent economy will provoke a rapid decline in public support for the government and fresh elections may become inevitable, but this will take time,” said Dimitri Sotiropoulos, political science professor at the University of Athens.

A win for the Yes campaign could cast Tsipras’ public mandate in doubt and force him to broaden his coalition government, political analyst George Sefertzis said. The new government may have Tsipras’ radical left Syriza party at its core, but the cabinet’s composition could change to include “respected personalities who can be recruited to fill that role.”

Syriza emerged from the political fringes in January as Greek voters sought an alternative to what they saw as a bankrupt political establishment they blame for opening the door to half a decade of punishing salary and pension rollbacks, steep job cuts and hefty taxes.

Just a few years ago, the country’s two main political forces, the right-wing New Democracy and the socialist PASOK parties, commanded some 80 percent of the vote between them. Now, with many Greeks seeing them as kowtowing to the lenders’ diktats, their support was dwindled.

Tsipras’ youth, unorthodox style and pledges to fight the good fight for the country’s poorest endeared him to many and persuaded some that he could take on the institutional behemoths that decide the economic fate of entire nations.

But months of talks without real results have eroded the Syriza-led government’s credibility in the eyes of Europe’s power circles.

“This government doesn’t trust the institutions of the EU and the IMF, and those institutions trust the Greek government even less,” said Sotiropoulos.

Tsipras’s gambit appears to rest on whether he can clinch a deal quickly so that banks can reopen and get money flowing to businesses again. Tsipras told private TV station Antenna Thursday that he sees a deal with creditors emerging “within 48 hours” after the referendum.

His finance minister, Yianis Varoufakis, told Ireland’s RTE radio Friday that an agreement with creditors “is more or less done” and that European officials had put forward “very decent proposals” this week.

But Greece’s creditors — the European Union and the International Monetary Fund — are unlikely to cave in on demands for tough austerity measures, said Sotiropoulos.

The creditors may offer a vague pledge to consider restructuring Greece’s crushing debt, but that probably won’t happen until the government faithfully implements the terms of the deal for at least 12 to 18 months, said Sotiropoulos.

“A ‘no’ win would be a Pyrrhic victory for the Greek government. You can’t survive on Pyrrhic victories because you need funds to keep the country running,” he said.

Sefertzis said Tsipras’ political decline may come much faster even with a referendum “no” in his pocket as he would have little time to get to keep the country from economic collapse.

With an economy in tatters, Tsipras’ hold on power would be a “matter of days rather than weeks,” said Sefertzis.

The latest opinion polls put the No and Yes camps in a dead heat as divisions have emerged even within the Greek government. A lawmaker from its right-wing junior coalition partner was kicked out for backing a “yes” vote.

Writing in the liberal daily “Ta Nea,” pollster Elias Nikolakopoulos said any predictions about the outcome on Sunday “are exceedingly precarious” because party allegiances in this vote are fluid.

Speaking on Ireland’s RTE radio, Varoufakis even suggested that a “yes” win is possible, albeit by a narrow margin. But even then, he insisted his party would come out “stronger and united.”

“Syriza will remain the only credible party in the parliament, our young leader will remain the only credible leader of this nation,” Varoufakis said.

There may be credence to that. Sotiropoulos said in case of a “yes” win, Syriza could remain part of any new national unity government given its large support.

He said it would make sense for Greece’s creditors to compensate the country if a “yes” vote prevails by easing austerity, earmarking more developments funds and finding ways to alleviate the debt burden without necessarily resorting to write-offs.

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