Thursday, September 9, 2021

HRW: Egypt's national security killed unlawfully alleged ''terrorists''

 (Beirut) – Egypt’s Interior Ministry police and National Security Agency officers have in recent years apparently killed dozens of alleged “terrorists” across the country in unlawful extrajudicial executions they contend are “shootouts,” Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 101-page report, “‘Security Forces Dealt with Them’: Suspicious Killings and Extrajudicial Executions by Egyptian Security Forces,” found that the alleged armed militants killed in the so-called shootouts did not pose an imminent danger to security forces or others when they were killed and in many cases had already been in custody. Egypt’s international partners should halt weapons transfers to Egypt and impose sanctions against the security agencies and officials most responsible for ongoing abuses.

Human Rights Watch found that the Interior Ministry announced the deaths of at least 755 people in 143 alleged shootouts between January 2015 and December 2020, with only one suspect arrested. The ministry statements identified only 141 of those killed and used copy-paste language, providing very little detail.

Almost all the statements claimed that the alleged militants opened fire first, compelling security forces to return fire. The authorities alleged that all those killed were sought for “terrorism” and that most belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. The group has faced the harshest repression in the nationwide crackdown on dissent since the July 2013 military coup led by now-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Human Rights Watch closely examined the cases of 14 individuals who were among 75 men killed in nine of those incidents in mainland Egypt (Human Rights Watch previously documented several extrajudicial executions in North Sinai). No suspects were arrested in the nine incidents and there were no casualties among security forces. Human Rights Watch interviewed 13 relatives and acquaintances of the men as well as several Egyptian human rights lawyers and activists and a journalist who documented extrajudicial killings.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Chelsea owner Abramovich donated $100 million to ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem

 Bank documents indicate that companies associated with or controlled by the Israeli-Russian billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich have contributed nearly 350 million shekels ($102 million) to the Elad organization, which works to strengthen the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem and ethnically cleanse the city. The disclosure links the Russian-born oligarch to four companies that are registered in the British Virgin Islands and over which up to now, it was not known who was behind them.

The documents, which were submitted to Congress as part of an investigation of alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential elections in the United States, were leaked to the BuzzFeed website, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Through that organization, they were shared with 400 journalists from 108 media outlets worldwide. This writer (Uri Blau) and the Shomrim Center for Media and Democracy are the Israeli members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Although Elad itself and the donations that were transferred to it were not mentioned at all in the documents, efforts to track those involved led to the Israeli nonprofit. In recent years, Elad, which is also known as the Ir David Foundation, has branded itself as dealing primarily with education and tourism and less with increasing the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem.

Fatah and Hamas agree on holding elections

 Secretary-General of the Central Committee of Fatah Movement, Jibril Rajoub, said today that Fatah and Hamas, the two main factions in Palestine, have reached a consensus on holding the elections based on the system of proportional representation.

"We have conducted an intensive national strategic dialogue at the Palestinian Consulate in Istanbul, and we reached a clear vision of the mechanisms for building national partnership through proportional representation elections, starting with the Legislative Council elections, then the presidential elections, and finally the National Council," Rajoub told official Palestine TV. 

The Fatah Secretary General said voting will be held wherever possible, while in areas where holding an election is not possible, the factions will have to reach a consensus on the mechanism of representation.

He added, "We are waiting for the invitation of President Mahmoud Abbas to the secretary-generals of the Palestinian factions to endorse the principle and confirm the mechanisms, starting with the issuance of the presidential decree and until the final stage."Rajoub said the secretary-generals of the Palestinian factions will be required to meet in a week to agree on the mechanisms to continue the process of building the national partnership, based on the statehood project and the popular resistance to confront the "deal of the century", the Israeli annexation plan and the normalization wave."Building national unity is a strategic goal of the agreement, and is our path to elections. The democratic process is the only way to build our political system," he stressed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

After normalisation UAE and Bahrain with Israel Palestine turns down to preside over Arab League

 Palestine has decided to relinquish its right to preside over the Council of the Arab League at its current session in reaction to the decision of some Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel, said Foreign Minister Riyad Malki.“The State of Palestine has decided to relinquish and forsake its right to preside over the Arab League Council because it is not an honor for it to watch the rush of the Arabs toward normalization (of relations with Israel) while it serves as the chair (of the Arab League),” said Malki, slamming the Arab countries that have signed normalization agreements with Israel in Washington on September 15, in reference mainly to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.“Since the decision to rush after (normalization) was taken in Washington, it does not serve any purpose to exert any more effort to sway (the Arabs) against normalization particularly since they are not the decision-makers, regretfully,” he said at a press conference.

Malki stressed that Palestine will not withdraw from the Arab League, explaining that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has been a member of the League since 1976, because withdrawal “will create a vacuum and can generate different scenarios that we do not need at this sensitive stage.”He stressed however that there are Arab states that are firm in their position against normalization with the occupation, expressing hope that they will hold on to this position and remain committed to the decisions of the Arab League and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Malki said he does not want the name of Palestine to be linked through its presidency over the Council to this grim period, pointing out that the UAE and the Bahraini decision to normalize relations with Israel represents a turning point in joint Arab action, and the Arab League, whose long legacy in supporting the Palestinian cause, is facing a dilemma in this regard.He said that there are some influential Arab countries that have refused to condemn the departure from the Arab Peace Initiative and have dropped a resolution condemning normalization. (One of the countries was Egypt, AbuP.)

"Unfortunately, the General Secretariat of the Arab League took a decision to overlook the UAE normalization and has failed to issue a resolution condemning the normalization of relations with Israel during the last meeting of the League, which was a regular meeting held at the level of foreign ministers, headed by Palestine, on September 9," said Malki.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Sudan makes female genital mutilation unlawful

Khartoum (Wikipedia)

The transitional government of Sudan has ecided to make female genital mutilation a criminal offense. The amendment to the Criminal Law Article 141 was endorsed by both the Sovereign and Ministerial Councils on 22 April. All amendments proposed by National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) in line with UNICEF vision to promote child rights were also endorsed.
This measure came after years of persistent advocacy by all stake holders; the NCCW, women and child advocates, donors including UK aid and the Swedish government, UN agencies, and international and national organizations.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Syrian Kurds shift alliance to Damascus, Assads troops on their way to the north

 Qamishli (Photo Wikipedia)

Syria's Kurds said Syrian government forces agreed Sunday to help them fend off Turkey's invasion — a major shift in alliances that came after President Donald Trump ordered all U.S. troops withdrawn from the northern border area amid the rapidly deepening chaos.
The Syrian government troops will deploy along the border with Turkey to help Kurdish fighters fend off Ankara's military offensive in northern Syria, the Kurdish-led administration in the region said. 
The move, announced on Sunday, represents a major shift in alliance for Syria's Kurds and came hours after the United States said it was withdrawing its troops from the area to avoid getting caught in the middle of the fast-escalating conflict.
The Kurdish-led administration in a statement on Facebook said it had brokered the agreement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government to counter Turkey's ongoing push, which has drawn widespread condemnation. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

At least 105 killed in nationwide protests in Iraq

Updated October 8:  More than  hundred people have been killed so far in the protests in several Iraqi cities. The number of 105 was cited by the Iraqi Humna Rights Observatory. The army has admitted that it used ''excessive force;''. The Iraqi president, Barham Salih, condemned the attacks on portesteres (and the media) and urged the security forces to respect the rights of the protesters.
In Iraq the internet is still cut off. Prime minister Abdul Mahdi has ordered the military forces to be replaced by federal police units. Also he ordered the intelligence service to open an inquiry. (End of Update)
An indefinite curfew has been imposed October 2 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and southern cities after two days of anti-government protests descended into violence and left at least 13 people dead and hundreds more injured. On Thursday morning, riot police fired in the air to disperse hundreds of protesters angry at high unemployment gathered at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad in defiance of the curfew.
"We slept here so the police don't take the place," one demonstrator told AFP news agency before being pushed back by the police.
Since erupting in Baghdad on Tuesday, the protests have spread to other cities in the country's south, posing a challenge to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's one-year-old government. Curfews were also imposed in the holy city of Najaf and in Nassiriyah on Wednesday after security forces fired on protesters who demand end to rampant power cuts, water shortages and state corruption.

Trump gives Turkey green light to attack Kurds in Northern Syria

 (Photo Wikipedia)
 The White House has given the green light to a Turkish offensive into northern Syria, moving US forces out of the area in an abrupt foreign policy change that will in effect abandon the Kurds, Washington’s longtime military partner.
Kurdish forces have spearheaded the campaign against Islamic State in the region, but the policy swerve, after a phone conversation between Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday, means Turkey would take custody of captured Isis fighters, the White House said.
It has also raised fears of fresh fighting between Turkey and Kurdish forces in Syria’s complex war now the US no longer acts as a buffer between the two sides.
Trump defended his decision, saying the Kurds were “paid massive amounts of money and equipment” to fight and that he was leaving the fight against Isis to others for the time being.
“We are 7,000 miles away,” he tweeted, while vowing to crush the extremist movement “if they come anywhere near us”.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Attacks on two Saudi oil refineries: what followed

Tensions in the Middle East have surged following attacks on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The pre-dawn attacks on September 14 knocked out more than half of the top global exporter's output - five percent of the global oil supply - or about 5.7 million barrels per day.
Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swiftly accused Iran, which rejected the allegations. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, promised to "confront and deal with this terrorist agggression", while US President Donald Trump hinted at possible military action.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Ankara would continue to purchase oil and natural gas from Iran despite US sanctions.
Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, called on the UN and the world to apply "utmost pressure with every tool available" to end what he said was Iran's aggressive conduct. At UNGA on Thursday, the foreign minister again blamed Iran for the September 14 missile and drone attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities and said the best way to control Tehran was by cutting off its financial resources.
Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan noted that when a country was looking for international support after such an attack it would normally call for an emergency meeting of the Security Council. "There's been no such request from the Saudi government,'' he said.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Iran activates advanced centrifuges in third upgrade of atomic program

Anti-aircfat gun guarding Natanz (Photo Wikipedia)

Iran has begun injecting gas into advanced centrifuges to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium, an official has announced, warning that time is running out for other signatories to save a multilateral 2015 nuclear deal.
In the meantime negotiations are still underway between France and Iran about a loan of some $ 15 billion, in order to truy to svae the nuclear deal (see below)
Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, said on Saturday the agency had started up advanced centrifuges at Iran's enrichment facility in Natanz as the third step by Tehran in scaling back its commitments under the crumbling pact following the United States' unilateral withdrawal last year.
"We have started lifting limitations on our research and development imposed by the deal ... it will include development of more rapid and advanced centrifuges," Kamalvandi said.
"The capacity of these machines is many times more than the previous machines. This started as of yesterday (Friday)," he continued, adding that "all these steps are reversible if the other side fulfils its promises".
In two separate moves already, Iran reduced its commitments outlined in the crumbling deal and vowed further measures unless the European signatories of the pact did more to shield Tehran's economy.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sudanese sign deal between military and opposition

The agreement is signed (via Twitter)

Sudan's main opposition coalition and the ruling military council have formally signed a final power-sharing deal, paving the way for a transition to a civilian-led government.
The landmark agreement signed on Saturday in the capital Khartoum came after a long period of negotiations following the overthrow of longtime leader President Omar al-Bashir in the wake of mass protests.
The deal was inked between Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy chief of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), and Ahmed al-Rabie, who represented the Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella group. The ceremony was attended by heads of states, prime ministers and dignitaries from several countries, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.
The power-sharing deal creates a joint military and civilian sovereign council to rule for a little over three years until elections can be held.
Under the agreement, a military leader would head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18. It would also establish a cabinet appointed by the activists and a legislative body.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Takeover of Aden by separatists weakens the front against the Houthis

Separatists celebrate the takeover of Aden 

A Southern Yemeni organisation that seeks the secession (or autonomy) of South Yemen, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) on after four days of fighting on Saturday took effective control of various parts of Aden. With vehicles donated by the United Arab Emirates and without meeting too much resistance as it seems, they took over military camps, the home of the interior minister and the almost-empty presidential palace where guards agreed to leave without a fight. Forty people were killed in the fighting and 260 were wounded.
STC leader Aidarous al-Zubaidi on Sunday said in a televised appearance the council was committed to a ceasefire called by Saudi Arabia, and said the separatists were willing to attend a meeting called by Riyadh a day earlier. He added they were also willing to work with the Saudi-UAE-led military coalition battling Yemen's Houthi rebels. On the surface the front against the Houthis seems to remains intact in this way, but the real significance of the take over lies in the fact that a serious split between the two main components of the anti-Houthi-front came into the open in this way: the Saudis who back the officially recognized Yemeni governement of Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi at the one hand and the United Arab Emirates who support the STC at the other.
The two countries have been fighting the Houthis the last five years with the backing by the US and Great Britain among others in a war that has cost ttrens of thousands of lives and had brought hunger and destruction. It hasn t brought them nearer a victory however. The Sauedis mainly bombed fro the air, the UAE had his troups in the South, but recentl;u announced that it is going to withdraw them. That gae the STC the opportunity to take over Aden.