Monday, June 30, 2014

ISIS ''restores caliphate''

Head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was appointed as
''caliph'' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have claimed the formation of an Islamic caliphate or state. In an audio recording distributed on extremist websites on Sunday, ISIS's spokesman, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani declared the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “the caliph” and “leader of Muslims everywhere”.
"The Shura (council) of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue... (and) the Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims," said Adnani.
The spokesman added that the caliphate, which is named the Islamic State, will extend from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diyala in Iraq.
On June 10 ISIS gained control of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Iraqi army launches new offensive to recapture Tikrit

HRW said up to 190 men were executed by ISIS between 11 and 14 June (File/AFP)
The human rights group Human Rights Watch estimated that ISIS has executed between 160 and 190 men in at least two locations in and around Tikrit between 11 June and 14 June. The estimations are based on the analyses of photographs posted by ISIS itself and satellite images. HRW says that the final count could be higher. (Photo AFP)

The Iraqi military on Sunday launched its greatest offensive to regain lost territory, as troops backed by tanks and air power advanced north from Samarra, the city by the Tigris river where the advance of the  militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was checked.
 The soldiers, who have been boosted by Sunni tribesmen and Shia militia, are understood to be attacking Tikrit from the south and west. The predominately Sunni city, 90 miles north of the capital, was Saddam Hussein's home town and a center of anti-U.S. insurgency.
Iraqi forces first sought to enter the city, which is the capital of the Salahuddin province, on Thursday when special forces were dropped into a university from four helicopters. One helicopter was shot down and another suffered mechanical failure and had to make an emergency leading, resulting in several Iraqis and a Lebanese pilot reportedly being captured by ISIS. The army however managed to recapture the al-Alam district south of Tikrit. In a similar operation in the city earlier Thursday, the Iraqi army took back control of a strategically located university that had fallen into the hands of ISIS.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ramadhan Kareem

 بمناسبه شهر رمضان الكريم اتمنى كل المسلمين بين قراءي كل سنه وانتم طيبين

Thursday, June 26, 2014

State of Palestine praises France, Germany and the UK for their warning against dealing with settlements

The Palestinian ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed Thursday publications on the websites of the foreign ministries of France, the UK and Germany, which warned against the legal and economic consequences of investing in the Israeli settlements, since that is illegal under international law. The Palestinian ministry called the Europeans ''balanced'' and said it is in line with the European guidelines, effective since 1 January 2014, on settlement construction and settlement products, as well as with international law.
“This is evidence to the European officials’ understanding and recognition of the dangers of settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and its catastrophic consequences on peace opportunities and on the potential of a viable, contiguous State of Palestine,” the Palestinian ministry said in an official statement. ''This means the world is not deceived by the Israeli propaganda.” The ministry considered the European position towards settlements and their products an indicator of the “increasing international isolation” of Israel, since it is “committed to occupation, settlement and failure of negotiations.”
It called upon the European Union member countries to adopt this stance and to take the necessary legal procedures capable of putting an end to Israel’s settlement policies, so that Israel will realize it will be held accountable and punished for its ”aggressive” practices and for failure of negotiations.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

One killed and six wounded in string of bomb blasts in Cairo

Four small bombs explode in four Cairo metro stations early Wednesday, causing six injuries, while two others detonate near a Heliopolis courthouse damaging only vehicles. On Tuesday night, a tractor operator was also killed in a bombing in 6th of October City, according to the Ministry of Interior.
 Three small bombs exploded minutes apart in three Cairo metro stations during early morning rush hour on Wednesday, injuring at least five people, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website. A fourth blast in the afternoon injured a sixth passenger. The blasts injured three people at the Shubra station, while state TV reported one injury at the Ghamra station. A senior ambulance official, Mohamed Sultan, said the fifth injury occurred at the Hadyek Al-Quba station, and the sixth injury took place at the Ezbet Al-Nakhl station. It seems that one of the wounded at the Shubra station, was a person who carried the bomb.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Al Jazeera journalists convicted to 7 -10 years

Mohammed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, Peter Greste
 Fahmy, Mohamed and Creste (Left to right)

Again a scandalous verdict from an Egyptian court: Three journalists of Al Jazeera English who have been in custody since December have been sentenced to seven years in jail, according to Ahram Online. The three,  Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed, were on trial with 17 others on charges of "spreading false news," falsely portraying Egypt as being in a state of "civil war," as well as aiding or joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
 In addition to his seven-year sentence, Baher Mohamed was handed an extra three-year term as well as an LE5000 fine for possessing ammunition. Four other defendants have been sentenced to seven years in jail while two -- including the son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Al-Beltagy -- have been acquitted.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Egypt: Death sentences for leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood

Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, along with leaders Essam El-Erian and Mohamed El-Beltagy
Convicted leaders of the Ikhwan; left to right: Issam al-Erian, Mohammed Badie, Mohammed Beltagi (Reuters).
An Egyptian criminal court has sentenced a number of top Muslim Brotherhood leaders to death Thursday, judicial sources said.
The convicted include the Brotherhood's supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, and top leaders Safwat Hegazi and Mohamed El-Beltagi, as well as 11 others. The sentences will be carried out pending the religious advice of Egypt's top cleric, the Grand Mufti.
The referral of the sentences to the mufti is the first step in the legal process required to enact a death sentence. The mufti's decision is not binding, however; following his decision, the court will issue a final verdict. Once a final verdict is issued, defendants can appeal.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

More gains for ISIS in Iraq.

Sunni rebels from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) overran the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday and closed in on the biggest oil refinery in the country, in Baiji, making further gains in their military advance against the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.  The refinery in Baiji can process 300,000 barrels per day and supplies oil products to most of Iraq's provinces and as well as Baghdad. Security sources said the fighters drove into the town in armed vehicles, torching the court house and police station before freeing prisoners. The militants later withdrew into surrounding villages after tribal leaders persuaded them not to take over the energy installations in Baiji, local officials and residents said.
Tikrit, the home town of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, which lies about 160 km north of Baghdad,  became the second city to fall to ISIL in two days. ISIS now dominates the city of Falluja and large parts of the Anbar province in central-Iraq, as well as Mosul and Tikrit in the north of the country. Security sources said ISIL militants on Wednesday drove more than 60 vehicles into Tikrit, The militants occupied the provincial government headquarters and raised the black flag of ISIL. A police brigadier general told AFP news agency that fighters attacked from the north, west and south of the city. A police major told the agency that ISIL had freed about 300 inmates from a prison in the city, which is the capital of Salaheddin province.Around 100 ISIL fighters held mass prayers in central Tikrit after taking control.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cairo court sentences activist Abdel Fatah and 24 others to 15 years for ''illegal protest''

Prominent activist Alaa Abd El Fattah
Alaa Adel Fattah with wife and baby son. (Reuters)

Outrageous news - once more  - from Cairo: The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced activist Alaa Abd El Fattah and 24 others to 15 years jail in absentia, and a fine of LE 100,000 (over € 15.000) on Wednesday, in a trial known as ''the Shura Council case'', Mada Masr reports.  On top of that the defendants will be placed under five-year police surveillance after they have completed their jail term.
Abd El Fattah and fellow defendants Mohamed Noubi and Wael Metwally were also arrested outside the Police Academy at Tora prison in Cairo this morning as they were waiting for the judge to give them permission to enter the court, lawyer Mohamed Abdel Aziz, of the Haqanya law firm, told Mada Masr by telephone. He is one of the defense lawyers and attended court on Wednesday.
Abdel Fattah and the others were accused of organizing an unauthorized protest outside the Shura Council in Cairo, attacking a police officer, stealing a walkie-talkie, hooliganism, aggression against police officers, blocking the road, crowding a public place and destruction of public property, state-run website Ahram Gate reported.

Iraqi forces push ISIS partly back from areas it captured in Kirkuk province

 People fleeing Nineveh province wait to enter the Kurdish controlled parts of northern Iraq (File/AFP)
People fleeing Nineveh province wait to enter the Kurdish controlled parts of northern Iraq (AFP). In the captured city of Mosul shops are closed, security forces have abandoned their vehicles and a police station has been set ablaze, witnesses say. Also ten rebels of ISIS have freed about 1.000 prisoners. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has calld for a state of emergency. 

Iraqi forces have taken back the control of a major region near the northern Iraqi province of Kirkuk from militants belonging to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). On Wednesday, Iraqi forces, aided by tribal residents, regained the control of al-Multaqa from the ISIL militants.
Meanwhile, reports also say that Iraqi security sources have pushed back the militants trying to capture the town of Baiji, which is the site of a major oil refinery in Iraq’s Salaheddin Province.
On Tuesday, the Takfiri militants seized several areas in Iraq’s Kirkuk following the capture of the neighboring Nineveh Province. The violence in Iraq’s Nineveh has forced over half a million Iraqis to flee their homes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

ISIS gains control of Iraq's second largest city


Islamist insurgents overran the headquarters of the provincial government in Iraq's northern city of Mosul late on Monday, making further gains in a fourth day of fighting in the country's second-largest city. The Jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) are now effectively in control of another Iraqi city after Falluja, sources in Mosul said.
The insurgents started their attack on the city on Friday and managed to take control of at least five neighborhoods in the city before they started to march towards the center of the town, where the provincial headquarters are situated, the newspaper Azzaman learned.
Sources in Mosul who refused to be named for security reasons, said ISIS militants had infiltrated the old-city quarter of Meidan and have established a bridgehead close to the Old Bridge over the Tigris River that bisects the city into two halves.
Government troops lack the necessary air support to take out the militants. Their assaults have failed so far to halt the push by ISIS.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Iraqi forces repel ISIS-attack on Samarra

Destroyed ISIS-vehicles outside Samarra. 

Iraqi security forces have repelled a large-scale attack by militants on the central city of Samarra, officials say. Gunmen travelling in dozens of vehicles attacked checkpoints on the east and west on Thursday morning before taking control of several areas.
The army responded with helicopter strikes in which officials said about 80 insurgents died. Otherc vsources talk about at least 40 insugernets killed and some 20 soldiesr and policemen. A curfew has been imposed on the city and reinforcements sent from the capital Baghdad.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Sunni militants and tribesmen allied to the jihadist Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have seized parts of the city of Ramadi and most of Falluja.
Witnesses and security sources said dozens of heavily armed militants attacked checkpoints and police stations on the outskirts of Samarra early on Thursday, before moving into the city. The assailants seized control of the municipality building and university, raising the black flag associated with jihadist groups over both buildings, police told the Reuters news agency.
In the Anbar province ISIS has been fighting the Iraqi army and tribal forces since December 2013. The uprising started after the government violently suppressed protests in this Sunni province
against the way Baghdad neglects it. Government troops,  among other things, raided the house of a Sunni parliamentarian, killing his brother and five guards. ISIS after that took over parts of the cities of Ramadi and Falluja and is keeping some areas of both citeis to this day.

Assad re-elected for new seven year term

Bashar's face in a street in Damascus (AFP).

Update. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won a landslide victory in presidential poll securing 88.7 percent of the vote. The two other candidates, Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, won 4.3 percent and 3.2 percent respectively. The victory gives Assad a third seven-year term in office despite a raging civil war which grew out of protests against his rule. The head of the Supreme Constitutional Court said on Wednesday that the turnout in the country's presidential election this week was 73.42 percent.

 Syria went to the polls on Tuesday to cast a vote for the presidency. There were three candidates, but nobody doubted for a second that there could only one winner: the imcumbent president, Bashar al-Assad. Assad, 48 years old, has been in power for 14 years, since he succeeded his father, Hafez al-Assad who had ruled Syria since 1970. Bashar had been chosen for the job, after his elder brother Basil, who initially was to follow in his father's footsteps, died in a car accident in 1994.
The elections take place against the background of a civil war that has cost the lives of at least 150.000 Syrians and has caused that some 9 million people, a third of the population fled their houses and either left Syria or stayed in Syria as internal refugees. As a consequence of the war also large sections of the country are unable to vote.  Parts of the north and the east of the country, sections that are under the command of the opposition, don't take part.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ceasefire in Yemen between government and Houthis

A Houthi rebel at a checkpoint on the road from Sanaa to Amran (3 June 2014)
 Yemeni forces and Shia Houthi rebels have reached a ceasefire deal to end clashes in the northern province of Amran following mediation backed by UN envoy Jamal Benomar. The agreement was made on Wednesday between government officials and representatives of Ansarullah, the office of Benomar said. . (The Ansarullah is a different name of the Shiite group led by Abdel-Malek al-Houthi).

According to the state news agency Saba the ceasefire halted military reinforcements from both sides, and stipulated the deployment of impartial military monitors, and the opening of the main road to the capital city of Sanaa, said the agency. The cease fire came after violent clashes on Monday, that  reportedly erupted after troops and members of the Sunni Islamic Islah party tried to expel rebels from a strategic position near the provincial capital of Amran. Officials told the AFP news agency that air force jets supported the assault on the position, which is on the main road to capital Sanaa, 45km (28 miles) to the south-east.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bassem Youssef's show ''Il-Bernamig'' will not return

Bassem Youssef
Egypt's popular satire show Il-Birnamig hosted by Bassem Youssef will not resume its broadcasts. Youssef made this known in a press conference on Monday.
According to Youssef, the desicion comes after he and his crew realised that it's better to end the show than "offending it". With that he meant that he did not want to compromise it. Like an Egyptian blogger (The Big Pharao) said: ''He could have kissed ass. He could've toned down his show. He could've done what many show hosts do. I am glad he didn't. Respect.''
Another comment, by Michael Hanna, was: ''Egypt keeps sinking.''  And yet another (blogger Zeinobia): "They are afraid that the joker will make fun of the naked emperor.''
Youssef said at the press conference that he and the crew had decided not to accept offers to air the program from outside Egypt.