Archive for June 2, 2012

June 02, 2012

CAIRO (AP) — Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison Saturday for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the uprising that forced him from power last year. The ousted president and his sons were acquitted, however, of corruption charges in a mixed verdict that swiftly provoked a new wave of anger on Egypt’s streets.

Calls have gone out for a massive protest at Tahrir Square, the heart of the uprising, at 5 p.m. After the sentencing, the 84-year old Mubarak suffered a “health crisis” while on a helicopter flight to a Cairo prison hospital, according to security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. One state media report said it was a heart attack, but that could not immediately be confirmed.

The officials said Mubarak cried in protest and resisted leaving the helicopter that took him to a prison hospital for the first time since he was detained in April 2011. Mubarak stayed at a regular hospital in his favorite Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from his arrest until his trial began in on Aug. 3. The officials said he insisted on the helicopter that he be flown to the military hospital on the eastern outskirts of Cairo where he has stayed during the trial.

Mubarak finally left the chopper and moved to the Torah prison hospital more than two hours after his helicopter landed there. Earlier, Mubarak sat stone-faced and frowning in the courtroom’s metal defendants’ cage while judge Ahmed Rifaat read out the conviction and sentence against him, showing no emotion with his eyes concealed by dark sunglasses. His sons Gamal and Alaa looked nervous but also did not react to either the conviction of their father or their own acquittals.

Mubarak was convicted of complicity in the killing of some 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced him to resign in February 2011. He and his two sons were acquitted of corruption charges, along with a family friend who is on the run.

Rifaat opened the session with a strongly worded statement before handing down the verdicts. He expressed deep sympathy for the uprising. “The people released a collective sigh of relief after a nightmare that did not, as is customary, last for a night, but for almost 30 black, black, black years — darkness that resembled a winter night.

“The revolution by the people of Egypt was inspired by God. They did not seek a luxurious life or to sit atop the world, but asked their politicians, rulers and those in authority to give them a decent life and a bite to eat,” he said. “They peacefully demanded democracy from rulers who held a tight grip on power.”

Angered by the acquittals of the Mubarak sons and six top police officers, lawyers for the victims’ families broke out chanting inside the courtroom as soon as Rifaat finished reading the verdict. “The people want to cleanse the judiciary,” they chanted. Some raised banners that read: “God’s verdict is execution.”

The charges related to killing protesters carried a possible death sentence that the judge chose not to impose, opting instead to send Mubarak to prison for the rest of his life. Rifaat criticized the prosecution’s case, saying it lacked concrete and material evidence and that there was nothing in what has been presented to the court that proved that the protesters were killed by the police. Because those who pulled the trigger have not been arrested, he added, he could not convict any of the top police officers of complicity in the killing of the protesters.

The prosecution had complained during the trial that it did not receive any help from the Interior Ministry in its preparation for the case and, in some cases, prosecutors were met with obstruction. Outside the courtroom on the outskirts of the capital, there was jubilation initially when the conviction was announced, with one man falling to his knees and prostrating himself in prayer on the pavement and others dancing, pumping fists in the air and shooting off fireworks.

But that scene soon descended into tensions and scuffles, as thousands of riot police in helmets and shields held the restive, mostly anti-Mubarak crowd back behind a cordon protecting the court. Later, thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising, and in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria on Egypt’s northern coast. They chanted slogans denouncing the trial as “theatrical” and against the ruling generals who took over for Mubarak, led by his former defense minister. “Execute them, execute them!” chanted the protesters in Alexandria.

Mubarak and his former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, who was in charge of the police and other security forces at the time of the uprising, were convicted of failing to act to stop the killings during the opening days of the revolt, when the bulk of protesters died. El-Adly also received a life sentence.

Most of the dead were either shot or run over by police vehicles in Cairo and a string of major cities across the country. Mubarak and his sons — one-time heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa — were acquitted on corruption charges, with the judge citing a 10-year statute of limitations that had lapsed since the alleged crimes were committed.

Just days before the verdict was made public, the state prosecutor leveled new charges of insider trading against the two sons. It now appears that these charges may have been an attempt to head off new public outrage once the acquittals of the Mubarak sons were made public.

It has appeared all along that prosecutions since Mubarak’s fall targeting relatively few high level officials and their cronies have been motivated largely by a desire to appease public anger expressed in massive street protests that continued long after Mubarak’s ouster.

Scores of policemen charged with killing protesters have either been acquitted or received light sentences, angering relatives of the victims and the pro-democracy youth groups behind the uprising. Rock-throwing and fist fights outside the courtroom left at least 20 people injured, and a police official said that four people were arrested.

Thousands of riot police and policemen riding horses had cordoned off the building to prevent protesters and relatives of those slain during the uprising from getting too close. Hundreds stood outside, waving Egyptian flags and chanting slogans demanding “retribution.” Some spread Mubarak’s picture on the asphalt and walked over it.

Mubarak’s verdict came just days after presidential elections have been boiled down to a June 16-17 contest between Mubarak’s last prime minister, one-time protege Ahmed Shafiq, and Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamist group that Mubarak persecuted for most of his years in power.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Shafiq said he could not comment on court rulings, but added that the Mubarak trial has shown that no one was above the law in today’s Egypt and that no one could recreate the old regime.

The acquittal of the six police officers, he added, did not mean that he approved of their “tactics.” In contrast, a spokesman for Morsi said the verdicts were “shocking” and vowed retribution. “The blood of our martyrs will not go in vain. We will work as Egyptians for the sake of a just retribution and the retrial of those who committed crimes against this nation,” said the spokesman, Ahmed Abdel-Atti.

Morsi and Shafiq will go on a head-to-head presidential runoff on June 16-17.

Associated Press writer Maggie Michael contributed to this report.

Monday 05/09/2011

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) — Head of the Egyptian Red Crescent Jaber al-Arabi said Monday that Saudi Arabia has sent 20 tonnes of dates to the Gaza Strip.

Al-Arabi told Ma’an that the dates will enter Gaza Monday evening via the Rafah crossing.

Egyptian authorities are helping to facilitate the transfer, he added.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Mon Sep 5, 2011

Senior Transitional National Council commander Abdul Hakim Belhadj demands an apology from the UK and US over their secret cooperation with Gaddafi regime.

Secret files found in Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence archives show that Belhadj was arrested by CIA agents in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, in 2004 and forcibly repatriated to Libya, Guardian reported on Sunday.

Belhadj told the Guardian that British spies were among the first to interrogate him after he was returned to Tripoli, and that he was very “surprised that the British got involved in what was a very painful period in my life”.

“I wasn’t allowed a bath for three years and I didn’t see the sun for one year,” Belhadj told the daily. “They hung me from the wall and kept me in an isolation cell. I was regularly tortured.”

The now top security commander in Tripoli, Belhadj said he was considering suing over the episode, which raises further damaging questions over Britain’s knowledge of the rendition and ill-treatment of prisoners.

Belhadj was released from the Libyan version of Abu Ghraib, Abu Selim prison, earlier this year after an amnesty announced by Gaddafi.

Source: PressTV.

Monday 05/09/2011

CAIRO (AFP) — The Egyptian authorities are erecting a wall around the Israeli embassy in Cairo as relations between the two neighbors who signed a peace treaty in 1979 are at a delicate phase.

The wall, about two meters high, consists of prefabricated cement slabs that are being installed around the building that houses the Israeli embassy overlooking a bridge in Cairo.

Part of the wall has been painted with Egypt’s national colors: black, white and red.

Outraged Egyptians last month staged huge protests outside the embassy and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador over the border deaths of Egyptian policemen killed as Israel hunted militants.

Egypt has asked Israel for an official apology and demanded a probe into the deaths of the five policemen.

During one of the anti-Israeli protests, an Egyptian man scaled the building housing the mission, removed Israel’s Star of David flag and replaced it with Egypt’s colors, as the crowds cheered him on.

Egyptian officials quoted by the local media have meanwhile stressed that the wall being erected around the embassy was aimed at protecting residents of nearby buildings.

Ali Abdel Rahman, the governor of Giza district where the embassy is located, told Al-Gumhuriyya newspaper the wall “has nothing to do with the protection of the Israeli embassy” but is for the protection of private citizens.

Egyptian opposition party Al Wafd said Sunday that a private contractor had begun to build a security wall around the Israeli embassy in Cairo, Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Egypt is the first Arab nation to have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

2 September 2011

The Mujahideen of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are prepared to liberate another province in the south, Lahj. That was claimed by local high-ranking puppet officials, reports the Yemen Post.

According to them, several large units of Mujahideen from neighboring Abyan have recently entered Lahj. In the ongoing battles in the Emirate of Abyan, al-Qaeda regrouped its forces and directed them to neighboring provinces.

On the streets of the town of Howtah, the provincial capital of Lahj, there were dozens of Islamic fighters last Friday. According to the CNN, at least 100 Mujahideen of al-Qaeda were present there.

However, the provincial puppets are in no hurry to offer any resistance to AQAP:

“We have not received orders from the government to arrest any suspects, but the interior ministry is focusing on this issue with great concern”, said a provincial official.

In turn, residents of the province confirmed that representatives of the regime do not hinder the movement of forces of al-Qaeda to Lahj. Among the residents, there are rumors that the “administration” of the province is preparing for a major exodus, as it was in Abyan.

It is to be recalled that government officials of the Saleh’s regime, along with its security and military forces, left the Islamic Emirate of Abyan, for fear of bloody fightings with the al-Qaeda Mujahideen, who had been already for some time on the outskirts of Zinjibar.

Such a scenario could happen again. Earlier, the Mujahideen stormed the capital of Lahj, the town of Howtah.

Then the Islamic fighters took control over several administrative buildings and a radio station. However, they left the town later, for tactical reasons.

The situation for the puppet regime in this province is complicated by the fact that most people of Lahj defected and joined protesters against Saleh.

Meanwhile, a complicated situation, as claimed by western media, is also formed on the outskirts of Zinjibar, the capital of the Islamic Emirate of Abyan.

France-Presse reported, with reference to the Yemeni puppet security forces, that the Saleh’s military regime allegedly seized the main approaches to the city and are heading to the center.

During a large-scale offensive, the apostates from the 201st and 209th brigades managed to join the 25th mechanized brigade, which had been besieged for months by the Mujahideen.

The Saleh’s military command said that the army had occupied a football stadium, Al-Wahda, earlier liberated by the Mujahideen. However, the claims of the puppets and Western media reports were not confirmed by independent sources.

Severe battles are taking place for the town. Minions are facing strong resistance from the Mujahideen. As a result of the fighting, about 15 Mujahideen martyred, a source claimed to AFP. In this war, the puppets exaggerated the number of martyred Mujahideen exactly 2 times, claiming that 30 Mujahideen had martyred (Insha’Allah). The puppets gave no information about their own fatalities.

It is to be recalled that according to the opinion of doctors working in hospitals in Abyan, the Saleh’s regime routinely exaggerates the number of casualties among the Mujahideen.

For example, recently, representatives of the puppet police stated that during the fighting in the Islamic Emirate of Abyan in May alone, up to 300 Mujahideen martyred. The puppets claimed their own fatalities as only 183 soldiers.

However, the experts say that these figures are unreliable. Thus, an expert and political scientist Ali Al-Jarad indicates the discrepancy between the figures that are periodically released by the structures of the puppet regime.

Thus, in February, a so-called “foreign minister” Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said that “just a couple of hundred fighters of al-Qaeda” remain in Yemen.

“If we take in consideration what the “foreign minister” said earlier this year and what the “interior ministry” announced … there are supposedly no more al Qaeda fighters in Yemen”, the expert said.

Department of Monitoring
Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.

2 September 2011

Following the statements of the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu about calling off the ambassador from Tel Aviv and reducing the level of diplomatic relations with “Israel”, the leader of the Turkish opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, expressed concern about possible clashes between the Turkish and the “Israeli” Navy forces, reports CNN Turk.

It is to be recalled that on Friday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that diplomatic relations between Turkey and “Israel” went over to the secondary level, in addition, Ankara has frozen its military cooperation with Tel Aviv.

The minister also said that Turkey called off its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

Davutoglu also emphasized that relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara will not be restored until the “Israel” will not bring an apology to Turkey.

Relations between Turkey and “Israel” until recently worked closely in the military-political sphere, deteriorated sharply after attacks of the Zionist militants on humanitarian convoy Freedom Flotilla on May 31 last year that was moving to a blocked Gaza.

After the attack, in which the Jews according to official data killed nine Turks, and wounded many (according to unofficial data there were more victims), Ankara announced a review of relations with Tel Aviv and demanded an official apology for the attack and compensate the families of those human rights activists killed by Jews.

It is to be mentioned in this context that the relations between Turkey and “Israel” began to deteriorate long before the massacre perpetrated by the Zionist forces against international humanitarian convoy Freedom Flotilla.

In 2010, Jordanian sources spread a report that the Turkish security forces managed to thwart an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which was preparing a subversive and terrorist organization Mossad.

Al-Majd newspaper issued in Jordan quoted an informed source in Ankara as saying that the investigations conducted with arrested Turkish and Kurdish terrorist cells, who tried to carry out the assassination operation on Prime Minister, unveiled they were linked to the Mossad in “Israel”.

The Turkish source added that the head of the national Turkish intelligence is making great efforts to strengthen the role of this agency in protecting the decision-makers in Turkey after receiving confirmed information that the Mossad is looking for ways to carry out assassinations in the country through the Kurdistan workers’ party (a terrorist organization even according to the US-“Israeli” templates) and terror groups inside the country.

He noted that the Turkish political leadership remained silent on this matter for political and security considerations.

The disclosure of such information has taken place as “Israel” announced that its deputy premier would leave for Ankara to meet with Erdogan’s opponents.

A year before this publication, in March 2009, Turkish authorities have confirmed reports that Mossad had a clear intention to kill Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This was become evident by the publication of data by Turkish security forces.

According to the results of investigations conducted in connection with the activity of group Ergenekon, accused of attempting a coup and overthrow the government formed by a democratically elected party Justice and Development (AK Party), the organization has cooperated with the Zionist terrorist service Mossad.

According to intelligence services of Turkey, the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, has established contacts with the head of one of the Turkish political parties and made it clear that his agents were willing to “accomplish the mission” in case the consent of the political structure.

Department of Monitoring
Kavkaz Center

Source: Kavkaz Center.

Monday 05/09/2011

BEIRUT (AFP) — Lebanon warned the United Nations on Monday that Israel’s proposed sea border threatens peace and security, as tensions rise between the neighbors over offshore oil and gas reserves.

“Foreign Minister Adnan Mansur has sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon rejecting geographic coordinates Israel submitted to the United Nations concerning the northern part of the waters it claims,” said the ministry.

It said in a statement that the Israeli claim “infringes on Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone,” a sea zone that gives a state the right to explore its maritime resources.

“This is a clear violation of Lebanon’s rights… over an area of some 860 square kilometers, and puts international peace and security at risk,” it said, adding, “We urge the secretary general to take all necessary measures to avoid conflict.”

Lebanon and Israel, which remain technically at war, locked horns over the maritime border after the discovery of potential offshore energy reserves.

The Israeli cabinet in July approved a map and submitted it to the United Nations, which has been asked to mediate the growing conflict.

The Israeli map conflicts with Lebanon’s proposed borders, which give Israel less territorial waters and was submitted to the United Nations last year.

Beirut argues its map is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement which is not contested by Israel.

Israel — arch-enemy of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah — has for months been moving to develop several large offshore natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, some of which are shared with Cyprus.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah-dominated government has meanwhile warned Beirut will not give up its maritime rights and accuses Israel of violating Lebanese waters, territory and airspace.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah fought a deadly war with Israel in 2006 which destroyed much of Lebanon’s major infrastructure and killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mainly soldiers.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

By Jasper Fakkert
September 4, 2011

The mercenaries were the most feared and hated men in Libya. Mainly flown in from Chad and Sudan, former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has used them against his own people since February to fight for his crumbling regime.

In the recent battle for Tripoli, where Libya’s rebel army laid siege on the capital, mercenaries were notably deployed as snipers to prevent the rebels from taking full control over parts of the city.

But with Libyan rebels now controlling most parts of the country, including Tripoli, the anger and bloodshed at the hands of the mercenaries has led to a witch hunt for dark African men. Amidst this, rebel fighters are not only to target those who were paid to kill, but also migrant workers and other immigrants who have lived in Libya for decades.

In a report published on Sunday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), which is now in control of the country, to “stop the arbitrary arrests and abuse of African migrant workers and black Libyans assumed to be mercenaries.”

According to the human rights organization many black Africans are arrested solely because of their dark skin color. “It’s a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, in a press release.

“The NTC has legitimate concerns about unlawful mercenaries and violent activity, but it can’t simply arrest dark-skinned men just in case they think they might be mercenaries,” she said.

Although HRW is condemning the broad crackdown on dark African men, it has confirmed evidence that the Gadhafi regime was recruiting mercenaries from Chad and Sudan. It also discovered a large base that has been used by hundreds of African mercenaries since 2011.

Over the past week hundreds of dark African men, including migrant workers, have been arrested by the rebel forces that are mainly young, armed Libyan men.

The dark Africans are being held in makeshift detention facilities across Tripoli, including a soccer field, according to HRW.

One of them in the detention center, a 60-year-old man from Chad named Othman, was allowed by the rebel security forces to talk to a HRW researcher. He said close to 200 men were being held at the soccer field.

Othman himself said he had been in Libya for 30 years, and had become a Libyan citizen in 1991.

Before the start of a popular uprising in Libya in February this year, there were an estimated 1 million to 2 million African migrant workers in the country. Many of them fled the country after the violence erupted when rebel forces in Eastern Libya took up arms against Gadhafi’s regime.

“African migrants have worked in Libya for many years, often carrying out the most unpleasant jobs, and this is no way to treat those who stayed put during the uprising,” said Whitson.

The reprisal arrests of African men have caused migrant workers to seek safety. The men stay in private homes in large groups, allowing only women to go out to buy food and water.

The HRW researcher visited one such house where 30 Nigerian migrant workers were staying. In one instant last week, armed Libyan men had come into the home searching for weapons. Unable to find anything, they instead took their mobile phones, and money worth the equivalent of $252.

Having overthrown Gadhafi’s rule, and now ruling most parts of the country, Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) is faced with the daunting task of rebuilding the country—including putting judicial processes in place.

Keen to avoid losing its legitimacy, leaders of the NTC have on different occasions urged their fighters not to resort to violence in revenge.

According to HRW, however, the judicial system still falls short. “A prosecutor’s office has apparently assumed control of the Maftuah prison and begun investigations. However to Human Rights Watch’s knowledge no detainees in Tripoli have been brought before a judge to review the legality of their detention,” it states.

Source: The Epoch Times.

Mon Sep 5, 2011

Spokesman for Libyan revolutionaries has announced the failure of negotiations aimed at the peaceful surrender of forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in the town of Bani Walid.

Talks were held on Sunday outside one of Gaddafi’s last strongholds of Bani Walid, southeast of the capital Tripoli, AFP reported.

“They (Gaddafi’s negotiating team) demanded that the revolutionaries enter Bani Walid without their weapons,” said Abdullah Kenshil, a Bani Walid native and the chief negotiator for the Transitional National Council (TNC).

Libyan fighters say loyalists of Gaddafi in his bastion are a small but heavily armed minority group that stokes fear to keep other people in the town from surrendering.

Negotiations with tribal leaders in the besieged town of Bani Walid started several days ago with the aim of capturing the town without bloodshed.

Revolutionary forces say they are now waiting for a green light from their leadership to launch a final attack on the town.

Kenshil said that Gaddafi forces in Bani Walid, numbering between 30 and 50 men “well-armed, with machine-guns, rocket-launchers and snipers,” had been assured they would be treated well if they surrendered.

On Saturday, revolutionaries, having moved within 15 to 20 kilometers of Bani Walid, set a deadline of 0800 GMT Sunday for pro-Gaddafi forces to give up.

The interim leadership has announced a temporary truce until September 10 for forces in Bani Walid as well as in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirt to lay down their arms.

Source: PressTV.

Mon Sep 5, 2011

Hundreds of Egyptians have gathered outside Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Cairo to demand the expulsion of the Saudi ambassador.

The demonstrators staged the rally on Sunday to protest against the alleged mistreatment of Egyptians pilgrims in the kingdom, Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Alyoum reported.

“We demand the expulsion of the Saudi ambassador to Egypt,” read a large banner posted in front of the Saudi Embassy in Cairo.

Thousands of Egyptian pilgrims were stranded at Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia. They accused the Saudi authorities of failing to arrange enough flights to get them home after the Umrah pilgrimage at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Some Egyptian pilgrims complained of being left outside the airport building in the heat of the sun for hours without access to any water.

A female pilgrim claimed she had been slapped in the face by a Saudi policeman while she was performing rituals in the city of Mecca.

Riyadh has denied the allegations, saying flight delays did not take place only for Egyptians.

Some pilgrims said the reason for the mistreatment by Saudi airport officials and security forces was that they were angry at Egyptians for their historic revolution that toppled the US-backed regime of Honsi Mubarak, who had close ties with Saudi Arabia.

Source: PressTV.