Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mubarak verdict postponed

The Cairo Criminal Court postponed the verdict in the Mubarak trial, originally scheduled for today, to November 29, giving the court more time to finish the paperwork necessary for the ruling.
In an anticlimactic court session, Judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidy said he based his decision on Article 172 of the procedure law, saying the court is done with writing 60 to 70 percent of its reasoning behind the verdict and needs more time to conclude it.  
Mubarak, his Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six former Interior Ministry officials are being retried on charges of orchestrating the deaths of at least 846 unarmed demonstrators during the January 25, 2011 protests that led to the Mubarak administration’s downfall.
Mubarak, his sons Galal and Alaa, and fugitive businessman Hussein Salem also face accusations of abuse of power and financial corruption in the same case.
The judge also ordered the continued detention of Adly.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Algerian islamist group executes French hostage

Execution: ISIS-linked militants in Algeria have beheaded French tourist Herve Gourdel after he was captured at the weekend. The group earlier made threats to kill Mr Gourdel if France did not stop bombing targets in IraqThe Algerian group Jund al-Khilafa (soldiers of the caliph, a group ) have followed up on their threat and on Wednesday decapitated their French hostage Hervé Gourdel (55). A video of the execution was posted on the internet. Gourdel, a mountain guide and father of two was on a holiday in Algeria. He was captured on Sunday by the group which is aligned with the Islamic State, while hitchhiking near the Djurdura mountain in the province of Tizi Ouzou (Kabylia). 
Jund al-Khilafa, which is led by Abdelmalek Gouri, alias Khaled Abou Souleimane, earlier gave France a 24 hour ultimatum to halt its aerial bombardments of the Islamic State.

IS executes human rights activist in Mosul

Samira Saleh al-Naimi
Samira al-Naimi
The Islamic State (IS) captured and executed lawyer and human rights defender Samira Saleh Al-Naimi in the city of Mosul, Iraq, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) reported. The centre received reports that on the evening of 22 September 2014, a group of masked armed men who belong to IS opened fire and killed her in a public square in the very heart of Mosul. She was kidnapped by IS from her home last week after she described as “barbaric” the widespread damage that IS inflicted on ancient features of her city.
Samira Saleh Al-Naimi was a prominent lawyer and human rights defender and famous for her activities that include defending detainees and supporting the disadvantaged families in the city.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shana tova

I wish my Jewish readers a good, sweet and hopefully somewhat more peaceful 5775,
שנה טובה
(Tashlich is a ritual that is performed between Rosh Hashana (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), nearby open water. Jewish believers rid themselves thereby symbolically from sins of the past year which are thrown into the water as it were. My choice for the tashlich-theme was, of course,  inspired by the events of the past year in Gaza). 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

US and allies kill tens of IS and Nusra militants in bombing raids in Syria

The United States and its Arab allies early Tuesday launched bombing raids against Islamic State militants in Syria, opening up a new front in the battle against the jihadist group after more than a month of US air strikes in Iraq. Military officials have said the US would target militants’ command and control centres, re-supply facilities, training camps and other key logistical sites.
The strikes were aimed at the Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqa as well as near the Iraq border, with targets including weapons supplies and buildings used by the group, a US official told Reuters on Tuesday. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which gathers information from a network of activists on the ground, tens of ISIL fighters were killed or wounded in the strikes on Raqqa and surrounding areas.  "More than 20 members of ISIL were killed in strikes on two of the organisation's positions in Raqqa province. The strikes completely destroyed the two positions as well as vehicles stationed there," the monitoring group said.
Airstrikes were also carried out against positions of al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front, the observatory said, adding that multiple attacks targeted an area in western Aleppo province, killing at least seven people, both fighters and civilians.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two killed in explosion outside Egyptian Foreign ministry

A bomb exploded near the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in downtown Cairo on Sunday morning, killing two ieutenant colonels of rthe police and injuring five police personnel and one civilian, Egyptian state television reported.
The explosion, in the Boulaq Abu El-Ela district, was reportedly caused by an improvised explosive device placed beneath a tree outside Gate 3 of the ministry, which is located near the Maspero state television building. Boulaq Abu El-Ela is a working-class district located between two of Cairo's main downtown squares – Tahrir and Ramsis.
Explosions have repeatedly targeted police sites and personnel over the past year, following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. In June, ahead of the 30 June protests anniversary, three explosions struck near the Ittihadiya presidential palace in the Heliopolis area of Cairo, killing two policemen. Four explosions struck in Greater Cairo – most notably at the Cairo Security Directorate – killing six people, on the eve of the 2011 uprising anniversary.

Houthis and Yemeni government sign agreement after four dyas of fighting in Sanaa.

Smoke rises from residential buildings near the army's First Armoured Division which came under attack from Shi'ite Houthi militants, in Sanaa September 20, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi
Residential buildings near the barracks of the First Armored Division in Sanaa are burning after attacks by the Houthis. (Photo Reuters).

A UN-brokered peace deal between Houthi rebels and Yemen's government has been signed while the Houthis have taken control of government buildings and a state radio and TV station in the capital, Sanaa.
Sunday's deal called for the current government to rule in a caretaker role until a new government is formed next month.
The most important point is the cessation of hostilities which flared up in the capital four days ago, but the deal is "still short on details". Yemen's president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi urged all sides in the crisis to abide by the deal. The agreement was aimed at getting the Houthis to leave the capital.. However, the annex, which was not signed by the Houthis, stipulated that they were to withdraw from Sanaa, Jawf and Amran within 45 days. Reports were coming in that clashes were still ongoing in other parts of the country, including Marib, east of the capital.
The Houthi rebels and government forces earleir on Sunday fought for a fourth straight day, in spite of the fact that the agreement was to be signed later that day. Residents reported sounds of heavy shelling throughout Saturday night in an area of the capital near the headquarters of the first armored division camp and close to the religious university of Iman. The  rebels said they had taken control of the headquarters of state television. Yemen's Higher Security Committee announced a curfew in four areas of the capital from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., and schools were shut until further notice.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kurds flee in the thousands to Turkey after ISIS captured area around

Thousands of Kurds massed on the Turkish border after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) captured around 20 villages in northern Syria’s Kobane region. AA Photo
Fleeing Kurds at the Turkish border.  (Photo AA).

 Turkish authorities opened the border with Syria on Sept. 19, allowing hundreds of Kurds fleeing from brutal attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to cross into Turkey.
“We will take in our brothers fleeing to Anatolia from Syria or any other place, without any ethnic or sectarian discrimination,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said during a visit to Azerbaijan after the government was forced to act by refugees streaming to the border and locals in Turkey converging on the area, demanding that their ethnic kin be permitted to cross.
He said he personally ordered the borders opened for the refugees who had gathered along the wire fences separating the two countries since Sept. 16, amid escalating clashes. “The entries have started now,” Davutoğlu said at the press conference.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Houthis push into Yemeni capital after clashing at suburbs

Supporters of the Shia Houthi movement erect a tent blocking the airport road in Sanaa, 7 September
One of many protest tents that the Houthis erected in and around Sanaa in recent weeks. (Photo EPA)

Armed Shi'ite rebels pushed into Yemen's capital Sanaa after clashing with the army in the city's northwest outskirts on Thursday, security sources and residents said, in an escalation of weeks of fighting and protests.
Residents of northwest al-Shamlan district told Reuters the Shi'ite Houthi gunmen were now advancing along Thalatheen Street, a major route into the western edge of the city.
A military source said Houthi gunmen had also attacked an army camp on the southern entrance of the capital, but soldiers repelled the assault.
The Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi sect of Shi'ite Islam, have been involved in a decade-long conflict with the Sunni-dominated government, fighting for more control and territory in the north. n recent weeks, Houthi protesters have been blocking the main road to Sanaa's airport and holding sit-ins at ministries calling for the ousting of the government and the restoration of subsidies cut by the state in July as part of economic reforms.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ahmed Maher of April 6 Movement joins hungerstrike of Egyptian political detainees

Ahmed Maher, the jailed former head of the April 6 Youth Movement, has joined a growing hunger strike movement. Maher, who founded the now-banned movement, stopped eating on 15 September, April 6 member Zizo Abdou said.
The hunger strike has been gaining momentum with activists, journalists and supporters inside and outside of jail joining to denounce a restrictive protest law and to call for the release of political detainees.
Ahmed Maher
a Facebook page called "We've had it up to here," which tracks the number of hunger strikers, said that 60 detainees were participating, along with nearly 100 supporters outside of jail. A number of political parties have also expressed solidarity with the hunger strikers.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah released on bail

Alaa Abdel-Fattah on the shoulders. The photo is from March of this year, when he was also briefly released from prison. (Photo AP).  

The Cairo Criminal Court unexpectedly released Alaa Abd El Fattah, along with two other defendants, on LE5,000 bail in the ongoing Shura Council case on Monday. The judge presiding over the case also stepped down. Abdel-Fattah, Mohamed Abdel-Rahman aka Noubi and Wael Metwally were sentenced to 15-years in prison and fined LE100,000 on charges of organising an illegal protest, rioting, destruction of public property and using violence against security forces.
The judge recused himself from the trial due to an incident which occurred during the trial's last session on Wednesday, said Mohamed Abdel Aziz, director of the Cairo-based al-Haqanya human rights centre and one of the lawyers representing the defendants.

What Israel did after the ceasefire

It is not often that I just copy other people's blog entries. This time I cannot resist the temptation. This is what the Angry Arab As'ad Abu Khalil wrote on 14 September:
"On 26 August a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was agreed, bringing a fragile end to a war that killed 2150 Palestinians (mostly civilians) and 73 Israelis (mostly soldiers). Since then Hamas has not fired a single rocket, attacked an Israeli target, or done anything to break the terms of the ceasefire. Israel has done the following:

1. Annexed another 1500 acres of West Bank land
 2. Seized $56 million of PA tax revenue
 3. Not lifted the illegal blockade (as required by the ceasefire)
 4. Broken the ceasefire by firing at fishermen on four separate occasions
 5. Detained six fishermen
 6. Killed a 22-year-old, Issa al Qatari, a week before his wedding
 7. Killed 16-year-old Mohammed Sinokrot with a rubber bullet to the head
 8. Tortured a prisoner to the point of hospitalisation
 9. Refused 13 members of the European Parliament entry into Gaza
10. Detained at least 127 people across the West Bank, including a seven-year-old boy in Hebron and two children, aged seven and eight, taken from the courtyard of their house in Silwad – and tear-gassed their mother
 11. Continued to hold 33 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council in prison