Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cairo court: Hamas a terrorist organisation

There used to be a time that Egyptian leftistts trusted the judicairy. That time has passed. The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters on Saturday ruled Hamas a terrorist organisation, a month after the group's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, was also designated a terror group by the same court.
The verdict resulted from two separate private suits filed by Samir Sabry and Ashraf Said, both lawyers, against the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip.
The relationship between Egypt's authorities and the Islamist resistance group has soured since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian sister organisation.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

IS destroys Assyrian statues in Mosul

 An IS militant appears to push over a statue in Mosul Museum

The Islamic State (IS) group has released a video showing the destruction of statues in Iraq. The video shows statues being smashed using sledgehammers in what appears to be a museum in the city of Mosul.
Statues are also shown being destroyed reportedly at an archaeological site known as the Nergal Gate.
One of the militants in the video describes the artefacts as "false idols" and seeks to justify their destruction in religious terms.
In the video released via IS social media sites, black-clad men push over statues, smash them with sledgehammers and use a pneumatic drill to destroy the rubble.
The video shows a black-clad man drilling through and pulling apart what appears to be a stone winged-bull Assyrian protective deity that dates back to the 9th Century BC.

Ex-president Saleh of Yemen amassed between 32 and 60 billion dollars through corruption

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh points during an interview with selected media, including Reuters, in Sanaa May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah/Files
(Photo Reuters)

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's former president, is believed to have amassed between $32bn and $60bn through corruption during his 33 years in power, a UN report has said. A panel of experts reported on Wednesday to the UN Security Council that Saleh's assets were stashed in at least 20 countries, and the team is investigating the ex-leader's connections with businessmen helping him to hide the funds.
The 15-member council in November imposed sanctions, including an assets freeze, on Saleh, who was forced out of power in 2012 under a Gulf-sponsored deal. The council also blacklisted Saleh for obstructing peace in Yemen, notably for backing the Shia Houthi rebels that have seized power in Sanaa.

The Netanyahu-government in 2014 produced 460 new houses monthly in occupied territory

A crane is seen next to homes in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim (Reuters/Ammar Awad)
Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim) near Jerusalem. (Photo Reuters) 

The Israeli organzation Peace Now reports:
Summary of the third Netanyahu government: A substantial increase in construction starts, planning and tenders – specifically in isolated settlements and the most disputed areas in terms of the chance for two states.
A.  Construction Starts - 40% increase in construction starts. 68% of the new construction is in settlements east of the outline proposed by the Geneva Initiative, the areas most challenging for the two-state solution.
B.   Tenders– A decade’s (at least) record of tenders in the settlements and East Jerusalem.  Tenders for 4,485 residential units were published in 2014 alone.
C.   Plans – The third Netanyahu government promoted an average of 460 residential units per month, mainly in isolated settlements, double the number promoted by the previous government.

Monday, February 23, 2015

'Five years for Alaa Abdel Fattah

Abdel Fattah in court. in November 2014 (Photo: Reuters).

Egypty again demonstrated that is has become one of the most repressive states on earth. Renowned activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who faced trial alongside 24 others, was sentenced to five years of maximum security prison by a Cairo court on Monday, in his retrial for charges of illegal assembly. 
Osama al-Mahdy, Abdel Fattah's lawyer said today's verdict is considered a preliminary one, since the initial verdict was handed in absentia.  "We will appeal at the Court of Cassation," he said, adding that this court will decide whether to uphold the verdict or order a retrial.
Another defendant, Ahmed Abdel Rahman was handed the same prison term of five years.
The court handed 18 other defendants three year sentences. Each of the 20 defendants who attended the session was ordered to pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (about  € 14.000).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Deposed Yemeni president Mansour al-Hadi leaves residence

People in the South-Yemeni capital Aden demonstrated on 20 February after the Friday prayers against the Houthi takeover in Sana'a. (Photo AFP) Forces loyal to deposed president Mansour Hadi last Monday took over Aden's television building, its main power station, the intelligence headquarters and the free zone authority offices in five hours of clashes against forces led by a general seen asallied to the Houthis.

Yemen's former president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi left his official residence after weeks of house arrest by the Houthi militia on Saturday and flew to his home town of Aden. The United Nations, which oversaw a new power-sharing agreement between the Houthi group, also known as Ansarullah, and Yemen's other rival factions on Friday, helped him travel to Aden.Hadi's Sanaa residence was looted by Houthi militiamen after he left, witnesses said, but the former president arrived at his home in the Aden district of Khormaksar, sources told Reuters.
Yemen's rival parties agreed on Friday to create a transitional council to help govern the country and allow a government to continue operating with input from other factions after the effective Houthi takeover.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Egypt bombs IS in Libya after beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts

Men in orange jumpsuits purported to be Egyptian Christians held captive by the Islamic State (IS) are marched by armed men along a beach said to be near Tripoli, in this still image from an undated video made available on social media on February 15, 2015. REUTERS/Social media via Reuters TV
Egyptian Christians held captive by the Islamic State (IS) are marched by armed men along a beach said to be near Tripoli, in this still image from a video that appeared on February 15, 2015.

Egypt's air force bombed Islamic State targets inside Libya on Monday, a day after the group released a video appearing to show the beheading of 21 Egyptians there. The military said the dawn strike, in which Libya's air force also participated, hit Islamic State camps, training sites and weapons storage areas in Libya, where a civil conflict has plunged the country into near anarchy.
The 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, who had gone to Libya in search of jobs, were marched to a beach, forced to kneel and then beheaded, according to the video, broadcast via a website that supports Islamic State.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Some 700 British artists announce cultural boycott of Israel

Some 700 British artists, inlcuding writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, have anounced that from now they will boycott Isarel culturally, will not perform there, not cooperate wityh cultural Israeli institutions and not accept fundings. In the British newspaper The Guadrian the wrote:

.... we are announcing today that we will not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel. We will accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government. Since the summer war on Gaza, Palestinians have enjoyed no respite from Israel’s unrelenting attack on their land, their livelihood, their right to political existence. “2014,” says the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, was “one of the cruellest and deadliest in the history of the occupation.” The Palestinian catastrophe goes on.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Islamic State branch in Sinai beheads 8 tribesmen

(Photo Al-Ahram)

The militant group Sinai Province (formerly Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis) in the Sinai desert released a new video online early Tuesday showing the beheading of eight men from North Sinai tribes, alledgedly for collaborating with Egyptian armed forces and Israeli Mossad.
The 13-minute video starts with images of civilians purportedly killed by Egyptian security forces during their ongoing military operation against the militant group in North Sinai. The video does not mention the place or date of these deaths. A voiceover vows to avenge the deaths.
The second part of ther videao shows militants opening fire from a moving vehicle on two men in civilian clothes sitting in their truck on the side of a street. The subtitles claim that the men were security officers in plain clothes.  A third part shows six men from North Sinai tribes "confessing" to having collaborated with the Egyptian armed forces and the Israeli Mossad in front of the camera.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Football fans die in stampede at Cairo stadium: 20 deaths
Updated. Dozens of fans of the Egyptian football club Zamalek were killed on Sunday evening as police attempted to disperse large crowds who were making their way through to attend a football game in the Egyptian Premier league, the deadliest football-related incident since the infamous Port Said disaster three years ago that killed more than 70 people. The number of victims was said to be as high as 30 at first, but was later corrected  19 deaths. (and three days later to 20)
The clashes erupted when a number of football fans attempted to get into the military-owned stadium without tickets to the Zamalek vs.ENPPI premier league game, according to the Interior Ministry. According to the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, a number of fans lay in front of the bus transporting Zamalek football players to the stadium. Police dispersed the crowd using tear gas, which caused chaos that resulted in a stampede.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mass graves of Yazidis found in northern Iraq

One of the mass graves.
One of the mass graves. This one is near Khansour village, west of Sinuse.

The remains of 23 men from Iraq's Yazidi religious minority were found when a mass grave was excavated in northern Iraq, an official said on Saturday. It is the latest evidence of atrocities committed in areas held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group to emerge since Kurdish forces pushed the jihadists back.
Meanwhile, the parents of an American hostage who ISIS claimed had been killed in a US-led coalition air strike have said they are "hopeful" she is still alive.
A team acting on a tip-off from a resident opened the mass grave near the village of Bardiyan on Friday, said Fuad Othman, a spokesman for the Kurdish regional government. Othman said those killed had been shot, and some had their hands bound.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Houthis dissolve Yemen's parliament and install ''transitional council''

Houthi Shiites attend a meeting to announce their taking over the country in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. Yemen's powerful Shiite rebels announced on Friday that they have taken over the country and dissolved parliament, a dramatic move that
Houthis, tribal and military representatives as well as the interior and defence ministers attended the installation of the new ''presidential council''. (Photo AP)

Houthi militants in Yemen announced a new “constitutional declaration” on Friday evening, which dissolved the parliament and established a “transitional council.” According to the declaration, pro-Houthi "revolutionary committees" — headed up by senior group member Mohammed Ali al-Houthi — will form a transitional council to replace the parliament.
The 551 members of the transitional council will establish a five-member presidential council to manage the country's affairs, according to a televised statement.
On Saturday the Houthis, who call themselves Ansar Ullah, also announced the formation of a 'security commission', including former ministers, which according to the state news agency Saba, will rule until the presidential council had been formed. The commission will be chaired by General Mahmud al-Subaihi, Defence minister in the government of outgoing President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The Interior minister of Hadi's former government is also one of the 18 members of the commission.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Egyptian courts: in one week 183 death sentences and 229 times life imprisonment

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie (2nd right) and other defendants gesture during their trial in Cairo on 7 June 2014 Inmates in an Egyptian courtroom. (Photo: Getty)
Br /> The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced well-known Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma and another 229 defendants to life-in-prison on Wednesday and fined them all LE17 million (US$2.2 million) for involvement in the December 2011 cabinet clashes case.
A life-in-prison verdict carries a sentence of 25 years in jail according to the Egyptian penal code. Some 39 other minors were sentenced to ten years in prison in the same case. All defendants can appeal the verdicts.
Douma, along with 269 others,  was accused of possessing bladed weapons and Molotov cocktails, assaulting personnel from the armed forces and the police, torching the Scientific Complex in downtown Cairo and damaging other governmental buildings, including that of the cabinet and the parliament. That woudl have happened on 16 December 2011, when soldiers forcibly dispersed a three-week sit-in against military rule at the cabinet building. At least 18 were killed and hundreds injured in the violence which spanned over five days.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Israel destroyed 590 homes in 2014 and displaced a record number of 1.177 people

In 2014 the Israeli authorities destroyed 590 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing 1,177 people. according to a statement by OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It is the highest level of displacement recorded by OCHA since it began to monitor the issue systematically in 2008. According to Haaretz the figures for East-Jerusalem were that 208 Palestinians were displaced in 2014 after Israel demolished 97 buildings.
OCHA issued its statement out of concern after a remarkable increase in the level of displacement and destruction in January 2015. Since the beginning of 2015, the Civil Administration of the Israel Defense Forces has demolished 77 homes, livestock pens, farm buildings and other structures of Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, since they were built without building permits. As a result, 110 people, around half of them children, lost their homes at the height of the winter, according to a report compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.