Monday, December 8, 2014

TV host colludes with Egyptian police in raid on visitors of bathhouse presumed to be gay

 Arrested men from the Bab el-Bahr hammam being herded into a Central Security truck, December 7, 2014. The woman with a camera to the R may be Mona Iraqi.
Almost naked men got arrested. The woman filming with her phone at the right is Mona Iraqi.

The Egyptian police carried out a massive raid on a hammam (bathhouse) in the Ramsis area of Cairo on Sunday night, not far from the main railway station, and arrested dozens of men. They were almost naked driven to the trucks. Someone living nearby who watched the assault wrote on social media that “police together with Central Security forces attacked the bath.” (Central Security, Amn el-Merkezi, is an army force mainly composed of raw recruits. it takes over many policing duties in an increasingly militarized Egypt.) “Some 40 people were arrested. Some were beaten up in the baths, and they were all arrested with no clothes.” He said “a female journalist and a cameraman” arrived “before they attacked the baths. She tried to enter and film inside, and she was kicked out by the owner. Immediately this was reported [to the police], and the baths were attacked. People say there were informers from the police inside the baths before that.”

Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, Israeli cooperation with Syrian rebels near Quneitra

 View image on Twitter
The Syrian government accused Israel of launching a series of airstrikes on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday, as a UN report documented strong ties between Israel and militant groups fighting in Syria.
"This afternoon, the Israeli enemy targeted two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the al-Dimas area and the outskirts of Damascus International Airport.''  the general command of the Syrian army said in a statement. It said the strikes caused material damage.
Both civilian and military aircraft operate at the airport, which lies southeast of Damascus near flashpoint areas including eastern Ghouta, large parts of which are in rebel hands.
A resident in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya, close to al-Dimas, said the agricultural airport in al-Dimas was hit. Al-Dimas is in a mountainous area to the northwest of the capital which is under government control and close to several military installations.
An Israeli army spokesman said he would not comment on the "foreign reports,” but the Syrian army reiterated its claim that Israel is helping rebels fighting the Syrian government."This direct aggression by Israel was carried out to help the terrorists in Syria, after our armed forces secured important victories in Deir Ezzor, Aleppo and elsewhere," the Syrian army command said.

Thirteen killed in failed US rescue attempt in Yemen

Luke Somers in een filmpje dat AQAP vorige weekuitbracht

A woman, a 10-year-old boy and a local al Qaeda leader were among at least 11 people killed alongside two Western hostages when U.S.-led forces fought Islamist militants in a failed rescue mission in Yemen, residents said on Sunday.
U.S. special forces raided the village of Dafaar in Shabwa province, a militant stronghold in southern Yemen, shortly after midnight on Saturday, killing several members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
American journalist Luke Somers, 33, and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, 56, were shot and killed by their captors during the raid intended to free them, U.S. officials said.  As special forces battled al Qaeda militants in the house, kidnappers in another building nearby shot the two hostages, a local man who identified himself as Jamal said.NBC reported that a dog may have alerted the kidnappers that the operation  by the Navy Seals was under way.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Iranian official confirms airstrikes on IS in Iraq

A senior Iranian official has confirmed his country carried out air strikes in neighboring Iraq against Islamic State fighters at the request of Iraqi authorities, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported.
It quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour as saying the strikes were not coordinated with the United States, which is also waging an air campaign against the radical Sunni Muslim militants who control large parts of north and west Iraq
The purpose of the strikes was "the defense of the interests of our friends in Iraq", the newspaper quoted Rahimpour as saying in an interview in London.
"We did not have any coordination with the Americans. We have coordinated only with the Iraqi government," he said. "In general, every military operation to help the Iraqi government is according to their requests."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Radwa Ashour 1946-2014

Radwa Ashour with her husband, Mourid el-Barghouti. Barghouti and Ashour met as students at Cairo University in the 1960s, and he writes about the beginnings of their relationship in his second memoir, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, trans. Humphrey Davies.

Egyptian writer and academic Radwa Ashour died late on Sunday at the age of 68 after suffering from health troubles over the past few months. Ashour, born 26 May 1946 in Cairo, studied English literature at Cairo University and earned her MA in comparative literature in 1972.  She is best known for her Granada Trilogy, Ashour was married to the Palestinian poet Mourid El-Barghouti and is the mother of the poet Tamim El-Barghouti. In 1977, El-Barghouti was deported from Egypt; she and her son spent a great deal of their lives visiting him in Hungary.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Two people killed in protest after Egyptian court dropped all cases against Mubarak

Two people died and nine were injured on Saturday night when security forces dispersed hundreds of demonstrators near Tahrir Square in central Cairo, the health minstry said.
Around three thousand protesters had gathered after a court dropped all charges against ousted president Hosni Mubarak in connection with the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising.
At 8:30pm, security forces fired water cannons at protesters then teargas and birdshot, according to an Ahram Online reporter at the scene.
Tanks also rushed the protesters who were gathered in Abdel-Moneim Riad square near Tahrir.
The Director of Security for Cairo governorate told Aswat Masriya that police arrested 85 protesters.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Egyptian court drops case against Mubarak and his minister of the Interior for killing protesters in 2011

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Fareed al-Deeb, Mubarak's lawyer, is happy. (through Twitter)

I don't know if there were still people who needed proof of the wicked character of the new Egyptian regime of ex-field marshall El-Sisi, or of the corrupt state of the Egyptian judiciary. But here is today's news about the trial of ex-president Mubarak and his minister of the Interior al-Adly and some aides, in the case about who was responsible for the death of protesters during the revolt of 2011:

An Egyptian court on Saturday dropped its case against ousted President Hosni Mubarak, his interior minister and six aides on charges of ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolt that removed him from power. The court also acquitted on Saturday Mubarak's Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and four of his aides on charges of inciting and aiding the killing of 238 protesters during the 18-day January 2011 uprising which toppled his regime. The acquitted aides are; Ahmed Ramzy, Adly Fayed, Hassan Abdel Rahman and Ismail al-Shaer.
The five defendants, alongside other aides Osama al-Marasi and Omar Afifi, were also acquitted of the charge of harming their work-place.
The court has also acquitted Mubarak and Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem of the graft charges related to the exportation of gas to Israel. Salem is being tried in absentia.
Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal were accused of exploiting their influence in Salem's favour after the latter granted them five villas in the Sinai resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. The judge heading the trial, Mahmoud al-Rashidi said that the statute of limitations in this case has expired, and therefore the court lacks jurisdiction to rule on it.
The court also cleared Mubarak and a former oil minister of graft charges related to gas exports to Israel. In a separate corruption case, charges were dropped against Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal, with Judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi saying too much time had elapsed since the alleged crime took place for the court to rule on the matter.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Amnesty condems demolitions in Rafah by Egypt

 More than 800 houses were demolished in Rafah (Photos MEE).

Amnesty International condemned Thursday Egypt's demolition of hundreds of homes and called for a halt to its "unlawful evictions" of residents to create a buffer zone with the Gaza Strip.
Egypt started work on the zone at the end of October with the aim of stemming jihadists reportedly infiltrating Egypt's Sinai peninsula from across the border.
Jihadists have stepped up deadly attacks against Egyptian troops inside the Sinai since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Essebsi wins first round in Tunisian elections

Tunisian secularist leader Beji Caid Essebsi has narrowly beaten incumbent President Moncef Marzouki in the first round of a landmark presidential election, but the two frontrunners must meet again in a December run-off. Essebsi, from the secular Nidaa Tounes party, got 39.46 percent in Sunday's vote, short of the needed overall majority but ahead of Marzouki, who got 33.4 percent, according to early results released on Thursday by election authorities.

Marzouki, a rights activist, says the revival of officials from Ben Ali's one-party rule would erode the revolution that ended his regime. But Marzouki's critics tie him to the crisis over Ennahda's Islamist-led government he joined after 2011.
Both candidates will now seek support from the range of Islamist, liberal and left-wing parties who fielded candidates. Key will be who wins votes from supporters of Ennahda and the left-leaning Popular Front, both well-organized movements.The hunt for votes for the second round - expected on Dec. 14, 21 or 28 depending on challenges to first-round results - will be determined by parties positioning themselves for the new government.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tunisia votes in presidential election

Beji Caid Essebsi

Polls opened Sunday in Tunisia's first presidential election since the 2011 revolution that ousted former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, a ballot set to round off the transition to democracy. Twenty seven candidates are vying for the post and the favorite is former premier Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old veteran whose anti-Islamist Nidaa Tounes party won the parliamentary elections last month.
Other candidates include outgoing President Moncef Marzouki, left-winger Hamma Hammami, several ministers who served Ben Ali, business magnate Slim Riahi and a lone woman, magistrate Kalthoum Kannou.
Some 5.3 million people are eligible to vote, with tens of thousands of police and troops deployed to guarantee security amid fears Islamist militants might seek to disrupt polling day.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bahrain to the urns in election boycotted by the opposition

Bahraini protestors hold signs calling for a boycott of the parliamentary elections, during a rally in the Shiite village of Diraz, west of Manama on November 21, 2014
Protesters against the elections in the Shi'ite village of Diraz, west of Manama (Photo AFP)

Bahrainis voted on Saturday in the first parliamentary elections since 2011 when large crowds, most Shi'ites,  took to the streets demanding more democracy. Some 419 candidates are running, 266 for parliament and 153 for municipal councils in the kingdom. But the elections were boycotted by the Shi'ite Muslim opposition over accusations that constituency changes would still favor the Sunni Muslim minority which is represented by the royal family of Al-Khalifa.
The opposition maintains that the new parliament will not have enough power and that voting districts still favor Sunnis despite some recent electoral changes. The opposition wants a "real" constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister independent from the Al-Khalifa family. But the Saudi-backed Sunni dynasty that rules over the majority Shiite kingdom has rejected the demand.

70th beheading of this year in S-Arabia

Saudi Arabia beheaded on Thursday a Turkish man convicted of drug trafficking in Riyadh, the interior ministry said, in the latest execution in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom.
Ali Agridas was convicted of receiving a "large amount of drugs," the ministry said in a statement.
His execution brings to 70 the number of Saudis and foreigners beheaded in the kingdom this year, according to an AFP count, compared with 78 people in all of 2013.
Rape, murder, apostasy, drug trafficking and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law.
Moreover, Saudi judges have this year passed death sentences down to five pro-democracy advocates, including prominent activist and cleric Nimr al-Nimr, for their part in protests.