Friday, March 23, 2018

Electoral farce in Egypt

On March 26 and 28 Egyptians will be called to the polls to choose the President of the Republic. If we had to describe in one word a process which can hardly be termed “electoral,” the word that comes immediately to mind is “farce,” a theatrical performance mingling ridicule and hypocrisy. The stage has been carefully cleared of all the actors who might overshadow the star, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, candidate for his own succession.
Thus countless politicians have been disqualified on the most far-fetched pretexts. And, first of all, there was former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik who scored 48% in the 2012 presidential run-off—the only democratic election the country has ever known—against Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood. Having declared his candidacy in Abu Dhabi where he had taken refuge, he was bundled into a plane for Cairo, where it took several weeks of “friendly persuasion” to make him withdraw.
At the beginning of January, the former chief of staff (2005-2012) Sami Anan declared his intention to run. It wasn’t a good idea: he was arrested and jailed, in spite of an unwritten law that former generals never go to prison. Colonel Ahmed Konsawa was also sentenced to five years in prison by a military court for having dared to put forward his candidacy. Under these conditions the last remaining hopefuls, Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat —the former president’s nephew, who was not even allowed to hold a press conference—and Khaled Ali, a left-wing lawyer, withdrew from what is obviously a rigged election.
The second act of this farce took place a few days before the close of nominations. (Read on on the original site of this post)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Presidential candidate in Egypt in prison, deputy attacked

Hisham Geneina 
Egypt's former top auditor and a leading member of an opposition campaign against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was seriously injured during a suspected kidnapping attempt, lawyers said. 
Ali Taha and Tareq el-Awady, lawyers of Hisham Geneina, told the Associated Press that three men with knives jumped out of two cars that blocked the path of Genena's car outside his suburban Cairo home on Saturday. 
The men attempted to force Geneina into their car, but were stopped by passers-by and a fight ensued, in which Geneina suffered injuries to his face and leg. 
Photos circulating on social media showed an injured Geneina. A security official told al-Shorouk newspaper, however, that Geneina was injured after a fight followed a vehicle accident. 
Geneina had been tapped earlier this month to be a deputy to Sami Anan, the former head of Egypt's armed forces, who initially said he would run in March's presidential election.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sentence Bahraini human rights activits Nabeel Rajab widely condemned

Nabeel Rajab
Human rights groups have roundly condemned a ruling by a Bahraini court to affirm a two-year jail sentence for activist Nabeel Rajab, saying the verdict "illustrates the corruption" of the kingdom's justice system.
Rajab had been found guilty in July of "spreading rumours and untruthful information" against the government in TV interviews. The verdict was upheld in November, following a legal challenge by Rajab. On Monday, an appeals court affirmed the lower court verdict, in a decision that was final. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on Tuesday urged the Bahraini government to immediately release Rajab, saying he is a political prisoner who had "done nothing"."Nabeel is not only a human rights defender but also a man of intellectual value. He should not be in jail," Dimitris Christopoulos, president of the Paris-based group, told Al Jazeera.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Twenty one people killed after five days of unrest in Iran


Nine more people have died in overnight clashes between protesters and security forces in Iran, state television has reported, as unrest in the country entered a sixth day.
State TV said six protesters were killed as they tried to storm a police station in the town of Qahderijan in the central Isfahan region. It also said an 11-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man were killed in the town of Khomeinishahr, while a member of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard was killed in the town of Najafabad. All three were shot by hunting rifles, which are common in the Iranian countryside, the report said. None of the reports could be confirmed independently.
It is estimated that 21 people have now died nationwide in unrest linked to the demonstrations, the largest in Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election.
Protests over the weak economy and a jump in food prices that began on Thursday in Mashhad have spread to cities across the country and taken on a political dimension. Some protesters have chanted slogans against the government of Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Egypt executes 15 people

Egyptian authorities have hanged 15 men at two prisons in the north of the country, as part of a controversial policy.The men were convicted for attacks committed in 2013 against the Egyptian military in the Sinai Peninsula, that resulted in the deaths of soldiers and the destruction of vehicles.
The executed men were assumed to have carried out the deadly operations as part of the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
"These death sentences and executions are a flagrant breach of international law. Trials in Egypt routinely fail to meet basic fair trial standards, and this is especially so in mass trials and military tribunals - as in this case," Maya Foa, director of international human rights organisation Reprieve, said in a statement delivered to Al Jazeera.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Former Yemeni president Saleh killed in battle in Sanaa

Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed in fighting with the Iran-aligned Houthi militia raging in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said on Monday, quoting sources in Saleh’s party. 
Al Arabiya quoted a source in Saleh’s General Peoples Congress as saying he was killed by sniper bullets. A Houthi video distributed on social media showed what appeared to be Saleh’s body, clad in grey clothes and being carried out on a red blanket. The side of his head bore a deep wound. 
The radio station of the Houthi-run Yemeni Interior Ministry first reported Saleh’s death but his party quickly denied this to Reuters, saying he was still leading his forces in Sanaa. 
 Earlier on Monday, Houthi forces blew up Saleh’s house in Sanaa and came under aerial attack by Saudi-led coalition warplanes for a second day, residents said.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Israel attacks base used by Hezbollah in Syria

 Israel has been accused by the Syrian government of launching an aerial attack against a military airport near to the capital, Damascus, early on Saturday morning.
The official news agency, Sana, said several projectiles were launched by Israeli war planes at the Mezzeh military airport which sits to the west of Damascus. The base is the headquarters of the Syrian 1st Division.
Syrian air defences intercepted at least two Israeli missiles but the attack still caused a fire to break out at the airport, resulting in "material damage", Sana said. The agency did not say whether there had been any casualties.
The Syrian regime warned Israel against unspecified repercussions in retaliation.
 The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the missile attack was likely carried out by the Israeli military and targeted several government military bases in Al Kiswah on the southwest outskirts of Damascus.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

At least 305 killed in attack on mosque in North Sinai

Updated. Egyptian media reports say at least 305 people have been killed in a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in the country's northern Sinai Peninsula.
The attack occurred in Bir al-Abed, a town in North Sinai province, shortly after Friday prayers.
Egyptian state media MENA put the death toll at 305, citing an official security source. It also said that 128 people were wounded in the attack.
The mosque in Bir al-Abed, about 40km west of El Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, was frequented by Sufis.
The government declared a three-day period of mourning for the victims.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi condemned the attack, which he described as "criminal" and "cowardly" in a televised statement on Friday. He expressed condolences to the victims and their families and said the attack "will not go unpunished"."The armed forces and the police will avenge our martyrs and restore security and stability with the utmost force," Sisi said.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Palestinian factions agree to hold elections no later than the end of 2018

 Palestinian negotiators Salah Arouri of Hamas and Azzam Ahmad of Fatah (right) during their meeting on 12 October. Background: the new local leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar. (Reuters)

Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo called on Wednesday on the Central Elections Commission to prepare for holding presidential and legislative elections in the occupied Palestinian territory as well as elections for the Palestinian National Council, the parliament in exile, no later than the end of 2018.
They authorized President Mahmoud Abbas to set the election date after consultation with national and political powers and actors.
After two days of talks in Cairo under the auspice of Egypt, the factions stressed the need for accurate implementation of the Egyptian-brokered Palestinian national reconciliation deal reached by Fatah and Hamas movements on October 12, emphasizing the need for the government to assume its full responsibilities in the Gaza Strip as stated in the reconciliation agreement.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Saudi Arabia wanted to replace Hariri because he did not confront Hezbollah

 Posters are seen in Beirut with the text''We are all Saad''. (Foto AP)

(Exclusive for Reuters)
BEIRUT (Reuters) - From the moment Saad al-Hariri’s plane touched down in Saudi Arabia on Friday Nov. 3, he was in for a surprise. There was no line-up of Saudi princes or ministry officials, as would typically greet a prime minister on an official visit to King Salman, senior sources close to Hariri and top Lebanese political and security officials said. His phone was confiscated, and the next day he was forced to resign as prime minister in a statement broadcast by a Saudi-owned TV channel. The move thrust Lebanon back to the forefront of a struggle that is reshaping the Middle East, between the conservative Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shi‘ite revolutionary Iran.
Their rivalry has fueled conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where they back opposing sides, and now risks destabilizing Lebanon, where Saudi has long tried to weaken the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, Lebanon’s main political power and part of the ruling coalition.
Sources close to Hariri say Saudi Arabia has concluded that the prime minister - a long-time Saudi ally and son of late prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005 - had to go because he was unwilling to confront Hezbollah.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Saudiya, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain advise citizens to leave Lebanon

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have advised their citizens not to travel to Lebanon and urged those who are in the country to leave as soon as possible. Saudi Arabia's official news agency SPA quoted a source in the foreign ministry on Thursday as saying: "Due to the situations in the Republic of Lebanon, the official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Saudi nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon are asked to leave the country as soon as possible. "The Kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations."
Only hours later, Kuwait and the UAE also urged its nationals to leave Lebanon immediately. Bahrain - an ally of Saudi Arabia - had already ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon on Sunday, with the Bahraini foreign ministry issuing a travel advisory that cited "safety considerations".

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Lebanon's prime minister and Yemen's president reported to be under house arrest in Saudi Arabia

Saad al-Hariri, who quit as Lebanese Prime Minister in a weekend broadcast from Saudi Arabia, has been held under house arrest in the kingdom, a pro-Hezbollah daily said on Tuesday citing unnamed sources.  If true he is not the only one, also the Yemeni president Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi is against his wish kept in Riaydh.
Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, which is aligned with the Shi‘ite militant group and political movement Hezbollah, said Hariri “was placed under house arrest hours after arriving in Riyadh last Friday” and had remained in detention since. Aides to Hariri, Lebanon’s most influential Sunni politician and a close Saudi ally, have denied claims that he was detained. Speculation in Lebanon over Hariri’s status continued, though, even after Saudi media showed him meeting with King Salman and reported him leaving for the UAE.