Friday, October 24, 2014

At least 31 Egyptian soldiers killed in attacks in Sinai

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Egyptian checkpoint in the North Sinai.

Updated. At least 31 Egyptian soldiers have been killed on Friday in two attacks in the Sinai. Twenty-eight were killed and another 30 injured when a car bomb exploded at the Karm Alkwadis security checkpoint in Sheikh Zuweid. An just hours later three security personal died when militants opened fire at a checkpoint in nearby Al-Arish.
The death toll in Sheikh Zuweid was the largest number of soldiers to die in a single attack in the region.
The injured were transferred to the military and general hospitals in Al-Arish, the biggest city in North Sinai. Medical teams were sent to Al-Arish military hospital, said Health Minister Adel El-Adawi. Al-Arish general hospital called on local residents to donate blood.

Tunisian army kills 6 belonging to Islamist group, among them 5 women



Tunisian military standing outside the house in Oued Ellil where the clash took place.  (Photo Fadel Senna/AFP)

Tunisian security forces on Friday killed six people, including five women, after a standoff with an Islamist militant group on the outskirts of Tunis two days before a parliamentary election, authorities said.
The raid on the house in Oued Ellil, west of Tunis, was the latest operation in Tunisia's crackdown on Islamist militants authorities say threaten the country's transition to democracy following the 2011 fall of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.
A number of militants including women had been holed up in a house since Thursday after clashes in which one police officer was killed when troops surrounded the building, according to security officials.
Authorities said one man and five women were killed when troops stormed the house on Friday. Officials said two children were also rescued from the house.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Leading Egyptian activist Asmaa Mahfouz banned from travel

mahfouzAsmaa Mahfouz, a prominent activist, member of the 6 April Movement and one of the leaders of the Egyptian 25 January Revolution of 2011,  was prevented from leaving the country on Tuesday, Ahram OnLine reports. Mahfouz was boarding a flight to Bangkok when security officials at Cairo Airport told her she was on a travel ban compiled by the prosecutor-general.
No reasons have been given by the authorities and Mahfouz has not commented on the matter. Last year she was deported from Kuwait, where her husband works as a doctor, for unspecified reasons.  Since her return to Cairo, she has kept a low profile compared to other activists, despite being attacked in the media by those oppose the January 25 revolution. Mahfouz was among the recipients of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded for contributions to the so-called Arab spring.

Two more death sentences against protesters in Saudi district of Qatif

 Saudi protesters rally in Qatif during a demonstration against the detention of Shia cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr. (File photo)
Demonstration in Qatif after the arrest of Sheikh Nimr in July 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced two more people to death in connection with pro-democracy protests that began three years ago in the Qatif district of eastern Saudi Arabia, the official Saudi Press Agency SPA reported on Tuesday. A third person was jailed for 12 years. Last week the court issued a death sentence against the prominent cleric and pro-rights advocate Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Al-Nimr was a driving force behind the peaceful demonstrations in Qatif.


SPA did not name the accused, who were tried on charges including "participating in protests and marches that caused riots" in the Eastern Province community of Awamiya. They were also accused of "chanting slogans hostile to the state,” the “intent to overthrow the regime," “attacking” security forces, and stealing medical supplies from a pharmacy to treat people injured during protests. The sentences were issued by the Specialized Criminal Court, that Human Rights Watch deemed as “flawed” and repeatedly urged Saudi authorities to abolish.
The Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where the vast majority of the dictatorship’s oil reserves lie and where the majority of the population is Shi'ite,  was one of the regions that had joined the “Arab Spring” in 2011, to demand its political rights, and end the injustice and discrimination its people suffer at the hands of the sectarian and oppressive Saudi regime. The protests started when activist in the province demanded the release of nine prisoners, known as “the forgotten prisoners,” who had been at the time detained for 16 years.
The Saudi regime responded forcefully to the peaceful protests, killing more than 20 people and wounding at least 58 others between 2011 and August 2012. The number of people detained in Saudi prisons exceeded 1042, of whom 280 remain in prison, including 24 children and 5 who were sentenced to death for “using violence against the police.”

Tension rose further in July 2012 when security forces arrested the Nimr, who was shot and wounded.

Earlier this year two other men involved in the protests were sentenced to death, including Ali al-Nimr, the son of Mohammed al-Nimr, who was a minor at the time of the demonstrations.
Several others have received multi-year jail sentences. The Saudi government denies charges of discrimination but according to a 2009 Human Rights Watch report, Shia citizens in Saudi Arabia "face systematic discrimination in religion, education, justice, and employment.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Israel is going to supply Egypt with natural gas.


The pipeline that used to supply Egyptian gas to Israel and Jordan has been sabotaged at least 20 times. (Photo EPA)

An Israeli firm will supply Egypt with natural gas, more than two years after sabotage halted the flow of Egyptian gas to Israel. On Sunday the Israeli owners of the Tamar offshore gas field informed the Tel Aviv stock exchange they had struck a deal to export natural gas to the Egyptian firm Dolphinus Holdings.
A statement said Tamar was in "exclusive negotiations" with Dolphinus Holdings to provide it with up to 2.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) over a seven-year span.Experts estimate the deal to be worth over $4 billion (3.13 billion euros).
Dolphinus Holdings "represents a consortium of large non-governmental industrial and commercial Egyptian gas customers," according to Tamar. Tamar holds 250 bcm of natural gas, and lies 80 kilometers west of the port city of Haifa.

Egypt received Sudan's Al-Bashir, a wanted criminal

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Al- Bashir
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Egypt on Saturday for a two-day visit at the invitation from President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Al Ahram Online reported. Bilateral relations, investment opportunities, agreements and regional affairs were part of the talks between the two leaders. Sisi visited Khartoum in June and the meeting was a continuation of what was then discussed. The visit follows a meeting between the Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian irrigation and water ministers where they discussed the latter’s construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam, which has been a subject of controversy between the three African Union members.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court. The ICC issued arrest warrants against him in 2009 and 2010 for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. On 15 October the ICC officially requested Egypt to arrest Al-Bashir should he enter Egyptian territory. Egypt is a signatory to the Statute of Rome whereby the ICC was established. However it never ratified the treaty.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Houthis continue advance in South Yemen and clash with Al-Qaeda

Shi'ite Houthi rebels ride a patrol truck in Sanaa in this October 9, 2014 file photo. REUTERS-Khaled Abdullah-Files
Houthi fighters (Photo Reuters)

Fierce battles between Al-Qaeda and Houthi militants erupted in Yemen's Baidha province on Thursday,  the Yemen Post reported. Local sources said that it was the second day of fighting since Houthi militants arrived in the town of Radda. The Houthis closed several roads leading to Radda in what appeared to be a plan to besiege the town and then raid it from all directions, one of the sources said.
Houthis arrived in Baidha as they continued to seize cities in other parts of the republic including the cultural capital of Taiz on Wednesday. Sources in Taiz said commander of the provincial Air Force Base Faisal Al-Subaihi has rendered his resignation after Houthis took control of Taiz Airport and some military camps.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yemen: Houthis seize port of Hodeida, southern rebels raise demands


Hodeida port

Houthi militants have seized the western port city of Hodeida where Yemen's key seaport and oil export terminal are based in a move that has raised fears about the fate of the transition process. Locals in Hodeida said on Tuesday Houthis have now seized almost all public facilities including the Hodeida port and the Ras Isa terminal for oil exports. There are also reports that the Houthis are seeking to control the Bab El-Mandab Strait between the Taiz and Hodeida governorates. "Houthi militants have spread in all areas and more of them are expected to arrive in the city in next days to form popular committees that will replace the provincial authorities," a citizen in Hodeida said by telephone.
Houthi militants seized on Monday a military base in the Bajil town, Hodeida, and have been looting ammunitions and weapons which were stored in it, according to military sources. "Today, Houthis continued to loot the base, taking around five trucks and ten pick-ups with many weapons and ammunitions onboard," a provincial military source said.

Death sentence for one of the leaders of the Shi´ite minority in Saudi Arabia

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr  (Photo Al-Akhbar)
A Saudi judge on Wednesday sentenced to death an outspoken Shi'ite Muslim cleric whose arrest two years ago prompted deadly protests, the cleric's brother said on his Twitter account. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was detained in July 2012 after backing mass protests that erupted in February 2011 in the Qatif district of eastern Saudi Arabia, which is home to many of the country's Shi'ite minority.
During these peaceful protests in Qatif and Awaymeh the Saudi regime between February 2011 and August 2012 killed more than 20 people, and wounded more than 58 people.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Turkey bombs positions of PKK

Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province October 14, 2014. REUTERS-Umit Bektas
Smoke from bombardments rises above the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani. (Photo: Reuters) 

Turkish air force bombed Kurdish fighters of the PKK who were furious over Ankara's refusal to help protect their kin in Syria on Tuesday, Reuters reprioted. The PKK accused Ankara of violating a two-year-old cease-fire with the air strikes, on the eve of a deadline set by the group's jailed leader to salvage a peace process aimed at halting a three-decades-long insurgency.
The Hürriyet daily reported Tuesday that the PKK had been attacking a military outpost in the Dağlıca region. The air operation was the most comprehensive one since the government launched what it calls the settlement process aimed at solving the decades-old Kurdish issue, the daily said. It added that the air strikes caused "major damage" to the PKK.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Suicide bomber kills at least 43 Houthi supporters in Yemeni capital Sanaa

 Man carry a man injured in a suicide bomb attack in Yemen's capital, Sanaa (9 October 2014)
A powerful bomb in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday killed at least 43 people in an attack on supporters of Shiite Houthi insurgents who have overrun the city. Witnesses said a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt at a checkpoint at the entrance to the protest site, leaving steel balls strewn at the scene. Medics said dozens were also wounded in the blast. It was the largest bomb attack in the capital since a May 2012 Qaeda attack on an army parade killed around 100 people.
The explosion struck Sanaa's Al-Tahrir square as supporters of the Houthis were preparing to stage a protest, rebel sources said.  Supporters of the Houthis gathered after the explosion chanting slogans demanding the fall of President Abed Rabuh Mansur Hadi. The president infuriated the rebels earlier this week by naming his chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, as prime minister following a UN-brokered peace deal under which the insurgents would withdraw from Sanaa.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ansar Bayt a-Maqdis kill 4 Egyptians in Sinai

Still from video of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis released Sunday a video showing the confessions of three Egyptians it claims to have executed in North Sinai for "cooperating with the Egyptian Army and the Israeli Mossad".The video, uploaded on Youtube and a jihadist forum, also shows a fourth person who was shot and his house destroyed.
Islamic State (IS) spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani is featured in the video, where he speaks about jihad and fighting the "infidels". Also the Egyptian army was accused of "besieging Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and joining the Jews in their war against Jihadists" in a speech attribued to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis leading member Abu Osama al-Masry.