Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Security Council rejects resolution on Palestine

A UN Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, Dec. 22, 2014. The Security  Council in seesion. (Photo AFP)

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday rejected a Palestinian resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and the establishment of a Palestinian state by late 2017.The resolution called for negotiations to be based on the borders that existed before Israel in 1967 captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It also called for a peace deal within 12 months.
Even if the draft had received the minimum nine votes in favor, it would have been defeated by Washington's vote against it. The United States is one of the five veto-wielding permanent members.
There were eight votes in favor, including France, Russia and China, two against and five abstentions, among them Britain. Australia joined the United States in voting against the measure.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power defended Washington's position against the draft in a speech to the 15-nation council by saying it was not a vote against peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
"The United States every day searches for new ways to take constructive steps to support the parties in making progress toward achieving a negotiated settlement," she said. "The Security Council resolution put before us today is not one of those constructive steps."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Egypt: young protesters against anti-law get prison sentence of two years

Yara Sallam

 An Egyptian appeals court reduced the jail terms on Sunday for 23 young activists convicted of violating a law banning protests without a permit, judicial sources said.
The arrest of the activists in June while they demonstrated against the law which tightly restricts protests was condemned by rights groups as a reflection of an increasingly repressive political climate in Egypt.
Mass protests led to the ousting of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and were used to express discontent with Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who was toppled by the army last year.
Human rights groups have called the charges against the activists baseless and decried the case as an example of "show-trials" based on scant evidence and intended to warn citizens against defying government policies.

"Palestinians will outnumber Jews in historic Palestine in 2016"

Figures released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics on Monday suggest that Palestinians will outnumber Israeli Jews in historic Palestine within the next two years. The results of the Palestinian census, released on the occasion of the end of 2014, show a number of other surprising figures that highlight the wide-ranging changes in demography the Holy Land is experiencing.
The census estimated that at the end of 2014 the total number of Palestinians in "historical Palestine" -- meaning the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the territory where the State of Israel is located but which often referred to as '48 Palestine -- is around 6.08 million, compared to 6.10 million Jews as of the beginning of 2014. By the end of 2016, however, the census bureau estimates that at current rates the number of Palestinians will eclipse that of Jews, meeting at around 6.42 million. By 2020 the statistics show that the number of Palestinians will hit 7.14 million, while the Jewish population will have only reached around 6.87 million.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bahrain detains leader of oppositional Wefaq party

Bahrain's main opposition party Al Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman speaks to Reuters at the party's headquarters in Bilad Al Qadeem, west of Manama, October 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Sheikh Ali Salman. (Photo: Reuters)

Bahraini authorities on Sunday detained the head of the main Shi'ite Muslim opposition group after he was summoned for questioning over unspecified violations. Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary-general of al-Wefaq Islamic Society, was among several prominent figures who led a rally near the capital Manama on Friday staged to protest against last month's general elections, which the opposition boycotted.
The Interior Ministry said Sheikh Salman - one of the most prominent figures in the Western-allied country - had been summoned for questioning by the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation.
"Legal procedures are now being finalised ahead of referring the case to the Public Prosecution," it said in a statement, without elaborating.
A lawyer who represents al-Wefaq said the charges include incitement against the government, calling for its overthrow by force and inciting the youth to revolt, al-Wasat newspaper reported.
Al-Wefaq described Sheikh Salman's detention as "a dangerous and uncalculated adventure that complicates the political and security scene in Bahrain".
The island kingdom, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based, has been gripped by tension since 2011 protests led by majority Shi'ite Muslims demanding reforms and a bigger role in running the Sunni-led country.

''Islamic State executed almost 2.000 people in six months''

The Islamic State militant group has killed 1,878 people in Syria during the past six months, the majority of them civilians, a British-based Syrian monitoring organization said on Sunday.Islamic State also killed 120 of its own members, most of them foreign fighters trying to return home, in the last two months, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The group has fought the Syrian and Iraqi governments, other insurgents and Kurdish forces since June.
Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Syrian monitoring group, told Reuters that Islamic State killed 1,175 civilians, including eight women and four children.
He said 930 of the civilians were members of the Sheitaat, a Sunni Muslim tribe from eastern Syria which fought Islamic State for control of two oilfields in August.

Monday, December 22, 2014

"Egypt arrested 10.000 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014''

 supporters of Egypt
 Arrest of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. The photo (by AP) is from  October 2013.

The Egyptian police arrested 10,000 alleged saboteurs, rioters, and terrorists in 2014, assistant interior minister Abdel-Fattah Osman was quoted as saying on Saturday by state-run news agency MENA. The police also arrested 119 Facebook page admins responsible for inciting against state institutions and security personnel, and four people charged with recording “hostile videos," he said. The Muslim Brotherhood is now facing its “final struggle,”  the Egyptian interior ministry said.
"The terrorist Brotherhood has terrorised people on the one hand and promoted an environment of discontent on the other, whether by blowing up electricity pylons or by obstructing transportation," Osman stated, adding that security forces have managed to thwart all such "satanic plans."
Following the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, his Muslim Brotherhood group was designated a terrorist organisation and banned. Morsi and other leaders were arrested and are facing a number of charges including espionage and inciting violence.

Jordan revives death penalty, executes 11 citizens

Jordan executed 11 citizens on Sunday, ending an eight-year moratorium on capital punishment, judicial sources said.
The hanged men were among 120 Jordanians convicted of capital crimes in the last 10 years, according to the sources.
Jordan halted executions in 2006, but a recent rise in violent crime has resulted in calls to reimpose capital punishment.
The kingdom has in the past been sensitive to international concerns on human rights and civil liberties because it relies greatly on Western aid.
Jordan amended its penal code in 2006 in response to concerns expressed by the U.N. Human Rights Council over the number of offences punishable by death.
"With these executions, Jordan loses its standing as a rare progressive voice on the death penalty in the region,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. “Reviving this inherently cruel form of punishment is another way Jordan is backsliding on human rights.”
Most of those executed in Jordan in recent decades have been common criminals, while al Qaeda-inspired Islamist detainees handed death sentences in terrorism-related security trials usually saw their convictions commuted to life imprisonment.

Monday, December 8, 2014

TV host colludes with Egyptian police in raid on visitors of bathhouse presumed to be gay

 Arrested men from the Bab el-Bahr hammam being herded into a Central Security truck, December 7, 2014. The woman with a camera to the R may be Mona Iraqi.
Almost naked men got arrested. The woman filming with her phone at the right is Mona Iraqi.

The Egyptian police carried out a massive raid on a hammam (bathhouse) in the Ramsis area of Cairo on Sunday night, not far from the main railway station, and arrested dozens of men. They were almost naked driven to the trucks. Someone living nearby who watched the assault wrote on social media that “police together with Central Security forces attacked the bath.” (Central Security, Amn el-Merkezi, is an army force mainly composed of raw recruits. it takes over many policing duties in an increasingly militarized Egypt.) “Some 40 people were arrested. Some were beaten up in the baths, and they were all arrested with no clothes.” He said “a female journalist and a cameraman” arrived “before they attacked the baths. She tried to enter and film inside, and she was kicked out by the owner. Immediately this was reported [to the police], and the baths were attacked. People say there were informers from the police inside the baths before that.”

Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, Israeli cooperation with Syrian rebels near Quneitra

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The Syrian government accused Israel of launching a series of airstrikes on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday, as a UN report documented strong ties between Israel and militant groups fighting in Syria.
"This afternoon, the Israeli enemy targeted two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the al-Dimas area and the outskirts of Damascus International Airport.''  the general command of the Syrian army said in a statement. It said the strikes caused material damage.
Both civilian and military aircraft operate at the airport, which lies southeast of Damascus near flashpoint areas including eastern Ghouta, large parts of which are in rebel hands.
A resident in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya, close to al-Dimas, said the agricultural airport in al-Dimas was hit. Al-Dimas is in a mountainous area to the northwest of the capital which is under government control and close to several military installations.
An Israeli army spokesman said he would not comment on the "foreign reports,” but the Syrian army reiterated its claim that Israel is helping rebels fighting the Syrian government."This direct aggression by Israel was carried out to help the terrorists in Syria, after our armed forces secured important victories in Deir Ezzor, Aleppo and elsewhere," the Syrian army command said.

Thirteen killed in failed US rescue attempt in Yemen

Luke Somers in een filmpje dat AQAP vorige weekuitbracht

A woman, a 10-year-old boy and a local al Qaeda leader were among at least 11 people killed alongside two Western hostages when U.S.-led forces fought Islamist militants in a failed rescue mission in Yemen, residents said on Sunday.
U.S. special forces raided the village of Dafaar in Shabwa province, a militant stronghold in southern Yemen, shortly after midnight on Saturday, killing several members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
American journalist Luke Somers, 33, and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, 56, were shot and killed by their captors during the raid intended to free them, U.S. officials said.  As special forces battled al Qaeda militants in the house, kidnappers in another building nearby shot the two hostages, a local man who identified himself as Jamal said.NBC reported that a dog may have alerted the kidnappers that the operation  by the Navy Seals was under way.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Iranian official confirms airstrikes on IS in Iraq

A senior Iranian official has confirmed his country carried out air strikes in neighboring Iraq against Islamic State fighters at the request of Iraqi authorities, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported.
It quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour as saying the strikes were not coordinated with the United States, which is also waging an air campaign against the radical Sunni Muslim militants who control large parts of north and west Iraq
The purpose of the strikes was "the defense of the interests of our friends in Iraq", the newspaper quoted Rahimpour as saying in an interview in London.
"We did not have any coordination with the Americans. We have coordinated only with the Iraqi government," he said. "In general, every military operation to help the Iraqi government is according to their requests."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Radwa Ashour 1946-2014

Radwa Ashour with her husband, Mourid el-Barghouti. Barghouti and Ashour met as students at Cairo University in the 1960s, and he writes about the beginnings of their relationship in his second memoir, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, trans. Humphrey Davies.

Egyptian writer and academic Radwa Ashour died late on Sunday at the age of 68 after suffering from health troubles over the past few months. Ashour, born 26 May 1946 in Cairo, studied English literature at Cairo University and earned her MA in comparative literature in 1972.  She is best known for her Granada Trilogy, Ashour was married to the Palestinian poet Mourid El-Barghouti and is the mother of the poet Tamim El-Barghouti. In 1977, El-Barghouti was deported from Egypt; she and her son spent a great deal of their lives visiting him in Hungary.