Saturday, July 30, 2011

Egypt army detains suspects in Sinai clashes

Egypt's military has arrested 15 people in connection with clashes in the north Sinai city of El-Arish that left six people dead.

The arrests came late on Friday after gunmen tried to storm a police station, sparking a confrontation with security forces and the army, the country's official news agency MENA reported on Saturday.

Six people, including a policeman, a military officer and two soldiers, were killed in the clashes, and 21 people were wounded.
In the fifth attack on Egypt's natural gas pipeline to Israel since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February, gunmen blew up a terminal in the northern Sinai Peninsula on Saturday.
No gas has been flowing through the pipeline since the last attack on the pipeline on July 12.
Officials said fighters destroyed a terminal in al-Shulaq, the last station before the line enters the sea on its way to Israel, just 16 km from Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip.
On Friday night, nearly 150 men in trucks and on motorbikes rampaged through El-Arish, firing assault rifles in the air and driving terrified residents into their homes, witnesses said.

They rode through the deserted streets of the north Sinai city waving black flags which read "There is no God but God", before attempting to storm the police station.
Earlier, the masked men used a bulldozer to damage a statue of the late President Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated by ultra-conservative Muslim activists in 1981.
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Libyan rebels to probe commander's killing

The Libyan National Transitional Council has formed an "investigative committee" to probe the assassination of the head of their armed forces and two of his aides after a special forces officer and opposition minister said fellow rebels killed them.
Abdel Fattah Younes and his aides were shot dead and their bodies reportedly burned by gunmen on Thursday, creating a power vacuum at the top of the military hierarchy and raising questions about divided allegiances within the opposition.
Ali Tarhouni, the NTC oil minister, said that a rebel militia leader who had been asked to fetch Younes from the front line near the town of Brega had been arrested and had confessed that his subordinates carried out the killing.
"The NTC has appointed an investigative committee and we will publish all the facts of this investigation," Tarhouni said, according to the AFP news agency.
"The head of the militia is imprisoned now," Tarhouni said, adding that some of the perpetrators were yet to be incarcerated and that their motive remained unclear. "We don't know who they work for."

Morocco's King Mohammed VI called Saturday for parliamentary elections

 Morocco's King Mohammed VI called Saturday for parliamentary elections to be held soon, in his first speech since a July 1 referendum overwhelmingly approved curbing some of his prerogatives.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Libyan rebels seized the town of Al-Ghazaya

 Libyan rebels seized the town of Al-Ghazaya near the Tunisian border on Thursday after launching an assault a day earlier, said an AFP correspondent embedded with them.

Libya's new ambassador to London

Libya's rebel National Transitional Council has nominated Mahmoud Nacua as its ambassador to London, a council official said Thursday after Britain recognised it as the country's sole government.

Mubarak trial to be held in Cairo

Egypt's ex-president Hosni Mubarak's trial on August 3 will take place in Cairo, the official news agency MENA quoted a justice ministry official as saying. 
"It has been decided that the trial of ex-president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal ... will be held in the building of the General Authority for Investment and the free trade areas in the Cairo Expo grounds," it quoted him as saying on Thursday.

Mubarak has been in hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April when he was first questioned by the authorities.
He has been charged with involvement in the killing of protesters and abuse of power.
Mansour el Essawi, Egypt's minister of interior, has said security has been finalised for the trial of Mubarak and his two sons.

Somali PM accuses UN of holding back aid

The UN is preventing aid from reaching victims of Somalia's drought, the country's  prime minister has said.

Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said on Thursday the world body was hoarding supplies and failing to distribute them to those in need.

The comments came as the UN World Food Programme airlifted tonnes of emergency supplies to Mogadishu, the capital, to feed malnourished children in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa nation.

Amir Mahmoud Abdallah, the chief operating officer of the World Food Programme, said the food in the warehouse "looks like a lot but actually it's not a lot of food".

"The food in the warehouse would actually feed a million people for one day," he told Al Jazeera from Rome, Italy.

"To somebody who is just sort of maybe not as familiar with food distribution, it may look like stockpiling ... There have been some unfortunate media portrayals of this as if it was stockpiling.

"I can assure you there would be no purpose for stockpiling in a situation like this.

"The World Food Programme takes this function very, very seriously. We are basically the life line and food that we have in our supplies we'll get to people wherever we can."

Challiss McDonough, a WFP spokeswoman, said:"We are distributing food in Mogadishu, we are doing it everyday, we are feeding over 300,000 people in Mogadishu including feeding centers around the city."

Fighters launch assault in Libya's west

Libyan opposition fighters in the western mountains have launched attacks on several government-controlled towns, hoping to push out loyalist troops and open a route to the border.
The attacks began around dawn on Thursday, as rebels descended from around the towns of Nalut and Jadu in an attempt to expel forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from the Nafusa Mountain foothills.
By midday local time, rebels had taken and lost the town of al-Jawsh and reached the outskirts of Ghazaya, a significant base for Gaddafi's troops near the Tunisian border.
One rebel was killed and several were injured, while 18 loyalist troops were captured, according to opposition sources.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

UK to expel all Libyan embassy staff

The British government has ordered all Libyan embassy staff, representing Muammar Gaddafi's regime, to leave the country. The UK Foreign Office says it recognises Libya's rebels as the country's legitimate government.

US to oppose Palestinian UN bid

The US is to oppose Palestine's application to the UN for full membership status when the body's General Assembly convenes in September.
Rosemary DiCarlo, the US deputy ambassador to the UN, said that the US would not support "unilateral action" by the Palestinians at the UN.
DiCarlo was speaking at the final, regular UN Security Council discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
"Let there be no doubt: symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September will not create an independent Palestinian state," DiCarlo said.
"The United States will not support unilateral campaigns at the United Nations in September or any other time."
DiCarlo said the US is pressing for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, insists on a negotiated settlement, and will oppose any unilateral action by the Palestinians at the UN.
The US is among five veto-power members of the Security Council. It only considers UN admissions to the General Assembly from recommendations by its 15-member council.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Suez floating shipyard sinks

Suez Arsenal Company announced on Tuesday that the floating dock used for repairing vessles has capsized, state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper said.
The operations unit at the Suez Canal Authority received a report from workers about the incident.
An official source at the authority set the preliminary losses at LE100 million, adding that a team of officials had moved to the scene to investigate the reasons behind the incident.
A team of engineers has been sent to rescue the floating shipyard. Two vessels that had been on the capsized dock were brought back to the surface.
In February 2010, a passenger ferry caught fire while being repaired on a floating shipyard owned by the arsenal company. The fires were put under control by four naval fire engines. The losses were estimated at LE500,000.
The Suez Canal is one of Egypt’s most important sources for hard currency, along with tourism and remittances.

'Murder' trials merged for Mubarak and allies

A Cairo court has decided to merge the trials of former President Hosni Mubarak and ex-Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, both accused of killing protesters during an uprising that toppled the regime. 
The announcement came on Monday as Egypt's cabinet made a pledge to clear out officials who held senior posts in the Mubarak era, continue with public corruption trials and press on with other reforms to placate protesters who have turned their anger on the ruling military.
Also on Monday, former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif was charged in a corruption case by military prosecutors, in the first case of a former regime official facing military justice. Nazif was charged and ordered detained for 15 days for squandering public money and seizing state-owned land, the official MENA news agency reported.
In the postponed Adly case, a judge said the former interior minister and his six deputies would be tried on August 3, together with Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal, and businessman Hussein Salem who is currently abroad, the AFP news agency reported.
Adly, who has already been sentenced to 12 years for corruption, appeared in the dock in the first of his trials to be shown on state television.

Rights network criticizes Saudis' blocking of Amnesty International website

A Cairo-based rights group on Tuesday condemned Saudi authorities' blocking of Amnesty International's website after it criticized the country's draft anti-terrorism bill. 
On Monday, human rights advocate Amnesty International said its website was blocked in Saudi Arabia for a few days after the rights group slammed the draft bill, saying it suppresses the right to peaceful protest. 
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) joined Amnesty in condemning the draft law, which includes penalties such as 10 years in prison for anyone who questions the credibility of the king or crown prince.
The bill also grants authorities the right to arrest suspects for an indefinite period of time while depriving them of the right to challenge their arrest, ANHRI said.
It defines "terrorist crimes" too loosely and would allow authorities to punish people for peaceful expression of their views, the group said.
The network also said Saudi Arabia tops the list of states most suppressive of freedoms and that it supports suppression anywhere.
It said Saudi authorities' decision to block the website yesterday is a sign the country fears that the tide of revolutions sweeping through the Arab world will eventually reach them.

Protesters show solidarity with April 6 Youth Movement

Demonstrations were staged in several governorates on Monday in solidarity with the Tahrir Square protesters and the April 6 Youth Movement, which was recently accused by the ruling military council of serving as an agent for foreign powers.
In Damietta, residents feared possible clashes between demonstrators and Islamists who came out to demonstrate in the city square for the same purpose.
In Beheira and Daqahliya, demonstrators expressed their support for the movement and condemned Saturday’s attacks on demonstrators in Abbasseya Square.
In Port Said, demonstrators said they would come to Cairo to take part in Friday’s million-strong demonstration in Tahrir Square.
In Giza, demonstrators called for the formation of a united revolutionary council to speak to the military council and the government on behalf of all revolutionary coalitions.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Israel may cancel its agreement on Oslo Accords over Palestine UN move

Israel is weighing the possibility of cancelling the landmark Oslo accords with the Palestinians in response to their plan to seek United Nations membership, the daily Haaretz said on Monday.

Citing unnamed Israeli officials, the newspaper reported that Yaakov Amidror, the head of Israel’s National Security Council (NSC), was examining the potential cancellation as one of a number of responses to the UN bid.

Israel has fiercely opposed the Palestinian plan to seek UN membership for a state on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, including the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

And Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned last month the 1993 Oslo Accords that created the Palestinian Authority, and all agreements since, would effectively be cancelled by UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

“The unilateral declaration at the United Nations would mean the end of the Oslo agreement and a violation of all the agreements that were signed up to today,” he was widely quoted as saying by Israeli media.

“Israel would no longer be bound to the agreements that were signed with the Palestinians over the last 18 years.”

Haaretz reported the potential cancellation of Oslo was only one of a number of “day after” actions that Mr. Amidror was considering, and said it was not currently considered a leading option.

Some members of Israel’s Knesset have proposed Israel respond to the UN move by announcing an annexation of its West Bank settlements, but one Israeli source told Haaretz that Prime Minister Netanyahu opposed such a measure.

“Therefore, the NSC is evaluating other possibilities, one of them being voiding the Oslo Accords. In any case, there is no decision yet,” the source told Haaretz.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia tells young people that ‘True’ Islam is not terrorism

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has urged Islamic scholars to teach young people “true” Islamic principles and avoid extremism and fanaticism.

The king’s remarks were read out by Prince Khaled Al Faisal at an international Islamic conference in Saudi this week.
The king said that scholars should resolve problems facing the international Muslim community, such as the widespread association of Islam to terrorism, the Saudi Gazette reported.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia keeps a tab on the developments in the Muslim World, and pays special attention to the problems confronting the people,” the king said.

“Undoubtedly, terrorism was a product of ignorance of the Islamic principles which advocate moderation, flexibility and tolerance,” King Abdullah said.

The king added that deviations from Islamic principles have produced terrorism, which the kingdom has “firmly confronted” to maintain the country’s security.
Saudi Arabia, which previously highlighted its success in thwarting attacks by Al Qaeda, has recently announced a crackdown on terrorism with a new law planned to allow extended detention for threats against internal security without charge or trial.

The draft law plans to impose a minimum 10-year jail sentence on anyone questioning the integrity of the king or crown prince.

But the planned law was criticized by Amnesty International, saying that the law will be used to stifle dissent and prevent pro-democracy protests.

Meanwhile, the kingdom believes that internal terrorist crimes would endanger national unity and harm the reputation of the state or its position, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain Nawaf bin Abdulaziz said in a statement carried on the official SPA news agency.

Assad sacks governor following huge protests

Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president, has sacked the governor of the flashpoint province of Deir az-Zor, two days after massive protests demanding his ousting were held in the oil-producing region.

Samir Othman al-Sheikh, an officer in the intelligence apparatus, was asked to replace Hussein Arnos on Sunday, while the Syrian army continued its crackdown in several towns.

Arnos, a civilian, has now been asked to govern the small province of Qunaitera west of Damascus, on the border with the Golan Heights.

The move is being seen as an attempt to tighten the government's grip on Deir az-Zor.

About half a million people took to the streets across Deir az-Zor on Friday, in one of the biggest demonstrations in recent weeks, activists and human rights campaigners said.

Deir az-Zor, which produces most of Syria's oil, is among the poorest of the country's 13 provinces, and a water crisis in the past six years has crippled agricultural production.

Last week, the army surrounded the town of Albu Kamal near Deir az-Zor, which borders Iraq's Sunni heartland, after 30 soldiers defected following the killing of four protesters in the town, residents said.

Since the uprising against his regime began in March, Assad has also sacked the governors of the southern province of Deraa, cradle of the uprising, and the provinces of Homs and Hama, which have witnessed huge demonstrations.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Iran denies attack targeted nuclear scientist

Iranian state television has denied that a man killed in his Tehran home on Saturday was a nuclear scientist.

Dariush Rezainejad was shot dead by two men on motorbikes as he entered his garage with his wife and child.

Iranian newspapers first reported that Rezainejad, 35, was working in the country's nuclear programme, which would have made him the fourth nuclear scientist to die or go missing in suspicious circumstances.

On Sunday, state television said he was a masters student in electronics at Khajeh University in Tehran and had worked for the defence ministry, though it was unclear in what capacity.

Ali Larijani, the speaker of parliament, denounced the killing in an address to legislators as the work of Zionists and the United States and said it showed Washington's hostility to Iran.

Larijani has previously served as a negotiator with the West on the country's nuclear programme.

Rezainejad's wife was also wounded and had been taken to a nearby hospital.

Deadly car bomb in south Yemen port of Aden

At least eight people killed and 15 injured after a car bomb explodes outside a military facility in southern city.
A car bomb targeting a military facility has killed at least eight people and wounded 15 in Aden, the main city in southern Yemen, medics and soldiers have said.

Soldiers reported to the news agency AFP, that the blast went off as troops prepared to leave the facility for Abyan province, where security forces are engaged in fierce fighting with groups suspected of ties to al-Qaeda.

"We were preparing to leave for Abyan when a car came in front of the gate of the camp, and then there was a huge explosion," said one soldier who survived Sunday's attack.

Two senior officers, a major and a lieutenant-colonel, were among the dead, said officials.

The car bomb was the second in less than two months in Aden and followed repeated warnings by officials that al-Qaeda-linked fighters were infiltrating the Arabian Sea port city to prepare for attacks there against security forces.

Hakim al-Masmari, the editor of the Yemen Post, said a security official had told him that al-Qaeda was reponsible. "Security had not been increased in Aden since recent attacks," said Masmari.

Violent clashes erupt in Cairo

More than 300 people have been injured in clashes between groups of armed men and pro-reform protesters marching towards Egypt's ministry of defence in the capital, Cairo, the country's health ministry said.

Thousands calling for the "downfall" of the country's ruling military council were trying to reach the military headquarters on Saturday when they were attacked by opponents armed with knives and sticks.

Witnesses said most of the injuries occurred when civilians, believed to be thugs, standing in front of military blockades hurled barrages of stones and at least six firebombs at demonstrators. The demonstrators fought back with stones torn up from the pavement.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, confirmed that "people with knives, sticks and petrol bombs surrounded the peaceful protesters" and assaulted them with their weapons.

"The situation is extremely tense, the military has used tear gas and fired into the air to push back crowds."

He also said that besides firing warning shots, the military did not intervene in the clashes.

"But they seem to have melted away from the scene. The military is nowhere to be seen compared to just moments ago they were widely present in the streets."

Ambulances were seen tending to the injured, as an army helicopter flew overhead shining its spotlight into the crowd, the AFP news agency reported.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

UN declares famine in parts of Somalia

The United Nations has declared a state of famine in some parts of southern Somalia where the worst drought in over half a century is already being blamed for thousands of deaths.
The announcement on Wednesday signals the need for more aid to the worst affected regions of Southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle.
UN official Mark Bowden said malnutrition rates in Somalia were among the highest in the world, and that they would dangerously spread in the coming months.
"If we don't act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks," Bowden said.
"One in three children have suffered from severe food shortages, imperilling their lives," he said.
"More than ever, Somali people need and deserve our attention... whether we are donors, members of humanitarian organisations, or parties to the conflict."
A UN statement from earlier in the day said: "Across the country nearly half of the Somali population - 3.7 million people - are now in crisis, of whom an estimated 2.8 million people are in the south."
In all, more than 10 million people are affected and need emergency help, the UN said.

Libyan rebels pushed back from Brega

Libyan government forces in trucks disguised with rebel flags have shelled opposition positions near the strategic eastern oil town of Brega, killing 13 rebel fighters and wounding dozens more, officials said.
Rebel forces have been pushing to seize the frontline town, which is home to an oil refinery and terminal, for nearly a week, but they say minefields planted by Gaddafi's forces have slowed the advance.
They took positions 10km east of the oil port, working to clear the mines so they can move forward.
"Maybe within three or four days we will solve this problem of mines and we will be in Brega," said rebel spokesman Ahmed Bani.
Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught reporting from the area says rebels thought their position was betrayed by "spies and traitors" within their camp but they were certain those disloyal to the cause would be rooted out.
The rebels are fighting in a residential area on the town's eastern side and control about one-third of the town, another rebel spokesman said.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gaza-bound boat boarded by Israeli forces

Israeli naval forces have boarded a French yacht carrying pro-Palestinian activists who had intended to sail to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The vessel is being taken to the port of Ashdod, an Israeli military spokeswoman said on Tuesday .
"I can confirm that the yacht has been boarded and that everything went smoothly, there were no casualties," she said.
There were no immediate reports of any violence as the marines boarded the Dignite-Al Karama yacht in the eastern Mediterranean.

Earlier, Israeli naval vessels had told activists they would take control of the boat unless it left the area, according to an Al Jazeera correspondent.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Egypt's new cabinet to be sworn in

Egypt's new cabinet is set to be sworn in after a reshuffle that protesters say has only partially satisfied their demands for deeper political and economic reforms.
Protesters, who have camped out in Cairo's Tahrir Square since July 8, say they want further measures, including a quicker trial of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted as president on February 11 in a popular uprising.
Mubarak's state of health was the subject of speculation on Monday after his lawyer said on Sunday that the former president, who has been in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April, had slipped into coma. Hospital officials and the deputy health minister denied the report.
The new ministers will take the oath of office on Monday in front of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the leader of the military council that took control of Egypt after Mubarak's resignation, the state news agency MENA said.

French 'aid ship' sails towards Gaza

A French yacht carrying pro-Palestinian activists which set sail from a Greek island at the weekend, is expected to reach the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, organisers said.
The Dignite Al Karama left the Greek island of Kastellorizo late on Saturday following a troubled stay in Greece after Athens imposed a ban on the departure of any ships planning to join an international aid flotilla heading for Gaza.
The flotilla had hoped to break an Israeli naval blockade on the Palestinian territory, despite warnings from the Israeli govenrment.
"The boat should be off the Gaza coast on Tuesday afternoon," Maxime Guimberteau, a spokesman, told AFP news agency by phone from Paris on Monday.

Doctors targeted in Bahrain

Bahraini security forces attacked doctors and nurses, lay siege to hospitals and clinics, detained protesters who sought treatment, and arrested and prosecuted dozens of medical personnel after unrest hit the island kingdom in February, a prominent human rights organisation has alleged.
Since mid-March, when the government stifled the uprising, the government has arrested more than 70 medical professionals, including several dozen doctors, and has put 48 on trial in a special military court, Human Rights Watch alleged in a 24-page report released on Monday.
The organisation called on Bahrain to stop harrassing medical personnel, withdraw all security forces from health centres and release all those facing minor charges, while providing due process to those accused of more serious crimes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sharaf: Cabinet reshuffle is first step toward achieving people's ambitions

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has chosen two deputies, Ali al-Selmy for political development and democratic affairs and Hazem al-Beblawy for economic affairs, said cabinet spokesperson Mohamed Hegazy on Saturday.
Hegazy said the choices represent a need to focus on the national economy on one hand and establish a sound democratic system on the other.
Sharaf's choices are not based on political affiliation, but on candidates' ability to work together and achieve the revolution’s objectives, said Hegazy.
Selmy would be responsible for forming of a group of ministers to achieve social demands related to prices, low-income families and subsidies, a cabinet source told Al-Masry Al-Youm, adding that he will hold the office of investment minister as well as that of public enterprise minister.

Yemen army, tribes in offensive on militants in south

ADEN, Yemen - Yemeni forces backed by armed tribesman launched an offensive to try to retake the southern provincial capital of Zinjibar on Sunday, after months of fierce fighting with Islamist militants who seized two cities and an army base in the area.
Dozens have been killed and some 54,000 civilians have fled the flashpoint southern province of Abyan, which has descended into daily bloodshed as the army faces a rising challenge from militants the government says have ties to Al-Qaeda.
After weeks of pleas for support from a besieged military brigade near Abyan's capital Zinjibar, Yemen sent reinforcements aiming to flush militants out of the seaside city. Zinjibar sits down the coastline from the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, where some three million barrels of oil pass daily.

Tunisian police fire in air to disperse rioters

TUNIS, Tunisia - Tunisian police fired in the air and used teargas early on Sunday to disperse a crowd of about 200 people who had set fire to a police station in a suburb of the capital.
The clashes took place in the Intilaka district in the west of Tunis. A Reuters reporter at the scene said there was also a police helicopter flying over the area.

Deadly violence continues in Syria

Armed men under the watch of Syrian security forces looted shops and fired on crowds in the central city of Homs, killing at least one person and wounding many others, witnesses have said.
The fresh violence on Saturday night follows what is reported to have been one of the deadliest crackdowns on protesters since the anti-government uprisings began in Syria four months ago.
"Armed thugs are randomly shooting at locals in various districts of Homs. One is reported killed and more than 20 others are injured," Majed, a resident from Homs, told Al Jazeera.
"The thugs are looting local shops under the watch of Syrian security forces. Random shooting is still going on at the moment."

New blasts rock the Libyan capital

New blasts have rocked the Libyan capital as leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed to remain in the land of his ancestors in the face of new calls for him to go and with rebels pressing their campaign to oust him.
At least 13 blasts were heard before and just after 2300 GMT onSaturday. An AFP journalist was unable to say immediately what the targets had been.
State television channel Al Jamahiriya reported that "the colonialist crusader aggressor," a reference to NATO, had raided civilian and military sites in the Ain Zara district and Tajoura in the eastern suburbs of Tripoli.
The television, quoting a military source, said there had been victims but did not give any figure.
Earlier on Saturday a Libyan medical official said 10 opposition fighters had been killed and 172 more wounded in an attack on a strategic eastern oil town controlled by forces loyal to Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.
Mohammed Idris said that fighters entered the frontline town of Brega the night before and that government shelling and land mines killed the men.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Somalia crisis one of 'largest in decades'

East Africa's worsening famine is one of the largest humanitarian crises in decades, a US official said, pledging "significant" aid.
The US already pledged $5m on Friday to help Somali refugees, on top of a previously budgeted $63m.
Reuben Brigety, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for State Department assistance to refugees and conflict victims in Africa, has said Washington is now studying how much more it will give.
"A great nation can do more than one thing at the same time and that is what we, the United States, will continue to do even in the context of the financial challenges that we are facing," Brigety said.
Tens of thousands of Somali refugees are flooding camps in Ethiopia and Kenya - at a rate of more than 3,000 new arrivals per day - in search of food after several seasons without rain killed livestock and destroyed crops in Somalia.
Little help can reach those in the worst-hit area because an al-Qaeda-linked militant group had banned aid work, though it recently said it would lift that ban.
Refugees in Ethiopia, Kenya
Over the last several days, Brigety has visited camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, and talked with mothers and children who walked for days with little food or water.
Levels of malnutrition among refugees arriving at the camps are very high.
The overall mortality rate at the camps in Ethiopia is seven people out of 10,000 per day, when a normal crisis rate is two per day, Brigety said.

Bahraini woman dies 'during protest'

A Bahraini rights activist has said a woman died during clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters in the Gulf kingdom.
Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said on Saturday that 47-year-old Zainab Hasan Ahmed al-Jumaa suffocated after inhaling tear gas fired by riot police during a demonstration on Friday near her home in Sitra, the hub of Bahrain's oil industry.
Her death brings to 33 the number of those who have died since February when Bahrain's Shia majority started protests for greater freedoms in the Sunni-ruled island kingdom.
Bahrain's interior ministry denied al-Jumaa's death was linked to a police operation and said in a statement posted on the ministry's website late on Friday that the woman died of natural causes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Alexandria governor resigns

Alexandria governor Essam Salem submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday evening to Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet.
Salem said in a statement to Al-Masry Al-Youm that he could no longer bear the burden of his office. He added that few hands had offered to help him.
“I wanted to give the opportunity to someone else, because I’m not used to failure,” he said, adding that he feels more comfortable now after making his decision.
He also said that he has not received the approval of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) or the cabinet yet.
Salem is a former National Democratic Party member and opposed by much of the revolutionary youth.

Gaza students build racecar from scrap metal

Living in a territory under siege could be a perfect excuse for lazy students to avoid challenging work. The students at Khan Younis Training College (KYTC), however, have chosen to pursue a highly ambitious project by anyone’s standards: designing and building a fully-functional racecar.

Egyptian delegation In London demands return of fugitive Mamdouh Ismail

A delegation of Egyptian ministry officials visited London last Sunday in an attempt to press for the return of fugitive businessman Mamdouh Ismail to Egypt to face a re-trial for his culpability in the Al-Salam 98 ferry sinking disaster of 2006.
The delegation was composed of figures from the Egyptian interior and foreign ministries. Sources confirmed that the delegation went to London to demand the return of a number of former Egyptian officials who were involved in cases of corruption and criminal behaviour that have preoccupied public opinion. The sources stated that the United Kingdom has no limitations on delivering fugitives, after pledging to demand the Egyptian government to conduct a free and transparent trial for Ismail.
The Egyptian ferry Al-Salam 98 sunk in February 2006 on its way from Saudi-Arabia to Egypt, killing 1064 passengers.

Key Libyan village back in rebel hands

Libyan rebel fighters are digging in to defend a village south of Tripoli following a see-saw battle for control with government forces that seen control of the village change hands several times.

Rebel fighters took Qwalish, a staging post on the way to the capital about 100km north, a week ago, then lost it to government troops on Wednesday morning. But by nightfall they were back in control.
Scores of fighters manned defensive positions throughout Qwalish on Thursday, supported by trucks with heavy machine guns mounted on the back.

That was in contrast to the light defences in place on Wednesday morning when forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi quickly overran the village.

"We came yesterday and we stayed here and we said we are not moving until the place is secure," said one rebel fighter who was manning a machine gun and gave his name as Tommy.

"This mistake is not going to happen again. We're not going home." 

Egypt dismisses almost 600 police officers

Egypt has fired almost 600 top police officers as part of a clean up the discredited and widely unpopular police force.
The decision, announced on Wednesday by Interior Minister Mansour el-Issawi, meets a key demand by protesters camping out at Cairo's central Tahrir Square.
El-Issawi said that the move was the biggest reshuffle in the history of the Egyptian police force.
The number expelled also includes officers who were already at retirement age.
Of those leaving, 37 are specifically accused of being involved in the killing of protesters during the January 25 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's former president, from power.
Among those dismissed were 505 major-generals and 82 brigadiers, Egyptian state television reported.
The protesters want the police force to be purged of Mubarak loyalists and officers involved in the killing of nearly 900 protesters during the January 25 crackdown.