Monday, March 31, 2014

´Black Sunday´ for French socialists, big gains for Marine Le Pen

French President François Hollande decide to replace Jean-Marc Ayrault (centre) with Manuel Valls (right) as prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle intended to mark a fresh start after his Socialist Party took a beating in local elections. Valls is known as a man of the right wing of the Socialist Party. His is sometimes nicknamed ´the socialist Sarkozy´. Till now he was the interior minister. Ayrault, who stepped down earlier Monday, is more to the left. He started off as the most popular prime minister in 50 years, but soon became the target of blame for Hollande’s inability to effect the change he had promised while campaigning for office.
The outcome of the first nationwide vote since Hollande was elected in 2012 was dubbed "Black Sunday" by one Socialist lawmaker. The FN took control of 11 towns and was on track to claim more than 1,200 municipal council seats nationwide, its best ever showing at the grassroots level of French politics and a stunning victory for itz leader Marine Le Pen.
anne hidalgo twitter suppression compte rumeur liaison françois hollande
Hildalgo, first female mayor of Paris
The other big winner was France's main opposition, the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). The party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy performed strongly across the country, seizing control of around 140 towns and cities, including some once considered bastions of the left.
In a rare consolation for Hollande, the socialists held on to control of Paris, where Anne Hidalgo, 54, will become the first female mayor of the French capital after a victory that was far more comfortable than anyone had expected.

Initial results Turkish local elections show: Erdoğan wins

Initial results in Turkey's local elections suggested a strong showing for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling party on Sunday, an outcome likely to bolster his authority in battling "traitors" within the state he accuses of seeking to topple him.
With around half of the votes counted, results broadcast on Turkish television put Erdoğan's Islamist-rooted AK Party ahead with 44-46 percent of the vote. The main opposition CHP, the party of the modern secular republic's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, captured around 23-28 percent.
The nationwide elections are widely being seen in Turkey as a referendum on Erdoğan's 11-year rule, a test of his support as he battles corruption allegations and security leaks he has cast as a "dirty campaign" of espionage by his political enemies.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Israel shoots two ''infiltrators'' at border with Syria

Israeli troops shot two suspected armed infiltrators at the Syrian frontier in the occupied Golan Heights on Friday, the Israeli military said. A statement said the troops "opened fire, hits were confirmed" after spotting ''the suspects'' penetrating the Israeli frontier.
The Israeli news web site Ynet said both men had been killed, but a military spokeswoman would not confirm their condition, nor was it clear to which group the men belonged.The shootings were the latest of a series of escalating violence along the testy frontier, coming 10 days after Israel attacked Syrian targets in retaliation for a roadside bombing that wounded four Israeli soldiers, in the worst Israeli casualty toll of Syria's more than three year insurgency.
Spillover violence on the Golan from the Syrian civil war has often drawn Israeli return fire against Syrian positions, ending what had previously been a stable, decades-old stand-off between the foes.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Arab Ligue behind Abbas' refusal to recognize Israel as Jewish state

Dignitaries attend the closing session of the Arab League Summit at Bayan Palace in Kuwait on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. AP Photo / Nasser Waggi
Closing session of the Arab suimmit in Kuwait. (AP) 

Arab leaders unanimously endorsed a Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state at their annual summit on Wednesday. After two days of talks in Kuwait, the Arab League was united in its rejection of Israeli demands. The final communique, at the other hand, made no mention of the divisions between Arabian Gulf countries and Qatar. Neither did it fulfil the Syrian opposition’s request for sophisticated weaponry.
The statement at the end of a two-day summit backed the refusal of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas for his refusal to go along with the demand of Israeli prim minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognising Israel as a Jewish state,” the final communique said. Also it stated that the Arab leaders ''hold Israel entirely responsible for the lack of progress in the peace process and continuing tension in the Middle East”.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

El-Sisi finally announces his candidacy for the Egyptian presidency

El-Sisi during his speech. 

Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi resigned from the military on Wednesday, announcing that he will run in the upcoming presidential elections on 30 March. “Today is the last time you’ll see me wearing this [military] uniform. I was honored to wear it to defend the nation and today I am also leaving it behind to defend the nation,” said El-Sisi, stressing that he has been a member of the armed forces for over 45 years.
Sisi said that ''his determination to run in the election does not bar others from their right to run. I will be happy if whoever the people choose succeeds.” Any Egyptian who has not been convicted by the law, El-Sisi said, is unconditionally welcomed to be an active partner in the future of Egypt.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

At least 20 military killed by Al-Qaeda(?) in Yemeni region of Hadramawt

By Shaher Abdulhak AbdulmajeedOfficials in the south-eastern province of Hadhramawt in Yemen have confirmed on Monday that unknown armed men attacked a military-manned checkpoint east of the regional capital of Mukalla. The Yemeni state news agency Saba reported that an estimated 20 men had died in the violent clashes, a number which could grow higher as the military will work to assess its losses and identify the dead.
“Twenty soldiers were killed in the armed attack on an army checkpoint near Reida, 135 kilometres east of the provincial capital Mukalla in the south,” Saba wrote.
Although al-Qaeda has not, as yet claimed responsibility for Monday attack, military experts have noted that the ambush against the military bore the hallmarks of the terror group. In typical al-Qaeda fashion, armed militants were seen by eye witnesses travelling on board several vehicles as they approached the checkpoint,.
“The attackers would appear to be in al-Qaeda,” a military source was quoted by Agence France Presse.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Court in Egypt sentences 529 Muslim Brothers to death

An Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death on Monday on charges including murder, a defense lawyer said, in a sharp escalation of a crackdown on the movement.
Most were arrested during clashes which erupted in the southern province of Minya after the forced dispersal of two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo on 14 August after the overthrow of presidnet Mohammed Morsi.
"The court has decided to sentence to death 529 defendants, and 16 were acquitted," lawyer Ahmed al-Sharif told Reuters. The ruling can be appealed.
The charges against the group, on trial in Minya since Saturday, include violence, inciting murder, storming a police station, attacking persons and damaging public and private property. Only 123 of the defendants were present. The rest were either released, out on bail or on the run.
The government has declared the Brotherhood a "terrorist" group. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful movement.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Election campaign in Algeria starts without the main candidate

Cartoon in the newspaper Al-Watan: Someone look into the poster under the banner ''Vote Bouteflika'', and shouts: ''Uhuu, anybody there?'' 

Campaigning for Algeria's election opened on Sunday with the man expected to win, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, starting his race not with a speech or a mass rally, but with a letter.
With questions lingering about the state of his health after a stroke last year, Bouteflika, 77, began his campaign writing to Algerians to say his condition would not stop him extending his 15 years governing the North African state.

Egyptian court frees prominent activists

Prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fatah hugs his new born son Khaled and his mother and sister, the writer Ahdaf al-Soueif, after his release, Sunday by a Cairo court. He had been detained with another prominent activist, Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, and 23 others since last November, after having been arrested during an ''illegal''  protest demonstration against military trials of civilians outside the Shura Council of which Abdel-Fattah was one of the organizers. He was also charged with assaulting members of the security forces and stealing a police officer's two-way radio. 
The court ordered the release on bail of all defendants in this case and set the bail at 10,000 Egyptian pounds each. The trial was adjourned till 6 April. The prosecution objected.

One killed in Syria-related fighting in Beirut

Soldiers walk pass a damaged vehicle after the military deployed in Beirut to contain armed clashes on Sunday, March 23, 3014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
One person was killed and 13 wounded in a gun battle in the Lebanese capital Beirut early on Sunday between supporters and opponents of president Assad of Syria. The clashes took place in the neighborhood of Al-Gharbi near the Sports Stadium. The fighting began around 3 and erupted again later in the morning in spite of the deployment of Lebanese Army units. Hours later, the Lebanese Army sent in reinforcements and armoured vehicles in a bid to contain the fighting, as the sound of heavy gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades resonated in the neighborhood. At least one building caught fire.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The mysterious resurrection of the exiled Fatah-leader Mohammed Dahlan
Mohammed Dahlan.

The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, recently made headlines when he, seemingly out of the blue, made a scathing attack on Mohammed Dahlan, a former leader of the security services of Fatah in the Gaza Strip and a powerful member of the Fatah-movement, till he in 2010 was stripped of his position in the Fatah leadership and forced into exile. 
At a closed meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council on 10 March, news of which came into the open only a few days later, Abbas accused Dahlan of a whole series of crimes, like murder, spying for Israel en possibly involvement in the death of former leader Yasser Arafat. According to Amira Hass of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, who quoted Palestinian sources, it came down to the following:
* Dahlan was behind the murder of six senior members of the Fatah movement (two of them prior to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority).
* Dahlan, Yasser Arafat’s moneyman Mohammed Rashid and Hassan Asfour, formerly a close associate of Abu Mazen (Abbas) who participated in the Oslo negotiations, put together a “collaborators’ trinity” close to Israel and the U.S. At Camp David they tried to lure Arafat into accepting unacceptable American and Israeli proposals for a solution.
* Money that came into Dahlan’s hands disappeared in mysterious ways.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jordanian government survives motion of no confidence with some help from Israel

The Jordanian king Abdullah II embraces the father of  Judge Raed Zuayter who was killed by the Israelis during a condolence visit to the Zuayter family last Sunday. (Photo Jordan Times)

The Jordanian government on Tuesday survived a no-confidence motion over the way it handled the killing of Raed Zuayter, a judge of Palestinian descend in Amman, who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers last week. 
After a week of lobbying, as the news paper The Jordan Times, called it, a majority of the MPs voted against the motion following a heated session, during which Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh at first decided not to hold a vote of no-confidence and afterwards consented to do it after all. Out of the 130 deputies present (of the total of 150) only 29 withheld confidence, while 81 deputies voted against the motion and 20 abstained. 
 After the vote MP Yihya Saud (Amman, 2nd District) announced his resignation “from this weak House”.and outside the parliament minor clashes broke out between security personnel and protesters. The demonstrators raised their shoes to express their rejection of the Lower House’s decision, chanting slogans against the government and prime minister Abdullah Ensour. A number of people were wounded and the police made some arrests. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

US Navy takes control of tanker that loaded oil in Libyan rebel port

US Navy Seals have boarded and taken control of a tanker near Cyprus that had loaded crude oil at a port held by rebels in eastern Libya, the Pentagon says.
File photo of an oil tanker resembling the North Korean Morning Glory vessel
The tanker as it was taking in oil at the Libyan coast.
"US forces, at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments, boarded and took control of the commercial tanker Morning Glory, a stateless vessel seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans," the Pentagon press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, said in a statement.
The operation was approved by Barack Obama and was conducted just after 2am GMT on Monday in international waters south-east of Cyprus, Kirby added.
The tanker had a North Korean flag but Pyongyang has denied any responsibility for the tanker, which was carrying oil owned by the Libyan government's National Oil Company.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Censorship in S-Arabia: works by Mahmoud Darwish among books banned from Riyadh Book Fair

Saudi authorities have banned hundreds of books, including works by the renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008), as art of a crackdown on publications deemed threatening to the conservative kingdom. The news agency AFP quoted the Saudi newspaper Okaz, which reported on Sunday that organisers at the Riyadh International Book Fair had confiscated “more than 10,000 copies of 420 books” during the exhibition.
Mahmoud Darwish the struggler poet
Mahmoud Darwish
The Saudi news website reported that members of the kingdom’s religious police had protested at “blasphemous passages” in works by the late Darwish, widely considered one of the greatest Arab poets, pressing organisers to withdraw all his books from the fair, which ended on Friday.
The religious police frequently intervene to enforce the kingdom’s strict conservative values, but the move to ban so many works was seen as unprecedented.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Censorship in Egypt: Bassem Youssef's show jammed and singer stopped from performing

bassem youssef banned episode
Satellite TV channel MBC Misr experienced a disrupted signal from the beginning of the sixth episode of satirist Bassem Youssef’s show Al-Bernameg.Last week, the show was also interrupted, but only for a few minutes.
The Saudi-owned channel released a short statement saying they had faced “technical interference” during the airing of the show, and listed the new frequencies on which viewers inside and outside of Egypt could watch the episode. The words “deliberate interference” appeared on a ticker than ran along the bottom of the screen throughout the show on the alternative frequency. The episode was then shown again from the beginning. It is Youssef's third season of the show. It started February 7 on MBC Misr, after Egyptian satellite channel CBC canceld it in November.

Gunman kill six military police in Egypt, militant leader killed in car accident

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on an army police checkpoint on the outskirts of Cairo on Saturday, killing six officers, Egyptian state Egyptian state TV reported. A senior security source told state TV that two bombs found near the checkpoint had been deactivated. The army blamed the attack on the Muslim Brotherhood, according to a military statement. 
There have been several militant attacks on security forces since the army overthrew presidnet Morsi last July and about 300 security officers have been killed. One army officer was killed in an attack on an army bus on Thursday which Egypt also blamed on the Brotherhood, declared a terrorist group by the government in December. The Brotherhood condemned Thursday's attack and accused the military-backed government of trying to implicate it for political reasons.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Libyan prime minister ousted by parliament after tanker was loaded in rebel held port

A file photo of the new acting Libyan prime minister and his predecessor, Al-Thinni (R) and Zeidan.

Former Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan has fled to Europe after parliament voted him out of office on Tuesday over his failure to stop rebels exporting oil independently. The General National Congress (GNC), Libya's transitional assembly, agreed Defence Minister Abdallah al-Thinni would be acting prime minister for two weeks. Deputies plan to pick another replacement in the interim ahead of a parliamentary vote expected later this year. 
Zeidan was in Malta for two hours late on Tuesday on a refueling stop before going to "another European country". But no European government had confirmed his arrival by late morning on Wednesday.
Parliament acted after rebels holding three key ports in the east disobeyed government orders and loaded a North Korean-flagged tanker with oil at the port of As-Sidra, as part of their drive for autonomy. Although Zeidan had threatened to use force to stop the vessel leaving, the tanker managed to reach international waters, undermining Zeidan's credibility. Libya's state prosecutor Abdel-Qader Radwan had issued a travel ban on Zeidan because he faces an investigation over alleged irregularities involving misuse of state funds.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Israel raises electoral threshold in order to bloc Arab parties

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset, Oct. 16, 2013.
The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, has voted on Tuesday to raise the threshold for gaining a seat in the parliament to 3,25%. The bill got 67 votes, all of them from the coalition parties. Members of the opposition parties had left the rostrum in protest.
Previously parties needed only two percent (three seats) in order to crack the minimum threshold  and that means that the new law in practice is going to work against the Arab parties specifically. If the law had been in effect during the last elections for the Knesset, none of these three parties - Hadash (leftist socialist) Balad (nationalist) or United List/Ta'am (general) would have gained a seat.

Israel kills 6 Palestinians in 24 hours, Netanyahu apologizes for death of judge from Amman

Judges, lawyers and activists demonstrate inside the Justice Palace in Amman on Tuesday to protest the killing of Jordanian judge Raed Zuaiter by Israeli soldiers on King Hussein Bridge on Monday (Photo by Hassan Tamimi).
Israel issued a formal letter of regret on Tuesday over the killing of Jordanian judge Raed Zuayter by Israeli soldiers at the Allenby crossing. In a rare move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement expressing "regret" for Zuayter's death and sending "sympathies to the people and government of Jordan."
"In light of our commitment to the peace treaty, Israel has already shared with Jordan the results of its preliminary investigation of the incident. Israel has also agreed to a Jordanian request to establish a joint Israeli-Jordanian team to complete the investigation. The joint team will commence its work promptly," the statement said.
The statement was issued after marathon talks over the last 24 hours between the prime minister's envoy Isaac Molho and senior Jordanian government officials intended to prevent any escalation.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh summoned Israel’s charge d’affaires in Jordan on Monday to strongly condemned the incident and demand Israel immediately investigate it, according to the Jordanian news agency Petra.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Yarmouk camp again cut off after return of islamist Syrian opposition

The Yarmouk camp (Ma'an).

 The return of militants from the rebel groups al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to Yarmouk camp in Damascus has brought back tension and "chaos," a Palestine Liberation Organization official said on Saturday.
PLO Executive Committee member in charge of refugees affairs Zakariyya al-Agha said in a statement on Saturday that the return of the rebel armed groups in violation of an agreement reached with PLO factions had brought the besieged refugee camp back to chaos and conflict.

At least 30 people killed during new clashes in north of Yemen

File photo shows a group of Shia Houthi fighters in northern Yemen.
Houthi fighters.

At least 30 people were killed over two days of clashes between Shi'ite Houthi fighters and tribesmen affiliated to the Ahmar clan and the Muslim Brotherhood (members of al-Islah political faction) have reached new high over the past few days as clashes have resumed in Yemen's northwestern al-Jawf province.
The tribesmen are believed to have instigated the violence when they challenged Houthi elements on areas which fall under their control, keen to reclaim al-Jawf. The Houthis whose zone of influence has grown over the past two years well beyond its original stronghold in Sa’ada (northern province) have proven a potent threat, both politically and militarily to the Brotherhood and its affiliates in the region, thus generating severe tensions in Yemen highlands. Both factions have been bent on affirming their supremacy over the other, igniting tensions.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lebanese on International Women's Day march against domestic violence

Activists protest over Women's right in Beirut on Friday March 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
(Photo Daily Star)

Protesters took to the streets of Beirut Saturday, on the occasion of International Women's Day, demanding better protection for women amid an uproar over husbands murdering their wives. The march by some 4,000 women, men and children from the National Museum to the Palace of Justice, was led by mothers and other relatives of women they said had been the victims of domestic violence. 
Many of them wept as they walked. Calling for adoption of a bill that would criminalise abuse, they carried posters that read: "Break the silence," "We say no to abuse, do you?" and "Speak out, stop domestic violence."
Lebanon is viewed as one of the Middle East's most liberal countries, but no law protects women from abuse or violence by their fathers, husbands or brothers. But one law does save rapists from punishment if they marry their victims. Meanwhile, women who marry non-Lebanese men are barred from giving their nationality to their children, and husbands are allowed to confiscate their wives' passports and prevent her from travelling. Women who do contact the police for help in domestic violence cases are often laughed at.
In mid-February, Christelle Abu Shakra died after ingesting insecticide. Her mother pressed charges against her daughter's husband. Earlier the same month, rights groups said Manal Assi died after her husband beat her with a pressure cooker. Last July, Rola Yaacub was found unconscious in her home in north Lebanon. She died later in hospital. Her family has told journalists they are convinced her husband beat her to death, but the courts said there was insufficient evidence against him.

Friday, March 7, 2014

S-Arabia designates the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS ''terrorist organizations''

The Muslim Brotherhood – what next?
Leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherood in happier days. Second from left is the deposed president Morsi, third form left is the Guide (leader) of the Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie.  

Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.The kingdom has also designated as terrorist the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), whose fighters are battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Interior Ministry said in a statement published by state media.
Friday's move appeared to enforce a royal decree last month in which Riyadh, which backs some rebel groups in Syria with money and arms, said it would jail for between three and 20 years any citizen found guilty of fighting in conflicts abroad.
The Saudi Interior Ministry also listed as terrorist Yemen's Shi'ite Houthi movement and Hezbollah, a radical Shi'ite group in Saudi Arabia's eastern province which authorities say is linked to Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

S-Arabia, UAE and Bahrain withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar

Update Thursday: Also Egypt will not return its ambassador to Qatar, a move that looks to further diplomatically isolate the Gulf state on the same day that three other Arab countries withdrew their Qatari ambassadors. Nasr Kamel, an aide to Egypt's foreign ministry, said that the ambassador – who has been in Egypt since early February – will not be returned for political reasons.
Kamel said the decision was in protest over Qatari intervention in the Egypt's internal affairs and for not handing over Egyptians wanted by prosecutors on criminal charges. He added that that Qatar has been broadcasting false information regarding developments in Egypt, a reference to the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera news channel. Egypt is currently prosecuting 20 journalists working for Al-Jazeera English, including four foreigners.(End of Update)
Saudi Arabia,the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday in an unprecedented public split between Gulf Arab allies who have fallen out over the role of Islamists in a region in turmoil. 

Israeli navy intercepts ship in Red Sea ''with rockets for Gaza''

(Photo Office Israeli military spokesman)

The Israeli navy seized a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday that was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied rockets made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip, the military said.
The disclosure came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in the United States to press his case for tougher international action against Iran over its disputed nuclear program and support for Islamist guerrilla groups.
The Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Klos C was boarded in international waters without resistance from its 17-strong crew in a "complex, covert operation", military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters.

Israel shoots two Hezbollah fighters

Israeli troops shot two Hezbollah fighters who tried to plant a bomb near the fence between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syrian-held territory on Wednesday, the Israeli army said.
An army spokeswoman said Israeli intelligence had identified the men as members of Hezbollah. She had no immediate word on their condition.
Hezbollah and Israel fought a war in July-August 2006. Both sides have largely avoided direct confrontation since then. Last week, however, Hezbollah accused Israel of bombing one of its bases near the Lebanon-Syria border and threatened to retaliate. Israel did not confirm carrying out the air strike, in keeping with its official silence on at least three such attacks in the last year targeting suspected Hezbollah-bound weapons convoys from Syria. It said it would hold Beirut responsible for any Hezbollah reprisals from Lebanese turf.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Egyptian court temporarily bans all activities of Hamas in Egypt

Khaled Meshaal

Updated. An Egyptian court on Tuesday banned all activities of Hamas in Egypt, pending a court verdict in an espionage case involving ousted president Mohamed Morsi and members of the Islamist Palestinian group.
The court also banned all "organisations or groups branching from, financed or supported by Hamas," a judicial source told Ahram Online.
"The court has ordered the banning of Hamas work and activities in Egypt," a judge, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters.The court also ordered the closure of Hamas offices in Egypt. Hamas condemned the ruling, saying that it "strongly condemned" what it described as an "unjustifiable" and "highly political" decision that was based on "fabrications and false news." "Hamas has neither activities nor official offices in Egypt, whether before, during or after the [2011 revolution]," a Hamas official said in a statement e-mailed to Ahram Online.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ten years for the policemen who killed Khaled Said

The Alexandria Criminal Court sentenced two policemen to 10 years in prison on Monday for the murder of Khaled Said, Egyptian state media reported.
Mahmoud Salah Mahmoud and Awad Soliman were convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2012 for Saeed’s murder in June 2010. After filing an appeal, the two men were facing a retrial.
Khaled Saeed
Khaled Said
State-owned daily Al-Ahram reported that verbal altercations took place between the defendants’ families and security, prompting the judge to evacuate the courtroom, only permitting lawyers and the media to remain.
The newspaper reported that the defendants were being tried on charges of torture, rather than murder or beating that led to death. The sentence handed down for such a charge ranges from three to 15 years in prison.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

ISIS is reported to have pulled back from positions in N-Syria

A rebel jihadist group has been pulling back from positions in North-Syria after being given an ultimatum by a rival, the BBC reports
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) is said to have been retreating towards the city of Raqqa.
The Nusra Front has given Isis until Saturday to accept mediation or face being expelled from Syria.
Infighting between rival rebel groups has seen more than 3,000 people killed in the past two months.
The main confrontation is between Isis and other Islamist militant groups.
Abu Khaled al-Suri (undated file pic)
Abu Khaled al-Suri (AFP)
Abu Mohammed al-Julani of the Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, warned Isis on Tuesday that it would be driven from Syria and "even from Iraq" if it did not accept arbitration within five days.
He demanded that Isis halt all military operations against other rebels, and allow an Islamic court to rule on its actions.
The threat came after the killing of an al-Qaeda emissary, Abu Khaled al-Suri, in a suicide attack on in the northern city of Aleppo on Sunday. Rebel groups blamed ISIS for the bombing.
The latest reports suggest ISIS is taking the threat from the Nusra Front seriously, the BBC's Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher says.

At least 13 killed during clash in North Yemen

At least 13 people died when fighters of the Shi'ite Houthi movement clashed with security forces in northern Yemen on Friday, government sources said. Local authorities said two soldiers were killed in the attack and four others were wounded when Houthis attacked a security checkpoint in the northwestern al Jawf province, according to state news agency Saba. An exchange of fire took place as a result of the attack and three of the Houthi attackers were killed and several others were then arrested, a statement by the local authorities said.
Security sources had told Reuters violence erupted after members of the Houthi group staged a protest in al Hazm, the provincial capital of al Jawf province, against what they said was the government's failure to boost the economy and end violence.
Officials from both sides had given different accounts of what happened next.
One government security source, who asked not to be named, said armed Houthis exchanged fire with soldiers at an army checkpoint near a local government compound, leaving at least 10 Houthis and three soldiers dead.
The Houthis said they were attacked by armed Islah members supported by a group from the army, according to a statement on a Houthi-linked website.
Yemen is plagued by unrest and divisions since before the former president Ali Abdallah Salah was forced to step down in 2012. On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council authorized sanctions against anyone in Yemen who obstructs the country's political transition or commits human rights violations but stopped short of blacklisting any specific individuals.