Egypt orders arrest of Muslim Brotherhood leader

Egypt’s military authorities ordered the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader for inciting an outbreak of violence that left at least 51 of the movement’s supporters dead.

Supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi hold portraits of him and national flags during a rally outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque

Supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi hold portraits of him and national flags during a rally outside Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque

In a move certain to raise the Islamist group’s sense of victimhood, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for Mohammed Badie and three of his associates over Monday’s events outside the army’s Republican Guards’ officers’ club — thus openly blaming the Brotherhood for an incident it has called an unprovoked “massacre”.

Criminal charges were also brought against some 200 people arrested in the violence, which saw security forces firing on a vigil calling for the reinstatement of the deposed Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.

Mr Badie, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, delivered a rousing speech to a sit-in being held at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque last Friday, urging protesters to stay on the streets until Mr Morsi’s rule was restored.

The judicial moves against him — coinciding with the start of Ramadan – appeared to further reduce the chances of political reconciliation as the newly appointed prime minister, Hazem al-Beblawi, sought to form a caretaker cabinet.

Mr Beblawi, a 76-year-old former finance minister who was announced as premier on Tuesday by Adly Mansour, the recently-installed interim president, said he was prepared to appoint Brotherhood ministers as a first step towards healing Egypt’s political divide.

But that olive branch was rejected by the Brotherhood, which said it would have no truck with any government

“We do not deal with putschists. We reject all that comes from this coup,” Tareq al-Morsi, a spokesman for the movement, said.

The Brotherhood has called for an uprising to restore the government of Mr Morsi, who was ousted and detained on July 3 after a year in office following mass protests by opponents who accused him of authoritarianism and incompetence.

Thousands of his supporters gathered late last week outside the Republican Guard facility in Cairo’s Nasr City district believing he was being held there.

The Brotherhood claims 51 of them — including women and children – were shot dead in the early hours of Monday morning after soldiers and police opened fire while they were praying.

The army says it was responding after coming under attack from “terrorists”, whom it claims tried to storm the Republican Guards club. It also says several members of the security forces were killed in the incident.

The authorities’ version of events came under fire on Wednesday from human rights groups, including Amnesty International, which called for an “independent and impartial” inquiry after accusing the security forces of using “intentional lethal force”.

“Despite claims by the military that protesters attacked first during clashes on Monday and that no women and children were injured, first-hand accounts collected by Amnesty International paint a very different picture,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the group’s deputy regional director.

“Even if some protesters used violence, the response was disproportionate and led to the loss of life and injury among peaceful protesters.

“As politicians squabble over who started the violence, it’s clear that unless the security forces are reined-in and clear orders given on the use of force we’re looking at a recipe for disaster.”

Fifteen Egyptian human rights groups also issued “strong condemnation” in a joint statement.

Some 88 people have been killed and 1,500 wounded since last Friday, Amnesty says.

Fears of further violence were fuelled after an attack by Islamist militants on a checkpoint in the lawless Sinai peninsula left two people dead and another six injured.

In a fillip to Egypt’s new rulers, Kuwait pledged £2.7 billion in cash, loans and fuel on Wednesday to aid the country’s collapsing economy. The promise came a day Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates promised a total of £5.4 billion. The three Arab Gulf states have welcomed the end of the Muslim Brotherhood rule

(Source / 10.07.2013)

Israel confirms it holding Palestinian who disappeared in Egypt for ‘security crimes’

JERUSALEM – A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who disappeared in Egypt last month is being detained by Israel for “security crimes,” an Israel court confirmed Wednesday, a month after his family charged he was abducted.

The court partially lifted a gag order on the case, identifying the man as Wael Abu Reda, but did not say how he was detained or how he ended up in Israel.

The man’s wife, Iman, said she was travelling with her husband when he received a phone call from someone asking him to meet in Egypt’s Sinai desert. “So he went,” she said.

She said her husband was missing for eight days when his brother, Mansour, received a call from an Israeli official saying he was in Israel.

The Sinai Peninsula is a lawless area bordering the Gaza Strip where Islamic militants are active. She said her husband was not connected to any armed groups.

“My husband does not belong to any faction, neither political nor military. Egypt holds all of the responsibility,” she said.

Mansour Abu Reda said his brother travelled to Cairo seeking to obtain Egyptian citizenship and to get medical treatment for his son. Gaza residents often go abroad for medical services not available in Gaza.

He demanded answers from both Israel and Egypt.

“Israel is responsible for his life, and human rights groups must act to secure his release,” he said. “We don’t know why they took him, and Egyptian security must tell us how they kidnapped him from Egypt.”

In Israel, the Beersheba Magistrates Court on Wednesday extended for 10 days a blackout on details of the case, releasing only Abu Reda’s name and the fact that he was detained for “crimes against the security of the country.”

The case is reminiscent of another Palestinian from Gaza, Dirar Abu Sisi, who vanished on a Ukrainian sleeper train in 2011 and later surfaced in an Israeli prison. The details of his capture and transfer remain unclear. Israel confirmed it was holding him only a month after his disappearance.

Israel accuses Abu Sisi, an engineer, of masterminding the Hamas rocket program and training gunmen in Gaza. He is charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and weapons production. He denies the charges, saying he was a civilian engineer at Gaza’s power plant.

Hamas is considered a terror group by Israel, the U.S. and EU due to its rocket attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

(Source / 10.07.2013)

Events in Egypt may influence, won’t define Syria war

Observers doubt that support for Syria’s rebels will start melting away because the desire of Sunni Gulf Arab states and the West to maintain their opposition to Syria’s ally Iran more than outweighs their distaste for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has put a new spring in the step of Bashar al-Assad, who sees it as a sign that Islamists – including those spearheading the Sunni-dominated rebellion against him – are in decline.

Exuding confidence after a recent successful army counter-offensive, and speaking as the Egyptian army was deposing Islamist president Mohammed Mursi, Assad said “what is happening in Egypt is the fall of what is known as political Islam.”

“After a whole year, reality has become clear to the Egyptian people. The Muslim Brotherhood’s performance has helped them see the lies the (group) used at the start of the popular revolution in Egypt.”

The Syrian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood was all but destroyed by Assad’s father Hafez al-Assad. Membership became a capital offence in 1980 and an Islamist insurrection in 1982 drew a ruthless response. That defeat seemed to mark the end of the Islamic movement as a political force in Syria.

But the past two years have brought a reversal. The Brotherhood is influential in Syria’s opposition in exile, mainly because of its ability to channel money and arms from countries including Qatar and Turkey.

The roots of the enmity between Assad’s Baath Party and the Muslim Brotherhood are ideological.

The Baath Party is secular, nationalist and led by the minority Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, whom the Brotherhood and other conservative Sunni Muslims view as heretics. The Brotherhood considers nationalism to be un-Islamic and religion to be inseparable from the politics of government.

The end of Brotherhood rule in Egypt coupled with fierce opposition to the Brothers’ brand of political Islam in Gulf power Saudi Arabia may change the regional equation. Recent victories on the battlefield have increased Assad’s confidence.

“Assad is basically saying the Islamists are now in retreat and the military are on the offensive,” says Fawaz Gerges, head of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.

The Brotherhood’s fall in Egypt, the land of its birth in 1928, means the Islamist narrative has all but collapsed, so the reasoning goes. The Brotherhood is in decline and the secular Arab nationalist narrative Assad purports to embody is on the rise.

“He is saying if the mother organization fails, the Muslim Brothers in Syria have no future” and their sponsors such as Qatar are in retreat, Gerges says.

Curbing Iran

None of this, however, implies decisive change in the balance on the ground in Syria where, even with support from Shiite Iran and its Lebanese paramilitary proxy Hezbollah, there is no sign Assad can regain control of a fragmenting country.

The government holds the capital Damascus and other cities while the largest areas under rebel control are to the north and east of Aleppo and down the center of the country between Idlib and Hama. Aleppo remains divided.

After making early military gains, the rebels now find themselves short of the weapons they need to take on Assad’s armor and air power.

While Assad is not capable of snatching total victory by delivering a decisive blow to Sunni rebels, he believes he is winning because he has been able to survive for the past two and a half years, Gerges argues.

But Assad must still contend with two uncomfortable facts: outside support for the rebels is not going away and Islamist fighters in their ranks are likely to harden their attitudes following what they see as a military coup against Mursi.

Observers such as Tarek Osman, an Egyptian political economist and author of “Egypt on the Brink,” doubt that support for Syria’s rebels will start melting away because the desire of Sunni Gulf Arab states and the West to maintain their opposition to Assad’s ally Iran more than outweighs their distaste for the Brotherhood.

“For almost all major regional players, the fight against Iranian influence in the eastern Mediterranean has a higher level of urgency and importance than their positions regarding political Islam,” says Osman.

He also points to “a sense of defiance already setting in among Arab Islamists” because of the way Mursi was bundled out of office despite having come to power through the ballot box. That will harden their attitudes in Syria and in other Arab states facing difficult transitions.

“For the jihadist groups fighting the Assad regime in Syria, this defiance could mean increased ferocity: a sense that their ‘cause’ now is under attack.”

The hardening of Islamists’ position can be seen in their Internet chatter where some describe the military move to force Mursi to step down, as a “conspiracy against Islam.”

“The military is the enemy of Islam, this is a fact. The armies in the Arab world were built to reject Islam. That is why we saw the army here killing Muslims and the same in Egypt, they are showing their real face,” said Abu Omar, an Islamist in the northern province of Idlib.

(Source / 10.07.2013)

Egypt’s coup does not bode well for Palestinians

The liberals standing by the army’s side to oust Morsi should think of those in Gaza about to live again under the blockade

Palestinian travelers gather at the Rafa

Palestinian travellers wait at the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the Gaza Strip this week, which has been closed by Egypt’s armed forces since the coup.

When Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February 2011, Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip joined the celebrations of millions of Egyptians. Mubarak, after all, was the enforcer of Israel’s siege on Gaza and allowed Tzipi Livni, then Israeli foreign minister, to initiate “Operation Cast Lead” from the heart of Cairo.

Under the now-deposed president Mohamed Morsi, conditions in Gaza got slightly better: travel through the Rafah crossing became easier and less humiliating than under Mubarak, activists who had long been denied entry to the coastal enclave by Egyptian security forces were finally able to cross, and high-profile visits also became possible. These changes, however, were relative: Palestinians in Gaza still waited, without reason, for hours in order to be let into Egypt, and Mubarak’s policies of destroying tunnels and restricting travel for men under 40 continued. These factors, in addition to the Palestinians’ spontaneous allegiance with the Egyptian people’s demands, explain why many Palestinians criticised Morsi and supported his ousting.

What no one considered were the implications of a military coup. This time the change does not seem to bode well for the Palestinians. The border with Egypt has already been closed by the armed forces,Palestinians landing in Cairo airport are being deported back to the countries they flew in from, tunnels have been demolished, and army-instigated anti-Palestinian propaganda is rampant across Cairo. The situation in Egypt has become an obsession and wherever one goes in the Strip, grim predictions are made about a return to a Mubarak-era blockade.

This scenario is made more likely by the fact that Egyptian liberals and secularists previously opposed to the blockade are now being fed news of Palestinian armed groups sent by Hamas to aid the Muslim Brotherhood and conduct “terrorist operations” against the Egyptian army. Interestingly, such news is often published citing anonymous sources and without evidence of the arms claimed to have been seized by the Egyptian police.

One liberal group that enjoys high credibility and facilitates the armed forces’ efforts is the National Salvation Front. The NSF is spearheaded by Mohammed ElBaradei, who is widely respected and seen as a capable technocrat. The group made no secret of its support for the military coup and ElBaradei appeared with the armed forces’ chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as he delivered the speech that unseated Morsi. The NSF fig leaf gives plausibility to statements such as that made to the BBC by an army general claiming that Morsi’s good relations with Hamas was a driving factor behind the coup.

Hamas is indeed in trouble. In a very short time, it has lost major regional allies. Iran, Syria and Hezbollah no longer support the group, because of its position on Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood, which lifted Hamas’s years-long international isolation, is gone from electoral politics.

If a more secular government takes over, Hamas will be fought against and undermined: secularists and liberals already see Hamas as an enemy given the group’s perceived support for and relations with the Brotherhood. But beyond these agendas they must recognise that close by sit 1.7 million people whose lives continue to be determined by political conflicts in which they have no hand.

(Source / 10.07.2013)

MAX gaat Israëlisch …

De NRC van 6 juli kopt op pagina Media over het programma van Frits Barend “Ik voel mij veilig en thuis in Israël ”.

Als ik nu als de anti-Palestijnen politici en grote-monden-in Nederland zou zijn, zou ik makkelijk tegen de heer Barend kunnen zeggen: “Ga dan onmiddellijk naar Israël” , maar zo ben ik niet. Ik toon respect voor anderen ook als de anderen dat niet doen.  Sta me echter wel toe, om een reactie te geven op het artikel.

Het artikel – een interview met Frits Barend – begint met de opmerking over het feit dat veel mensen een verkeerd beeld hebben van Israël. Sorry, maar hebben de Israëlische leiders dit zelf niet over Israël afgeroepen? Deze leiding is dagelijks bezig om een ander volk te onderdrukken, huizen te vernietigen alleen om het eigen gebied uit te breiden, gooit zonder enige vorm van rechtspraak Palestijnse mannen, vrouwen en kinderen in de gevangenis, schiet zonder enig pardon mensen van de motor. Meneer Barend, zou ik een verkeerd beeld hebben van Israël? Vertel mij eens wat voor beeld ik zou moeten hebben. Met excuses, ik kom niet verder dat de politieke leiding van Israël moordenaars en terroristen zijn. Is dat een verkeerd beeld? Gut, hoe zou dat nu komen.

Meneer Barend gaat verder: “Israël is niet het kwaad van de wereld” . Wel, beste Frits, dat weten ze dan goed te verbergen. Elke dag krijg ik berichten, artikelen, tweets en boodschappen van Palestijnen, gewoon de mensen op straat, die aangeven hoe Israël in het echt is. Dat – ondanks het feit dat ze niet het kwaad van de wereld zou zijn – er weer drones en vliegtuigen in de Gaza lucht zijn. Waarom moet dat dan? Dat er weer bulldozers huizen met de grond gelijk maken in de Palestijnse gebieden. En dat noemt u niet het “kwaad van de wereld?” En u durft tegen mij te zeggen dat ik niet goed bij mijn hoofd ben. Als u uw bijbel eens leest, en zoek eens naar Mattheüs 7 – 4 en 5, en kom dan nog eens met de uitspraak dat ik niet goed bij mijn hoofd ben.

Verderop in het artikel kwijlt Barend verder over de voordelen van Israël, zoals vrije pers, democratie, onafhankelijke rechtspraak en zo ratelt hij maar door. Vrije pers en onafhankelijke rechtspraak, het zal allemaal wel, maar wel dik en dik beïnvloed door de Groot Israëlische gedachte: uitbreiding van het grondgebied, zoals de vroeger Joodse leiders en huidige Israëlische politici steeds maar de media in brengen. En dan is er geen verschil tussen links en rechts in de politiek.

Maar in het interview is de heer Barend te ver gegaan met zijn opmerking: “… wij wilden juist laten zien dat Israël meer is dan de bezette gebieden.” Wat een onbeschoftheid om zo iets te zeggen. De bezette gebieden zijn geen Israëlisch grondbezit. Uw Israëlische vrienden hebben Palestijns gebied bezet, ja bezet, u hebt het zelf gezegd, maar Palestina hoort niet bij Israël en zal er ook nooit bij horen. Bezet zoals de Duitsers in de Tweede Wereldoorlog Nederland heeft bezet. En u zegt dat IK niet goed bij mijn hoofd ben?

U heeft dreigbrieven gehad, wordt er in het interview geschreven; in dat geval kunnen we elkaar een hand geven. Laat ik u zeggen dat ik telefonisch ben bedreigd, 26 keer in één week en dat gaat niet in de koude kleren zitten. Ik ben van mening dat een ieder recht heeft op zijn / haar mening en daarom zal ik ook een ieder respecteren. Maar als u het Palestijnse volk aanvalt met de woorden die u heeft gebruikt in het interview, zal ik moeten reageren en Palestina verdedigen. Dat zal ik blijven doen, ondanks uw documentaire “Israël 65 jaar geliefd en gehaat” en uw status als journalist in Nederland en er buiten.