11/24/2012

DR Congo conflict: M23 rebels urged to stop war


BBCNEWS

A summit of four African heads of state has urged rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo to cease fire and stop threats to depose the government.

The leaders also told the M23 group to leave the eastern city of Goma, which they captured on Tuesday.
However, Congolese President Joseph Kabila has been urged to listen to the rebels' grievances.
The talks were held in Uganda which, alongside Rwanda, has been accused of backing the rebels.
Both countries deny the charges.
The UN has warned of a humanitarian crisis with food and medicines running short.
Armed groups have battled over mineral-rich eastern DR Congo for two decades.
Joint force
President Kabila and the presidents of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania attended the Uganda talks but the Rwandan leader, Paul Kagame, stayed away. He was represented by his foreign minister.
A BBC correspondent at the summit says some of the M23 leaders have also been in Kampala.
The four presidents issued a statement calling on M23 to "stop all war activities and withdraw from Goma" +and "stop talk of overthrowing an elected government".
Rebels have rejected previous calls to leave Goma, the capital of North Kivu province and the main city in eastern DR Congo.
The four proposed a joint force of neutral regional troops, government soldiers and rebels at Goma airport.
About 500,000 people have been displaced by the rebellion since it began in April, with the formation of M23 after a mutiny in the army.
The rebels said they were not given army posts promised in a 2009 deal to end a previous uprising.
Their exact aims are unclear but they have also advanced beyond Goma, taking the town of Sake despite a loyalist fight-back.
They had threatened to attack the capital, Kinshasa, if President Kabila did not open negotiations with them.
On Thursday, the head of DR Congo's army was suspended pending an investigation into claims that he sold weapons to rebel groups.
A UN report accused Gen Gabriel Amisi of running a network supplying arms to poachers and rebel groups including the notorious Mai Mai Raia Mutomboki.
The UN has accused Rwanda and Uganda of backing the M23, saying the chain of command culminates with Rwandan Defence Minister James Kabarebe.
The M23's gains have raised fears of renewed war in DR Congo, where some five million people died in a conflict from 1997-2003.
The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution condemning the rebel seizure of Goma and calling for sanctions against M23 leaders.
Tens of thousands of civilians have fled as the rebel forces have advanced, scattering from villages and refugee camps.
The United Nations' children's fund Unicef says hundreds of children have been separated from their parents. It warns that many of them risk being recruited by armed groups.

Egypt judges condemn 'unprecedent attack' by Mursi

BBCNEWS

Egypt's top judges have accused President Mohammed Mursi of staging an "unprecedented attack" on the judiciary.

The president passed a decree earlier this week granting himself extensive new powers.
It includes a bar on any court dissolving the constituent assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution.
Thursday's decree sparked angry demonstrations, and attacks on offices of Mr Mursi's Islamist FJP party.
The president has said he is acting to protect the revolution.
In a statement, the Supreme Judicial Council called his move "an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings," and called on him to reverse it.
Judges and prosecutors in Egypt's second city Alexandria have gone on strike in protest, saying they will not return to work until the decree is reversed.
The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says the response of the judges has been tough, if fairly predictable.
There had been reports that the council was about to disband the constituent assembly for a second time, he added, a move that could seriously derail the transition to democracy and further delay new parliamentary elections.
This, in turn, could deter Egypt's political leaders from taking tough decisions while they wait for the vote.
Fresh protests
Mr Mursi also sacked his prosecutor general on Thursday and gave himself the sole power to appoint a new one.
His replacement moved quickly to reopen criminal investigations into ousted President Hosni Mubarak, his family, and former regime officials.
Our correspondent says that element is likely to be popular, as although Mubarak is serving a long jail term for ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising, many officials were acquitted, creating deep resentments.
The ruling also bans any challenging of the president's decisions and laws.
Both critics and supporters of Mr Mursi have staged rallies since the decree. Overnight, crowds gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, vowing to stage a sit-in.
A large opposition rally is also planned for Tuesday.
The US said earlier that Mr Mursi's move had raised concerns in the international community.

Saudi Government Now Monitors Women Leaving the Country by Sending Text Alerts to Their Male Guardians

Doug Barry
  • A funny — and by funny, we of course mean so absolutely terrifying that the only reaction is to hold yourself and laugh like a committed Batman villain — thing happened last week in Saudi Arabia. Saudi women's male guardians began receiving helpful text messages informing them when the women under their charge leave the country, because nothing makes 21st century technology more terrifying than when it's used to impose medieval-style oppression on a country's citizens.
News that Saudi women were now being monitored by an electronic tracking system has spread quickly since Manal al-Sherif, who last year launched a campaign urging Saudi women to defy a national driving ban, was first tipped-off to the text messages by a couple. The husband, who was travelling out of the country with his wife, apparently received a text message from immigration authorities politely informing him that his wife had left the international airport at Riyadh.
Twitter has since been bursting with outrage over the Orwellian tracking system, with users roundly condemning the Saudi government for implementing a program that, according to columnist Badriya al-Bishr only further contributes to the "state of slavery under which women are held" in Saudi Arabia. The move comes more than a year after female activists like al-Sherif launched a campaign to defy the ban on mobile women that Saudi Arabia has instituted (Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive, though there's no official law on the books preventing them from getting behind the wheel of a car).
Last year also offered new hope that the 89-year-old King Abdullah, a reluctant reformer, would start easing some of the restrictions that Saudi Arabia's strict brand of sharia law has placed on women. The king granted women the right to vote, as well as run for office in the 2015 municipal elections. Moreover, he appointed Sheikh Abdullatif Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, widely viewed as a moderate, to head the notorious religious police commission. News of the border crossing tracking system, however, has convinced many Saudi activists and journalists that significant progress towards gender equality is still a long way away. "Saudi women are treated as minors throughout their lives even if they hold high positions," said liberal activist Suad Shemmari, who added "there can never be reform in the kingdom without changing the status of women and treating them" exactly the same as men. As of right now, that day in Saudi history seems distressingly far off.

Electronic tracking: new constraint for Saudi women [AFP]

11/21/2012

Benghazi Security Chief Assassinated

Libyan officials say gunmen have assassinated the security chief of the eastern city of Benghazi.
Officials said Wednesday Farag al-Dersi was shot dead overnight while returning home from work.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Benghazi has witnessed many assassinations and car bombs over the past months that mainly have targeted security officials who worked during the reign of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The city is also where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an hours-long assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11. Officials suspect Islamic extremists were behind that attack.

Desmond Tutu: Not going quietly

AL JAZEERA

The Nobel laureate on his role in South Africa's struggle against apartheid and his alarm over recent developments.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the famous Nobel Peace laureate, and one of the world’s most respected church leaders, was a central figure in ensuring an end to white minority rule in South Africa.
He was instrumental in the struggle against apartheid, also acting as chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). He has since gone on to play a role as one of Nelson Mandela's handpicked 'Elders' along with others like former US President Jimmy Carter.
The archbishop takes Sir David Frost on a tour of his beloved South Africa; he talks about his time in the anti-apartheid struggle movement, his work with the TRC, and his alarm over recent developments in the "rainbow nation".
As a defiant campaigner against apartheid, Tutu is one of the world's most prominent defenders of human rights.
Growing up in a racially divided state he tells Sir David how hard it was to explain South African politics to his children:
"We’d just come back from England with our youngest child. The youngest was born in London and she saw some children playing on swings and she said, 'I want to go and play' and, we had to say, ‘No sweetheart, you can’t'.

"And she said, 'But there all the children playing', and it was incredibly difficult. It really just made you feel, 'I wish the ground could open and swallow me up'. How do I tell my child that, yes you are a child, but you’re not a child like those other children who are on the swings?"
The archbishop recalls how the injustices he saw under apartheid tested his Christian faith:
"I really got very angry with God, and would rail at God and say: For goodness sake, how can you allow such and such to happen?"
But he later says: "Someone up there must really have been on our side or batting for us .... After [Nelson Mandela's] release and the build-up to our first democratic election, it was one of the roughest, one of the bloodiest, periods in our history."
Tutu hails Mandela as an "incredible guy!"  - after all Mandela was a prominent participant in the negotiations that led to South Africa's peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy.
"His contribution is immeasurable; his stature," says Tutu. "I mean for someone who was the commander-in-chief of the military wing of the ANC to be at the forefront of persuading people that it would be better for us to negotiate; it is better for us to lay down our arms. And then to try to live that."
Moving forward, Tutu expresses his concerns about the direction the current government in South Africa is headed. He has also become more outspoken about his criticism of the ruling party, and the rainbow nation, of what he was once so proud.
"We are a wounded people," Tutu says, recalling the painful testimonies he heard as chairman of the TRC hearings.
"Things could have been a great deal worse but I still have this sense that they could have been a great deal better," he says of South Africa's political transition.
"I think we have let the people down, in so far as you have an elite that has done very, very well for themselves, who have got quite quite rich, and the bulk of the people are still where they were, or sometimes worse off."

Kabila, Kagame fly in for talks as Goma falls 0

Congolese President Joseph Kabila yesterday rushed to Kampala for what sources said was a crisis meeting with President Museveni hours after M23 rebels captured Goma, the commercial capital of eastern Congo’s North Kivu province.
He arrived in the country at 2 pm. Two hours later, Rwandan President Paul Kagame quickly followed him as fighting escalated in the Kivu region.
The venue of their meeting was still not known by press time. Sources, however, indicated that President Museveni was scheduled to first meet the two separately before later sitting them down together.
Congolese forces fled their bases in Goma, leaving behind assorted weaponry while the UN peacekeeping mission’s bases in the provincial capital were reportedly surrounded by the rebels.
State minister for regional cooperation Asuman Kiyingi confirmed Mr Kabila’s sudden appearance but described his presence in Kampala as “a normal visit”. “He has been here many times. We have also visited Kinshasa before. This is a normal visit. It’s good that he has come so that we sit down and end this crisis,” he said.
DR Congo is adamant that the largely Tutsi-dominated M23 rebels are receiving military backing from Rwanda, a charge Kigali has consistently rejected.
Several investigations by the UN Group of Experts have also shown that M23 is being propped up by Rwanda, but this too has been vigorously denied by Rwanda.
The meeting of foreign affairs ministers from the Great Lakes Region that is going on in Speke Resort Munyonyo appears to have been overtaken by yesterday’s abrupt arrival of Kabila and Kagame.
News of the advancing rebels was reportedly met with violent protests in the other Congolese cities of Kisangani and Kinshasa. Unknown persons are reported to have attempted to force their way into Rwandan and Ugandan embassies in Kinshasa yesterday but they were driven away by state security forces.
Uganda’s State minister for International Relations, Mr Okello Oryem, told media that security has now been stepped up at both embassies.
Reports from eastern DRC last night said rebel columns were seen marching out of Goma along the road to the South Kivu town of Bukavu. Although M23 says it’s fighting the government over marginalisation of Tutsis, Kinshasa says the reason for the rebellion is over control of Congo’s minerals, a good chunk of which is concentrated in North and South Kivu provinces.
Implication
If the rebels succeed in taking Bukavu, it will mark the biggest gain in rebel territory since at least 2003, when Congo’s last war with its neighbours ended.
Goma was last threatened by rebels in 2008 when fighters from the now-defunct National Congress for the Defence of the People, (CNDP) under Gen. Laurent Nkunda stopped just short of Goma, after intense international pressure.
Their backs to the wall, the Congolese government agreed to enter into talks with the CNDP and a year later, on March 23, 2009, a peace deal was negotiated calling for the CNDP to put down their arms in return for being integrated into the national army.
The peace deal fell apart this April, when soldiers, most of them ex-CNDP members, defected from the army and later rallied under the M23 umbrella, claiming that the Congolese government had failed to uphold their end of the deal.

Continue reading on The Daily Monitor
By Risdel Kasasira

Amnesty condemns Bahrain's 'spiralling repression'

BBCNEWS
 
Amnesty International has condemned what it says is the failure of the government of Bahrain to deliver on its promise of reform.
The human rights organisation says a "groundbreaking report has been shelved by spiralling repression in Bahrain".
The report investigated human rights abuses when an anti-government uprising was crushed last year in the Gulf island kingdom.
Bahrain has been wracked by more than 18 months of civil strife.
At least 60 people, including several police officers, have been killed. The opposition puts the death toll at 80, a figure the authorities dispute.
Covadonga de la Campa of Amnesty International told the BBC that when the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report was released on 23 November 2011 it "seemed to be a path to reform".
However, citing the recent banning of all public gatherings and rallies, the revoking of citizenship of 31 Bahrainis and what she called "ongoing reports of torture, including the torture of children", Ms de la Campo Alonso spoke of "a worsening situation".
The Amnesty study - entitled "Bahrain: Reform Shelved, Repression Unleashed" - argues that the human rights situation in the kingdom has deteriorated "markedly".

Start Quote

What is lacking is real political will to move forward”
End Quote Stephen McInerney Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
Last year, after the uprising was put down, thousands of people were dismissed from their jobs. Almost all were Shia Muslims, who form the majority indigenous population in a country ruled by a Sunni royal family.
In the wake of widespread international condemnation of how the government handled the protests, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa appointed Egyptian lawyer Cherif Bassiouni to lead an independent investigation into allegations of human rights abuse.
The BICI report proved to be a comprehensive and damning indictment.
The report's conclusions were accepted by the king, and they confirmed excessive use of force by security personnel, numerous abuses including torture in detention, as well as the sacking of more than 4000 employees in the private and public sectors.
The BICI made 26 recommendations calling for extensive judicial, legislative and policing reforms. He also called for the reinstatement of all the sacked workers.
At the time, King Hamad's decision to create an independent commission was widely hailed as a step forward. And it was seen as a unique response to the unrest that had swept through the Middle East during the Arab Spring. Even sceptical observers were surprised at the scope and independence granted to Professor Bassiouni and his team.
Perhaps even more surprising to those same sceptics was the king's acceptance of the report's findings and his commitment to undertake the reforms. That decision too was widely praised by the international community.

"Significant progress"
Last week in Geneva, the Bahraini labour minister told the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that 98% of the sacked employees were back at work, and issued a statement saying: "The ministry's efforts are aligned with the [BICI] recommendations and consistent with Bahrain's aims for reform and reconciliation".
But Karim Radhi of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) has said that "at least 500 people" are still out of work.
The Bahraini government continues to say that implementation of the BICI recommendations is well underway. And on Wednesday, just ahead of the one year anniversary of the BICI report, the government has released its own progress report.
However, a recent assessment by the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) found that only three of the 26 recommendations had been fully implemented, another 15 partially and seven, arguably the most sensitive, had not been implemented.
Stephen McInerney, POMED's executive director, acknowledged that the government has taken steps but told the BBC: "What is lacking is real political will to move forward." He described the Bahraini government's claims that it has moved a long way down the road to reform as "not realistic".
A Bahraini government spokesperson called into question the validity of the POMED report and told the BBC "significant progress has been made".
The spokesman added: "Major reforms in the NSA (National Security Agency), MOI (Ministry of Interior) and Judiciary have been instituted; including the revocation of arrest powers from the NSA; the appointments of the Ombudsman and Special Investigative Unit have been crucial in insuring accountability for abuses."
"Only recently several officers have been charged for abusing their authority in the manner of arrest".
Responding to the Amnesty report, an organisation called Citizens for Bahrain said the human rights group had "conveniently ignored these important reforms".
"Human rights shortcomings in Bahrain are infinitely less sensational and scandalous than catastrophic abuses in Syria, Burma and Iran," a statement said.
"While Amnesty International understandably wants to keep Bahrain in the forefront of public attention - not in itself a necessarily bad thing - it is wrong to grossly miscontextualise the situation in Bahrain in order to achieve this goal."
However, Ms de la Campa of Amnesty International said the most important recommendations had not been implemented and called for the UK Foreign Office and the US State Department to bring more pressure to bear on Bahrain.
"So far what we have seen is public statements of concern. We are not seeing that being followed by a clear condemnation of the human rights situation".

11/17/2012

breaking news: explosion heard in tel aviv, smoke seen rising from the city

AL JAZEERA
BBCNEWS

Uganda closes border with DR Congo

 

By Risdel Kasasira – The East African



 
 
Uganda has closed its border with the DR Congo at Bunagana post following reports that the M23 rebels were taxing trucks from the former.
Sources told Kampala’s Daily Monitor newspaper Tuesday that trucks heading to DR Congo were stopped by the Ugandan military to deny M23 rebels revenue collection.
The Army spokesperson, Col Felix Kulayigye ,confirmed the incident, saying the border was closed on the orders of President Yoweri Museveni, who is on a three-day visit to Sri Lanka.
“It’s true we have temporarily closed the border at the request of the Kinshasa government because the M23 rebels had started collecting money from the trucks carrying goods from Uganda to DR Congo,” he said.
This abrupt closure will see Uganda lose hundreds of millions of dollars through trade with eastern DR Congo.
Many Ugandan traders export goods like sugar, soap, cooking oil and fresh food to DR Congo through the Bunagana post.
The closure followed a Monday meeting between Uganda’s State minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem and a Congolese delegation in Kampala.
Mr Oryem couldn’t answer the Monitor’s repeated calls, but Col. Kulayigye said he was not sure when the border would be reopened.
“I can’t guess, but it’s a short term measure,” he said.
With the closure of the border, the M23 rebels controlling the areas of Bunagana, Rutshuru and other areas in eastern DR Congo since April will be denied revenue which they were using to fund their activities.
A report by the UN group of experts has accused Uganda and Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels, allegations that sparked angry reactions from Kampala and Kigali.
The M23 movement says they rebelled because the government failed to comply with a peace agreement signed in March 2009.
A new report to be released on Monday next week by World Wildlife Fund for Nature says that 50 per cent of timber imports from DR Congo to Uganda through Bunagana and other posts are underpaid in taxes.

Ahlul Bayt World Assembly Condemned Zionist Attack on Gaza on the Anniversary of the Karbala Uprising


(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - “It seems the destiny of the oppressed people in Gaza coincides with the event of Karbala and Imam Husayn. About four years after the first Gaza war in Muharram 1429, for a second time in this month and the Husayni Ashura, the Yazidi forces and the Zionist anti-human regime assault Gaza,” the statement points to the first Gaza War that occurred in Muharram 1429 (2008) and stated.
In the following of the statement Muslims have been asked to hold rallies, protests against the embassies of America and Western countries, issuing statements, holding seminars and photo exhibitions to unmasking the Zionist regime and its allies.

In the name of God, the most beneficent, the most Merciful
Holy Qur’an, Chapter al-Buruj, Verse 8:
And they were vindictive towards them only because they believed in God, the All-mighty, the all-laudable.

Peace be on Muharram, the month of martyrdom and oppression, the month of honor and exile, the month of blood’s victory over the sword.
Peace be to Husayn, the son of Prophet Muhammad, who revived the ummah by sacrificing his own blood and became the model for all free people of the world.
The Muslim world is mourning the unjustly spilled blood of the oppressed people in Bahrain, Syria, Pakistan and Iraq, by the treacherous hands of leaders or the terrorist mercenaries of America and Britain.  While the followers and lovers of Ahl al-Bayt are preparing themselves for the mourning ceremonies of Muharram, we face yet another repeat of the tragic events of Karbala in Gaza. 
It seems the destiny of the oppressed people in Gaza coincides with the event of Karbala and Imam Husayn.  About four years after the first Gaza war in Muharram 1429, for a second time in this month and the Husayni Ashura, the Yazidi forces and the Zionistic anti-human regime assault Gaza. 
The Zionist assault on the Gaza Strip occurs at a time when several countries, especially America and England, support the aggressive and criminal Zionist regime and reject the defensive responses of the Palestinian groups and many independent countries, as well as countries with democratic movements.  Freedom is their only response in their weak and passive statements.  Unfortunately, the convening of the Security Council failed to produce any investigation of these attacks and thus ended without any result. 
The reactionary Arab countries, due to the fear of the uprising of their people, have retreated to the western powers and responded with their usual deafening silence and useless performance, adding yet another shameful insertion to their record.  The Arab League reacts to every development in Syria regardless of its veracity and strengthens the takfiri groups.  They condemn the clear aggressions only with words and have not taken the effective step to cut relations with this regime and boycott Israeli goods that fill the markets of these countries.  
In response to these events, the Ahlul Bayt (A) World Assembly which is an international organization that is a cultural and intellectual authority with the following of millions of Muslims in the world, calls the world’s attention to the following points.
1. We invite all the Muslims, freedom-lovers, and seekers of truth to condemn the criminal Zionist regime in its assault against the defenseless Gaza people and the cowardly terror attack on Martyr Ahmad Jabari, by use of all possible means and those mentioned below.
A. As the first and quickest response, all the Muslims after the Friday prayers should participate in protesting the Zionist regime and express their anger towards the Zionist regime and its supporters, including America and the passive and treacherous Arab and non-Arab regimes.
B. Gatherings at the American and western countries’ embassies to condemn the support of the Zionist regime and request to limit the support of this regime by America and the West.
C. Issue statements and hold nationwide rallies against the group of countries and the leaders of Arab and non-Arab countries who are acting against Syrian government resulting in the strengthening of the criminal Zionist regime and weakening of the axis of resistance.
D. Hold conferences with presence of Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals and educators, establish symposiums exposing the crimes of the Zionist regime throughout its history of occupation, explain the side of resistance who is against the scheming side so that the information can reach the public opinion and break the Zionist monopoly on the media. 
2. We request all the scholars and elites of the Muslim world in this dangerous time to strengthen the unity among Muslims and take advantage of the days of Muharram by informing the people of Imam Husayn’s revolution, and encourage them by the stand in Karbala which was confronting injustice and battling the Yazids of the time. 
3.  We request international organizations and human rights groups to act according to their principles and condemn the vicious assaults against human rights and act practically to prevent the continuation of these crimes and support the oppressed nation of Palestine and demand their historical rights which have been neglected. 
4. We anticipate from Organization of Islamic Cooperation to hold emergency sessions and issue practical statements in their full capacity to defend the oppressed Palestinian people and to use diplomatic means with the United Nations, Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement, and Unity of Muslim Scholars.
5. The responsibility of the revolutionary leaders of Tunis, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, who have sacrificed the blood of their youth to reach power, especially Egypt who has control of the Rafah crossing and has inherited the Camp David Accord from the previous regime. 
In the end, we request the people of Palestine, Syria, and Bahrain to be hopeful of the divine victory in their resistance against the oppressors that has been promised in the Quran: God will protect those who believe, just like it can be seen in the 33 day war, 22 day war, the Arab revolutions, and in the Islamic Revolution of Iran. 
It is hoped that the Zionist criminal regime is further isolated and this cancerous tumor is destructed, a phrase coined by Imam Khomeini and Imam Khamenei, and the first Qiblah of the Muslims becomes under the control of the Islamic nation. 
‘If you help Allah, He will help you and solidify your feet.’
The Ahlul Bayt (A) World Assembly
30 Zulhijjah 1433

Gaza crisis: Israeli air strikes hit Hamas HQ

BBCNEWS

Israel has targeted the headquarters of Hamas leaders and other key facilities in Gaza, on the fourth day of Israeli air strikes in the territory.






Egypt bus crash kills 47 children near Manfalut

BBCNEWS

At least 47 children aged four to six years old have been killed after their school bus was hit by a train in central Egypt, officials said.
The bus was carrying about 60 children from a nursery school when it was hit by a train near Manfalut, 350km (230 miles) south of Cairo.
The Egyptian transport minister has resigned, state media report.
Reports from witnesses say the barriers of the crossing were opened when the bus approached.
"The deaths have now reached 47. There are 13 children injured," Assiut state governor Yehya Keshk told state television.
Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi ordered his ministers to offer support to the families of those killed, the state news agency reported.
"They told us the barriers were open when the bus crossed the tracks and the train collided with it," doctor Mohamed Samir told the Reuters news agency, citing witness accounts.
The head of the state railway authority has also resigned.
Distraught families are searching for the remains of their loved ones along the tracks, the Associated Press reports.
Egypt's roads and railways have a poor safety record. An estimated 8,000 people die in car accidents each year in the country.

11/16/2012

Speaker Calls for Muslims' Proper Move to End Israel's Crimes in Gaza

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, in separate phone contacts with his Muslim counterparts as well as international figures, discussed new Israeli onslaught against Palestinians, and urged Muslims to show proper reaction to Israeli crimes in the Gaza Strip.


Larijani held separate telephone talks with his counterparts from Lebanon, Algeria, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Tunisia on Friday and urged parliaments of the Islamic countries to take action to condemn the crimes. 

He also hold phone talks with Anders Johnsson, the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), and described the Israeli attacks against the people of Gaza as "shameless and deplorable". 

He called for IPU's serious measure against the aggression. 

Larijani also called on the Islamic countries to take practical measures against the attacks in a telephone conversation with Secretary General of the Parliamentary Union of OIC member states Erol Kilic. 

On Friday, Israeli forces launched more attacks on the Gaza Strip despite earlier pledge to halt strikes during the visit to Gaza by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil. 

Qandil arrived in Gaza this morning amid Israel's ongoing airstrikes on the besieged territory, in order to express Egypt's solidarity with the Palestinians. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to halt strikes during a visit. 

Meantime, the number of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza reached 19 in the third day of the conflict, six of them children. 

11/15/2012

Israeli killings can stoke fire in region


GULFNEWS

Arab Spring makes it completely new game for Tel Aviv
  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Palestinian relatives of Hisham Ghalban mourn over his body in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on November 15, 2012.


Occupied Jerusalem: Israel’s surprise air assault on Gaza Strip militants killed the top military commander of Hamas and set the rivals on a familiar course that could end with another major confrontation - but in unpredictable new circumstances created by the Arab Spring.
Compared with its past campaigns against Hamas, Israel is likely to find itself more restrained politically and militarily in the new landscape. Rather than being able to count on former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to help isolate Hamas, as he did during a 22-day operation four years ago, Israel must weigh whether another large-scale Gaza offensive would endanger the landmark 1979 peace accord with Egypt, which has long served as a cornerstone of regional stability.
By Wednesday evening, Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohammad Mursi, announced he was recalling the country’s ambassador to Israel to protest the assault on the Palestinian territory.
“It’s a completely new game for Israel,” said Yoram Meital, an Egypt expert at the Herzog Centre for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University. “The equation before was between Israel and the Palestinians. Now it’s a triangle, involving Egypt too.”
Israel’s offensive four years ago killed 1,200 Palestinians, but Mubarak brushed aside his own people’s support for besieged Gazans and helped Israel seal Gaza’s border. The course of Israel’s military campaign could be shaped by Mursi’s decisions, analysts say.
Unlike his deposed predecessor, Mursi will find it difficult to ignore the anti-Israel mood of the Egyptian street. Israel is worried Egypt might open the Rafah border crossing to humanitarian aid or even Islamic fighters to help Gazans, Meital said. “Israel is taking a very bold risk here because if this campaign continues, it could be gambling with the relationship with Egypt,” he said. Both Hamas, which has been emboldened by the new Egyptian government, and Israel, which has clashed repeatedly with it, will be watching closely to see whether Mursi comes out more strongly against Israel in the coming days or adopts a more pragmatic approach, perhaps trying to broker a cease-fire.

Besides public sentiment, Mursi must take into account his relationship with the US and other world powers. He is seeking billions of dollars in aid and investment from the West to help the Egyptian economy. Some analysts say that even though Mursi will have to respond to be a credible Arab leader, Egyptians are more concerned with domestic problems.
Egyptian tribal leaders have blamed Hamas and other Palestinian groups for aiding the resurgence of deadly militant networks in the Sinai peninsula, who have attacked Egyptian government forces there. Although he recalled his ambassador, Mursi did not immediately comment in public.
But other leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood organisation said the country would not tolerate another Israeli campaign in Gaza. “The brutal aggression on Gaza proves that Israel has not yet learned that Egypt has changed,” said Saad Katatni, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
Israeli military officials said the assault could last several days. The campaign is aimed at “defending the people of Israel who have been under rocket attack and crippling terrorist organisations’ capabilities,” said Israel Defence Forces spokeswoman Avital Leibovitz.
Tension between Israel and Gaza militants has been mounting for nearly a week, following a missile attack against an Israeli jeep along the Gaza border that left four soldiers wounded. In the ensuring back-and-forth violence, Hamas and other militant groups fired more than 120 rockets and mortar rounds into southern Israel, injuring several Israeli civilians and damaging property.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced growing pressure to move aggressively to stop the attacks, which have terrified nearly one million southern Israelis and crippled daily activities. Over the last year, Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, has resumed a more hostile stance toward Israel, betting that Mursi’s election would strengthen its hand.
After observing a self-imposed cease-fire for most of the last four years, militants in recent months increased their attacks on Israel, using new types of weaponry acquired in Libya last year after the chaotic fall of Colonel Gaddafi, such as anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles.
“Hamas felt they had enough power to stand face to face with Israel, especially with the upcoming [Israeli] election,” said retired Major General Dan Harel, the former head of the IDF’s southern command. “They thought we would not retaliate.”
The first target Wednesday was Ahmed Jabari, 52, who led the Izzidin Al Qassam Brigade, the Hamas military wing. He and three other people in a car were killed in the Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Hamas officials said.
Jabari played a key role in Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and in last year’s release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israeli officials say he also masterminded attacks on Israelis. “He has a lot of blood on his hands,” Leibovitz said.
The strike was followed by nearly two dozen Israeli airstrikes throughout the territory, focusing on rocket launchers, long-range rocket caches and other weaponry. Leibovitz would not say how long the operation was expected to last or whether it would include ground operations.
Military officials said ground forces were standing by. “Airstrikes might not be sufficient,” one military official said. Analysts said Israeli leaders would prefer to avoid a major ground assault, but the decision will depend on how Hamas reacts. “I think we are witnessing a larger operation that will probably be ongoing in the next few days,” said Major General Israel Ziv, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza division and now a military analyst.
“It’s probably a big shock for Hamas to get such a hit,” he said. “I assume there’s going to be an escalation in the next few days.”
Hamas leaders immediately vowed to retaliate, saying the killing of Jabari would take hostilities with Israel to a new level. “The assassination of the commander Ahmed Jabari is tantamount to a declaration of war, and the occupation will pay a heavy price for it,” Hamas said in a statement.
At least seven other people were killed and 25 were wounded, Gaza hospital officials said. Minutes after Jabari’s killing, Palestinian militants resumed firing rockets into southern Israeli towns. But many of the rockets were blocked by Israel’s missile defence shield known as Iron Dome. Schools in southern Israel have been cancelled indefinitely and the government approved the calling up of army reserves.
After conferring with his cabinet on Wednesday night, Netanyahu said Israel would no longer tolerate the rocket attacks. “Today we delivered a clear message to Hamas and other terror organisations, and if need be, the IDF is prepared to expand the operation, and we will continue to do everything to defend our citizens.”


Conflict intensifies as rockets hit Tel Aviv

Netanyahu blames Hamas for violence as three die in Israel and the toll on the Palestinian side rises to 16.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/

 

Iranian FM Meets Somali PM in Mogadishu

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in a meeting with Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon in Mogadishu stressed Iran's full readiness for comprehensive cooperation with Somalia for the further development of the African country.


During the meeting, Salehi said that reopening of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Embassy in Mogadishu would facilitate bilateral cooperation through diplomatic channels and is a step aimed at continuing the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic of Iran's humanitarian contributions to the people of Somalia.

Wishing stability and security for the Somalia government and people, the Iranian foreign minister announced the Islamic Republic of Iran's full readiness for comprehensive cooperation with Somali for advancement and development of that African country.

The top Somali official, for his part, appreciated the Islamic Republic of Iran's generous contributions to his country, and announced Mogadishu's full eagerness for comprehensive expansion of cooperation with Tehran.

Salehi left Tehran on an African tour on Monday to visit Central Africa, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

The Iranian foreign minister is also scheduled to take part in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) ministerial meeting in the East African country of Djibouti.

Iran is also an observing member of the African Union (AU) and has shown an active presence in previous AU summit meetings.

The country is considered as one of the AU's strategic partners along with India, Japan, China, several South American states and Turkey, while Tehran is also believed to be prioritizing promotion of its economic and political ties with the African states.

Gaza missiles fired at Tel Aviv

BBCNEWS

Palestinian militants have attempted to hit Israel's commercial capital, Tel Aviv, with missiles fired from Gaza.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20349280

11/11/2012

Bahrain deploys paramilitaries to patrol city

Government sends National Guard to patrol "strategic locations" that have been scenes of arson attacks and clashes.

Bahrain's paramilitary National Guard has been deployed into new areas in an apparent sign that authorities are stepping up efforts to quell political unrest.
A government statement said on Saturday the Guard, a force separate from the regular military, will be patrolling "strategic locations" that have been scenes of arson attacks and clashes.


Wider use of the Guard could signal a tougher strategy by Bahrain's Sunni embattled monarchy as riot police struggle to contain the Shia majority's 21-month demands for political reform.
Hadi al-Musawi, a spokesman for the main opposition group Al Wefaq, said Guard troops were seen setting up in Sitra, a centre of the unrest.
Previously, Guard forces have been used mainly at key sites in the capital Manama, including the landmark square that was the centre of the protests in their first weeks.
Meanwhile, heavy clashes erupted on Saturday after the funeral of a teenager killed in a traffic incident during a clampdown on marchers the day before.
Opposition groups claim the boy was hit by a car while fleeing security forces, but officials say the incident had no connection to the police action.
More than 55 people have died in unrest in Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

11/09/2012

BAHRAIN: A Statement by the Director General of the Traffic General Directorate

Manama, November 9th (BNA) – Director General of the Traffic General Directorate stated that a pedestrian accident occurred today afternoon and led to the death of a 16 years citizen on Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Road

Bahrain police prevent people reaching Shia mosque


BBCNEWS
 
Bahraini police have disrupted efforts by opposition supporters to attend Friday prayers at the mosque of the leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassem.

Several were reportedly hurt as bird-shot and tear gas were fired to stop them reaching the village of Diraz.

Diraz, which is to the west of Manama, was also surrounded by checkpoints.

A 16-year-old boy also died on a nearby road. The authorities said he was run over by accident, but witnesses told the BBC he was being chased by police.
Call for non-violence
Long queues formed as people left their cars and attempted to reach Diraz Mosque to listen to Sheikh Qassem, the Gulf kingdom's most senior Shia cleric, deliver his sermon.
One witness said Budaiya Highway, a major road, was "packed with police manning double and triple checkpoints".

Sheikh Isa Qassem Sheikh Qassem urged the government to meet the demands of the people

There were reports that teargas was used and that one man was seriously injured when struck in the head by a canister.

One source told the BBC that police also fired bird-shot and claimed that several people had been wounded.

The authorities have not commented on the unrest, but last month the interior ministry banned all public gatherings.

At the same time as the clashes, the 16-year-old boy was hit and killed while crossing a busy road near Diraz.

A statement on the interior ministry's Twitter account said: "The General Director of Traffic has announced the death of a Bahraini pedestrian, 16, in a traffic accident on Khalifa bin Salman road in Abuquwa."

Sources at the scene told the BBC that the boy, named as Ali Radhi, was being pursued by police as part of their effort to prevent people attending Friday prayers.

Al-Wifaq, Bahrain's main Shia opposition party, called the youth "a new martyr due to the brutality of the regime".

A posting on Twitter said he had been "run over by a civilian car while regime forces were besieging the area and arresting citizens heading to the prayers, chasing them and treating them brutally".

In his sermon, Sheikh Qassem spoke of the need for non-violence, stating that no-one should be targeted. But he urged the government to meet the demands of the people and urged his listeners not to bow to pressure.

The cleric also decried the decision by the government to revoke the citizenship of 31 Bahrainis for "undermining state security" earlier this week. Those affected include two former MPs for al-Wifaq.

Later, police also used tear gas to disperse crowds in the youth's home village of Samaheej, witnesses told the BBC.

BAHRAIN TODAY


Abu Saber ✌@Moawen
From all Arab revolutions,only demolished mosques,revoked citizenships and prevented people from Friday prayer

BAHRAINDOCTOR @BAHRAINDOCTOR


Denny@Edinburgh65W
my daughters for the hundredth time had to be rushed home after inhaling tyre smok
my kids got to school over an our late after 'peaceful demonstrators' poured oil in front of their school bus

my husband when he is in mosque for early morning prayer is getting molotovs thrown at mosque window and door !

my elder daughter got a molotov thrown at her car. It is a convertible !

this is life in Bahrain on a daily basis for us now, so please save me the drama story. We ALL have one. Or several actually !

Bahrain police fire tear gas to disperse Shi'ites: witnesses


MANAMA | Fri Nov 9, 2012 7:45am EST

MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahraini police fired tear gas and blocked roads to stop thousands of Shi'ite Muslims joining prayers led by one of their spiritual leaders on Friday, witnesses said, amid worsening strife in the Gulf Arab kingdom and U.S. ally.
The island country has been volatile since majority Shi'ite Muslims began protesting last year against what they say is widespread discrimination, a charge the Sunni-led government denies.
Shi'ite leaders had called for people to turn out to support Sheikh Issa Qassim in his village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama, after the government warned clerics not to criticize the government or incite violence.
Bahraini authorities were not immediately available to comment on Friday. But the call for mass prayers appeared to flout a ban on rallies and protests announced by the interior ministry last month.
Riot police prevented media and non-residents from reaching Diraz on Friday morning, blocking off all roads and highways. Some arrests were made, witnesses said.
Footage posted on YouTube that could not be independently verified showed a tear gas canister going off inside a car carrying women who activists said were on their way to the prayers.
One woman was seen collapsing on the ground after escaping from the vehicle.
The protests led by Shi'ites last year were initially crushed by the kingdom's Sunni Muslim monarchy, with martial law and help from Gulf neighbors.
Smaller demonstrations have resumed and anti-government protesters clash with security forces several times a week in the small island country.
The violence has intensified in recent weeks. On Monday, the government said five home-made bombs killed two people in Manama.
The government accused Lebanese militant group Hezbollah of being behind the attacks. Hezbollah, a Shi'ite group allied with Iran, has previously denied interfering in Bahrain.
Bahrain's government said on Wednesday it had revoked the nationality of 31 men for damaging national security, including leading dissidents, parliamentarians, clerics and human rights lawyers.
(Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Bahrain worshippers blocked by increased security around opposition mosque

MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahraini security forces set up checkpoints and fired tear gas Friday in apparent efforts to block worshippers from reaching weekly prayers led by a cleric fiercely opposing rulers in the embattled Gulf nation.
The clampdown comes after authorities blamed Shiite religious figures for helping fuel tensions in strategic Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The island kingdom has faced nearly nonstop unrest for 21 months between the Sunni-led government and protesters from the Shiite majority seeking a greater political voice. On Monday, a series of bomb blasts killed two South Asian workers in a sign that some factions are escalating the levels of violence with homemade explosives and firebombs.

More than 55 people have died and hundreds have been arrested in Bahrain’s unrest since February 2011.
The security measures kept many people from attending the Friday prayers of Sheik Isa Qassim, who denounced Bahrain’s move earlier this week to revoke the citizenship of 31 Shiite activists and lawyers.
“The revoking of citizenship from honorable people is aimed at punishing those who have opposition views,” he told worshippers who managed to reach his mosque in a Shiite district outside the capital, Manama.
On Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington was “greatly concerned” by the move.
“We have continually called on the government of Bahrain to create a climate that is conducive to reconciliation, to meaningful dialogue, to reform, to bring peaceful change,” she said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

SIRIA: REFUGEE 11.OOO

Breaking News @BreakingNews
Update: 11,000 refugees cross into Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon in past 24 hours, brings total exodus to 408,000, UNHCR says -

SIRIA

Ali M Latifi @alibomaye
In the last 24 hours, 11,000 from crossed into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan - |

11/08/2012

Qatar and UAE look to bolster defence systems

AL JAZEERA

Countries request sale of up to $7.6bn in Lockheed Martin Corp missile-defence systems to counter perceived threats.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have requested the sale of up to $7.6bn in Lockheed Martin Corp missile-defence systems to counter perceived threats and lower their dependence on US forces, the Pentagon announced.

The Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees foreign arms sales, formally notified lawmakers on Friday that it had approved the possible sales, which come against the backdrop of heightened tensions with Iran.
The notifications were posted to the agency's website late on Monday.

Lawmakers now have 30 days to block the potential sales although such action is rare since deals are carefully vetted with lawmakers weeks before the notifications are posted.

The sale is part of Washington's ongoing effort to deepen its co-operation with Gulf nations on missile defence and increase pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

Lockheed told reporters in August that Saudi Arabia and its closest regional partners in the Gulf Co-operation Council had shown interest in the company's Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) weapon systems.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met GCC officials in September and US officials said initial missile-defence sales could be announced soon.

The GCC is a political and economic alliance linking Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Washington has been working with Gulf states on a bilateral basis, not as a group, to boost the range of radar coverage and related capabilities across the Gulf for the earliest possible defence against any missiles fired by Iran.

The United States and its allies say Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability under the cover of a civil program. Iran denies this, but has been hit with a series of international sanctions over its nuclear work.

Regional shield

On Monday, the Pentagon said Qatar had requested the possible sale of two THAAD fire units, 12 launchers, 150 interceptors, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $6.5bn.

The UAE, which signed an initial order for $1.96bn of THAAD weapons systems in December, requested an additional 48 THAAD missiles, nine launchers and other equipment valued at $1.135bn, according to the DSCA notification.

It said the proposed sale would contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping two countries that have been and remain key forces "for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East."

Raytheon Co is another key contractor on the program.

THAAD is a US Army system designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles with an interceptor that slams into its target.

It can accept cues from Lockheed's Aegis weapons system, satellites and other external sensors, and works in tandem with the PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 terminal air-defence missile. THAAD includes its own radar along with interceptors and communications and fire control units.

US officials have said their ultimate goal is a regional shield that can be coordinated with US systems, a system similar to Washington's drive to expand missile defence to protect NATO's European territory against ballistic missiles that could be fired by Iran.

THAAD is part of a layered missile shield being built to defend the United States and its friends and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges and in all phases of flight. The system is being optimised against Iran and North Korea.

BAHRAIN: Civilian Car Damaged


Manama-Nov7(BNA) A civilian car today caught fire after hitting a locally-made bomb left on the ground near Atlas Hotel in Gudaibiya, Capital Police director-general said.
Specialised bodies rushed to the scene
and undertook security and legal measures to inquire into the incident which left no human losses.
Capital Police director-general urged citizens and residents to be cautious and report any dubious body on hotline 999.

AHN

BAHRAIN: Security Forces Clamp down on Terrorists


Manama-Nov8(BNA)The security forces have stepped up the clampdown on terror acts against innocent people, seizing two-home-made bombs early today morning (Thursday) in Sitra Mahazza.

The security forces searched a minibus which was parked near a shop, after a it drew their suspicions, and found two bombs ready to be used and a detonator containing a high-density explosive.
The specialized security authorities had immediately taken all necessary measures and succeeded in deactivating the explosives.
In this same line, the security forces raided a warehouse in Bani Jamra and seize 178 Molotov cocktail bombs, 11 fire extinguishers, 200 iron rods and two petrol tanks, in addition to tyres and other substances used by terrorists in perpetrating their heinous designs.

AHN

Iranian jets 'fired on US drone'

BBCNEWS

Iranian fighter jets shot at an unmanned US drone during a routine surveillance mission over the Gulf, Pentagon officials have said.


The defence department said the drone was not damaged in the incident, which it said took place in international air space on 1 November.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said the president had been informed.
Last year, the Iranians captured a US drone they said had invaded their air space and refused to give it back.
The Americans said the drone had malfunctioned.
After the latest incident, Mr Little said the US would continue surveillance in the area.
"The United States has communicated to the Iranians that we will continue to conduct surveillance flights over international waters over the Arabian Gulf," he said.
Mr Little insisted that the drone had never been into Iranian air space.
According to the Pentagon, two SU-25 jets intercepted the Predator drone and fired "multiple rounds".
They missed their target, and the drone was guided back to base.
Defence officials have a policy of not commenting on surveillance missions, but said they would give details this time because of media reports about the confrontation.

Imprisoned Bahraini Clerics Urge Popular Support for Sheikh Qassim

TEHRAN (FNA)- Bahrain's imprisoned religious scholars and wrote a letter of support for senior cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, who is under renewed pressures by the al-Khalifa regime, and called on the Bahraini people to stand by the top religious figure.

The imprisoned clerics sent the letter out of the prison to show their backing for the Bahraini Shiites' leader and urged the nation to stand by the top cleric.

The letter reiterated that Sheikh Isa Qassim has never invited people to hostility and hatred and has always stressed the necessity of adopting a peaceful approach to the settlement of the crisis in the tiny Persian Gulf island.

"The experiences of nations show that demanding the nations' legitimate rights will end in nothing but their victory," the letter said.

The Al-Khalifa regime has arrested several religious figures and clerics to suppress the protesters who demand democracy and freedom in the Arab country.

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty's over-40-year rule.

Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar - were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.

So far, tens of people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured.

Police clampdown on protesters continues daily. Authorities have tried to stop organized protests by opposition parties over the past month by refusing to license them and using tear gas on those who turn up.

The opposition coalition wants full powers for the elected parliament and a cabinet fully answerable to parliament.