Saturday, December 8, 2012

Assad crimes in Aleppo

Egypt: Between revolution 3.0 and civil war

The current logjam between protesters and the Muslim Brotherhood-led government could lead to escalating tensions.

By Mark LeVine


Revolution 3.0
In the midst of unprecedented tension and even fratricidal conflict, how would one define a truly revolutionary new Egyptian Constitution? It would have to accomplish two things. First, it would lay the foundation for the fullest possible expansion of rights to all Egyptians regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity or other markers of social differentiation. Second and more profound, it would establish a political-economic system that controls the flow of power and wealth throughout society in such a way as to encourage the formation of competent governments willing to take on the deeply entrenched system of corruption and inequality - both its internal and external facilitators and benefactors alike - that have for so long characterised the political economy of Egypt.

Neither the present Constitution nor the emerging political system it's laying the ground rules for will achieve these goals. But while Morsi and the Brotherhood establish themselves more deeply within (and likely ultimately transform) Egypt's power elite, their Achilles' heel might well be developing at the movement's base among the very people presently serving as the movements, and the President's shock troops.

The simple fact is that the very strategy necessary to open space for the Brotherhood's ascendence to power - not challenging the military's prerogatives, following Washington Consensus policies demanded by the IMF regardless of their negative impact on the majority of Egyptians, and supporting, however quietly, US policies in the region - will move it further away from its core poor, working class and petite bourgeois constituencies. If the Brotherhood keeps moving towards neoliberal policies that will only reinforce the huge structural imbalances in Egyptian society, its hold over its base will weaken, opening room for dialog with the very political forces they've been fighting today.

A friend who returned to the Palace Thursday afternoon to talk with the Brotherhood supporters against whom he'd fought only hours before put it best, explaining that his opponents told him they'd come because they saw the Presidential Palace, the symbol of their own rise to dignity after decades of humiliation, under threat. "They came to protect the good of the country as they see it, just like we did. They were like the revolutionaries."

That sentiment should scare Morsi, the Brotherhood and the military-led deep state even more than the hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters who are ready to risk civil war to stop the upcoming Constitutional referendum. If and when revolutionary forces and the foot soldiers of the Muslim Brotherhood begin to move towards common ground, the Revolution will finally enter Phase 3."

البث الحي لقناة أون تي في -

Live Streaming

In reprisal, Egypt activists force closure of main Cairo administration building

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: In what appears to be a reprisal action for supporters of President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, protesters in Tahrir Square forced the closure of the country’s main administration building, the Mogamma, on Saturday.

They claim it is to protest the sit-ins that are blocking judges from entering the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court.

According to eye witnesses, protesters have placed barbed wire across the entrance, which has barred government employees from entering the building.

Local reports suggest that small clashes occurred near the entrance.

They are protesting the moves made by Brotherhood supporters on Sunday at the top court that barred the judges from entering in order to rule on the constitutionality of an assembly that has drafted the recent and controversial constitution, to go to a referendum on December 15.

The state-run MENA news agency reported that the protesters have said they will open the building and allow work to resume when the protesters at the sit-in at the court allow judges to work.

Tahrir is now in their 16th consecutive day of protests, with a large number of white tents having been erected as they continue to voice opposition to Morsi’s policies and the constitution, which they have argued will return the country to an era without freedom and justice."

VIVE LA REVOLUTION: France funding Syrian rebels in new push to oust Assad

Money delivered by French government proxies across Turkish border has been used to buy weapons and ammunition

in Ankara,
France has emerged as the most prominent backer of Syria's armed opposition and is now directly funding rebel groups around Aleppo as part of a new push to oust the embattled Assad regime.
Large sums of cash have been delivered by French government proxies across the Turkish border to rebel commanders in the past month, diplomatic sources have confirmed. The money has been used to buy weapons inside Syria and to fund armed operations against loyalist forces.
The French moves have stopped short of direct supply of weapons – a bridge that no western state has yet been willing to cross in Syria. But, according to western and Turkish officials as well as rebel leaders, the influx of money has made a difference in recent weeks as momentum on the battlefields of the north steadily shifts towards the opposition.
Some of the French cash has reached Islamist groups who were desperately short of ammunition and who had increasingly turned for help towards al-Qaida aligned jihadist groups in and around Aleppo......"

Friday, December 7, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Protesters continue to call for Morsi to step down

الصورة الكاملة: الإتحادية .. قتلى ومصابين ومصادمات


Egypt’s Republican Guard falls back as hundreds of thousands converge on palace

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: In what could very well be a monumental moment in Egypt’s modern history, the Republican Guard that had been preventing protesters from reaching the Presidential Palace moved aside on Friday early evening and allowed the masses who had gathered to pour onto the street directly in front of the palace.
The shouts of joy as protesters moved swiftly into the area, some jumping over concrete barriers aimed at keeping them away from the palace.
The Republican Guard has stationed itself in front of the palace, but has not intervened as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians continue to demand the removal of President Mohamed Morsi, in what has become two weeks of near continuous protests in Cairo and across the country.
It also follows Wednesday’s clashes when Muslim Brotherhood supporters attacked peaceful protesters who had entered into a sit-in in front of the palace the night before.
That violence left at least 6 people dead and over 1,000 injured. Activists and videos show the Brotherhood brutally attacking the anti-Morsi protesters with knives, sharp objects, sticks and even gun fire and rubber bullets.
The Brotherhood and Morsi have maintained that it was the doing of a “third-party” in what activists say is a return to the claims made by the now ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak during the January 2011 uprising.
On Friday afternoon, leading figure Mohamed ElBaradei called on Egyptians to reject Morsi’s call for a national dialogue, saying “it lacks all basics of a real dialogue”.
“I appeal to all national forces not to participate in dialogue that lacks all basics of a real dialogue,” ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account.
“We support dialogue that is not based on arm-twisting tactics or imposing a fait accompli,” he added....."

Graffiti on the Walls of the Presidential Palace

Beside the obvious, it says "Step Down and Go, You Dog of America!"

الجهاد الإسلامي: القاهرة أبلغتنا رفض إسرائيل دخول شلح إلى غزة

"غزة- (يو بي اي): أعلنت حركة الجهاد الإسلامي في فلسطين، رسمياً الجمعة، أن القاهرة أبلغتها رفض إسرائيل دخول أمينها العام رمضان شلح ونائبه إلى غزة.
وقال ناطق رسمي باسم حركة الجهاد، في تصريح تلقت يونايتد برس انترناشونال نسخة منه "أبلغتنا الشقيقة مصر بالموقف الإسرائيلي الرافض لدخول الأخ الأمين العام الدكتور رمضان شلح ونائبه الأخ زياد النخالة، إلى قطاع غزة، وذلك للمشاركة في مهرجان انطلاقة حركة حماس، حيث كان مقرراً أن يلقي الأخ الأمين العام كلمة في هذا المهرجان".

وذكر الناطق أن القاهرة أبلغتهم تهديد إسرائيل بإلغاء اتفاق التهدئة إذا دخل الأمين العام ونائبه القطاع، "بما يعني نيتها استهدافهم"، لافتاً إلى أن مصر تعاملت مع هذه التهديدات بجدية كبيرة، "لذا لم تبد استعداداً بتسهيل وتنسيق سفر الأخ الأمين العام ونائبه إلى غزة".
وأدانت حركة الجهاد القرار الإسرائيلي مؤكدة أنه "لا يلغي حقنا في الدخول أو العودة إلى أرض الوطن".
In the Meantime, Misha'al is Freely and Openly Parading in Gaza; the Question is: Why is Israel Tolerating Him? Fear of Hamas? I Don't Think so. Most Likely This is an Obama Directive to Help his Muslim Brothers Clients in Cairo.

Qatari Human Rights Official Defends Life Sentence For Poet Who Praised Arab Spring Uprisings

Democracy Now!

"Three days after the United Nations climate change conference began here in Doha, a Qatari court sentenced a local poet to life in prison, a move that shocked many activists in the Gulf region and human rights observers. The sentencing of Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami came nearly two years after he wrote a poem titled, “Tunisian Jasmine," supporting the uprisings in the Arab world. “We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites!” al-Ajami wrote. “The Arab governments and who rules them are without exception thieves, thieves!” We speak to his attorney and a member of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee....."

Egypt's opposition shun Morsi's offer of talks as protests swell - live updates

The Guardian


Message to Obama

Syria's chemcial weapons

The US and its allies have hired contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons, according to Syria Deeply citing diplomats and US official. 
The diplomatic sources say defence contractors hired by the US and its European allies have recently conducted training exercises with Syrian rebel forces in Turkey and Jordan. The programs were intended to prepare brigades to handle chemical weapons sites and materials they might encounter, as Assad troops lose control of over parts of the country. US contractors have also been on the ground in Syria to monitor the status of regime stockpiles, said an employee with a major US defence consultancy that has been engaged in that work ...
According to one of the diplomats, an Arab official, there are 24-hour Skype links connecting the US with rebel brigades, to enhance monitoring of chemical weapons sites on the ground. He also said there are training operations in effect in Jordan, where the US Defence Department has placed roughly 150 Army special operations soldiers to work with Jordanian troops on chemical and biological weapons security.......

A Great Cartoon by Carlos Latuff: Muhammad Morsi’s last refuge

Egypt struggle seen costing Mursi, even if he wins

"(Reuters) - The crisis unleashed by President Mohamed Mursi's bid to wrap up Egypt's transition on his own terms has eroded his nation's faith in their nascent democracy and will complicate the already unenviable task of government.
His effort to drive through a constitution against the wishes of major sections of society, including a Christian minority, has damaged prospects for building consensus needed to tackle challenges ahead, such as fixing a broken economy.
Having promised to be a president for all, Mursi stands accused of putting the interests of his group, the Muslim Brotherhood, ahead of others who say their aspirations are not reflected in the draft to be put to a December 15 referendum......"

Egypt braced for protests after Morsi's defiant speech - live updates

The Guardian


Egypt's opposition shuns dialogue with Morsi

More opposition figures in Egypt's have rejected President Morsi's call for dialogue.
The Liberal Wafd party said it will not take part in talks proposed for Saturday.
Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the leaders of the National Salvation Front, has repeated his reluctance to enter talks. He said he was against dialogue based on "arm-twisting".

.Israel/Gaza: Israeli Airstrike on Home Unlawful

Deadliest Strike of Gaza Fighting Killed 12
Human Rights Watch
December 7, 2012
"(New York) – An Israeli airstrike that killed 12 civilians – the largest number of civilians killed in a single attack during the Gaza fighting in November – was a clear violation of the laws of war.
On November 18, 2012, Israeli forces dropped what appears to have been a large aerial bomb on the three-story home of the Dalu family in Gaza City, killing 10 members of the household – one man, five women, and four children. A young man and an elderly woman of the Muzannar family next door were also killed.
At first the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were attacking a Hamas fighter named Yahia Abayah. Eight days later the IDF said the target had been the man killed in the house, Mohamed Jamal al-Dalu, whom they called a “terror operative” for Hamas without providing supporting information. Even if al-Dalu, a low-ranking police officer, was a legitimate military target under the laws of war, the likelihood that the attack on a civilian home would have killed large numbers of civilians made it unlawfully disproportionate, Human Rights Watch said. Attacks in which the expected civilian loss exceeds the anticipated military gain are serious violations of the laws of war....."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

After Morsi’s speech, tension and dissent rises across Egypt

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: A president in Egypt delivered a speech to the nation in the midst of massive protests calling for his removal. Only two years ago then-President Hosni Mubarak attempted to save his regime, but he used defiant language that blamed the unrest on the protesters on the streets, who were battling tear gas, bullets and government-sponsored attacks.
On Thursday, current President Mohamed Morsi spoke to Egyptians, but for many activists it was eerily similar to the addresses Mubarak gave during the 18 days of uprising that ended his 30-year rule over the country.
Morsi attempted to diffuse an already tense country after Wednesday saw angry Muslim Brotherhood supporters – of which Morsi came out of to take the helm as president – attack and ignite street clashes around the presidential palace, leaving at least five people dead and hundreds injured.....

Activists were angry that he never once mentioned his own political group’s involvement in the violence the day before. The activists viewed the speech as an attempt to paint the protesters calling for the withdrawal of the decree and his ouster as criminals.
A number of protesters told that they believe the speech “was a call to attack those who disagree with him and we all fear reprisals and attacks.”
The failure to withdraw the decree and pushing on with the referendum has angered the protesters, but Morsi said that the “minority” must “follow its [majority] will.”.....

Abu Ezz al-Hariri, a member of dissolved parliament, said whoever accepts dialogue with the Mursi will “betray the revolution.”
The National Salvation Front also lashed out at Morsi, refusing any calls for discussion until the referendum is postponed and Morsi allows for judicial review of the constituent assembly that wrote the controversial constitution.
The April 6 Youth Movement, which played a leading role in the uprising against Mubarak, said in an announcement on its Facebook page that it would not join the talks and called for massive protests on Friday to show the president who was the majority.
It also said Friday’s protest would be called the “red card” for Morsi.
For many, the speech did little to change the status quo. For others it was the final straw that showed the unwillingness of the Brotherhood to compromise. And even others said the point of no return has been crossed and demanded that Morsi immediately step down."

قمة فلسطينية أردنية برام الله


Egypt: Street fights at the steps of the Presidential Palace

By Amnesty International’s Egypt team

"When he took office just a few months ago Mohamed Morsi promised to be the president of all Egyptians.
But hopes that he would take steps to resolve the current situation and give up the wide-ranging powers that triggered this latest crisis have been dashed after a bitter and bloody night of clashes between the president’s opponents and supporters.
The clashes followed an attack by the president’s supporters – believed to be largely made up of members of the Muslim Brotherhood – on a sit-in staged by his opponents outside the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis.
Sahar Mohamed Talaat, a Radio France International worker, was attacked by pro-Morsi men in plain clothes who punched and kicked her on the ground and beat her with batons.
As a result she suffered bruises to the back and chest and potentially a fractured nose. Several female activists were also reportedly beaten or slapped in the clashes.....

Yet despite Tuesday’s massive peaceful protest and last night’s violent unrest, there is no sign that the authorities are prepared to take steps to calm the situation, or to avoid further confrontation.
Instead, the vice-president has announced they are preparing to press ahead with a constitutional referendum on 15 December, a move likely to increase tensions further.
Today, the presidential guards’ tanks are back on the streets of Cairo. The army has been deployed outside the presidential palace, an ominous and deeply worrying sign of things to come. Few expected this crisis to be resolved quickly.
But the authorities have not given any indication that they are willing to budge at all, and, today, the divisions seem more entrenched than ever.
More anti-Morsi marches were organized today to the Presidential palace in reaction to the events yesterday, while further mobilization is expected on Friday."

Unraveling the Ikhwanweb’s lies: A look into their Twitter feed

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: When supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood attacked and tore down a peaceful sit-in in front of Egypt’s Presidential Palace on Wednesday, it set off clashes that continued into Thursday morning.
Videos, first-person testimony and a myriad of other reports revealed that Brotherhood supporters were brutally attacking people. Images on Egyptian television channels showed attack and attack in what could be described as vigilantism by Brotherhood supporters.
On the micro-blogging site Twitter, online activists, journalists and observers followed the tweets of Ikhwanweb, the English-language handle of the Brotherhood. There became a pattern of anger and sarcasm as each new tweet was posted that defied the reality and the reports coming from the area near the palace.
Let us look at the tweets and deliver a reality-check for those who were posting such erroneous statements on Twitter that were read by tens of thousands of followers. will take the tweets published on December 5 and through mid-day December 6.
We condemn use of violence & vandalism by some protesters outside Itehadyya presidential palace, it’s undemocratic & uncivilized
This tweet was written before the Brotherhood attacked the tents and ostensibly referred to the Tuesday night march of hundreds of thousands on the palace. It’s an odd statement to make, considering Tuesday protest was largely peaceful, despite a few initial incidents. Maybe the Brotherhood was preparing their supporters for what was to come only a few hours later.
Muslim Brotherhood & Islamist parties call for Million-Man March today afternoon outside Itehadyya palace in supprt of the elected president
Yes, this is correct. But the failure to mention or tell their supporters to remain calm and refrain from violence against peaceful protesters is extremely foreboding, knowing what happened when the Brotherhood arrived at the palace.
VP Meky: police has strict orders for restraint,but trying to climb fence, throwing Molotov & attacking motorcade will b strongly dealt with
VP: dialogue shld continue around controversial const articles, amendments can be presented to new parl’t for ratification
Okay, reporting Mekki’s speech. Fair enough.
Coalition of opposition parties and figures welcome president’s call for dialogue around recent initiatives to resolve current crisis
This is almost true. The reality is that as they tweet this, the Brotherhood is preparing for a battle with the people and it fails to continue to talk about any real points to a dialogue. Never once throughout the past two days did they mention why Morsi had not yet spoken to the country.
Armed mobs with live ammunition & Molotov attack MB protesters outside Itehadyya palace, killing one and injuring several others
This is the real beginning of the propaganda machine. In fact, the reality, eye witnesses and on-the-ground reports indicate that it was the Brotherhood who was using these tactics against anti-Morsi protesters. This tweet is eerily similar to the language used by the Mubarak regime in its final days, in a vain effort to deflect from the reality that its people were attacking, and killing, protesters. The only live ammunition used on Wednesday came from the Brotherhood side. Anyone who has ever covered, participated or spoken to protesters over the past two years knows full well that guns have never been part of their action against police, but here we see the Brotherhood claiming the anti-Morsi protesters are ostensibly “thugs.”
We hold opposition figures, namely Sabbahi & ElBaradei, fully responsible for escalation of violence & inciting their supporters
This is appearing as the official line of the Brotherhood. The reality is that the Brotherhood, by calling for a demonstration at a location where a protest was taking place was the incitement of violence. But again, there is no responsibility taken.
Mubarak regime loyalists & remnants r arming thugs to attack protestors, spread violence & chaos, Egyptian ppl won’t allow this to happen
Ikhwanweb is right, the Egyptian people will not allow a dictator and his supporters to attack and murder civilians. The only problem is that the anti-Morsi supporters are voicing their anger at the Brotherhood. There is simply no evidence to support these claims. In essence, it is more lies to support their violent action on Wednesday.
Freedom & Justice Party HQ in Suez has been attacked, destroyed #FJP #Egypt
True fact.
Thugs armed w Molotov attack Freedom & Justice Party HQ in Isma’lyya during a meeting setting it ablaze, no fatalities
The continued use of “thugs” is another Mubarak tactic used when their National Democratic Party (NDP) offices were attacked. While violence should be condemned, referring to protesters, however angry, as thugs is a politically charged statement that incites Egyptians to violence.
MB leader & attorney, Sobhi Saleh, assualted by opposition & felol thugs, admitted to ICU in critical condition …
True fact. But again, this could have gone further to thank anti-Morsi supporters who condemned the violent attack on Saleh, but they didn’t.
Two Morsi supporters suffer gunshot wounds, attacked by thugs
This is an almost ironic tweet, considering we knew that the only people with guns were the Brotherhood supporters. Friendly fire? Maybe just outright inaccurate. We needed more information on what occurred.
UPDATE: 3 killed, more than 350 injured in attacks by armed thugs belonging to opposition & Mubarak regime remnants in Itehadyya perimeter
Yes. Three people were confirmed to have been killed by Wednesday evening, but they were certainly not murdered by Mubarak remnants. They were likely killed by the Brotherhood. The evidence points to this and dispels this lie.
President Morsi to address the nation on Thursesday, reveal important facts, and discuss initiatives to resolve current crisis
Is he? At 8 PM on Thursday, two hours past his scheduled appearance, Morsi has yet to address Egypt.
We can all follow the English Language Twitter feed of the Brotherhood, but the lies and propaganda that are being leveled at the anti-Morsi protesters is wrong, inciting and pulling the country apart. Everyone must choose for themselves the truth of what happened on Wednesday at the palace."

After Deadly Clashes in Cairo, Egypt Faces One of Largest Political Crises Since Revolution Began

Democracy Now!

"The Egyptian army has deployed tanks outside the presidential palace in Cairo after six people died in clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi. The violence marked the culmination of two weeks of protests after Morsi issued a decree granting himself sweeping and unchecked powers last month. Morsi’s critics have also objected to a draft constitution passed by an Islamist-dominated panel that’s scheduled for a referendum on December 15. We go to Cairo to speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous....."

Real News Video: Bahrain Strips Citizenship as Crack Down Continues

Reem Khalifa: Reforms promised after UN report are ignored by government 

The Camel Battle of Muhammad Morsi, by Carlos Latuff

Weapons of Mass Construction

In Egypt the elite may have changed, but the revolution continues

The struggle against a state that seeks to deny its people any genuine empowerment is playing out on the streets of Heliopolis

in Cairo,
The vast majority of Egyptians have been told throughout history that they are little more than interlopers in the closed rooms where decisions over their lives, community and environment are made; this is a nation where the political elite has always viewed the wider population as so many static pieces, devoid of agency and in need of being controlled and pacified through a fluid web of top-down munificence and brutal repression.

That authoritarian conception of the state remained entrenched regardless of the differing ideologies and motivations of those who ruled, from colonial officials to the post-1952 military dictatorship, from Hosni Mubarak's kleptocrats to the army junta that managed the so-called "transition" to democracy.

And it remains today, under the rule of a Muslim Brotherhood whose critique of Egypt's problems is moral rather than structural, whose vision of power is exclusionary instead of pluralistic......

Many Egyptians would be horrified at such sentiments, but their very presence on the palace wall indicates why this revolution is not disappearing any time soon. Times have changed and, both figuratively and literally, the country's population is at the gates of power. No elite that ignores this fact can expect to survive for long."

Islamist Vigilantes Begin to Police Egypt

"CAIRO, Dec 6 2012 (IPS) - As Egyptians debate how deeply Sharia should influence the new constitution, and in the face of clashes that left five dead on Wednesday, some extremists have taken to the streets to enforce their own interpretation of “God’s law”. In recent months, these self-appointed guardians of public probity have accosted Muslims and minority Christians they accuse of violating the provisions of Islamic law.

Ishaq Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), says reports of incidents began after the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak. Witnesses have reported seeing “bearded zealots” threaten women they deem dressed immodestly, break up parties playing “un-Islamic” music, vandalise shops selling alcohol, and in one case, chop off the ear of a man accused of abetting immorality.....

“Islamists (control the political agenda) so it’s not in their interest to create problems for the time being,” he says. “They want to focus on the constitution first, then comes the application of Sharia.”"

Following the Footsteps of Arafat: Hitmen on hold, Israelis might talk to Meshaal

"(Reuters) - Israel once tried to kill Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in a botched assassination attempt on the streets of the Jordanian capital, Amman.

Fifteen years later, it is starting to view him in a slightly different light and Israeli analysts say he might yet prove the man who can open a dialogue between the Palestinian Islamist movement and the Jewish state.
Meshaal is due to make his first visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday for a two-day stay to join celebrations for Hamas's 25th anniversary and to take part in what the militant group says will be a victory rally after its recent conflict with Israel [It is interesting that Israel is allowing Misha'al to enter Gaza, while threatening to kill the head of Islamic Jihad if he tries to do the same. The question is why? Is there a budding romance between Hamas and Israel, nurtured by the new Pharaoh of Egypt??]......"

The Muslim Brotherhood's Militias in Action: A Firsthand Account

by Wael Eskandar

"The recent clashes at the Itihadiyya presidential palace leave little room for confusion. A day prior to these events, people took to the streets in Egypt’s largest cities to denounce the manner in which the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled presidency has been running the country. On Wednesday 5 December, everything changed. The Muslim Brotherhood reacted by calling on supporters of President Mohamed Morsi to march to the Itihadiyya palace, where an anti-Morsi sit-in was ongoing. Morsi’s supporters forced protesters out and destroyed their tents. A little past mid-afternoon all the demonstrators were kicked out and replaced by Morsi’s supporters....

Muslim Brotherhood supporters were attacking using rocks, shotguns, blanks, live ammunition, and teargas. Their push split the crowd into three main fronts, one on each side of three intersections, namely al-Khalifa al-Ma’moun Street, Mansheyet El Bakry Street and Roxy Square. Clashes continued in various places. I moved toward al-Khalifa Al-Ma’moun Street. The clashes continued on all fronts with Brotherhood supporters outnumbering protesters, showing signs of strong organization in their attacks, and possession of superior fire power......

Meanwhile, teargas was fired at anti-Morsi protesters from behind the Brotherhood’s lines. The police were present on the Brotherhood side of the clashes, but not the other.

The show of force, the disregard to opposition and the people, and the strong insistence on monopolizing power are strong indications that Muslim Brotherhood leaders do not intend to lend their ear to anyone but their own......"

Egypt crisis: tanks deployed at presidential palace - live updates

The Guardian

"Dialogue with Morsi difficult after 'brutal mess'

“It was a brutal, brutal mess,” says Abdel-Rahman Hussein in Cairo after witnessing pro and anti-Morsi supporters throw stones, petrol bombs and trade gun shots with each other in overnight clashes.
It was Morsi supporters who escalated the violence by using birdshot and it was opponents of the president who bore the brunt of the injuries, he said.

Morsi is not expected to make concessions in his speech today and his pronouncement are unlikely to diffuse the crisis, Abdu said.
I don’t think anything he says will have that much relevance any more because now there is death and now there is blood, the situation has shifted. It is entirely different, it is not a political spat [any more].
The opposition insists that dialogue with the president is only possible if he revokes his new powers, but it may be too late for even that concession, Abdu argues.
The paradigm has shifted. Once there is death and blood everything changes. Opposition forces cannot now be seen to hold a dialogue with Morsi, because their supporters will say ‘no, our people died and so there is no talking’.
Expect massive protests on Friday and for the death toll to rise, Abdu said.

The resignation of several of Morsi’s advisers highlights how isolated the president and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters have become, he added.

But the deployment of tanks outside the presidential palace raises questions about whether the army has become involved in the political standoff, Abdu said.
I would surmise that is in the interest of the army to defend Morsi because the constitution that he is trying to pass through, cements their privileges that keeps them a state within a state.
I think they have learnt their lesson not to intervene too overtly in politics again. But their interests lie with the draft constitution........"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Towards Civil War in Egypt?

by Max Blumenthal

Last night, thousands of opposition protesters appeared in front of Egypt’s presidential palace in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis to voice their anger with President Mohamed Morsi’s draft constitution. Influenced almost completely by Muslim Brotherhood officials and their Salafist allies, the proposed constitution is a divisive document. At the protest, the mostly secular, upper middle class crowd went well beyond the demand for a constitutional dialogue, denouncing Morsi as a dictator and calling for his ouster. “Erhal!” (”Leave”), they chanted; “Dictator, Dictator, Morsi, it’s your turn!” was another cadence that filled the air outside the palace.
Though I was unable to confirm reports that state security were driven away from the protest, forced to leave their helmets and even teargas shells behind, I saw them boarding buses and trucks by the hundreds on Salah Salem Boulevard. Soon after, Morsi evacuated the presidential palace, with protesters pelting his motorcade with stones as it pulled away. The protest was apparently seen by the Muslim Brotherhood leadership as a major transgression. A red line had been crossed. As Yasser Borhami, a Salafist preacher supportive of Morsi, told Al Jazeera, the opposition provoked violence by “saying words insulting of the president.”
Each side took casualties and neither appears ready to relent. The polarization is deepening with each passing day. It appears that the fighting will persist as December 15, the date of the constitutional referendum, draws closer. If Morsi’s legitimacy is contingent on his ability to maintain stability, he risks forfeiting it by allowing the kind of violence seen in Roxy Square tonight to occur on his watch.
Mazhar Shaheen, the famed imam known as the “Tahrir Preacher” for his role in the January 25 revolution, said tonight, “What is happening threatens to lead to a civil war… We should all be ashamed to participate in the collapse of the nation.”

Brotherhood attack field hospitals, attempt to throw out women

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: An Egyptian activist told ONTV’s Yousri Fouda early Thursday morning that Muslim Brotherhood members attacked the field hospital she had been in on Wednesday evening, attempting to take the injured and threatening women, demanding they leave the area.
Naglaa Bader said the Brotherhood supporters entered the area and began pushing and moving protesters at the field hospital, which had been set up to give medical assistance to protesters injured in the ongoing violence near the presidential palace.
“They looked through one injured man for his ID,” she told Fouda.
When Bader asked the men what their intentions were with the injured, she was told that they did not want to kill anyone.
We will just break his hand, the hand that threw rocks at us, so he spends 6 months in treatment to give us a break,” Bader said he told her.
Then the angry Brotherhood attackers tried to throw out the women at the hospital, including Bader and Mona Mina, the head of the Doctors Without Rights organization.
The women refused, saying they would only leave if everyone was forced out.
Then, “one of the men came over and threatened to kill Mina. He said that if he ever saw her face again he would,” she added. “The threat came in an extremely scary tone.”
ONTV is showing a live feed of the ongoing violence, including angry Brotherhood groups singling out anti-President Morsi protesters and beating them brutally, with sticks, sharp objects and knives. In one of the many images, a man is seen being surrounded by a group of men. He is hit by something and when his head turns to face the camera, blood is seen streaking down his face.
Egyptian activists and political groups confirmed the death of two anti-President Mohamed Morsi protesters around the Presidential Palace after Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters attacked the two and killed them.
The two murdered protesters are Karam Gerges and Mohamed Essam.
Activists shared photos of the two dead men with blood covering their faces and bodies. Al-Tayar Al-Shaabi, the popular current revolutionary movement confirmed the protesters death.
The armed Brotherhood supporters were reported to have used knives, broken glass, Molotov cocktails, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse the opposition sit-in that followed a massive protest outside the presidential palace late on Tuesday, calling for Morsi to step down.
Over 200 people have been injured as Muslim Brotherhood supporters continue to attack Egyptian activists who had been protesting against President Mohamed Morsi."

'Deadly' clashes at Egypt presidential palace

Reports of two people killed as supporters of president Mohamed Morsi attack opposition activists staging a sit-in.
"Supporters of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi clashed with opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Wednesday, with reports of two people killed and dozens of others injured.
A small group of opposition activists have been camped outside the palace since Tuesday night, when tens of thousands rallied against a controversial decree which gives Morsi near-absolute power.
Supporters of the president marched to the palace on Wednesday and tore down the opposition's tents; witnesses said they threw stones and used clubs to attack demonstrators, and there were reports of petrol bombs being thrown. Opposition protesters were driven away from the palace and fled down side streets......"

Egypt’s liberals evolve, Brotherhood doesn’t

(Posted in full)
By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: Tuesday was a game-changer in Egypt. For too long, the liberals and the left had relied on Tahrir Square for their demonstrations. Marches all headed to the main Cairo square, where they would chant loudly and call for change. It might have worked in January and February 2011, but today, something different was needed. And on Tuesday, the left showed they can be creative and change the status quo of the protest movement in Egypt.
The person, or persons, responsible for convincing the protesters in Tahrir to take to the presidential palace, should be praised. Every television across the country was showing the hundreds of thousands lining the streets near the palace. There was a newfound sense of optimism that Tahrir could not longer deliver.
In a way, after two years of inconsistent protesting and chanting, the liberal movement in Egypt has evolved. By taking to the palace they showed the government and the Brotherhood that this is their country too. Reuters news agency estimated the number of protesters across the country on Tuesday to be around 25 million. That is more around one-third of the country on the streets. Even those who did not take to the streets, their support for the march on the palace, dubbed the “Last Warning,” was evident.
One waiter at a café, as we watched the beginning of the march arriving at the palace, turned and simply said, “this is revolution. I feel it.”
The inspiring move has changed the future of the country. Whether or not Morsi steps down on Wednesday, his days are more than likely numbered. He has a scheduled meeting in Washington with American President Barack Obama on December 17 – ostensibly for the US to give their stamp of approval for their newfound ally and dictator in the region – but right now, it is unlikely Morsi will make it to Washington as the head of state.
He has failed to deliver democracy to a people who elected him, albeit not because they necessarily wanted to – he won a run-off presidential vote because the other candidate was in the pocket of a military that had killed and stalled reform and change. If Morsi cannot find a way to compromise, withdraw his presidential decree that gives him power above judicial review and postpone a constitutional referendum, the opposition will not stop. Maybe we have reached the point of no return, just as we did in early February 2011, when it didn’t matter what Hosni Mubarak did, he was to be ousted from power.
The evolution of the liberal movement in Egypt and their creativity in galvanizing the masses to the streets cannot be underestimated. They have changed the layout of politics in the past 10 days. Revolution is in full force and the determination on peoples’ faces should not be seen as a passing phase. This is real. This is it.
At the same time, the media propaganda coming from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi government shows they have learned little about the changes that have taken hold in Egypt for the past two years. Maybe they believed they could rule with an iron fist, give themselves absolute power and the people would follow. This is not January 24. This is the post-Jan 25 era, and Egyptians will no longer accept dictatorship and authoritarianism.
The Brotherhood on Tuesday, on their social networking sites and on state television, attempted to downplay the numbers on the streets, telling Egyptians only a few thousand were protesting. Then, on Wednesday morning, they headed back to the Supreme Constitutional Court to continue their blockade to bar judges from entering their chambers to make rulings on the legality of the government’s policies.
In many ways, Tuesday showed the true colors of the Brotherhood. They revealed that they can continue to lie to a population, fall back on an election victory that means very little today – if you abuse democratic power, the people have a right to rise up against you – and showed Egyptians that they have no desire for democracy.
And that is the struggle facing Egypt today. Egyptians want to vote. They want to have a say in their future. They want a better life. As one protester in late November told me, “you can’t have Islamic law while we are poor and hungry.” That’s right. The Brotherhood has abused their power, failed the Egyptian people, and are now facing an exodus as dishonorable as their predecessor. And they deserve it. They have failed.
Egyptian liberals have shown they can learn from past mistakes, evolving to once again take the mantle of change. The Brotherhood has shown it has done nothing but repeat the mistakes that caused this anger to erupt in the first place, on January 25."

Reporters challenge State Department on “Judea and Samaria” passport stamp revealed by EI

By Ali Abunimah

"Yesterday The Electronic Intifada reported exclusively that Israel is now stamping the passports of visitors in the West Bank “Judea and Samaria only.”
Today, two reporters took up the issue at the daily State Department briefing and asked whether it indicated “creeping annexation” by Israel of the occupied West Bank by Israel.
The second reporter, Matthew Lee of the Associated Press, compared the State Department’s apparent lack of concern over the issue with its willingless to raise with Beijing concerns over a map in Chinese passports depicting disputed areas of the South China Sea as part of China’s territorial waters.
The exchange can be heard just after 6 minutes into the video......"
By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

".....Of course, there are reasons to permit a degree of hope — no thanks to the very entity that guarded Israeli interests in the Occupied Territories for all of these years. It is simply gratifying to witness the global show of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, one which has always existed, but was overshadowed by futile “peace talks” and US-hegemony over all Middle Eastern conflicts.

Moreover, the support that ‘Palestine’ has received at the UN must be heartening, to say the least, for most Palestinians. The overwhelming support, especially by Palestine’s traditional allies (most of humanity with few exceptions) indicates that the US dominion, arm twisting and Israeli-US propaganda were of little use after all.

However, that should not be misidentified as a real change of course in the behavior of the PNA, which still lacks legal, political and especially moral legitimacy among Palestinians, who are seeking tangible drive towards freedom, not mere symbolic victories.
In fact, since the late 1970s, when the US, along with its arbitrators in the Middle East, began co-opting the PLO leadership, it has been one symbolic victory after another. When it emerged that Arafat was the PLO’s “strong-man” — a major clue for US foreign policy specialists — a decade-long charade commenced.....

These events were the real preamble to the Oslo accords a few years later. Since then, Palestinians have gained little aside from symbolic victories, starting in 1988 when the UNGA “acknowledged” the Algiers proclamation. It then voted to replace the reference to the “Palestine Liberation Organization” with that of “Palestine”. More symbolic victories followed.

While the rally of Birzeit students seemed ill-prepared and unclear on its objectives, those men and women should take comfort from the fact that they did not sing and dance as their national project was about to be methodically crushed by both Israel and the Palestinian leadership. It is strange how “symbolic” and “moral” victories can usher many years of unmitigated defeats."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support external military intervention in Syria?

With about 250 responding so far, 65% said no.

Another Syrian Jet Shot Down, by Emad Hajjaj

Guardian Video: Cairo police clash with protesters outside President Morsi's palace


"Thousands of demonstrators clash with security forces on Tuesday outside Egypt's presidential palace demanding President Mohamed Morsi step down. The protests were triggered by the president's call for a referendum on what opponents call an illegitimate draft constitution. Morsi ignited a storm of unrest in his bid to prevent the judiciary from derailing a troubled political transition."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر/ تقليص بعثة الأمم المتحدة في سوريا

Clashes outside Egypt's presidential palace

Anti-Morsi demonstrators tear gassed in Cairo, as thousands gather to protest proposed constitution.
"Egyptian police have fired tear gas at opposition protesters demonstrating against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's drive to hold a snap referendum on a controversial draft charter, as the country plunges deeper into crisis.
Live television footage showed that some protesters broke through police lines and got too close to the presidential palace.
Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo said: "We saw thousands of people surrounding the palace on all four corners, outnumbering the police and getting close to the presidential walls."
She added "Morsi is preparing for the referendum, he is under a lot of pressure from the opposition, but he does not seemed to be phased by the protests".
Thousands had taken to the streets waving Egyptian flags, chanting for the downfall of the president and denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi emerged, for having "sold the revolution" that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.
The strikes were part of a planned campaign of civil disobedience that could bring in other industries......"

Syria: Assad's last stand

Over 20 months into this conflict, there are signs that Russia is having second thoughts

The Guardian,

A huge battle, perhaps the decisive one of the Syrian civil war, is about to erupt in Damascus. The UN announced it was withdrawing non-essential staff, and the rebels, flush with arms captured from strategic military bases, money, and surface to air missiles, are moving in. They are not strong enough to take the capital, but nor are they in any mood to withdraw. After a war this long and this bitter, there is only one direction of travel, and that is forwards.

Egypt shows revolution is not dead

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

".....“This has the feel of the revolution’s days,” one waiter told me as the television blared the chants throughout the cafe. He might be more right than ever.
The majority of Egyptians are in support of what is happening today. The “Last Warning” to Morsi is resounding across the country. At the palace, in Tahrir, in cities and towns across Egypt. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have been warned.
This is clear. The Brotherhood might have won an election, but they have failed to support and adequately follow democratic norms. Morsi wants to be a dictator – it appears – and Egyptians will have none of that.
It could be called day 19, day 26, day whatever, the revolutionary spirit that was rekindled on November 23, a day after the decree that gave Morsi powers above judicial review, has been turning ever since. It may not be stopped until Morsi has been removed.....

Now, for arguably the first time in two years, Egyptians are coming together, just like in January 2011, without the Brotherhood. The Egyptian uprising that ousted Mubarak was not supported by the Brotherhood; they chose to remain on the sidelines as Egyptians bled and died for change.
Today, they thought they could take advantage of those deaths by taking complete control of the country. How little they obviously knew about the Egyptians they supposedly wanted to rule.
Winning elections is one thing, but winning the hearts and minds of Egyptians is something altogether different. Today, December 4, 2012, will be a turning point in the battle for Egypt’s future. Will it force Morsi out; force him to withdraw the decree? That is yet to be seen. One thing is certain, however, the revolution is not dead."

Egypt exploding in massive protests against president

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets of Cairo, in front of the presidential palace, Tahrir Square and across cities and towns in the country demanding an end to President Mohamed Morsi’s regime.

Protesters in Tahrir told that they are “here to stay” until Morsi has withdrawn his presidential decree issued on November 22 that gave him powers above judicial review.

Others said this was the revolution “continuing.” A march to the palace continues to grow on Tuesday night, with the chanting loud and boisterous. “We want the downfall of the regime,” is being screamed, in unison, toward the house that Morsi has lived in since early July.

He reportedly fled the area as the protesters arrived and clashed with police.

A number of police have since joined the protesters in their march, an eery remembrance to the police who also joined the anti-Hosni Mubarak demonstrations in January and February 2011.

Even the country’s state television has joined the propaganda train to support their embattled president, calling the protesters supporters of a “foreign agenda.” The same channels that also told Egyptians the same things during the January 25 uprising......"

Live Updates

The Guardian


Endgame for Assad?

Brian Whitaker, the Guardian's former Middle East editor identifies six reasons why the Assad regime maybe nearing the end. 
1. Withdrawal of UN and diplomatic personnel: In effect, the UN and EU are now only a step away from ordering a complete evacuation.
2. Jihad Makdissi flees: This may not be as big a loss as some of the earlier defections and assassinations but it does tell us how someone who was privy to a lot of regime information now views the situation.
3. Damascus airport: A capital city without a functioning airport isn't really a capital city any more. Syrian officials insist the airport is still open, but to what extent it may be operating is a different matter.
4. Internet shutdown: Last week's two-day shutdown of the internet and mobile phones was widely seen as a deliberate move by the regime – and a sign of desperation, if not panic.
5. US reviewing its options: A report in the New York Times on Saturday said the US is "considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power".
6. Chemical weapons: Even among Assad's opponents there is a general belief that he is unlikely to use chemical weapons except as a last resort. If the US has really detected signs of "potential" preparation for use, it would mean the Assad regime is actively thinking about the end-game.
  • His security forces have lost a number of aircraft, helicopters and air force bases in recent days
  • Russian President Putin’s visit to Turkey has generated rumours that Moscow’s support for Asad is fading
  • Iran has intensified diplomacy with Turkey and Lebanon....."

The fine print of Palestinian statehood

What does the UN fine print - which promoted Palestine as a non-member observer state - really mean?

By Nadia Hijab

"Congratulations are raining as friends of the Palestinians respond with delight to the United Nations' resounding "Yes!" to Palestine's non-member observer state status as of November 29, 2012. But before giving free rein to their excitement, the Palestinian people - and their allies - should read the actual text of the resolution.

Many Palestinians did not read the Oslo Accords Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) signed in the 1990s. If they had, they might have noticed that the Accords did not mention international law and human rights, did not provide for a state and did not even mention the "occupation". Plus, the accords tied the Palestinian economy into knots that Israel could tighten or loosen at will.

The same leadership that signed those accords now believes the UN upgrade will put the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, freedom, equality and justice back on track. 
Perhaps. There may be some openings yet the reasons for apprehension are legion, as is shown by a reading of the text......

What is truly alarming is that, despite repeated assertions by the Palestinian leadership that they are determined to protect the rights of Palestinian refugees, the brief reference to the cornerstone UN Resolution 194 (III) is buried in the preambular paragraphs.....

Another worrying factor is the repeated references to a peace process so discredited that it is long past time to bury and not to praise it. ...."

Qatar: Poet’s Conviction Violates Free Expression

Sentence at Odds with Ruler’s Support for Uprisings Elsewhere

"(Beirut) – A Qatari court’s life sentence for the poet Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami after a grossly unfair trial flagrantly violates the right to free expression. Putting Ibn al-Deeb on trial badly undermined Qatar's efforts to present itself as a free speech haven. 

The court’s two-line written judgment on November 29, 2012, makes no reference to any law that Ibn al-Dheeb is alleged to have broken, although the prosecution claimed during the five-minute hearing that he had called for a revolution in Qatar. Ibn al-Dheeb was not in court and according to his lawyer the judge prevented him from entering any defense or responding to the prosecution’s claims. In a January 2011 poem titled “Tunisian Jasmine,”  Ibn al-Dheeb expressed support for the uprising there. He previously had recited poems that included passages disparaging senior members of Qatar’s ruling family. 

Qatar, after all its posturing as a supporter of freedom, turns out to be determined to keep its citizens quiet,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Ibn al-Dheeb’s alleged mockery of Qatar’s rulers can hardly compare to the mockery this judgment makes of the country’s posture as a regional center for media freedom.”......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Struggling to help displaced Syrians

"Amid approaching winter, several regional aid groups are trying to help about 400,000 internally displaced Syrians living in tents, barns and other ill-equipped temporary shelters in Idlib province. International aid groups are also complaining of a resource crunch. Al Jazeera's Sue Turton reports from Jabal Zawiya in Idlib. International aid groups are suffering a funding gap which threatens response. Al Jazeera's Sue Turton reports from Jabal Zawiya in Idlib province, Syria."

Al-Jazeera Video: Tunisians frustrated over lack of change

"Tunisia's government is facing growing pressure over record high unemployment.

Residents unhappy with falling living standards have staged a week of protests in the town of Siliana.

A deal has been reached with the government to defuse tension and solve the problems of the local population, but the poor, unemployed young protesters want to see actions rather than words.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports from Siliana."

Real News Video: Israel Expands Settlements, Obama Expands Drones

Vijay Prashad: In response to UN vote on Palestine, Israel withholds tax revenue from PA and announces new settlement construction; drones become a weapon of "police action" in war on terror 

More at The Real News