Saturday, June 29, 2013


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's president-elect called his win in national elections this month a vote for change and vowed Saturday to remain committed to his campaign promises of moderation and constructive interaction with the outside world.
Hasan Rouhani's promises of outreach could lower the political temperature between Iran and the West and perhaps nudge the country's ruling Islamic establishment toward a more flexible approach in its standoff over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
Rouhani has already promised greater openness on the nuclear issue while at the same time siding with the hard-liner establishment that refuses to halt uranium enrichment. He believes it's possible to strike a deal that would allow the Islamic Republic to keep enriching uranium while assuring the West it will not produce a nuclear weapon.
The U.S. and its allies fear Iran may ultimately be able to develop nuclear arms. Tehran has denied the charges, saying its program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity and producing radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.
The reformist-backed Rouhani won a landslide majority in June 14 presidential election, defeating his conservative and hardline rivals. He will succeed hardline outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad early August.
"People chose a new path ... People said in this election: We want change," Rouhani told a conference in Tehran Saturday. "The best language of the people is the ballot box. The people's vote is very obvious. There is no ambiguity."
Rouhani's election has revived hopes for a mutually acceptable deal over Iran's disputed nuclear program, as it was seen in part as a referendum on Iran's nuclear diplomacy. The country's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, a hard-liner who supported a policy of resistance, finished third in the vote, which was widely seen as rejection of his tough stance on the nuclear issue.
Rouhani said he will keep his promise of following a path of moderation in domestic and foreign policy.
"Moderation in foreign policy is neither surrender nor conflict, neither passivity nor confrontation. Moderation is effective and constructive interaction with the world," he said.
The final word on all state matters, particularly on the nuclear issue, lies with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but a strong president can influence decision-making.
Rouhani has vowed that he will seek to have the stinging economic sanctions against Iran lifted and work with international powers to settle the nuclear issue through active diplomacy and dialogue.
The president-elect also said that the ruling system needs to allow more freedom for Iran's relatively young population.
"Happiness is people's right," he said. "I thank police for increasing the threshold of their tolerance." He was referring to wild street celebrations after he was declared winner of the election.
Iran's anti-vice police sporadically detain youths on vague charges of not observing Islamic codes. During Ahmadinejad's presidency, many detainees claimed to be mistreated while in detention.
"We should talk to girls and boys in the same way we talk to our own children. People's dignity must be preserved. Humiliating people is not acceptable but giving (polite) notice (of a morality offense) is fine," Rouhani said.


CAIRO (AP) — The youth group leading the campaign against Egypt's president says it has collected the signatures of 22 million Egyptians who want to remove the Islamist leader.
Mahmoud Badr, a leader of the Tamarod, or rebel, movement said Saturday that 22,134,460 Egyptians have signed the petition demanding President Mohammed Morsi's ouster.
Badr did not say whether there had been an independent audit of the signatures.
Morsi's supporters have long questioned the authenticity of the collected signatures.
The announcement came on the eve of massive protests planned by Tamarod, which started off the campaign saying it wanted to collect more signatures than the some 13 million votes Morsi won in his narrow 2012 victory in the presidential election.


BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian warplanes and ground forces bombarded rebel-held neighborhoods in Homs on Saturday as part of the military's ongoing campaign against opposition fighters in the heart of the country's third largest city, activists said.
The army of President Bashar Assad has been on the offensive in recent weeks, reclaiming some of the territory it has lost to the rebels in the past year.
The military, building on its capture of the strategic town of Qusair between the Lebanese border and Homs at the beginning of this month, has overrun a number of villages nearby. It also has hammered the center of the city, a rebel stronghold since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes hit two districts in the center of the city. It said the army also fired mortar shells into the neighborhoods.
An activist from one of those neighborhoods, Khaldiya, said tanks were also involved in the bombardment, and that the military was trying to push into the area from all sides.
Shelling has been continuous since 10 a.m. in that area and in nearby Old Homs, activist Tariq Bardakhan told The Associated Press via Skype.
"Today is one of the most violent days that Homs has witnessed since the beginning of the revolution," he said.
In an activists' video of the bombardment, several large explosions can be heard as plumes of grey smoke rise from buildings in a densely built-up area of the city.
The narrator of the video says: "These are heavy explosions that hit Homs, God is great." Another shell lands and smoke can be seen rising from behind a mosque. Two minarets are seen in the distance and the narrator says they belong to the historic Khalid Ibn al-Walid mosque in Khaldiya.
The video was posted on the Internet on Saturday and appears consistent with AP's reporting from the area.
The Observatory confirmed clashes around the mosque, and said that part of the building, which dates back to the 13th century and has been damaged in previous fighting, was engulfed in flames.
The Observatory said both sides have sustained casualties, but did not have numbers.
Syrian state TV said the army has had "great success" in the battle for Homs after "killing many terrorists in the Khaldiya district."
Syrian state media refers to rebels fighting to oust Assad from power as "terrorists" and say they are mercenaries of the West and their Gulf Arab allies who are conspiring against Damascus.
The Observatory says more than 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since it began as peaceful protests against the Assad regime more than two years ago. It became an armed rebellion after the opposition supporters took up arms to fight the government crackdown.
The United Nations puts the number of civil war casualties at 93,000.
The military has gained momentum after capturing Qusair earlier this month with the help of fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah group, capturing villages on the roads linking the capital to the border area with Jordan and Lebanon.
The rebels have also claimed some victories, marking a successful end to a two-week battle in the south Friday by capturing an army checkpoint in the city of Daraa, the provincial capital of the region that carries the same name.
Daraa is the birthplace of the uprising against Assad and rebels hope to one day launch an offensive from the area to take the capital.
The Observatory reported heavy fighting around the province on Saturday with clashes between the rebels and army troops concentrated in the town of Jassem after the army brought reinforcements.


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged Taliban militants to sit down at the negotiating table, saying Saturday his government is still willing to start peace talks with the insurgents despite an attack by the group on the presidential palace this week.
Speaking alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron, Karzai told reporters in Kabul that moving ahead with talks was the only way to end nearly 12 years of war.
"The attack that was organized near the presidential palace will not deter us from seeking peace," Karzai said. "We've had them killing the Afghan people but still we ask for peace."
The Taliban have indicated they are willing to open peace talks with the U.S. and the Afghanistan government and opened an office in Qatar a little more than a week ago for possible negotiations.
But at the same time they have not renounced violence and attacks have continued across Afghanistan.
Their ability to carry out well-planned and bold operations was driven home Tuesday when a SUV carrying four Taliban fighters managed to make it into a highly secured area by the gates of the palace. The four Taliban gunmen battled Afghan security forces for about an hour before being killed; a second vehicle involved in the attack blew up at a checkpoint on the way into the area.
Karzai downplayed the significance of the Taliban attack at the heart of the Afghan government, in which all eight militants and three security guards were killed, saying it was "peanuts."
"Comparatively speaking this was quite an irrelevant attack," he said. "We're more concerned when they attack Afghan civilians, we're more concerned when they attack Afghan schools and children — I wish they would spend all their time attacking the presidential palace and leave the rest of the country alone."
The Taliban have refused to negotiate with Karzai's government in the past, saying the U.S. holds effective control in Afghanistan, but the Americans are hoping to bring the two sides together. The U.S. has said it would meet first with the Taliban and to get the process going, and those preliminary talks would then be followed by negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government.
In a nod to Karzai's concerns that Afghanistan might be being squeezed out of the process, Cameron assured him that "this peace process is for Afghanistan to determine, it must be Afghan-owned, Afghan-led."
"There is no other agenda that Britain has, that America has, any country in the West has, no other agenda other than your stability, your security and your prosperity," he said. "That is why we wish this peace process well, but it must be your peace process, not anybody else's."
He, too, urged the Taliban to open talks.
"I believe a window of opportunity is open and I will urge all of those who renounce violence, who respect the constitution, who want to have a voice in the future prosperity of this country to seize that opportunity," he said.
The possibility of talks at the new office in Doha got off to a rocky start, when the Taliban opened it under the name "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" and the flag it used while ruling Afghanistan before the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Karzai and other Afghans reacted sharply, saying that agreements had been violated and that the office was more akin to a rival embassy than a bureau for peace negotiations.
The Taliban have since been forced to remove the offending flag and sign but no peace talks have yet begun and the incident served to highlight the tensions between the various sides.
Karzai responded by suspending bilateral talks with the U.S. on what kind of a presence it and other coalition forces would keep in Afghanistan after 2014.
Karzai told reporters that he had talked about the suspended talks with President Barack Obama in a video conference on Tuesday, but that they remained on hold for now. He did not say when he planned to restart them, but Afghanistan needs the security agreement even more than the U.S. does so it seemed likely they would not remain tabled for long.
Karzai said that Obama told him he hoped to have the deal agreed upon by October.
Elsewhere, in Afghanistan, authorities said a suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy, killing two Afghan civilians.
Farah provincial governor's spokesman Abdul Rahman Zhawandi said Saturday a man and woman on a motorcycle riding near the convoy were killed when the attacker struck Friday evening. Five civilians were wounded.
No NATO forces were hurt in the attack, said coalition forces spokesman Capt. Luca Carniel, but they did provide medical assistance to the wounded civilians.
In central Oruzgan province, 20 Taliban fighters and one police officer were killed in an operation late Friday, police spokesman Fareed Ayal said. He did not provide further details.
And in southeastern Zabul province, three civilians were killed and two wounded when a tractor hit a buried roadside bomb, according to deputy governor Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is working to ensure its embassy and diplomats in Egypt are safe, President Barack Obama said Saturday after one American was killed and opposition groups vowed millions would march on Cairo in an effort to oust Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
The U.S. government was warning Americans to steer clear of Egypt if possible as violence continued unabated. The State Department confirmed a 21-year-old college student — Andrew Pochter of Chevy Chase, Md. — died a day earlier while photographing battles between supporters and foes of the Islamist president.
Obama said the U.S. was in direct contact with the Egyptian government about security arrangements and was planning ahead for larger protests over the weekend.
"We're all looking at the situation there with concern," Obama said. "Our most immediate concern with respect to protests this weekend has to do with our embassy and consulates."
Rage in the streets as protesters stormed political offices in Egyptian cities has unnerved American diplomats, still reeling from the attack last year on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans — including the ambassador. The Obama administration appeared eager to show it was leaving nothing to chance as Egypt braced for the one-year anniversary of Morsi's taking power as the country's first freely elected leader.
The Benghazi attacks had followed demonstrations hours earlier outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, initially claimed the Benghazi incident was a copycat of the Cairo demonstrations — a claim that became a major political headache for Obama when it was later debunked.
Citing the challenges in fostering democracy in Egypt given its authoritarian past, Obama said the U.S. supports freedom of speech in Egypt and the right of protesters to peacefully assemble.
"We would urge all parties to make sure they're not engaging in violence (and) police and military are showing appropriate restraint," Obama said in Pretoria, South Africa, while on a weeklong trip through sub-Saharan Africa.
At least seven Egyptians have been killed and hundreds injured in days of clashes that have fed an impending sense of doom in Egypt. Thousands of Morsi's supporters and opponents held rival sit-ins in separate parts of Cairo Saturday on the eve of planned, nationwide protests Sunday demanding he leave office.
The violence took a personal toll for the U.S. when Pochter, a student at Ohio's Kenyon College with a keen interest in the Middle East, was killed Friday in Alexandria. The college said Pochter was a religious studies major working in Egypt as an intern for a non-profit education organization. An organizer for the school's Middle Eastern Students Association, Pochter had hoped to learn fluent Arabic in the spring during a study-abroad program in Amman, Jordan.
"We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends," said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, adding that the U.S. was providing consular assistance from Cairo and Washington.
Warning of Molotov cocktails deployed by protesters and tear gas by police, the State Department urged Americans on Friday to forego all but essential travel to Egypt and moved to reduce the official U.S. presence in the country. Officials said they would allow some nonessential staff and the families of personnel at the embassy to leave the country until conditions improve.

Monday, June 24, 2013

When the Rabbits turned to be Lions

I am surprised of the rabbits that turned to be lions in Egypt.During the old era of the ousted president ,Mubarak,we used to see figures,judges,politicians...etc,were silent and could not declare any opinion.
Today,there was a judgement against president Morsy accusing him of being one of those who escaped from  WADI AL-NATRON prison during the Egyptian revolution and attempt to coup the ex-regime!!the judge said that Brotherhood released their followers on 25 January 2011.the strange thing is,Brotherhood leaders including president Morsy were arrested on night of 27 January,2011,so how they escaped on 25 January?
there are a lot of accusations for today's judge as his father was minster of endowment for years during era of the ousted Mubarak.As well,this judge was an officer at the ex-SSI.
I think if we go on with today's judge,we have to try Nilson Mandila,Gevara,Brazil president,Rosif  and anyone refused injustice and protested against corrupted regimes.
I think next days we will see Mubarak and thieves of Egypt as revolutionaries.
During the era of injustice in Egypt,SSI officer was counting number of jailed persons and found that there is one missed(his count was wrong) so he decided to bring one else to complete his number of jailed persons and arrested one was driving his bike in the street and beat him.later on ,he recounted the number and found extra one(the man of the bike) and beat him again and asked him ,why you are here ?and through him in the street after beating him.
Criminals released from prisons and considered as heroes while revolutionaries are the real criminals in definition of the Egyptian flol(crooks) and judges.

Friday, June 14, 2013


TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — A spokesman for a Libyan national army brigade says the head of his unit has been killed and three soldiers wounded in an ambush en route to a southern city.
Brigade spokesman Ali el-Abed says his unit had been delivering army vehicles from Tripoli to the southern city of Sabha when they came under attack by unidentified gunmen around 100 kilometers (62 miles) from their destination.
A military official in Sabha, where the unit is based, says three assailants were also killed in the fighting Friday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.
Abed says wounded from both sides have been transferred to hospitals in the capital Tripoli. The ambush occurred in the town of Kira, once a Moammar Gadhafi stronghold.


JERUSALEM (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern Friday over Israel's latest announcement on going ahead with plans to build more than 1,000 homes in two isolated Jewish settlements in the West Bank, with his spokesman calling the move a "violation of international law."
The Israeli announcement on Thursday also drew swift U.S. condemnation while Palestinian officials complained that it was undercutting U.S. peace efforts at a sensitive time.
Israeli settlement building lies at the heart of the impasse over restarting negotiations on the terms of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The Palestinians hope to build their state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.
The United States is currently trying to get the long dormant peace talks back on track but the Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table as long as Israeli settlement construction continues.
On Friday, Ban's spokesman said the U.N. chief was concerned about the latest move.
"These are unhelpful decisions that undermine progress towards the two-state solution," spokesman Martin Nesirky said. "They constitute a deeply worrisome trend at a moment of ongoing efforts to re-launch peace negotiations."
Also Friday, unknown vandals torched two vehicles in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem in what police said appears to be the latest attack carried out by Jewish extremists.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the words "price tag" were found sprayed on a wall near the cars in Sheikh Jarrah.
The phrase is usually used by Jewish extremists to protest what they perceive to be the Israeli government's pro-Palestinian policies, and to let Palestinians know who attacked them.
Vandals have targeted mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases with "price tag" graffiti over the years. In recent weeks, there has been a steady stream of such incidents, including an Arab Christian graveyard vandalized on Thursday and a Jerusalem church defaced two weeks ago.
Rosenfeld said police were searching for the perpetrators.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Iranian-Americans and expatriates cast ballots Friday in polling places across the United States, joining their countrymen half a world away in selecting the next Iranian president.
In Tampa, Fla., people from as far as North Carolina cast ballots in a hotel conference room, said Abbas Hashemy, a 56-year-old business owner who was overseeing the polling place.
The mood was festive as voters pressed their right index finger on an ink pad, showed their passports and, finally, slipped a paper ballot into a box. A few children in the room snacked on apples and pears that were set out in large bowls.
Behza Khajavi took photos of his friends voting and asked them to take a photo of him as he grinned and submitted his ballot.
"I hope we take a step toward democracy," said the 29-year-old Ph.D. candidate in physics from Boca Raton, Fla. He cast his ballot for Hasan Rowhani, the only relative moderate left in the race.
At a hotel in Brookfield, Wis., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate student Reihaneh Hamidi was among those voting. She, too, chose Rowhani, saying she preferred him because he criticized the current Iranian administration for its foreign policy and nuclear program and seems to have a greater focus on economic development.
The five other presidential candidates are: Mohsen Rezai, Saeed Jalili, Mohammad Gharazi, Mohammad Qalibaf and Ali Akbar Velayati.
During Iran's last election, in 2009, record numbers of Iranians voted in 41 locations throughout the U.S. This year, there are half as many voting locations, and turnout is expected to be lower.
Some analysts attribute the expected drop to the controversy surrounding Iran's election four years ago, when droves of Iranians took to the streets in support of the reformist candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and protested President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election.
Large numbers of young people gathered in major cities, some carrying signs that read "Where is my vote?" Clashes erupted between activists and police.
"Both in the diaspora and in Iran itself, people lost confidence in the worth of their vote," said Reza Aslan, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Another impediment to turnout this year was confusion over the location of polling places. The addresses were only announced Thursday, and changes were being made into the evening.
U.S. Census figures show about 414,000 Iranians live in the U.S. California has the most, and six of the 20 polling places around the country are located there. Besides the Los Angeles area, San Diego and San Francisco, cities where balloting will be held include New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Anyone with a valid Iranian passport can vote at the polling locations, most of which are held in hotels and mosques and are run by volunteers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jordan jails three for trying to join Syria jihadists

A Jordanian military tribunal jailed on Tuesday three men convicted of trying to join Syria's jihadist Al-Nusra Front and fight President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"The state security court today initially sentenced the three to five years in jail each, but immediately halved the prison terms," a court official told AFP.
"They attempted in January to interfiltrate Syria and join Al-Nusra Front."
The official said the men were charged with "carrying out acts that the government does not approve and that would expose Jordan to the risk of aggression, as well as possession of unlicensed firearms."
Al-Nusra, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Syria, is among the most prominent groups involved in Syria's 26-month conflict, which has killed more than 94,000, according to monitors.
The ruling comes a day after the same court jailed two Jordanians for five years for going to Syria last summer for jihad, a judicial official said.
The two were arrested after they returned to Jordan in August, "pretending that they were Syrian refugees."
In May, the military court handed down similar jail sentences for nine Muslim extremists who wanted to go to Syria.
Jordan, which says it is hosting more than 500,000 refugees from Syria's civil war, has arrested dozens of jihadists as they tried to cross into the war-torn country.
Jordanian Salafists have said there were more than 500 jihadists from the country in Syria.
Amman denies accusations from the Syrian regime that the kingdom has opened up its borders to jihadist fighters.
Jordan generally does not tolerate Salafist groups that espouse an austere form of Sunni Islam.
But slain Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, hailed from the impoverished northern city of Zarqa, considered a stronghold of Muslim extremists

30 June in Depth

Watching Egyptian media nowadays make you feel that Egypt will in Catstroph.Tamord(Rebel)campaign started collecting signatures for its form to oust President Morsy ,saying that they collected 2 million signatures for people refusing Morsy to continue his presidency period.
Tamord,supported by the oppostion,Liberals and seculars call people to be in streets on  next 30 June,in large demonstartions.
On the other hand ,Tagrod campaign supported by the Islamic power call its supporters and president pro to be in streets on next 28 June,2 days before Tamrod coming out to streets.
Assem Abel-Majed,Tagrod coordinator and great member in Al-Jamaa Islamya,said that they are ready for any cahoes the oppostion planning for.
"Legtimacy of president Morsy cant be touched",Abdel-Majed added.
Al-Jamaa Islamya,is well known for its fierce actions since rule of Mubarak.
Mohamed Al-Zawahri,brother of Al-Qaeda leader said that he considers Morsy a civilian president not Islamic president as he didnt show any signs of Islamic president ,but this doesnt mean that we can leave him alone facing the bad oppostion that seek caheos all over the country.

Giza court orders release of Mubarak sons in stock market case

The Giza criminal court has released former president Hosni Mubarak's sons Alaa and Gamal pending trial in a corruption case where they face accusations of stock market manipulation.

However, the two will remain in detention despite the release order as they face additional charges in court.
Alaa, Gamal, and six others were referred to the criminal court for violating stock market and central bank rules to gain LE2.051 billion worth of unlawful profits through dealings in shares of Egypt's Al-Watany Bank.
The brothers face additional charges of illegally using funds allocated for expenditure on presidential palaces for their private villas.
They are also accused of purchasing land from the Pilots Land Association below market value.
The land was reportedly sold for 75 piastres per square metre, when the market price was LE8 at the time.
Alaa and Gamal, who was once presumed heir to Mubarak's presidency, have been detained pending investigations into multiple charges since May 2011.

President Morsi calls for Egyptian 'unity' in face of threats to Nile water

President Mohamed Morsi speaking at Cairo Convention Center in conference on Ethiopian Nile Dam impact on Egypt (Photo:Ahram)

In an attempt to show unity against potentially adverse effect of Ethiopia's Grand Nile Dam project on Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi delivered a speech to an all-Islamist audience on Monday evening, at which he urged attendees to stand united in the face of Egypt's latest foreign policy challenge.

"If Egypt is 'the gift of the Nile,' then the Nile is God’s gift to Egypt," were the opening lines of Morsi’s speech at a national conference organised by Egyptian Islamist parties. The event was held to discuss recommended responses to Ethiopia's recent decision to divert the course of the Blue Nile – a move that Egyptian critics fear could diminish Egypt's traditional share of Nile water.
"This is a great show of unity that reveals that we stand together to face threats to the country," the president said before cheering crowds.
"As free revolutionaries, we will continue on our path," large swathes of the audience chanted in unison.
Blaming Egypt's former regime and "those who wish to see [the former regime's] return" for alienating Egypt from fellow African countries, Morsi stressed Egypt's vital role in the region. He went on to blame the current row with Ethiopia on decades of Mubarak-era corruption and lack of transparency.
The president also stressed that Egypt would not be distracted from its mission to protect its borders, water resources and land by post-revolution political turbulence or economic challenges. "We will defend each drop of Nile water with our blood if necessary," he warned.
President Morsi repeatedly stressed that Egyptians would "not tolerate" any threat to their traditional allotment of Nile water, describing the river as the country's "primary source of livelihood, history and civilisation."
"The people of Egypt are patient with anything, unless their borders and lives are put under threat... in which case we will stand united to tear out the threat at the root," he declared. "With our faith in God and the will of the Egyptian people, we will surmount all difficulties."
Calls for 'dialogue'
The president went on to stress, however, that "dialogue" with its fellow riparian states represented Egypt's "best means" of resolving the crisis.
After May 2011, he said, Egypt had joined an international commission tasked with studying the dam's potential impact on downstream states. The commission, he said, had so far held six meetings and conducted four field visits to Ethiopia.
The studies, however, had proven insufficient to assess the dam's impact on Egypt or assess its overall environmental and social impacts, he said. Independent technical studies by foreign specialists, he added, had revealed that the dam would have negative ramifications if it was not built in accordance with certain criteria.
Morsi went on to say Egypt had been exerting efforts to bolster relations with Nile Basin states, especially Ethiopia, citing recent increases in tourist numbers and bilateral trade, along with $2 billion worth of recent Egyptian investments in Ethiopia.
An Egyptian committee, meanwhile, has also been drawn up, he said, to prepare Egypt for the "defence of its security from any possible threat."
The president also said that "all options" were on the table to respond to the current situation and insisted that Egypt would not accept infringements on its water security.
"We have said several times that Egyptians with their revolution carry a message of peace...We do not want war, but we do not accept threats to our security."
Morsi also asked opposing political forces to stand united at a time when Egypt faces hard challenges and to put aside all political rivalries. He went on to call for "national reconciliation," adding that he was certain that political figures would respond positively to his appeals.
"The country demands that we stand united," he said, issuing his call for reconciliation only weeks before planned mass demonstrations on 30 June to demand snap presidential elections.
Finally, the president said that Egypt sought to "strengthen unity" with other African states, especially Ethiopia. "We do not want to create enemies; we want dialogue... and development for Africa," he asserted.
With hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members outside the conference venue and hundreds more inside the auditorium, the president was constantly cheered by supporters.
'Conspiracies, challenges'
Also speaking at the podium were Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya member Safwat Abdel-Ghani, representing the political parties that hosted the event, and Akram El-Ganzouri, representing participating professional syndicates.
Abdel-Ghani expressed concern that Egypt was facing many "conspiracies and challenges," including limited water resources and a steadily mounting population, but also referred to "international forces interfering in Africa [in an effort] to become regional players at the expense of Egypt’s diminishing role."
"We should not forget that these forces are plotting against Egypt and exploiting the region's poverty," he said, hinting that the Ethiopian dam project had been encouraged by foreign interests.
Listing the recommendations of political parties, Abdel-Ghani demanded that Ethiopia halt any further work on the dam until a comprehensive study is finalised by the tripartite committee and Egypt and Sudan had coordinated their positions.
The Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya leader also called on Egypt to "watch the movements of the Zionist enemy operating within the Nile Basin countries."
"We will say this one generation after the other: we will remain Israel's enemy," the crowd chanted in response.
At a 3 June meeting between political forces and the presidency, concern was expressed by some attendees that Ethiopia might use the dam project to export Nile water to Israel, with whom Addis Ababa had long enjoyed good relations.
"All options should remain open to defend Egypt’s right to water, which an issue of national security," Abdel-Ghani concluded.
The conference was called for by Islamist parties at a meeting hosted by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) last week, held to mull possible responses to the Nile dam crisis.
Earlier last week, President Morsi met with a group of political figures to discuss the report issued by the international technical committee tasked with studying the Ethiopian dam's impact.
The meeting triggered a storm of controversy as various figures present made open threats against Ethiopia, unaware that the meeting was being televised live.
Ethiopia set off alarm bells in Cairo two weeks ago when it began diverting a stretch of the Blue Nile to make way for the $4.7 billion hydroelectric Renaissance Dam project.
Ethiopia has faced criticism by downstream Nile countries Egypt and Sudan for going ahead with the project without waiting on the recommendations of the committee tasked with studying the regional impact of the dam.
Nile riparian countries have argued over the division of Nile water for decades. Analysts have repeatedly warned that the dispute could eventually boil over into military conflict.

Egypt's April 6 turns down Morsi's call for dialogue

Mohamed Adel, a member of the April 6 Youth Movement’s political bureau, announced on Tuesday his group's rejection of a call by President Mohamed Morsi for national dialogue.

On Monday, Morsi called for reconciliation between differing political forces during his speech at a national conference organised by Islamist parties, calling on groups to put aside political rivalries and stand united against challenges facing Egypt.
The youth movement described Morsi’s initiative as an attempt to reduce the youth's anger amid "his ongoing failure to run the country."
He added that the initiative did not explain how any possible solutions reached through the dialogue would be implemented.
"The presidential team with Morsi do not even believe in dialogue with the opposition on any issue," said Adel.
Morsi’s invitation comes only weeks before planned mass demonstrations by opposition forces on 30 June to demand early presidential elections.
The April 6 Youth Movement, one of the prominent opposition groups in Egypt, had supported President Morsi in the June 2012 presidential elections against Mubarak-era candidate Ahmed Shafiq.
However, the movement has been increasingly critical of Morsi's policies, accusing the Muslim Brotherhood leader of betraying his pro-revolution campaign promises

Suicide blast in Kabul kills 14 at Supreme Court

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Kabul police say a suicide car bomber that struck outside the Supreme Court in the Afghan capital has killed at least 14 people and wounded 30.
Police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai says Tuesday's attack was carried out by a bomber in an SUV. He says the attacker specifically targeted buses with court employees as they were leaving after the day's work.
The courthouse is on a main road in central Kabul near the U.S. Embassy.
It was the second attack in Kabul in as many days.

Bombs hit Syrian capital, at least 14 killed

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Two suicide bombers targeted a police station Tuesday in Damascus, activists said, killing at least 14 people and showing the ability of insurgents to strike in the heart of the capital after rebels fighting to oust the regime suffered major battlefield setbacks elsewhere in the country.
The blasts — which occurred in central Marjeh Square near the Interior Ministry — were the first such attacks to target President Bashar Assad's seat of power since the regime chased rebels from the strategic town of Qusair nearly a week ago.
Backed by fighters the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, President Bashar Assad's army is trying to build on its victory in Qusair to clear rebel-held areas in the center of Syria, a linchpin area linking Damascus with regime strongholds on the Mediterranean coast. Syrian state-run media and the Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar TV have said Syrian forces are preparing an offensive reportedly named Operation Northern Storm to recapture the northern city of Aleppo. The regime also is believed to be advancing on rebel-held areas in the center of Homs.
The regime's rapid military advance has raised alarms in Washington, prompting the Obama administration to begin discussing whether to approve lethal aid for the beleaguered rebels. Officials said a decision could happen later this week. The president and his advisers also will weigh the merits of a less likely move to send in U.S. airpower to enforce a no-fly zone over the civil war-wracked nation, officials said.
While nothing has been concretely decided, U.S. officials said Obama was leaning closer toward signing off on sending weapons to vetted, moderate rebel units. The U.S. so far has hesitated to do that because it doesn't want groups that are linked to al-Qaida and other extremists fighting alongside the anti-Assad militias to end up with the weapons.
Such an intervention would drastically raise the stakes in the conflict, which began in March 2011 as protests inspired by the Arab Spring but morphed into a full-blown civil war that has ignited sectarian tensions in the region. Assad enjoys support from many in his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, while the rebels are mainly Sunnis. The U.N. says more than 80,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
Nobody claimed responsibility for Tuesday's blasts, but past suicide attacks and strikes on security installations have been claimed by the al-Qaida linked Jabhat al-Nusra group. The style of attacks also is a tactic commonly used by al-Qaida and other Sunni extremists.
Syrian state TV quoted a security official as saying two "terrorist" suicide bombers struck in quick succession near a police station in the bustling Marjeh Square. He said 14 people were killed and 31 were wounded.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists on the ground in Syria, put the death toll at 15 and said one of the explosions was caused by a man who blew himself up inside the police station while the other was outside the police station. The Observatory said many policemen were killed but did not have a specific number.
Shop facades were broken and blood was splattered on the pavements and inside stores. Paramedics carried the wounded on stretchers to ambulances, walking past cars that were mangled in the blasts.
In other violence, the Observatory reported clashes between rebels and regime forces in the rebel-held neighborhood of Dar-al-Sayah in Homs city, resulting in casualties among the opposition fighters. The group also reported fighting in Aleppo early Tuesday in what appeared to be a regime attempt to storm two neighborhoods held by the opposition.
Activists in Aleppo and Homs have claimed that Hezbollah fighters have joined the military operations in the two cities.
The Observatory also said fighting was reported in the southern Daraa province around a village that has been contested between the two sides for the past few days.
The conflict has already spilled over into neighboring countries, such as Lebanon, Turkey and Israel.
On Tuesday, a Lebanese security official said six rockets landed in Hermel in northeastern Lebanon, wounding four residents. Syrian rebels, who have threatened to punish Hebzollah for its support of Assad, have fired dozens of rockets on the town, which is across the border from Qusair.
The security official said the rockets started a fire in a neighborhood in the area, damaging a resident's home. Clouds of smoke were seen rising from the residential area. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Gunmen from rival religious sects in Lebanon have fought on opposite sides of the conflict. Lebanese Sunnis mostly back the opposition while many Shiites in Lebanon support Assad.

Egyptian Christian teacher convicted of blasphemy

LUXOR, Egypt (AP) — An Egyptian court has convicted a Coptic Christian teacher of blasphemy but didn't hand down a prison sentence and only imposed a fine on her.
The court on Tuesday ruled that elementary schoolteacher Dimyana Abdel-Nour had insulted Islam. It ordered that she pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($14,000). Abdel-Nour was not in the courtroom for the verdict.
The case in the ancient southern city of Luxor began when three parents said their 10-year-olds complained at home, saying their teacher showed disgust when she spoke of Islam in class.
Angry Islamists protested the verdict outside the courthouse.
Egypt has witnessed a surge in blasphemy charges in recent months, widely seen as a reflection of the growing power of Islamists.
Blasphemy became a criminal offense under Egypt's new, Islamist-backed constitution.

Friday, June 7, 2013


DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — With fresh momentum from the capture of a strategic town in western Syria, President Bashar Assad's forces have turned their sights to driving rebel fighters from the country's densely populated heartland, including the cities of Homs and Aleppo.
The latest battlefield success, due in large part to Lebanese Hezbollah fighters' increasing role and the West's continued reluctance to arm the rebels, raises the possibility that Assad can cling to power for years, even if he won't be able to recapture all of the country.
Government troops pressed ahead Thursday with an aggressive military offensive in Homs province, seizing control of the village of Dabaa just north of Qusair, near the border with Lebanon. Hundreds of rebel fighters who had been entrenched in Qusair for more than a year fled Wednesday after a punishing three-week assault, retreating to surrounding areas.
The regime triumph in Qusair, a key crossroads town of supply lines between Damascus and western and northern Syria, showcased the potentially game-changing role of Hezbollah in Syria's civil war and was openly celebrated in the militant group's strongholds in Lebanon and in Damascus, the seat of Assad's power.
Syrian state-run media portrayed Qusair's fall as a turning point in the more than two-year civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people.
In reality, though, it's unlikely that Assad will be able to roll back rebel gains across the country. Dozens of rebel fighter brigades have taken unquestioned control of huge swathes of territory in the country's north and east, setting up local councils and Islamic courts to administer affairs in towns and villages. Kurds have all but carved out their own separate existence in the country's northeast.
At best, Assad will continue to preside over a divided country, with armed militias ruling over ethnic fiefdoms. A violent insurgency is likely to continue even in areas where the regime regains control.
But if the regime continues to enjoy the strong backing of allies Hezbollah, Russia and Iran, Assad could try to reassert himself in much of Syria, even if he can't win back all of the country.
Josef Holliday of the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, said he believes Assad is not aiming for outright victory over the rebels in all of Syria. "The objective is survival in what they (regime loyalists) consider the strategically important parts of Syria, with the majority of the population," he said.
Following the victory in Qusair, the regime's next targets are rebel-held areas in and around the city of Homs, a government official told The Associated Press. As Syria's third-largest city and one-time epicenter of the uprising, Homs holds both strategic and symbolic importance for the regime.
In April 2011, one month after the uprising against Assad began, protesters gathered at central Clock Square in Homs, bringing mattresses, food and water in hopes of emulating Cairo's Tahrir Square during the Egyptian revolution.
The peaceful, mass protests eroded Assad's narrative that the uprising was the work of "terrorists" and "armed thugs," and were quickly put down. Since then, the predominantly Sunni city, with Christian and Alawite minorities, has come under crushing attack on numerous occasions.
"The (army) command has put forward a plan, which is being executed," said the government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge details about ongoing military operations.
He said the army was carrying out "quick, successive attacks" to secure the northern entrance of Homs city and seized the village of al-Khaldiyeh along the way Thursday. It also intends to regain the rebel strongholds of Rastan and Talbiseh, towns just north of Homs city.
Securing Homs could boost the momentum for Syrian troops in rolling back rebel gains in other parts of the country, including northern Syria, where the sides have been locked in a stalemate for months. Pro-regime media outlets have said government forces are preparing to move to retake the contested northern city of Aleppo next.
Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial hub, was overrun by rebels last summer, and remains one of the country's bloodiest battlegrounds as rebels and regime forces fight over it.
Hezbollah fighters were instrumental to the regime victory in Qusair, but it's not clear whether they will participate to the same extent in future battles deeper inside Syria.
Qusair is close to the Lebanese borders, making it easier for Hezbollah to ship fighters and weapons from the Lebanese side of the border. The militia has also sent fighters to two areas near Damascus, just a two-hour drive from the Lebanese border, while many of the rebel-held areas are more remote and more difficult for Hezbollah to reach.
The level of Hezbollah's future involvement might depend, at least in part, on the backlash in Lebanon. The militia's involvement, particularly since the start of the Qusair offensive, has led to growing clashes between Assad opponents and supporters in Lebanon, raising fears of a spillover into a fragile country scarred by its own 15-year civil war.
Hezbollah has justified its involvement in the fight for Qusair by saying it was protecting Lebanon from Sunni extremists among the ranks of rebels fighting Assad.
It's unclear whether the Shiite militant group will be willing to stray so far from the Lebanese border, although there are unconfirmed reports that its fighters took part in an assault on two Shiite villages in Aleppo province.
Jeff White of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said the rebels were in for trouble, unless they improve their military and political command structure and get more weapons.
"The regime has laid down the challenge, and the rebels will have to respond, or they will have a bleak future ahead of them," he said.
The West, particularly the United States, has been reluctant to send more sophisticated weapons out of fear they might fall into the hands of Islamic extremists fighting in the rebel ranks, including members of Jabhat al-Nusra, which has sworn allegiance to al-Qaida.
It remains to be seen whether Hezbollah's military engagement alongside the Syrian regime will prod the West to arm the rebels, who are no match for Hezbollah's military power and the regime's aerial superiority. A European arms embargo expired last week, freeing up individual nations to arm the rebels unilaterally.
The recent military gains are also bound to harden regime positions if talks on a peaceful transition ever get off the ground.
A U.N.-sponsored international conference that was to bring representatives of the Assad government and the opposition together for negotiations has now been put off to at least July.
The regime has confirmed it will attend, albeit with conditions, while the main opposition group has gotten bogged down in discussions over who might attend, in part a reflection of rivalries between backers Saudi Arabia and Qatar, instead of devising a strategy for talks. Turkey, another country backing the rebels, has been distracted by large-scale anti-government protests at home.
All the while, Assad ally Russia has never wavered in its support of the Damascus government.
Holliday, the analyst, said that although Assad may succeed in expanding his control and cling to power, the conflict in Syria is likely to go on for a long time.
"No one is going to win this war. It's going to go on for a while," he said.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's prime minister was walking a political tightrope Thursday as he headed home from a four-day trip abroad to face massive anti-government protests that have mushroomed to dozens of cities across the country.
Speaking before leaving Tunisia to fly back to Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan attempted a balancing act. He appeared to soften his tone in an effort not to inflame protesters who see him as increasingly autocratic, while not conceding enough to appear weak to the base that has helped him win three landslide elections.
Thousands of supporters thronged the airport for his arrival, chanting "We are with you, Erdogan," in the first major public show of backing for the prime minister. Hundreds marched among the cars of traffic-clogged streets towards the airport, waving Turkish flags and chanting "Istanbul don't sleep, defend your leader."
Erdogan's reaction will be decisive in determining whether the demonstrations fizzle out or rage on. So far, a police officer and two protesters have died and thousands have been injured in nearly a week of clashes with the police.
His comments don't appear to have swayed many of the thousands of protesters who thronged central Istanbul's Taksim Square for a sixth day Thursday. More than 10,000 others filled a busy street in a middle class area of Ankara.
"I do not believe his sincerity," said protester Hazer Berk Buyukturca.
Turkey's main stock market revealed the fears that Erdogan's comments would do little to defuse the protesters, with the general price index plunging by 8 percent after his comments on concerns that continuing unrest would hit the country's economy.
In his comments in Tunisia, Erdogan acknowledged that some Turks were involved in the protests out of environmental concerns, and said he had "love and respect" for them.
"His messages were a lot softer than when he left. But they were not soft enough," said Sukru Kucuksahin, columnist and political commentator for Hurriyet Newspaper. "On the other hand, I don't think that the demonstrations will continue with such intensity forever."
The protests started last week over objections to Erdogan's plan to uproot the square's Gezi Park to make way for a replica Ottoman barracks and shopping mall. Police's extensive use of tear gas and water cannons outraged many and sent thousands flooding into the square to support what had, until then, been a small protest.
Over the past week the demonstrations have spread to 78 cities, growing into public venting of what protesters perceive to be Erdogan's increasing arrogance. That includes attempts to impose what many say are restrictive mores on their personal lives, such as how many children to have or whether to drink alcohol.
Erdogan rejects the claims, saying he is a servant of the people.
In Tunisisa, he claimed terrorists had gotten involved in the protests, saying an outlawed left-wing militant group that carried out a suicide bombing on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara in February was taking part.
"They are involved. They have been caught in the streets and on social media," he said.
He also stuck to his determination that Taksim Square would be redeveloped — although he said the plan would include the planting of trees and the construction of a theater and opera. He had earlier said the plans included the construction of a shopping mall.
Erdogan said the Islamic-rooted government had already apologized for the violent police crackdown on the Taksim sit-in, but that tear gas was used everywhere in the world to break up protests.
"Demands cannot be made through illegal means," he said. The prime minister has insisted that democracy happens only at the ballot box, dismissing the demonstrators as an extremist fringe. Erdogan has seen his support steadily rise since he first won elections in 2002 and garnered nearly 50 percent of the vote in the 2011 ballot.
But his critics — and some members of his traditional support base of religious, conservative Muslims — point out that even with half the electorate behind him, he cannot ignore the wishes of the other 50 percent.
"As a leader you have responsibilities and duties toward your people, even if you don't share their beliefs," said Osman Emre Uygun, a restaurant owner in Istanbul's Hurriyet Mahallesi neighborhood, a traditionally conservative, Erdogan-supporting area.
"That means even if they are not Muslim, you have to defend their rights. We want some common sense. We want him to listen to the protesters and their demands."
Koray Caliskan, professor of political science and international relations at Bosporus University, pointed out that "Turkey is absolutely at a crossroad. Erdogan won't be able to point at Turkey as a model of democracy anymore."
The prime minister, he said, was maintaining a hard line because "until now Erdogan had always gained support by increasing the tension in the country."
Caliskan said the prime minister was surrounded by people too afraid to confront him and was out of touch with what was really happening in protests on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara.
"He couldn't see that there were also people from his grass roots there. There are cracks within his party."
More than anything, it was the violent police response to what was initially a peaceful sit-in in one of Istanbul's last remaining parks that galvanized his opponents.
"Erdogan's solid legend evaporated as tear gas rained over Turkey," Caliskan said.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler insisted police abuses were being investigated. He said police only dispersed protests that had turned violent, and that many officers had acted with restraint despite provocations.
Huseyin Celik, deputy leader of Erdogan's Islamic-rooted party, said the government is sympathetic to secular-minded Turks' concerns and is prepared to take steps to "eliminate" their fears.
So far, 4,300 people have been hurt or sought medical attention for the effects of tear gas during the protests, the Turkish Human Rights Foundation said. One person is on life support in Ankara.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler said more than 500 police officers had been injured. A total of 746 protests had erupted, causing some 70 million Turkish Lira ($37 million) in damages, he said. Nearly 80 protesters were still hospitalized, and almost all detained protesters had been released.
Officials said seven foreign nationals were detained during the protests: two Iranians, two French, an American, a Greek and a German.