Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ex-Gaddafi PM in critical state after torture in Libya: Lawyer

Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, the last premier of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, is in critical condition after being tortured in a Libyan prison, his Tunisian lawyer said on Wednesday.

The lawyer did not provide any further details nor reveal his sources for fear they could suffer reprisals.Mahmudi "is in critical condition as a result of the torture he has suffered," said Mabrouk Kourchid, adding that "he could die".

Mahmudi fled to neighbouring Tunisia in September 2011, shortly after rebels seized Tripoli and effectively put an end to more than four decades of Gaddafi;s iron-fisted rule.
He was arrested there and extradited to Libya last June, despite warnings from rights groups that he could face the death penalty.
He went on trial in November for what the prosecutor general's spokesman said were "prejudicial acts against the security of the state and financial crimes."
In July, Mahmudi protested his innocence to journalists visiting his prison.
"I am not guilty, not guilty, not guilty," he told reporters during a visit organised by the authorities in an apparent bid to quash rumours he had been tortured.
A physician by training, Mahmudi was loyal to Gaddafi until the end, serving as premier from 2006 up to the final days of his regime.
Along with Seif al-Islam, the toppled dictator's most high-profile son who is also on trial, Mahmudi is one of the few remaining keepers of the many state secrets under Gaddafi, who was captured and killed by rebels in October 2011.

Nasrallah to deliver speech Wednesday despite health rumours

Hassan Nasrallah, leader of militant group Hezbollah, will deliver a speech on Wednesday to discuss the latest political developments in Beirut and the Middle East, the Shiite movement's Al-Manar TV channel reported.

"Such news is totally incorrect, and Nasrallah did not leave the country," the sources said.Hezbollah sources, according to Al-Manar, have denied recent media reports about Nasrallah's deteriorating health and a trip to Iran.

Nasrallah's speech will coincide with the ongoing 23-month civil war in Syria, in which Hezbollah is accused of playing an important role.
Last Thursday, a commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army warned that his forces will target Hezbollah unless the militant group stops shelling territory held by the insurgents.
General Selim Idriss, the FSA chief of staff, told AFP on Wednesday that Hezbollah had long been taking part in hostilities in Syria, but had gone too far by shelling villages near Qusayr in the Homs province from the Bekaa valley in Lebanon.
"Hezbollah is abusing Lebanese sovereignty to shell Syrian territory and Free Syrian Army positions," said Idriss.
"In the past week... Hezbollah has been shelling into villages around Qusayr from Lebanese territory, and that we cannot accept."
The FSA had also asked the Lebanese president and premier to intervene, said Idriss, but the office of Prime Minister Najib Mikati denied any contact with the Syrian rebels.
Hezbollah has repeatedly rejected accusations that it has sent fighters into Syria.

In October 2012, however, Nasrallah admitted that members of his movement had fought Syrian rebels but said they were acting as "individuals and not under the group's direction."
A growing refugee crisis
Lebanon, where Syria still wields significant influence, is deeply divided over the Syrian revolt and fears that the sectarian civil war that has claimed nearly 70,000 lives, according to a United Nations estimate, could spill over into its smaller neighbour.
Lebanon hosts almost 300,000 Syrian refugees, a number which is growing at a rate of 3,000 a day.
Lebanese opposition leader Saad Al-Hariri predicted on Thursday the downfall of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, whom he accuses of planning the assassination of his father in a bomb attack in 2005.
"The regime of Bashar Al-Assad will inevitably go down. And its collapse will be loud not only in Syria but across the Arab world," Hariri said, speaking by a video link from Riyadh to mark the eighth anniversary of his father's assassination.
Spill-over effect
Last October, a deadly car bombing led to the death of almost eight people and wounded another 78 in Lebanon's Christian district of Ashrafieh, eastern Beirut. It was the most high-profile car bombing since Rafik Al-Hariri's assassination in 2005.
General Wissam Al-Hassan, a senior commander in the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, was among the dead. The incident caused a degree of deterioration in Lebanese-Syrian relations due to Al-Hassan's history of opposition to the Hezbollah-allied ruling regime in Damascus.
Al-Hassan suspected the Syrian regime of murdering Al-Hariri. The grey-moustachioed general, 47, a Sunni Muslim, had sent his wife and children to Paris because he "knew he was a target," a Lebanese opposition leader hostile to Al-Assad’s regime told AFP.
Both Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, the influential Druze leader, have accused the Syrian president of being behind last year's bombing.

Egypt PM orders probe into deadly balloon crash

Egypt's prime minister has ordered an investigation into the deaths of up to 19 tourists in a fiery hot-air balloon crash during a sunrise flight over the ancient temple city of Luxor.

The pilot and one tourist survived by jumping out of the basket at some point before it hit the ground, said an employee of Sky Cruise, which operates the balloon rides. Both were taken to hospital.The balloon, carrying 20 tourists from Hong Kong, Japan, France, Britain and Hungary, along with the pilot, was flying at 300 metres (1,000 feet) when it caught fire, exploded and plunged to earth, a security official said.

A video shot by a passenger on another flight appears to show smoke pouring from the balloon's basket for some time before the balloon itself collapses, leaving the basket full of tourists to freefall to earth.
"This is terrible, just terrible," the employee told AFP by telephone, declining to give her name. "We don't yet know what happened exactly or what went wrong."
Luxor Governor Ezzat Saad imposed an immediate ban on all hot-air balloon flights in the province as Prime Minister Hisham Qandil ordered the investigation.
Security services cordoned off the crash site in Luxor's dense sugar cane fields, as police and residents inspected the charred remains of the balloon.
"There was a terrifying sound when the balloon exploded," one resident, Ahmed, 40, told AFP.
"Bodies engulfed in flames were falling out of the balloon," said Youssef al-Tayyeb, another resident who witnessed the accident.
The balloon had been floating over the west bank of Luxor, one of Egypt's most renowned archaeological sites and home to the famous Valley of the Kings and the grand Temple of Hatshepsut, when it exploded.
There was confusion over the exact death toll and the tourists' nationalities. Different official bodies gave conflicting figures and details.
An Egyptian security official said 19 tourists from Hong Kong, Japan, Britain, France and Hungary had died. The health ministry put the toll at 18 dead.
The French foreign ministry confirmed two of its citizens were among the dead.
Britain's Foreign Office said two British nationals and one British resident had died. Later, it named them as Yvonne Rennie, Joe Bampton and Hungarian-born Suzanna Gyetvai and said another Briton was "in a stable condition" after surviving the plunge.
Nine of those killed were thought to be from from Hong Kong, and four from Japan.
"We believe that there is a high possibility that nine of our customers have died," said Raymond Ng, general manager of travel agency Kuoni, which organised the Hong Kongers' tour.
The five women and four men were aged between 33 and 62, Ng said, adding their relatives were flying to Cairo accompanied by three Kuoni staff.
The nine were among a group of 15 Hong Kongers who had left for Egypt on February 22. Ng said that according to local employees the balloon caught fire about an hour after it had set off, plummeting to the ground two minutes later.
In Japan, tour company JTB said four Japanese tourists involved in the accident were all confirmed dead. The foreign ministry said it was seeking further information.
French hot-air balloon expert Philippe Buron-Pilatre de Rozier said the blast could have been caused by a leak after a spark caused by a lighter or a cigarette.
Another reason could be wear and tear due to poor maintenance, said Buron-Pilatre de Rozier. Hot-air balloons such as the ones used in Egypt are generally 40 metres (130 feet) high and can carry up to 25 passengers, he added.
In 2009, 13 foreign tourists were injured when their balloon hit a phone mast and crashed at Luxor. Sources at the time said the balloon was overcrowded.
Local operators were bracing themselves for a backlash following the crash.
"The accident will have a devastating effect on tourism," said Yasser al-Zambali, who owns the Dream Balloon company in Luxor, one of a handful of firms to organise sunrise flights over the city.
"How can I now convince other tourists to pay a single dollar to ride a balloon now?"
Tuesday's crash comes amid widespread anger over safety standards in Egypt following several deadly transport and construction accidents.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Qaeda urges jihad against France in Mali: SITE

Supporting the Muslims in Mali is a duty for every capable Muslim with life and money, everyone according to their ability," the Sharia Committee of the extremist group said in a statement reported by US-based SITE, which monitors extremist Internet forums.

AQAP, which has been labelled the most dangerous branch of the global jihadist network, said France's "Crusader campaign against Islam" has no justification and a "declaration of aggression against Islam and its people."

It said jihad is "more obligatory on the people who are closer" to the fight, in an apparent reference to North African nations and those living in countries helping France.

"Helping the disbelievers against Muslims in any form is apostasy from the religion," it added.

France launched its operation in the African country on 11 January after Mali's interim government requested help. It sent in fighter jets, attack helicopters and ground troops to battle Islamist rebels who had seized the north and were advancing into southern territory.

The campaign racked up a string of early successes as French and African troops drove the extremists from Gao, Timbuktu and the rest of the towns under their control.

AQAP was founded in January 2009 when the Saudi and Yemen branches of the network merged in the south Arabian Peninsula country, and remains active in lawless parts of Yemen despite several military campaigns by Sanaa.

Iran offers to host Syrian govt-opposition talks

The Iranian ambassador to Syria, Mohammad-Reza Raouf-Shibani, has expressed his country's willingness to host talks between the Al-Assad government and the Syrian opposition, state news agency MENA reported on Wednesday.

"Tehran is ready to host the talks if Syria’s national reconciliation minister, Ali Haidar, and the leader of the foreign-backed Syrian opposition coalition, Ahmed Moaz Al-Khatib, are ready to enter negotiations," Iran's Press TV quoted Raouf-Shibani as saying.

Al-Khatib revealed on 30 January that he was ready for "direct discussions" with President Bashar Al-Assad's government in Cairo, Tunis or Istanbul to end the 22-month civil war.

Al-Khatib met the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran last week at an annual international security conference in Munich. After a 45-minute meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Al-Khatib told Reuters: "We agreed we have to find a solution to end the suffering of the Syrian people."

In January, Salehi threw Iran's weight behind a plan outlined by Bashar Al-Assad to end the crisis, stressing Tehran's support for its most strategic regional ally.

"The Islamic Republic ... supports President Bashar Al-Assad's initiative for a comprehensive solution to the country's crisis," Salehi said in a statement on his ministry's website.

The plan called for dialogue with opposition elements Al-Assad deemed acceptable and promised to stand fast against those he called "terrorists" and their foreign backers.

The Syrian opposition and the West immediately rejected the initiative as a defiant restating of Al-Assad's intention to cling to power.

Pre-dominantly Shia Iran has provided economic and military assistance to Damascus, whose secular ruling regime includes many figures from the minority Alawite branch of Shia Islam.

The Islamic Republic perceives Al-Assad as a bulwark against Israel.

Egyptian Nasserist defends controversial visit to Syria’s Al-Assad

An Egyptian Nasserist Party (ENP) delegation has stirred controversy by visiting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

“Our visit to Syria in support of Bashar Al-Assad came out of our genuine intention to back the resistance against American and Zionist plans in the region,” Farouq El-Eshri, co-founder of the ENP told Al-Ahram Arabic website.

The delegation had no intention of meeting with the Syrian opposition at the moment, he added.

Around 60,000 people have been killed during an ongoing two-year uprising against the Al-Assad government.

The meeting with Al-Assad on Tuesday did not find any solutions to the Syrian crisis, El-Eshri added, because no one can end it now.

“If Bashar falls, we are left with three scenarios: 1. the fall of ‘Arab Nationalist’ Syria, 2. Syria will fall under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, 3. It will be a civil war.”

Syria is the last defence line for Pan-Arabism, El-Eshri added.

Bashar Al-Assad is also the leader of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Syria.

HRW urges Saudi to free ex-judge

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged Saudi authorities to free an ex-judge and founder of a rights group who is serving a 15-year jail sentence for "breaking allegiance to the king."

Sulaiman Al-Rashudi, 76, was one of 16 people detained in 2007 and sentenced to jail in November 2011 "for peacefully trying to establish a human rights organisation in Jeddah" and "breaking allegiance to the king," HRW said.

"Saudi authorities should immediately release and drop all charges against" Rashudi, founder of the Saudi Association of Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA), said the New York-based watchdog.

Rashudi was also accused of "cooperating with outside organisations" and faced "other charges that arose entirely from his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of association."

He was released on bail in April 2011 but he was re-arrested on 12 December after giving a public lecture in Riyadh in which he defended demonstrations as legal under sharia (Islamic) law.

HRW director for the Middle East, Sarah Leah Whitson, condemned the "cruel" sentence against Rashudi and said Saudi authorities "seem to be saying that no independent individual can comment on sharia law."

The watchdog quoted family members as saying Rashudi was denied the right to appeal the sentence while his daughter, Bahiya, was briefly detained on Sunday after taking part in a protest calling for the release of political detainees.

Four people arrested with Rashudi in 2007 and convicted of similar charges are still in jail, including professor Saud Al-Hashimi who is serving a 30-year sentence.

"The 11 others detained in 2007 were sentenced to prison terms of up to 25 years in 2010 but were released on bail after agreeing to sign pledges that they will not engage in further activity that the authorities consider unlawful," said HRW.

Protests and political activism are banned in the oil-rich kingdom, an absolute monarchy where the grand mufti has slammed popular protests across the region as anti-Islamic, saying they only serve to spread chaos.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sudan govt, Darfur rebel faction ink ceasefire deal in Doha

The Sudanese government has signed a ceasefire agreement with a faction of Darfur's far-west region rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), state news agency QNA reported. The ceasefire took effect at midnight in Doha (Sunday, 2100 GMT), QNA quoted Qatar's deputy prime minister Ahmed al-Mahmud as saying.

Two committees bringing together peacekeepers from the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) as well as representatives from Sudan, Qatar and the Arab League, have been formed to oversee implementation of the ceasefire, Mahmud said.He said the deal "will pave the way for inking a final peace agreement in Darfur between both sides".

The main body of JEM -- which continues to reject a government peace deal -- said the signatories are a small pro-government faction. Mahmud announced that Doha will host "a donors conference for the development and rebuilding of Darfur on April 7 and 8."
Qatar has for years been a key mediator in the Sudanese crisis.
In July 2011, the Sudanese government signed a peace accord with an alliance of rebel splinter factions, the Liberation and Justice Movement. UNAMID warned in October that implementation of that accord had hit deadlock.
The JEM belongs to a coalition ethnic-minority Sudanese insurgents seeking to overthrow the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime and had rejected the peace deal as failing to address any serious issues.
JEM's spokesman, Gibril Adam Bilal, said the latest agreement will make no difference on the ground because the signatories had been under the protection of a joint Sudan-Chad border monitoring force.

"This agreement will not stop the war in Darfur and will not address the issues of the Darfur people," Bilal told AFP.
At least 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and over one million are still living in camps for the displaced, according to the United Nations. The conflict broke out in 2003 when JEM and other non-Arab rebels rose up against the Khartoum regime.

Iranian authorities arrest opposition leader's daughters

Iranian authorities on Monday detained two daughters of leading opposition figure Mirhossein Mousavi, a former presidential candidate held under house arrest for nearly two years, an opposition-linked website reported.

The Islamic Republic is gearing up for another presidential vote in June and hardline figures have accused opposition forces of plotting a second "sedition" - referring to the last protests that were crushed by security forces.Mousavi stood in presidential elections in 2009 and was a figurehead of the big street protests over allegations of vote rigging that followed. He is held under house arrest with his wife Zahra Rahnavard.

Security forces went to the home of the couple's daughters Narges and Zahra on Monday morning and detained them, according to Kaleme, an opposition website close to Mousavi. It did not say where they were taken.
The couple have one other daughter and the three sisters wrote in a statement last month that authorities had denied Mousavi and Rahnavard contact with their children for weeks.
Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, another opposition figure, were detained after they called their supporters onto the streets for a rally in support of uprisings in the Arab world in February 2011. Hardliners have asked the judiciary to execute both men, but authorities have so far chosen to isolate rather than officially arrest them.
Mousavi, 70, Iran's prime minister in the 1980s, was treated for a heart problem in hospital in August, one of his former senior advisors told Reuters.

Syrian rebels seize country's largest dam

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other Syrian activists said Islamist fighters seized the entrances to the dam, although gunmen had not entered the main operations room and the dam had continued to function.

Other video posted on the Internet showed what activists said was an abandoned Air Force Security base next to the dam and army installations inside the town. "The dam was protected by an artillery battery and many intelligence units. The rebels moved on them in a lightning offensive yesterday, overrunning their positions and capturing scores of personnel," said Abu Ziad Teif, an opposition activist in contact with rebels in the area.They had earlier swept through the nearby town of Tabqa, renamed al-Thawra (Revolution) by the country's rulers. A statue of Assad's father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, was set on fire in the town, video footage showed.

He said it was not clear whether the rebels would be able to keep the dam in operation and whether enough employees were left at the site. Extra power cuts were reported in the war ravaged city of Aleppo, which is partly supplied by the dam.
Rami Abdulrahman of British-based Syrian Observatory described the swift collapse of Assad's forces in Tabqa and around the dam as one of the president's biggest strategic setbacks in the 22-month-old Syrian uprising.

Opposition to presidency opens rifts in Egypt's Islamist current

The escalating conflict between Egypt's political opposition and the administration of President Mohamed Morsi has also led to widening gaps within the Islamist current itself. Some Islamist groups, who had backed Morsi in the past, have now begun to question the policies of Egypt's first Muslim Brotherhood president.

For example, when Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Construction and Development Party called for mass rallies last month to support the president in response to mass demonstrations organised by the opposition, few Islamist parties answered the call.
The Salafist Nour Party, Egypt's second biggest Islamist movement after the Brotherhood, was the first to refuse the call, arguing that, "while the party supports the legitimacy of the president, it is not the right time for demonstrating."
Nour Party figures, along with those of the Salafist Call (of which the Nour Party represents the political wing), later went so far as to blame the president and the Brotherhood for subsequent political violence outside the Presidential Palace in which two people were killed.
On Twitter, Nour Party spokesman Nader Bakkar hastened to condemn state violence after the appearance of a video showing a man dragged naked and beaten by police, although he also condemned violence perpetrated by protesters.
Abdel-Moneim El-Shahat, leading figure of the Salafist Call, was more vocal when blaming Morsi and the interior minister for the violence.
"If we condemn violence by some citizens... then we ought, more importantly, to condemn violence committed in the name of the state," El-Shahat said in a Tuesday statement, adding that it was Mubarak-era injustice that led to the January 25 Revolution.
Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Secretary-General Hussein Ibrahim criticised Nour Party statements comparing the Brotherhood's political wing to Mubarak's now defunct National Democratic Party, describing such claims as "unfair."
It was not the Nour Party's first public stand against the president and his party. The ultraconservative Salafist party recently proposed an initiative launched in cooperation with the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF), in which it adopted many of the opposition's demands.
The initiative comprised eight demands, chief among which was the formation of a unity government including representatives of various opposition groups. It also demanded the dismissal of Egypt's Morsi-appointed prosecutor-general.
Numerous Islamist figures slammed the initiative – and the Nour Party for adopting it.
The Construction and Development Party described the initiative as "an attempt to circumvent the president's legitimacy and drag the judiciary into politics."
The Salafist Watan Party, meanwhile, which broke away from the Nour Party weeks earlier, also condemned the initiative and the Nour Party's role in promoting it.
Watan Party spokesman Yousry Hammad stated on Twitter that it was not possible to table an initiative that was not based on "protecting legitimacy; respecting the popular will; respecting the law and constitution; and delegitimising those working to destabilise the country and destroy its economy for narrow party gains."
He described Nour's role in promoting the initiative with the NSF as "shaking hands with those legitimising terrorism and making chaos look like a 'revolution'."
The opposition NSF has often been accused by the Brotherhood and others of legitimising acts of violence and chaos by calling for frequent protests – many of which have ended violently – against the presidency.
Speaking to Ahram Online, Watan Party spokesman Ahmed Qadry asserted that the initiative had not only been shunned by other Islamist parties, but had even been rejected by the Nour Party's rank and file.
"Nour Party leaders are not in line with the party's base," Qadry said. "The main reason why Watan broke away from the Nour Party is that Nour Party figures were taking unrepresentative decisions." 
Moreover, last month, Watan Party spokesman Hammad told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website that a main reason behind the resignation of Emad Abdel-Ghafour as Nour Party chairman had been alleged "interference" by the Salafist Call.
Those remaining within the Nour Party threw similar accusations at Abdel-Ghafour shortly before the latter's resignation, saying he had consistently violated party decisions. Abdel-Ghafour, they said, had accepted the post of presidential aide when the party board had decided not to accept any positions within the Morsi government.
The Nour Party board went so far as to withdraw confidence from Abdel-Ghafour, saying his position as presidential aide conflicted with his position as party chairman, hinting that he was putting the interests of the president – who hails from the Brotherhood – over those of the party.
The Nour Party had proposed five Salafist figures for ministerial portfolios, of which only one was accepted as environment minister. The Nour Party, for its part, declined the position, claiming the Brotherhood sought to dominate the cabinet.
In fact, Bakkar's recent statements suggest that the Nour Party increasingly fears that the Brotherhood is trying to monopolise Egypt's political scene, a view that Abdel-Ghafour and his 'reformist' camp – which later formed the Watan Party – do not necessarily share.
"The nation cannot develop with one sect working [the Brotherhood] cannot ignore all other political forces, including those that supported you and voted for you," Bakkar said last week in televised comments. "What is known as the 'Brotherhoodisation' of the state will end up ruining other parties' chances for fair political competition."
Qadry, however, denied the Nour Party's claims that the main difference with the 'reformist' camp had been over the party's position vis-a-vis the Brotherhood.
"I [as a Watan Party member] disagree significantly with the Brotherhood, but I won't bend my principles in the meantime," Qadry said. He went on to describe the Nour Party's decision to cooperate with the NSF on its proposed initiative as "political opportunism."
"Al-Watan can be critical of the Brotherhood, but that doesn't mean it will ally itself with those who stand against legitimacy and who aim at destruction instead of reform," he added.
Meanwhile, the Nour Party's new chairman, Younis Makhioun, has accused the Brotherhood of using the initiative to taint his party's image.
In a recent television interview, Makhioun claimed that while Brotherhood leaders said they welcomed the dialogue initiative, the group's younger cadres widely attacked it. Makhioun speculated that, since Brotherhood members never contravene the leadership's orders, such attacks on the Nour Party could not have been spontaneous.
While both the Nour Party and the Salafist Call have recently distanced themselves from the Brotherhood and its policies, the Watan Party – along with Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya – have defended Egypt's leading Islamist group.
Qadry described Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's stance on the Brotherhood as "balanced but critical" – a position, he said, shared by the Watan Party.
The Watan Party, meanwhile, has spoken of a possible electoral alliance with influential Salafist preacher Hazem Abu-Ismail and his followers, although nothing has yet been confirmed in this regard.
In 2011 parliamentary polls, the Nour Party list – which also included candidates of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and the Salafist Asala Party – won the second highest number of seats in the assembly (24.22 per cent). Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood's FJP list – which also included nationalist and liberal candidates – won the highest number of seats (47.20 per cent) overall. 
Many observers believe that upcoming elections, expected sometime in April or May, will see an even tougher fight, with new and ambitious Islamist parties – who lacked experience one year ago – able to act more independently.

Egypt opposition to mark 2nd anniversary of Mubarak ouster with anti-govt rallies

Thirteen Egyptian political parties and movements have announced plans to stage mass anti-government rallies on Monday to mark the second anniversary of former president Hosni Mubarak's ouster.
Protesters on Monday plan to voice their rejection of perceived repressive measures adopted by Egypt's Islamist-led government and what the opposition sees as persistent attempts to "crush the revolution."
Monday's rallies are expected to include marches on Cairo's Tahrir Square and the Presidential Palace in the capital's Heliopolis district. In the evening, a candlelight vigil will also be held in Tahrir Square with the ostensible aim of "mourning freedom."
With tripartite demands for 'the downfall of the regime,' 'justice for martyrs' and 'social justice,' two mass marches have been scheduled, according to a statement issued Sunday by political forces taking part in the planned protests.
The first march will set out from the Fath Mosque in Cairo's Ramses district, while the second will depart from the nearby Sayeda Zeinab Mosque. Both marches, which will kick off at 5pm, will converge on Tahrir Square.
"Two years after the first victory of the revolution [Mubarak's ouster], Egypt's first democratically elected president has set a record for lying and broken promises," the statement reads. "Blood was shed yet again and martyrs fell under Brotherhood rule, which has perfected the arts of repression, brutality and abduction."
Political parties to have endorsed Monday's rallies include: the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Youth for Justice and Freedom Movement, the Constitution Party, the Popular Movement for the Independence of Al-Azhar, the Karama Party, the Free Front for Peaceful Change, the Maspero Youth Union, the Arab Revolution Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Egyptian Popular Current, the Egypt Freedom Party, the National Association for Change and the Kefaya movement.
"In the midst of ceaseless political repression, economic and social malaise is worsening day after day…successive governments have failed to fulfil even one of the demands of social justice," the statement continued.
Two other marches are planned to set out from the Nour Mosque in Abbasiya and the Raba Al-Adawiya Mosque in Nasr City. Both will converge on the Presidential Palace, according to April 6 youth movement spokesman Tariq El-Kholi.
The Revolutionary Forces Coalition also plans to stage four marches to Tahrir Square and the Presidential Palace, according to coalition coordinator Haytham El-Shawaaf.
Two marches will set out for Tahrir Square from the Mohandeseen district's Mostafa Mahmoud Square and Dawaran Shubra Square in the working-class Shubra Al-Kheima district. Two other marches will set out for the Presidential Palace from Nasr City's Raba Al-Adawiya Mosque and Alf Maskan Square in the Hadayek Al-Kobba district.
Meanwhile, the 'Second Egyptian Revolution of Rage' movement is joining forces with other revolutionary groups and Facebook pages to take part in Monday's protests, group coordinator Hisham El-Shaal told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website.
The 'Black Bloc' group also announced plans to block the Mogamma building in Tahrir Square on Monday, the country's largest administrative building, in the run-up to a civil disobedience campaign called for by some revolutionary groups on Facebook.
In a similar vein, the April 6 movement has called for a "peaceful" protest Monday morning before the prosecutor-general's office to demand justice for slain activist Gaber Salah.
Salah, 16, also known as 'Jika,' was killed in November of last year during protests marking the first anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes. The march will condemn "the authorities' constant stalling and plans to file the case against 'unknown' culprits," the group said on its official Facebook page.
Egypt has been gripped by violence since the second anniversary of its January 25revolution, which has left at least 59 killed and hundreds injured.
The recent spate of unrest has been inflamed by anger against what activists perceive as President Mohamed Morsi's attempts to monopolise power and by the state of social and economic malaise that has settled over Egypt since Mubarak's ouster. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Egyptian Liberals great Lie

The great lie that we hear always from time to time that the liberals were great factor in the success of president Mohamed Morsy in the presidential elections against flol (Crooks)candiate,Shafiq.
In the first round of the presidential elections ,Morsy was supporsted by the Muslims brotherhood ,while the Salfis and AlJama' Al-Islamiya supported Dr.Abou Al-Fotouh .
In the second round Morsy was supported by the Muslims Brotherhood,the Salfis and AlJama' Al-Islamiya while the liberals were divided as some of them decided to boycott and others decided to vote for the flol candidate Shafiq.
"Morsy came to the power through the Islamic power votes,none of the liberals voted for him.On the other hand the Christians supported by the church voted for Shafiq and there was a deal between the church and Shafiq",one of the Islamists said.
"O' liberals ,we got bored from your repeated scenario that helped president Morsy in the elections.You are great liars and you hoped Morsy to lose the elections".He added

Sunday, February 3, 2013


MUNICH (AP) — Israel's defense minister indicated Sunday that his country was behind the airstrike on Syria last week, in the first public comments from his government on the attack that U.S. officials said targeted a convoy carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for the militant group Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak brought the issue up at a gathering of the world's top diplomats and defense officials in Germany, initially saying: "I cannot add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened in Syria several days ago."
But, addressing the audience in English, he then added: "I keep telling frankly that we said — and that's proof when we said something we mean it— we say that we don't think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon."
In Syria, President Bashar Assad said his military was capable of confronting any "aggression" targeting the country, his first comments since the airstrike.
Syrian state television said Assad spoke during a meeting with visiting top Iranian official, Saeed Jalili.
Assad said Syria is capable of facing current challenges and can "confront any aggression" that would target the Syrian people.
Israel had not previously commented on the strike, but in the days ahead of the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials repeatedly warned of the dangers of Syrian weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah and other hostile elements in the region.
The Syrian military, meanwhile, said the target of Israeli jets was a scientific research center. The facility is in the area of Jamraya, northwest of Damascus.
Purported images of the targeted site, aired by Syrian state television on Saturday, show destroyed cars, trucks and military vehicles. A building has broken widows and damaged interiors, but no major structural damage.
Following the attack, Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, said Damascus "has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation," but that it was up to the relevant authorities to choose the time and place.
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition leaders and rebels on Friday slammed Assad for not responding to the airstrike, calling it proof of his weakness and acquiescence to the Jewish State.
The chief of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards said in remarks Sunday that Tehran also hopes Syria will retaliate against Israel for a recent airstrike on its territory.
The report by the official IRNA news agency quotes Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying, "We are hopeful that Syria gives an appropriate response to the strike in the proper time."
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Israeli leaders have repeatedly expressed fears that if Syria were to disintegrate, President Bashar Assad could lose control of his chemical weapons and other arms.
On Saturday night, Netanyahu, who is in the process of forming a new ruling coalition, said his new government would have to deal with weapons "being stockpiled near us and threatening our cities and civilians" — an apparent reference to the deteriorating situation in Syria.
Barak said "Hezbollah from Lebanon and the Iranians are the only allies that Assad has left."
He said in his view Assad's fall "is coming imminently" and when it happens, "this will be a major blow to the Iranians and Hezbollah."
"I think that they will pay the price," he said.


BAGHDAD (AP) — A suicide car bomber joined by other suicide attackers on foot assaulted a provincial police headquarters in a disputed northern Iraqi city on Sunday, killing at least 15 people and wounding 90 others, officials said.
The blast in Kirkuk appeared to be a fresh attack by militants seeking to undermine government efforts in maintaining security nationwide.
Two police officers said the car bomber drove his vehicle into the Kirkuk headquarters, after which a second car bomb — parked rather than driven — also went off. Then, two suicide attackers on foot armed with machineguns and grenades tried to break into the station, but were killed before they could enter the building and set off their explosive-rigged belts.
The officers spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release information. The head of the provincial health directorate, Sidiq Omar Rasool, confirmed the casualty figures.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, car bombs and coordinated attacks are favorite tactics for Sunni insurgents such as al-Qaida's Iraq branch.
The blast damaged the police offices and nearby buildings. Several dead bodies could be seen on the street along with the debris of the car bomb. Police and rescuers dug in the rubble for survivors.
Kirkuk, 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad, is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, who all have competing claims to the oil-rich area. The Kurds want to incorporate it into their self-ruled region in Iraq's north, but Arabs and Turkomen are opposed.
The city is at the heart of a snaking swath of territory disputed between the Kurds, who have their own armed fighting force, and Iraq's central government.
Al-Qaida and other insurgent groups are believed to exploit ethnic tensions throughout Iraq's north.


ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish police say a New York City woman who went missing and was later found dead in Istanbul had suffered a fatal blow to the head.
Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin said Sunday that forensic experts had not concluded their autopsy report on the victim, Sarai Sierra, but that it was "clear" the head injury caused her death.
NTV, a Turkish broadcaster, says 15 people have been detained for questioning in the case.
Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two, was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was to fly home from a vacation. Her body was discovered Saturday evening near the remnants of ancient city walls.


LONDON (AP) — The leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan are due to hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London on the Afghan peace process.
Cameron initiated the meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari last year, aiming to boost cooperation between the countries and promote regional stability.
The talks are expected to focus on preventing a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan when British and other NATO troops withdraw from the country next year.
Cameron plans to dine with Karzai and Zardari at his country residence Chequers later Sunday, before holding formal talks with both leaders and their top officials early Monday.
Downing Street says the trilateral meeting will include Afghan and Pakistani army and intelligence chiefs for the first time.


BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's official news agency says a former member of parliament and three members of his family have been killed in a rebel-held area the near the northern city of Aleppo.
SANA said Sunday that "terrorists" fired at Ibrahim Azzouz's car in Sheik Said neighborhood near the city's airport, killing him along with his wife and their two daughters.
Rebels captured the strategic Sheik Said neighborhood, southeast of Aleppo on Saturday. It was a significant blow to regime forces because the area includes the road the army has used to supply troops.
The Syrian government refers to rebels as "terrorists."

Yemen says seized ship carried rockets from Iran

A ship loaded with rockets and explosives which Yemen said it had intercepted last month came from Iran and the arms were destined for Shiite rebels, a security official said on Sunday.

Yemeni coast guard in coordination with the US navy last month intercepted the ship in the Arabian Sea, authorities have said."The boat was heading towards the (Red Sea) port of Al-Mukha" and the arms "were destined for the Huthi rebels in Saada," the northern stronghold of the Shiite fighters, the Yemeni security official told AFP.

The vessel "came from Iran and was carrying arms and explosives among them surface-to-air missiles SAM-2 and SAM-3," state news agency Saba reported on Sunday, adding that the crew of eight Yemeni nationals were being questioned.
The ship was stopped on January 23 in Yemeni territorial waters and flew several fake flags, authorities have said.
An offshoot of Shiite Islam, Zaidis are a minority in mainly Sunni Yemen but form the majority in the mountainous north.
From 2004 the Huthis fought six wars with central government forces before signing a truce in February 2010. The rebellion claimed thousands of lives.
The government accuses the rebels of being backed by Shiite-dominated Iran, charges which the Zaidis deny.

Salafist El-Nour Party rejects calls for Morsi removal and early elections

Younes Makhyoun

Salafist Nour Party chairman Younis Makhioun (Photo: Al-Ahram)

The Salafist El-Nour Party said Sunday it rejects demands echoed by a large number of demonstrators over the past weeks, calling for President Mohamed Morsi to step down, new presidential elections to be held, and for the new constitution to be amended if not abandoned.     
In a press release, the party stated that talks between the presidency, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Islamist Building and Development Party, Al-Wasat Party, and the main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front (NSF), and the Ghad Al-Thawra Party, have been successful and are continuing.
A press conference is also expected to be held soon where the outcome of these talks will be announced, particularly concerning efforts to end bloodshed and instability in the country.  
On Saturday evening, El-Nour Party held a general meeting under the leadership of new party head Younes Makhioun and other prominent figures, including heads of provinces, the general assembly, and MP's.
Party spokesperson Nader Bakkar said that during Saturday's meeting, party members reviewed the latest national developments and the success of an initiative it spearheaded to end Egypt's ongoing political crisis.
Bakkar added that during Saturday's meeting other issues discussed included steps to be taken in preparation for parliamentary elections expected in April 2013, and guidelines for potential candidates.
In the latest round of talks held between the NSF and El-Nour Party an eight-point agreement was formulated amid violent clashes between police and protesters across the country in the wake of the second anniversary of the January 25 Revolution.

Suez Canal fully secured: Official

The Suez Canal is fully secured, navigation through the waterway never halted and is proceeding as usual says Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish and head of the Suez Canal Authority to Al Ahram Arabic daily newspaper.
Furthermore, reports that Egypt might lose sovereignty over the Suez Canal or that the strategic passageway could be leased to a foreign country are completely false, asserts Mamish. On an even more positive note, continues Mamish, Suez Canal revenues will significantly increase, possibly hitting close to $6 billion.
A recent wave of problems in the Suez area raised the fear that traffic would be halted through the strategic shortcut between the East and north Africa/the West.
A Greek ferry docked in Port Said was attacked by unknown gunmen.
Suez saw clashes between civilians and security on 25 January, the second-year anniversary of Egypt's revolution. Clashes broke out again the next day after a court gave 21 Port Said residents the death sentence in the case of violence at a football match that left more than 70 dead.
Most recently, one of the world's largest container ships, Emma Maersk, risked blocking the Suez Canal waterway on Friday when it faced technical difficulties at the Canal's northern entrance. The ship was safely taken out of the way and docked, however.