Tamarod Comes to Palestine

Palestinian members of security forces loyal to Hamas stand guard on the border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, July 5, 2013.
Unlike the government, which remained silent, the Palestinian people — in particular the residents of Gaza — have been debating the Egyptian crisis on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Some support deposed President Mohammed Morsi, while others are opposed to him.

A Palestinian movement called Tamarod, meaning rebellion, opened a page on Facebook on July 1 that now has 18,000 followers. The movement was named after the Egyptian movement that called for the June 30 revolution.

In its first statement, Tamarod said, “We are an independent initiative that is not related to any party, movement, faction or authority. We are a youth initiative that aims at making the voice of the youth heard and enabling its political participation.”

The movement, whose slogan is similar to that of the Jan. 25 Revolution — freedom, dignity and social justice — said, “Oh Palestinians, revolt against oppression and division, revolt against those impeding the elections. No one is legitimate; the mandate of everyone has ended. The only legitimacy is that of the people. Our movement in the West Bank and Gaza is peaceful with a clear aim — returning legitimacy to the people.”

Al-Monitor tried to contact key Hamas leaders to learn their opinions, but the majority refrained from commenting on the issue, due to what they described as the delicacy of the situation.

Yahia Moussa, an MP for Hamas, told Al-Monitor during a phone interview on July 8, “There is an agreement between the factions in Gaza not to make comments.”

Bassem Naim, adviser to the prime minister of the Gaza government on international affairs, said, “Of course, the internal situation in Egypt has taken its toll on the daily life [of Palestinians], especially after the closure of the Rafah crossing, which currently impacts the humanitarian situation in Gaza and will affect the economic situation.” Naim considered the decision that was taken on July 9, 2013, to reopen the crossing and let those who were held up in, not enough to meet the needs of the 1.7 million Gazans.

Speaking to Al-Monitor on July 9, Naim added, “The Palestinian cause represents the cause of the Arab, Islamic nation and will not be influenced by an event, since it is a rightful cause and has endured weighty hardships. The relationship between Egypt and Palestine goes beyond parties and policies; it has a historical depth and we are neighboring countries.”

One of the very few reactions issued by Hamas was a statement published on July 8, following the death of scores of Muslim Brotherhood members and two presidential guards at dawn on the same day. The statement was published on the Facebook page of Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau. It read: “Hamas condemns the massacre that claimed the lives of dozens of peaceful civilians at dawn.”

“The movement expresses its deep pain and grief over the death of these victims. It calls for halting the bloodshed of the dear Egyptian people. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims.”

In regard to media reactions, Hamas denied more than once issuing any of the statements the Egyptian media have spread and attributed to the movement. Hamas described these statements as false.

In a statement issued on July 8, Hamas accused Fatah of trying to defame the movement. Hamas affirmed that it had acquired official documents proving that Fatah is fabricating and providing the Egyptian media with false stories to incite Egyptians against the Palestinian people. Earlier, Fatah asked Hamas not to interfere in the Egyptian affairs.

For its part, the Hamas government affirmed during the session it held on July 9, 2013, that Fatah is trying to embroil Hamas in the internal affairs of other countries. The government called on this nonsense to be halted at once.

In an initial reaction on the part of Hamas in regard to the crisis in Egypt, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the changes in Egypt will not impact the Palestinian cause because it represents an essential cause for the Arab, Islamic nation.

During a speech delivered on July 5, 2013, Haniyeh spoke of Morsi’s deposition at the hand of the Egyptian army, saying that it will not impact Egypt’s policy in regard to Gaza and the Palestinian cause.

Talking about whether Hamas is overcoming the pain and frustration caused by the ouster of Morsi, Nouhad al-Sheikh Khalil, a modern history scholar, believes that Hamas is not alone. In fact, Hamas has ties with all parties in Egypt, and its fate is not linked to one party alone. Hamas defines its relationship with countries based on their take on the Palestinian cause and the unity of the nation. The movement is not dependent on anyone.

In a phone interview with Al-Monitor on July 8, Khalil said that he did not deny that Hamas had Muslim Brotherhood roots. All the factions of the Muslim Brotherhood cooperate and coordinate with each other, and this is not a secret. Yet, they do not intervene in internal affairs; the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had ties with [Palestinian President] Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and Hamas cooperated with movements opposing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Khalil, the author of Internal Structure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza: 1967-1987, noted, “If those who ousted Morsi believe that they were continuing the Jan. 25 Revolution, the issue of Gaza is the test they will be put to.” Khalil said that even if the blockade on the movement intensified and reaches its zenith, it will not be tougher than the 2007 blockade.

On the other hand, political writer Mukhaymar Abu Saada said during a phone interview with Al-Monitor on July 8 that the repercussions Morsi’s ouster will have on political Islamic groups, including Hamas, are similar to what happened in 2007. Hamas was politically and internationally besieged. “Today, the situation is even worse. When Hamas was besieged in 2007, Iran and Syria were supporting it. Now, Hamas’ relations with Iran and Hezbollah are tense and hostile, while its ties with Syria are broken. No one knows how things will go with Qatar after the crowning of the new emir.”

Abu Saada added, “Turkey, which has recently experienced hardships, is the only political ally left for Hamas. Tunisia is weak because its coalition government encompasses secular and Islamic parties. Hamas is totally isolated and is now a political ‘orphan,’ as described by some newspapers. Yet, this does not mean that the movement is weak internally, because this situation could make it stronger in terms of its influence in Gaza.”

(Source / 12.07.2013)

Israel’s Justice Ministry pushing bill to force-feed hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners

Samer Issawi

Hunger strike Samer Issawi at the entrance to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Dec. 21, 2012.

A Palestinian demonstrator shouts slogans holding a placard featuring Samer Issawi during a protest outside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque in April.

Following the high number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees going on hunger strike in an attempt to apply pressure for their release, Israel’s Justice Ministry is formulating a draft bill that would make it possible to force-feed hunger-striking prisoners, subject to court approval.

According to the proposed guideline, a request to the court would follow on from a medical opinion determining that a hunger-striking prisoner’s life is in danger if he continues his action. The prisoner will be represented by an attorney during the legal proceeding and have the right to have his viewpoint heard.

In the past year, a number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees have gone on prolonged hunger strikes. Israel’s ministries turned to Deputy Attorney General Raz Nezri, who conducted a series of discussions on the issue with representatives of the defense and health establishments.

During the discussions there was a comparison with other countries, which showed that some Western countries permit force-feeding. A proposal allowing an administrator in the Israel Prison Service to approve force-feeding in the case of danger to a prisoner’s life was declared legally invalid.

In an attempt to find a proportionate arrangement, it was decided that if a medical opinion determines continuing the hunger strike presents a real danger to the prisoner’s health, the issue will be brought to the court, which will decide whether to force-feed him.

A court will then hear the prisoner, and he will be legally entitled to representation. The Justice Ministry believes that, in the case of security prisoners and detainees, it will not be feasible to wait until there is a danger to life and accept the possibility that they won’t be able to save the prisoner.

The draft bill will soon be brought before the attorney general, justice minister and members of the cabinet for further consideration.

(Source / 12.07.2013)

Israel tests rocket system

(Pascal Saura,  AFP)

Jerusalem – Israel on Friday staged what it said was a planned test of a rocket propulsion system at a military base on the Mediterranean coast.

Israeli media, citing analysts, said the test appeared to be of a version of the Jericho ballistic missile with a range of at least 5 000km, easily capable of hitting arch-foe Iran.

“This morning, Israel conducted a launching test from the Palmachim base of a rocket propulsion system,” the Israeli defence ministry said in a brief statement.

“The scheduled test was pre-planned by Israel’s ministry of defence and was carried out as expected,” it said without elaborating.

In January 2008, Israel successfully test-fired a long-range ballistic missile, days after warning “all options” were open to prevent Iran from obtaining an atomic weapon.

Israel’s Jericho ground-to-ground missile is believed to be capable of carrying a nuclear, chemical or biological warhead.

Israel was last believed to have tested its propulsion system in November 2011.

Israel and Western governments fear that Iran’s nuclear programme masks a drive for atomic weapons.

Iran denies any such ambition and insists its nuclear programme is for power generation and medical purposes only.

Israel is widely considered to be the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power with an estimated arsenal of 200 warheads.

The test came as Israeli public radio said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid met defence officials on Friday to discuss proposed budget cuts to conventional forces.

Reports say that as part of overall cuts in government spending, reductions are planned in the number of tanks, ships and planes, as well as the dismissal of thousands of career servicemen over the next year.

The radio said that Netanyahu had not yet given his approval.

(Source / 12.07.2013)

Palestinians facing food insecurity in blocked Gaza

“Food insecurity is spreading among Gazan households due to years of an unabated Israeli blockade. The crippling siege has negatively affected the quality and quantity of food Gazans consume ”

Most Gazans suffer from food insecurity due to several years of Israeli blockade. Impoverishment has increased the level of food insecurity in Gaza which is home to one point seven million people. Tel-Aviv is not only maintaining a tight air, sea and land blockade but it also prevents farmers in Gaza from farming vast swathes of land in the so-called buffer zone.

Israeli naval forces limit the fishing area off the coast of Gaza depriving Gazans of fish which is known to be a rich source of animal protein.
According to Oxfam’s Coordinator of Food Security and Livelihoods, Elena Qleibo, food security remains a major challenge for aid agencies.

The Egyptian army’s crackdown on tunnels in recent weeks has also contributed to the lack of food security. Tunnels on the border with Egypt are considered a life-line for Gazans amid the choking Israeli blockade. They also provide jobs for thousands of workers.

According aid agencies working in Gaza nearly 60% of families in the impoverished territory are either food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity. Thirty percent of the population has borderline or poor diets. This entails a reduced consumption of fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

Experts say that the situation of Palestinians in this tiny seaside territory reflects the scope of continuous Israeli human rights violations.

(Source / 12.07.2013)

11 vragen over het vasten

Hieronder treft u een aantal veelgestelde vragen aan over het vasten, ontleend aan het Fatawaboek van de nobele geleerde shaych al-‘Uthaimeen – moge Allah hem genadig zijn –

Vraag nr.1 : Wat zijn de zaken die het toestaan voor een persoon om niet te vasten?

– Ziekte en als je op reis bent, zoals in de Qoraan vermeld staat.

– De zwangere vrouw die vreest voor haar eigen gezondheid of die van haar baby.

– De vrouw die borstvoeding geeft en vreest voor haar eigen gezondheid of die van haar kind.

– Iemand die een persoon in nood wil redden van bv. brand of verdrinking en het voor hem nodig is om zijn vasten te verbreken.

(Voor de menstruerende vrouw en de vrouw met kraambloeding is het verboden te vasten)

Vraag nr.2: Wat is het oordeel omtrent mascara, oog-, oor en neusdruppels voor de vastende?

Wat betreft mascara, oog- en oordruppels dan is dat toegestaan voor de vastende ook al proeft hij de smaak daarvan in zijn keel. Maar wat neusdruppels betreft; als de neusdruppels de maag bereiken, verbreekt dat het vasten. Dus het is niet toegestaan deze druppels te gebruiken alleen wanneer deze de maag niet bereiken.

Vraag nr.3 Wat is het oordeel omtrent de vastende die parfum gebruikt?

Dat is toegestaan, hij mag het ook ruiken. Alleen wierrook mag niet worden geïnhaleerd omdat het deeltjes bevat die de maag kunnen bereiken.

Vraag nr.4: Verbreekt gebruik van tandpasta het vasten?

Tandpasta verbreekt het vasten niet, zolang er niks wordt doorgeslikt. Maar ik (de shaych) ben van mening dat de vastende het niet hoort te gebruiken overdag, maar uitstelt tot de avond. Dit vanwege de sterkte van de tandpasta waardoor iets de maag kan bereiken zonder dat hij dat door heeft.

Vraag nr.5: Verbreekt het doorslikken van je speeksel het vasten?

Het doorslikken van speeksel verbreekt het vasten niet.

Vraag nr.6: Degene die gemeenschap met zijn vrouw heeft gehad en pas na fajr de wassing verricht is het vasten geldig?

Zijn of haar vasten is geldig, maar er moet wel haast worden gemaakt met de wassing zodat fajr tijdig wordt gebeden.

Vraag nr.7 Wat is het oordeel omtrent een persoon die de sahoer (ochtendmaaltijd) nuttigt en niet doorheeft dat fajr al is aangebroken?

Wanneer een persoon eet na fajr en niet doorheeft dat fajr is aangebroken dan is hij daardoor niet zondig en hoeft hij deze dag niet in te halen. Vanwege de algemene bewijsvoeringen die erop duiden dat een persoon niet wordt afgerekend op onwetendheid en vergeetachtigheid.

Vraag nr.8: Is het toegestaan voor de vastende om de astma-inhalator te gebruiken?

Dit is voor hem toegestaan omdat het gaat om iets dat verdampt en niet de maag bereikt.

Vraag nr.9: Wat is het oordeel omtrent het gebruiken van crème voor uitgedroogde lippen of neus?

Sommige van de vastenden hebben last van uitgedroogde lippen of neus. Het is toegestaan om iets te gebruiken wat de lippen of neus verzacht; zoals een crème. Of door de lippen of neus te bevochtigen met een nat doekje of iets dergelijks. Maar er moet wel worden opgelet dat niks wordt ingeslikt. Mocht er dan toch wat onopzettelijk worden ingeslikt, dan is dat niet erg. Net zoals degene die zijn mond spoelt en onbedoeld wat doorslikt.

Vraag nr.10: Wat is de regelgeving omtrent het gebruiken van zetpillen tijdens het vasten voor degene die ziek is?

Dat is voor diegene toegestaan, omdat het niet onder eten of drinken valt.

Vraag nr.11: Moeten de kinderen die nog geen 15 jaar oud zijn worden opgedragen te vasten?

De kinderen die nog geen puber zijn, worden opgedragen te vasten als zij dat aankunnen. Net zoals de metgezellen van de profeet salallaaho ‘alayhi wa sallem dit met hun kinderen deden. Zodat zij eraan wennen en ermee opgroeien. Maar als het te zwaar voor hen is en het hen schaadt, dan worden zij niet gedwongen.

Fatawa shaych al-‘Uthaimeen

Abulfadl, student aan de Universiteit van Medina. Saudi Arabië.

3 Ramadan

Deprivation. Israel’s WMD by Proxy: The cruellest cuts



This diagram of the wall being constructed in the Bethlehem/Jerusalem area was produced by the BBC to show how the monastery and nunnery of Beit Jala were being separated from each other and from the villagers who rely on the religious houses for education for their children and for trade. The justification for the wall is to protect Israelis from terrorist attack – including, presumably, by Christian nuns and monks. See Bethlehem nuns in West Bank barrier battle, May 2012

Jews for Justice for Palestinians – July 12, 2013

The Humanitarian Impact of the Barrier

Report from OCHA. To read the full report and see the diagrams click the headline above.
July 2013

� The Barrier consists of concrete walls, fences, ditches, razor wire, groomed sand paths, an electronic monitoring system, patrol roads, and a buffer zone.

� The Barrier’s total length (constructed and projected) is approximately 712 km, more than twice the length of the 1949 Armistice (“Green”) Line.

� Approximately 62% of the Barrier’s approved route is complete, a further 10% is under construction and 28% is planned but not yet constructed.

� Some 85% of the Barrier’s route runs inside the West Bank, rather than along the Green Line; if completed as planned, the Barrier will isolate 9.4% of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

� Nearly half of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank (71 out of 150) and over 85% of the settler population
are located in the area between the Green Line and the Barrier’s route.

� Around 11,000 Palestinians living in 32 communities located between the Barrier and the Green Line (hereafter:
behind the Barrier), depend on the granting of permits or special arrangements to live in their own homes.

� In 2013, a rerouting of a section the Barrier near Tulkarm was completed, allowing 350 people in the Khirbet
Jubara community free access to the rest of the West Bank.

� Palestinians with West Bank ID cards who are granted special permits can enter East Jerusalem through four of the 14 Barrier checkpoints around the city.

� Approximately 150 Palestinian communities have land located behind the Barrier, forcing residents to seek special permits or ‘prior coordination’ to access it.

� Access to agricultural land through the Barrier is channelled through 74 gates, the majority of which (52) only open during the olive harvest (October-December).

� Despite the presence of the Barrier, between January and March 2013 at least 14,000 Palestinians without the required permits smuggled themselves every day into Israel to look for employment (PCBS).

1. In 2002, the Government of Israel decided to build a Barrier with the stated aim of preventing violent attacks by Palestinians inside Israel. However, the vast majority of the Barrier’s route is located within the West Bank, separating Palestinian communities and farming land from the rest of the West Bank and contributing to the fragmentation of the oPt. The inclusion of Israeli settlements behind the Barrier is the single most important factor behind the deviation of the route from the Green Line.

2. The Barrier has reduced the access of Palestinians living in communities located behind the Barrier to workplaces and essential services. To continue living in their own homes and to maintain family and social relations with the rest of the West Bank they must obtain permits or “prior coordination” and pass through Barrier checkpoints. Access of service providers to these communities, including ambulances and fire brigades, has been impaired.

3. Agriculture-based livelihoods of thousands of families have been undermined due to the permit and gate regime, which restrict access to farmland behind the Barrier. Permit applications are regularly rejected on grounds that farmers failed to prove their “connection to the land” to the satisfaction of the Israeli authorities, as well as on security grounds.

The limited opening of the agricultural gates has forced permit-holders to stop cultivation or to shift from labour intensive to rain-fed and low-value crops.

4. The Barrier has transformed the geography, economy and social life of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, as well as the life of those residing in the wider metropolitan area. Neighbourhoods, suburbs and families have been divided from each other from the urban centre, and rural communities separated from their land in the Jerusalem periphery.

5. In its 2004 Advisory Opinion, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) established that the sections of the Barrier which run inside the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, together with the associated gate and permit regime, violate Israel’s obligations under international law. The ICJ called on Israel to cease construction of the Barrier, dismantle the sections already completed, and repeal all legislative measures related to the Barrier.

The Barta’a Enclave
Eight communities (approximately 6,000 people) have been separated by the Barrier from their service centre in Jenin. This has also impeded access of humanitarian and Civil Defense staff in emergencies, due to delays and searches at the Barrier checkpoint.

A survey in part of the Qalqiliya district showed that the number of Palestinian greenhouses on the area behind the Barrier declined from 247 in 2003 to 149 in 2010, undermining agricultural livelihoods.

Jerusalem: Kafr ‘Aqab
Construction of the Barrier in the Jerusalem area has resulted in the physical separation of a few Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, such as Kafr ‘Aqab, from the urban centre. Residents suffer from impeded access to services on the ‘Jerusalem’ side of the Barrier, the lack of municipal services in situ, a security vacuum and increasing lawlessness and crime.

The completion of the Barrier in western Bethlehem will sever the urban area from its agricultural lands. It will also reduce access of over 23,000 residents in nine Palestinian communities to Bethlehem City, the major services centre for health, education, markets and trade. Farmers who need to access their land behind the Barrier are required to apply for ‘visitor permits’, with many rejected for ‘security reasons’ or a lack of ‘connection to the land’.

Tulkarm: Rate of approvals of permit applications
Farmers who need to access their land behind the Barrier are required to apply for ‘visitor permits’, with many rejected for ‘security reasons’ or a lack of ‘connection to the land’.

Undermining agricultural livelihoods
A satellite survey of the Barrier’s impact in part of the Tulkarm and Qalqiliya districts showed that the number of Palestinian greenhouses on the ‘Israeli’ side of the Barrier declined from 247 in 2003 to 149 in 2010.

(Source / 12.07.2013)

Egyptian Islamists rally for Mursi’s return, vow to challenge army

Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi perform weekly Friday prayers at the Rabaa al-Adawiya square in Cairo, where they are camping, on July 12, 2013.

Tens of thousands of supporters of ousted president Mohammad Mursi assembled on Friday in Egypt, pledging to keep fighting for his reinstatement, as rival rallies defending his overthrow highlighted the country’s political polarization.

Protesters arrived from across the country to gather outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in the neighborhood of Nasr City in Cairo, vowing allegiance to Mursi and denouncing the army, while holding Egyptian flags and Qurans.

The rallies come as the German government asked for the deposed president to be released from custody. Mursi is currently detained at a “safe place, for his safety” and has not yet been charged, according to Egypt’s foreign ministry.

“We will continue to resist. We will stay one or two months, or even one or two years. We won’t leave here until our president, Mohammad Mursi, comes back,” Safwat Hegazi, an influential Islamist leader said to the gathering, according to AFP.

Hegazi demanded that Mursi be reinstated, that immediate parliamentary elections be held and for a committee to supervise a national reconciliation plan.

Demonstrators set up a field kitchen to cook Iftar, the meal eaten after Muslims break their fast in the month of Ramadan.

Thousands also gathered outside the University of Cairo, overseen by security forces.

Despite the size of the protests, Egypt’s interim authorities continue to start a new government amid support from Gulf states to prop up the ailing economy.

The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have offered $12bn of aid since Mursi was overthrown.

The Muslim Brotherhood from which Mursi hails is now in decline in the country, with many of its leaders arrested or in hiding following the ousted president’s overthrow on July 3, which the Brotherhood and many of its supporters regard as a military coup.

Rival protests

Rival movements against Mursi have also called for large demonstrations after Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and at the Ittihadiya presidential palace, with a mass Iftar planned.

“Our existence in the streets today was necessary to protect the legitimacy [of the June 30 uprising],” Doaa Khalifa, of the Tamarod (rebel group), told Al Arabiya.

In Tahrir Square, several dozen demonstrators congregated at midday, expecting more to join later.

“It is because of the heat and Ramadan, when we have a fast. During the day, people stay at home but this evening, people will come to Tahrir,” Gamal, 48, told AFP.

The rival rallies have increased tension and raised expectations of rising violence since Mursi’s ouster, after millions of demonstrators demanded that he step down.

Earlier this week, clashes at an army building in Cairo killed 53 people, mostly pro-Mursi demonstrators.

The military says soldiers were attacked by “terrorists” and armed protesters, while the Brotherhood accuses the army of “massacring” demonstrators.

On Friday, gunmen in the city of Ismailia on the Suez Canal killed a policeman and wounded an officer in an attempt to stop a vehicle the armed group was travelling in, MENA reported on Friday, according to AFP.

The militants escaped, but were being pursued by security forces, General Mohamed Eid, Ismailiya’s police chief, told MENA.

Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, where many Red Sea resorts are located, has been hit by a wave of violence, with gunmen killing a police officer in a rocket attack on a checkpoint early on Friday, according to officials.

Earlier in the week, two people died in an attack on a security checkpoint in the Sinai.

On Thursday, a Coptic Christian man was found decapitated after being kidnapped.

The public prosecutor has pressed charges against 200 of 650 people detained during the violence on Monday.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said that the arrests were “not in line with the national reconciliation” the interim government and army say they want, adding that if the arrest continued “it is hard to see how Egypt will move beyond this crisis,” according to AFP.

The German foreign ministry spokesman said a “trusted institution” such as the International Committee of Red Cross should be able to visit Mursi.

“We and our partners are of the opinion that any appearance of selective justice in Egypt must be avoided and there must be no political persecution,” he said, according to AFP.

Election timetable

Adly Mansour, Egypt’s current interim president appointed by the army, has set a timetable for elections by early next year.

But many Mursi opponents and supporters have criticized the interim charter Mansour issued earlier this week to replace the current constitution that was drafted by Islamists, and to guide a transition that the even the army has said will be “difficult.”

Many feel that the errors of the last army-led transition, between Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in 2011 and Mursi’s free-and-fair election in mid-2012.

(Source / 12.07.2013)

U.S. asks Egyptian army to release Mursi

A supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi chants slogans during a protest in front of the European Union Council building in Brussels July 12, 2013.

The United States on Friday called on Egyptian army army and interim leadership to free ousted president Mohammad Mursi for the first time since he has been in custody over a week ago.

Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said the United States agreed with Germany’s earlier appeal for Mursi’s release and was making the same request “publicly.”

Mursi has been held in a “safe place,” according to the interim leaders, and has not been seen in public since being ousted on July 3.

In past days, while condemning arbitrary arrests, Psaki had refused to say whether the U.S. administration believed Mursi should be freed.

Psaki said she was making the call for Mursi’s release “today, publicly,” but refused to say what had determined the U.S. change of stance, AFP reported.

“We’ve expressed concerns from the beginning… about his arrest, about the politically motivated arbitrary arrests of the Muslim Brotherhood members,” she said, according to AFP.

U.S. officials had also been in regular contact with all sectors of Egyptian society, she stressed.

Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of the removed president have called separate rallies across Cairo Friday amid fears of further bloodshed in the Arab world’s most populous country.

“We continue to call for… the good treatment of those detained,” Psaki told reporters.

“We still continue to view these as politically motivated arrests, and still continue to believe that they should be released.”

US ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson has also met with the interim Egyptian president Adly Mansour, she said.

Psaki said the interim leaders had “laid out a plan… but moving forward an inclusive process is what we would like to see.”

“While we recognize that president Mursi was democratically elected … it’s about more than what happens at the ballot box. Most democratic transitions take years to take root and stabilize, especially following decades of autocratic rule.”

(Source / 12.07.2013)


By Peter Clifford    ©     (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-2)


When the physical war against Assad started, fighters under any banner were welcomed in Syria including “Jihadists” and the more extreme Islamists, because every body and every gun counted.


Formidable Islamist “Freedom” Fighter

In fact, with their discipline and experience in other conflicts, notably Iraq and Afghanistan, the Jihadists and the Islamists under the banners of the Al-Nusra Front (ANF), the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other groups, and with their loose affiliation to the “experienced” Al-Qaeda network, they have proved to be some of the most courageous and effective fighters in the struggle against the Assad regime.

And while the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has struggled to prise weapons and ammunition from the West and it’s Saudi and Qatar Gulf state allies, the extremist groups have been awash with lethal supplies paid for by wealthy Muslim backers who share their fundamentalist vision of a worldwide unified Islamic state run under strict Sharia law.

(EDITOR: What a terrifying thought for anyone who believes in personal freedom and democracy!)

However, following a string of abuses and arrests, culminating in the execution of a FSA commander and a member of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council, more moderate elements in the Syrian Opposition are losing patience with the Islamists extreme policies and methods.

Earlier this week there was a demonstration by local people in the northern town of Manbij in north-east Syria where protesters, presumably fed up with Islamist jurisdiction, called for “Out, out, out, the [Islamic] State [of Iraq and Syria] must get out,”

The Islamist groups have also been very effective in capturing population centres including the largest city so far, the regional capital of Raqqah. However, the Al-Nusra Front has been accused of detaining dozens of men there.

In a video posted on the Internet, one little girl from Raqqah weeps, “My father has been held for a month by the Front. They think they’re Islamic… I want my father to be free” and another woman demanding the release of the men held by Al Nusra protests, “We reject this oppressive brand of Islam… We are Muslims. You’re just fakes”.

Activists in Raqqah also point to the disappearance of Abdallah al-Khalil, a veteran dissident and human rights activist. “Khalil was about to open up council elections to the whole of Raqqah. Al-Nusra was against the idea. He disappeared the next day,” said one local resident.  Another well known activist, Mohammad Nour Matar was detained by ISIS on Tuesday night.

“Although their methods differ from the regime’s, they are just as brutal,” another activist said. “As they get more powerful militarily, they do whatever it takes to stem the growth of freedom in liberated  areas. They want power, not democracy.”


Islamist Paraphernalia With Opposition Flags

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has since reported on Thursday that ISIS have released 10 Opposition activists in Raqqah, including Dr. Jasem al-A’wad, commander of the A’bad al-Rahman Battallion and head of the Free Syrian Agency, who had been detained for 25 days.

Dr. Jasem reported to the SOHR that one of their number, an elderly man, died inside the detention centre because ISIS refused to provide him with medicine.

The old man was accused of writing “hijabs” – charms to ward off bad luck that are considered infidelity by extremists. Dr. Jasem estimates the number of prisoners held by ISIS to be more than 1500, including dozens of women.

The release of the detained men in Raqqah though will not, it seems, stem the tide of rejection for extremist principles which is sweeping through Opposition held territory in the north of the country – a tidal movement that will no doubt be welcomed by Western nations who are extremely wary of supplying arms that will fall into Islamist hands.


Last week in Idlib province fighting broke out after FSA fighters protested when a 12 year old boy was “arrested” by ISIS for uttering “blasphemy”. In the ensuing melee many FSA fighters were killed, including the leader of the FSA affiliated Hamzah Assadullah Brigade and his brother.

This incident was on top of one reported here earlier in Aleppo, when members of ISIS publicly executed, infront of his family, a 14 year old coffee seller for using a colloquial phrase about the Prophet which they deemed “blasphemous”.

The last straw it seems is a report yesterday that ISIS have killed Kamal Hamami, known as Abu Basir and a member of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council, who was detained while on a surveillance mission ahead of an attack on government forces in Latakia.


Assad Checkpoint Explodes in Hama Province

Hamami, his brother and another man were stopped at a checkpoint and two of them were killed following a heated debate with a local leader of ISIS (sometimes known alternatively as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in which the the FSA were called “infidels”.

The 3rd man was released to report the killings.

Qassem Saadeddine, a spokesman for the FSA, says that the group phoned him to admit the killing and then went on to threaten, “that they will kill all of the Supreme Military Council”.

Latest reports say that the FSA’s Supreme Military Council has called an urgent meeting to discuss the matter while another FSA commander  declared “war” on the Islamists, stating, “We are going to wipe the floor with them. We will not let them get away with it because they want to target us”.

About the last thing the FSA and the Syrian Opposition in general, needs right now is another outbreak of internal wrangling and violent confrontation on yet another front.

Currently the US Government’s “promise” to supply the Syrian Opposition with lethal weapons is held up because of fears by members of Congress that such arms falling into the hands of extremists will eventually be used against the West.  Britain’s MPs are expressing similar reservations.  (EDITOR: What a mess!)


Meanwhile in Homs there has been no respite to the death and destruction raining down on the city following the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

This is President Assad’s Ramadan gift to Homs – the complete destruction of businesses, homes and communities by rocket fire, HERE:


Homs Brave Fighters 29.6.13 – Some May Now Be Dead

The attacks on the Khalid bin Walid mosque continue, HERE: 
and heavy Government shelling yesterday relentlessly targeted every tall buiding, whether residential, municipal or commercial, HERE:

Unconfirmed reports say that Hezbollah advanced into the Bab Houd area last night, Thursday, but were driven back by Opposition fighters, who are also reported to have received supplies of new weapons.

There is also a report from Lebanon that 3 of Hezbollah’s senior commanders have been killed fighting alongside the Assad regime in Homs, including  Firas Hassan al-Capelli, supposedly Hezbollah’s commander of the Homs division.

After losing control of the Homs province town of Talkalakh, Opposition fighters are reported to have retreated to the north and taken over Al-Zara village and a nearby gas power plant.

Al Jazeera has a report on the Homs situation (including some footage shown elsewhere on this page), HERE:


The Price of Freedom

Around the Sunni suburbs of Damascus very heavy attacks are reported in the last 24 hours on Barzeh, Jobar and the southern neighborhoods of the capital with mortar shells, missiles, tanks anti-aircraft guns and airstrikes and fierce direct confrontation between the 2 sides on the edges of Barzeh.

In the southern district of Babila Opposition fighters have been busy constructing their own barriers, HERE: and some serious defensive trenches in Maadimeyeh, HERE:

While in the Damascus countryside at Qusa, Opposition fighters wiped out this BMP armoured personnel carrier, HERE:

They also managed to immobilise and scare the crew of this tank into fleeing, HERE:  and hit yet another Government tank travelling at full speed,HERE:

One unconfirmed report records FSA Supreme Commander General Salim Idriss as claiming that more than 90 tanks have been destroyed since the recent delivery of new and advanced weapons.

In Hama province on the Ghab Plain this Syrian Army checkpoint was blown up in spectacular fashion with, it is claimed, the loss of up to 40 regime soldiers and the destruction of several tanks,  (EDITOR: Rather “cheery music” and preamble – but worth waiting for!), HERE: 


In Aleppo Opposition fighters are still on the offensive, this morning attacking regime emplacements at Shihan Square and a nearby civil defence building to the north-west of the city. Fairly solid reports say that the FSA and their allies now virtually surround the city and control all routes leading to the Government held western suburbs, including the main highway coming in from the south.


Bread Production “Resumes” in Western Aleppo

In a brave show of face, Aleppo’s Governor, Mohammad Wahid Akkad, according to the Government website, SANA, visited the
Al-Hamadaniya bakery in western Aleppo yesterday, Thursday, after it had closed down through lack of flour following “the unfair blockade imposed by the armed terrorist groups on the city and its citizens”.

(EDITOR: Of course the Assad Government would never think of doing any such thing to Opposition areas!).

The Governor went on to encourage the bakery’s customers to “stand in a regular queue” and urged the bakery to take up 24 hour production.

“Families of the besieged regions stressed that there is severe shortage in the nutritional materials in Aleppo” and there were complaints that the Opposition were either not allowing any food to come through the central crossing at Burstan Al Qasser between East and West Aleppo or that they were extorting “between 1500 and 2000 Syrian Pounds” in order to allow the food in.

Activists say that following protests on the Opposition held Eastern side of Aleppo by families concerned about their relatives in the Government held Western side, the flow of food and materials to the be-beleaguered pro-Assad supporters has been freed.

Adding to the regime and its citizens woes, the value of the Syrian Pound (SYP) fell last weekend to almost 300 to 1 US dollar, indicating a Syrian inflation rate of 91.9% per month. This means that the price of everything effectively doubles every 30 days.

Also putting a brave face on the situation Syria’s Prime Minister, Dr. Wael al-Halqi, was quoted as saying yesterday, Thursday, that the government has “no plans to replace the Syrian national currency” and dismissed rumors about the nationalization of private banks as ”completely out of the question.”

He went on to claim that the intervention of the Central Bank of Syria (CBS) caused the USD exchange rate against the Syrian pound to drop back by 50 SYP  within hours, but whether this will be enough to sustain Syria’s failing economy remains to be seen.  You can read more, HERE:

At the UN, Russia once again blocked a Security Council call for the investigation of all reported “chemical weapon” attacks in Syria, insisting that all those raised by the Opposition and the West were “fabricated”. Two UN officials are nevertheless on there way to Damascus to discuss the possibility of further investigation.

There was also outrage expressed by the US, Israel and other Western nations at the application by Syria and Iran to extend their places as part of the Asian-Pacific group on the UN Human Rights Council.

Israel’s UN envoy, Ron Prosor, given Assad’ and Iran’s record on human rights, described it as “a new world record for lunacy at the United Nations”, adding. “Putting Iran and Syria on a Human Rights Council is like putting the Godfather in charge of a witness protection program.”

Latest reports this morning, Friday, suggest that Iran, knowing it cannot win, has withdrawn its candidacy.

Lastly, this coming Sunday 14th July, work up a TWEET STORM and TWEET FOR SYRIA by adding #FreeHoms to all your Tweets from 7.00pm GMT or 10.00pm Syria time.

There are some sample Tweets (which may need a bit of English editing!) you can schedule ahead of time using http://pastebin.com/tDeeMPig and a scheduling tool such as HootSuite  to send them with – simply cut and paste!

And just in case anyone has forgotten what the people of  Syria are fighting for, this is the size of one of Assad’s solitary confinement cells discovered at a captured detention centre – there are probably dozens of people in similar confinement right now:


Solitary Confinement Cell in Assad Detention Centre