Leading Sunni cleric says in fatwa Egyptians should back Mursi

Leading Qatar-based cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa that Egyptians should support ousted Islamist President Mohammed Mursi.

Egyptians should support ousted President Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and the military should withdraw from the political scene, leading Qatar-based cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi said in a religious edict, or fatwa, on Saturday.

The Egyptian-born Qaradawi, one of the most prominent Sunni clerics in the Middle East, said the military’s intervention to depose Mursi on Wednesday was against democracy and the constitution.

He added that many scholars from Cairo’s al-Azhar Islamic university, the country’s pre-eminent Muslim institution, agreed with him.

(Source / 06.07.2013)

ElBaradei announced as new Prime Minister

Interim president appoints National Salvation Front leading figure ElBaradei as new Prime Minister, meets with political leaders, top officials to discuss roadmap

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency shows Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour (C) meeting with opposition National Salvation Front leader Mohamed El Baradei (5thL) and heads of opposition Tamarod (Rebellion) group and other opposition leaders on July 6, 2013 in Cairo.  (AFP Photo)

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency shows Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour (C) meeting with opposition National Salvation Front leader Mohamed El Baradei (5thL) and heads of opposition Tamarod (Rebellion) group and other opposition leaders on July 6, 2013 in Cairo.

National Salvation Front (NSF) head and June 30 Front representative Mohamed ElBaradei was appointed on Saturday as Prime Minister of the current technocratic government.

Before announcing his latest appointment, interim president Adly Mansour met with political leaders and top government officials to agree on a transitional roadmap, set to include a constitutional decree. The meeting also discussed the formation of a new technocratic government.

Hossam Mo’ness, spokesman of Al-Tayar Al-Shaaby, said that ElBaradei represents the best choice for prime minister for the time being.

“We hope he does a good job in the coming phase,” Mo’ness said. He added that there was a joint vision between those who had called for the 30 June protests, including ElBaradei, in regards to the kind of cabinet needed.

“We are in need of a cabinet comprised of patriotic, efficient ministers,” Mo’ness said. “The cabinet’s main mission would be to reach a minimum level of development in the fields of security and economy.”

Mansour issued a presidential decree appointing television anchor Ahmed Al-Mosallamany as a media advisor for the presidency, reported state-run news agency MENA. He also appointed Abdel Mo’men Fouda as his chief of staff.

The political leaders present at the meeting included Tamarod representatives Mahmoud Badr and Hassan Shahine; ElBaradei; Al-Nour Party Vice Chairman Galal Morra, and Strong Egypt Party president Abdel Moneim Aboul Fettouh were also at the meeting. Top government officials in attendance included Defence Minister Abdul Fatah El-Sisi, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim and General Intelligence Directorate head Mohamed Farid.

According to state owned Al-Ahram, Mansour met with Al-Sisi, Farid and Ibrahim to discuss how to protect protesters, maintain peaceful demonstrations and ensure national security. Mansour also discussed with the leaders of the various political factions their suggestions for the formation of a new government along with creating an “all-inclusive national reconciliation”; all will be part of the roadmap that will be announced on the same day.


Also present were several legal and constitutional experts such as Hatem Bagato, former Minister of State for Legal affairs, and Ali Awad Saleh former vice president of the Supreme Constitutional Court, on hand to assist in writing the constitutional decree, according to state owned Al-Ahram.

Sekeina Fouad, renowned writer, former member of Shura Council and former advisor both to ousted President Mohamed Morsi and former Prime Minister Kamal Al-Ganzouri, also attended.  “The wheel of development and growth in Egypt was supposed to have started running yesterday,” she said, highlighting the importance of moving the process along swiftly, which “will play a major role in the roadmap.”

Fouad added that a government “of the highest standard and skills” will be formed very soon and confirmed that “ElBaradei definitely is the most likely candidate for prime minister; he is very strongly accepted and supported by almost everyone.”

Mansour appointed on Friday the head of general intelligence Mohamed Raafat Shehata as security advisor for the president. He also appointed humanist and strategist Mostafa Higazy as his political advisor and chancellor Ali Awad Saleh as his constitutional advisor.

(Source / 06.07.2013)

When ‘buying time’ means one thing: More occupation

The lie about an alleged peace process does not end in Israeli schools or in the minds of Israeli soldiers in the occupation’s army; it is the pillar of international diplomacy, especially that of the United States. That is its true greatness.

An Israeli soldier shoots tear gas into a crowd of Palestinian protesters in Hebron. March 31, 2013

On June 6, exactly 46 years after Israel conquered the Palestinian territories, I came to talk to 50 high school students in a Waldorf school in the Galilee, on behalf of Breaking the Silence. The guard at the building’s entrance was an Arab woman; you can count on one hand the number of female Arab guards in Jewish schools. The teacher who asked me to come speak teaches Bible and basket weaving. As she took me on a quick tour of the school, it felt as free spirited as the Tel Aviv beach on a Saturday afternoon.

In Israel, the quality of a given school is determined – among other parameters – by the percentage of its students who go on to become combat soldiers. The larger the percentage, the happier it makes the Education Ministry and the school is rewarded with increased funding. However, this school being a private Waldorf school, it does not usually meet the government’s combat soldier-production expectations. And yet, only two months from now, these young people will be drafted into the IDF. Several of them will serve as occupiers, while many will indirectly serve the occupation.

The first student to enter the classroom was a young woman about to be drafted into the Border Police, notorious for its routine use of violence against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. She asked me whether I was going to scare her. Envisioning this innocent girl disdainfully glaring at a handcuffed Palestinian while her comrades beat him up was enough to bring me to tears. “No,” I replied. “I’m going to tell you a true story that has been kept a secret from you.”

I screened a film full of arbitrary violence directed at Palestinians at checkpoints in the West Bank. I read a soldier’s testimony to them, a young man who had previously believed it wouldn’t happen to him, yet realized he had become inhumane and as he described how he became “addicted to controlling others.”

I told them my story, how as an IDF officer in the Occupied Territories I went about terrifying the civilian population there. I told them about breaking into innocent families’ homes of in the dead of night, destroying private property, looting, humiliating and seizing private homes and vehicles. I encouraged them to imagine not being able to reach the hospital or their school because the randomly situated checkpoint near them is closed. I had a hard time convincing them of the existence of such checkpoints; most of the students think the only checkpoints are for Palestinians crossing into Israel from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I told them about the procedure of “shows of force,” our assignment: intimidating the civil population just for the sake of it, or in military terms, making them feel hunted.”

One teenager asked, “but isn’t there a peace process underway? If they give us their weapons, we will immediately cease doing these things you’re telling us about and we’ll have peace, right? But if we disarm, they’ll kill us all, right?” Through his question, in blissful ignorance, this free, privileged and naïve young Israeli demonstrated how the normalization of the occupation prevails — the project of erasing the occupation from Israeli discourse, including the political discourse.

This same Israel has succeeded in raising generations of young people who liken the one-sided occupation imposed by Israel to the symmetry of war. The Israeli army, who will call up these young people I spoke with a few weeks ago, is called the Israel Defense Forces, although it mostly imposes law and order on the Palestinians rather than defending Israel’s borders. These young Israelis are convinced they live in a democratic state, plagued by a minor and easily repaired malfunction, namely the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Why should I criticize this ignorant high school student when he is simply parroting the way Prime Minister Netanyahu presents matters? Netanyahu is one of the architects of the absurd transformation that has successfully separated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Israeli occupation and its military rule over Palestinians. Last month, the prime minister directed a remark to Palestinian President Abbas. “Give peace a chance,” he said; how cynical. While increasing control over Palestinian civilians through the use of arms, Israel encourages the leaders of the occupied side to discuss peace, meaning a cessation of fighting – fighting that is not taking place. Israel wants to talk peace without ending the occupation. It wants to normalize the relationship between occupier and occupied.

Undoubtedly, there will be much to discuss with Palestinian leaders after Israel ends its occupation, unilaterally, with no preconditions – withdrawing its army and citizens from beyond its internationally recognized borders. That will be the time to talk peace: distribution of water, mutual security arrangements, economic relations and trade, exact borders, reciprocal visa procedures, etc.

But the lie about an alleged peace process does not end in Israeli schools or in the minds of Israeli soldiers in the occupation’s army; it is the pillar of international diplomacy, especially that of the United States, and that is its true greatness.

Like his predecessors, the Secretary of State Kerry is asking the Palestinians for more time in order to bring the Israelis to the table. That is exactly what Israel is – and for 46 years has been – asking the world for just a little more time. When mutual violence rocks our land, the extra time we want is granted without even an afterthought. “Quiet! We’re shooting,” we say. And when things are quiet, like now, Israel needs a simulated peace process to buy more time.

In that extra time Israel buys itself, there are improvements in the security and economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territories while Israel deepens its eternal status quo and its military rule over a disenfranchised people.

(Source / 06.07.2013)

PFLP prison branch rejects demands that Mohammad Rimawi end hunger strike


rimawiiiThe Israel Prison Services abruptly demanded to meet with the leadership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine prison branch on Thursday, July 4, in an attempt to pressure them to convince PFLP leader and Jordanian hunger striker Mohammad Rimawi to break his open hunger strike that has now continued for 65 days. Rimawi is one of five Palestinian prisoners with Jordanian citizenship who have been engaged in a 65-day hunger strike, along with Abdullah Barghouthi, Muneer Mar’i, Alaa Hammad, and Hamza Othman al-Dabbas.

The IPS demanded the leadership of the PFLP inside the prisons call upon Rimawi to lift his strike, which they inside the prisons rejected, saying they stand fully with the Jordanian prisoners on hunger strike and particularly Rimawi.

The PFLP leadership emphasized their support for the demands of the Jordanian prisoners and the justice of their cause, warning the Zionist prison officials of the consequences of deterioriation in their health and the seriousness of their situation, particularly as some, including Rimawi, suffer from serious diseases.

The Front leadership in the prisons called on the Palestinian, Jordanian and Arab people to engage in the broadest campaign of solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike, and called upon people around the world to pressure their governments to take action to save the lives of the hunger striking prisoners.

There were additional multiple reports that Abdullah Barghouthi’s health is significantly worsening after suffering multiple assaults by his jailors.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Committee in Nablus visited Beit Rima, the hometown of Mohammad Rimawi and Abdullah Barghouthi, after visiting the homes of imprisoned PFLP general secretary Ahmad Sa’adat and leader Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh. The delegation met with families of the prisoners in Beit Rima and emphasized the importance of supporting all prisoners and their families, especially those on hunger strike.

(Source / 06.07.2013)

Syria’s main opposition picks Ahmad Assi Jarba as new leader

ISTANBUL (AFP) — Syria’s main political opposition on Saturday elected Ahmad Assi Jarba to lead the movement which groups opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, spokesman Khaled Saleh said.

Jarba, who represents the faction of veteran secular dissident Michel Kilo and who is seen as close to Saudi Arabia, obtained 55 votes in the deeply divided Syrian National Coalition, edging out the group’s secretary general Mustafa al-Sabbagh, who obtained 52 votes.

(Source / 06.07.2013)

Syria’s Assad says only foreign invasion can threaten him

  • Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) is seen during an interview with the al-Thawra newspaper in Damascus in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA, July 3, 2013. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

(Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he and his government would survive the civil war having endured everything his opponents could do to topple him and only the distant prospect of direct foreign military intervention could change that.

After steady rebel gains in the first two years of civil war, Syria became stuck in a bloody stalemate lasting months until a June government offensive that led to the capture of a strategic border town. Momentum now looks to be behind Assad.

“This was their goal in hitting our infrastructure, hitting our economy, and creating complete chaos in society so that we would become a failed state,” Assad said in an interview with Syria’s official Thawra newspaper published on Thursday.

“So far we have not reached that stage.”

The only factor that could undermine the resilience of the government, he said, was direct foreign intervention. But he said that was a unlikely due to foreign powers’ conflicting views of an opposition movement increasingly overtaken by radical Islamist militants.

“They have used every material, emotional and psychological means available to them. The only option they have is direct foreign intervention,” he said.

“But there is hesitation and rejection (of intervention) from most countries so if we can overcome this stage with resoluteness and awareness, we have nothing more to fear.”

Syria’s two-year uprising against Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for more than four decades, began as peaceful protests but became militarised after an army crackdown.

The rebels remain strong in the north of Syria, but Assad has been slowly reinforcing his forces there in the hope of retaking territory. Fierce fighting is raging around several cities in central Syria and near the capital.

Assad’s counter-offensive led the United States to announce last month military support for the opposition, a move it said would restore the balance of power ahead of any peace talks.

The United States and Russia, Assad’s main weapons supplier, have proposed a “Geneva 2” peace conference but their deadlock over Syria has meant little progress on the diplomatic front.

Despite what the president acknowledged was widespread suffering in his country, he said his government and its supporters had proved they could weather the storm.

Assad said the country’s ability to avoid “failed state” status was due in large part to Syrian businessmen and workers who continued to do their jobs despite the chaos.

“The Syrian people remain unbroken in every sense of the word. There is an explosion, and within minutes of the clean up, life goes back to normal,” Assad said. “They go to work even as they expect terrorist rockets and terrorist explosions and suicide bombings to happen at any moment.”

(Source / 06.07.2013)

Egypt Islamists hold new demos after deadly clashes

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood rally in support of deposed president Mohamed Mursi, July 6.

CAIRO (AFP) — Islamists massed for further protests on Saturday to demand the army restore Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, after 24 hours of ferocious violence that killed 37 people and injured more than 1,000 nationwide.

The atmosphere was tense as interim leader Adly Mansour held talks with ministers, aides and the Tamarod rebel group that engineered the mass demonstrations culminating in the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.

Crowds were swelling late afternoon outside Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, where Mursi supporters have been camped out for 10 days.

A nearby bridge was still littered with rocks and burned out tires from the overnight confrontations.

Anti-Mursi protesters meanwhile set up checkpoints in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square after a night of deadly fighting nearby.

A coalition of Islamist groups early Saturday vowed “civilized protests and peaceful sit-ins in Cairo until the military coup is reversed and the legitimate president is restored”.

Despite the talk of peaceful demonstrations, residents of a Cairo district reported that bearded Islamists armed with machine guns, machetes and sticks clashed with them as they passed through their district during the night.

“The Brotherhood attacked the area with all kinds of weapons,” said Mohammed Yehya, who added he lost three of his friends in the mayhem. The claim could not be verified.

Fighting during the night between Mursi’s supporters and opponents elsewhere in the capital and in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, where pitched battles raged in the streets, killed at least 37 people and injured around 1,000, medics said.

The bloodletting continued on Saturday with gunmen killing a Coptic Christian priest by dragging him from his car and riddling him with bullets in the restive north of the Sinai peninsula, security sources said.

That came after armed Mursi supporters had stormed the provincial headquarters in the Sinai town of el-Arish and raised the black banner of Al-Qaeda-inspired militants on Friday night, an AFP correspondent said.

The fighting follows Wednesday’s toppling of Mursi, underlining the determination of the ousted leader’s Muslim Brotherhood to disrupt the military’s plan for a political transition until new elections.

The supreme guide of Mursi’s Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, vowed on Friday that members of the Islamist movement would throng the streets in their “millions” until his presidency is restored.

Mursi’s first year of turbulent rule was marked by accusations that he failed the 2011 revolution by concentrating power in the Brotherhood’s hands and allowing the economy to take a nosedive.

The grassroots campaign Tamarod, Arabic for Rebellion, has urged its supporters to take to the streets again on Sunday, foreshadowing further confrontation in the streets.

Police meanwhile pressed a round-up of top Islamists, announcing the arrest of Khairat El-Shater, widely seen as the most powerful man behind Mursi in the Brotherhood.

The United States joined UN chief Ban Ki-moon in calling for a peaceful end to the crisis.

“We condemn the violence that has taken place today in Egypt. We call on all Egyptian leaders to condemn the use of force and to prevent further violence among their supporters,” said a State Department spokeswoman.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced Mursi’s overthrow on Wednesday night, citing his inability to end a deepening political crisis.

The Islamists accuse the military of conducting a brazen coup, after millions called for Mursi’s ouster on the June 30 anniversary of his maiden year in power.

The armed forces have already sworn in Mansour as interim president, and he issued his first decree on Friday, dissolving the Islamist-led parliament and appointing a new intelligence chief.

Mursi is being “preventively detained”, a senior military officer told AFP.

A judicial source said the prosecution would on Monday begin questioning Brotherhood members, including Mursi, for “insulting the judiciary”.

Coincidentally, ex-president Hosni Mubarak, toppled in a popular uprising that led to the poll in which Mursi was elected new leader, appeared in court in Cairo on Saturday when his retrial for alleged complicity in the killings of protesters in 2011 resumed.

The 85-year-old former strongman appeared in the dock behind bars on Saturday, wearing dark sunglasses and a white prison uniform.

During the televised hearing, Cairo’s criminal court heard submissions by the defense before adjourning proceedings until Aug. 17.

(Source / 06.07.2013)

Egypt coup highlights challenges facing Arab Islamists

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood march in Cairo on July 5, 2013.

TUNIS (AFP) — The military coup in Egypt has starkly illustrated the failure of Islamist parties elected in the wake of the Arab Spring to adapt to the practicalities of power and respond to popular expectation, analysts say.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the closely connected Ennahda (Renaissance) party in Tunisia, which both shot to power in the 2011 uprisings that unseated long-standing dictators, were largely absent from the mass protests and therefore unable to take ownership of them, the experts say.

“The Islamists were surprised by the revolutions. They never thought that they would govern or would end up having to take charge of a state whose legacy is corruption and dictatorship,” said Sami Brahmi, a Tunisian expert on Arab and Islamic civilization.

“If any political party (in Egypt or Tunisia) is really ready to govern, to create the hallmarks of democracy, the Islamists most redouble their efforts to convince” people that they can, Brahmi said.

Since well before the massive protests that led to the Egyptian army’s ouster of president Mohamed Mursi this week, the so-called modernists in both countries often proclaimed their sharp opposition to the Islamists, accusing them of seeking to establish an Islamic dictatorship.

“The refusal of president Mohamed Mursi to offer concessions that could have resulted in a less dramatic outcome makes the task of his adversaries much easier,” said Ahmed Manai, president the Tunisian Institute for International Relations.

The work of the Islamist governments has also been complicated by the mistrust of the administrative elites, argues Michael Ayari with the think tank International Crisis Group.

“They took over in countries which each have a well-established state apparatus, a former administration in place that has been reluctant to serve these new people, because they feel threatened by them. They did not arrive by the same route, they do not share the same culture,” Ayari said.

So when the Muslim Brotherhood and Ennahda tried to purge the systems they inherited, in a more or less unilateral manner, it was perceived “as proof of their controlling tendencies,” he added.

“In short, the Islamists have democratic legitimacy, but not the technocratic and revolutionary legitimacy.”

But the experiences are not identical, and while Brothers in Egypt were less conciliatory, partly explaining the huge popular protests that finally drove them from power, Tunisia’s rulers have been more open to dialogue.

Often against their will and always after lengthy debate, Ennahda has made key concessions, most notably in agreeing to omit Islamic sharia law from the new constitution, to not punish sacrilegious acts, and to recognize equal rights for women.

In taking such decisions “they set themselves in opposition to preachers from their own movement,” Ayari said.

Not having an outright majority in Tunisia’s National Assembly, Ennahda had to ally itself with two secular parties and negotiate with hostile opposition groups to draft the country’s new constitution.

The unfinished project has already been heavily delayed and has stoked political tensions in Tunisia, but the situation there has never provoked confrontations of the kind witnessed in Egypt.

Tunisia’s president Moncef Marzouki, who heads a secular party allied to Ennahda, said the “Egyptian scenario” would not be repeated in Tunisia because the army “has never got mixed up with politics” and because the political forces were trying to “live together in dialogue” despite their differences.

But he also stressed that the new regimes needed to respond to the “serious” demands of the people, referring to the poor living conditions that were a driving factor behind the uprisings in both Tunisia and Egypt.

“We must understand this signal (from Egypt), pay attention, realize that there are serious economic and social demands.”

(Source / 06.07.2013)