A Sisi presidency will not work

T-shirts with pictures of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are displayed for sale by a street vendor in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Feb. 22, 2014

“In the past few days, there has been lots of talk about the issue of running of presidential nomination,” said Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in a celebration for the students of the military academy and institutes. The general looked weary as he explained that he was not free to talk since he held the office of defense minister, but reassured people that he could not turn his back on something that the “majority of Egyptians want.” The crowd cheered, but their excitement did not translate itself on the general’s face. The man who reveled in the crowd’s adoration a few months ago, when he asked them to authorize him to fight terrorism, was gone; the man replacing him, as one Twitter user put it, almost looked as scared at the prospect of ruling Egypt as we are of having him as our ruler.

The reason behind his fatigue is understandable; after all, the countdown for official presidential nomination is drawing nigh, which means he has to leave his position as defense minister — which the new constitution secures for the next eight years — and campaign for the worst job in Egypt. He has to sell himself as a “civilian savior” while dealing with national embarrassments such as the military’s miracle AIDS-curing machine, a continuing insurgency in Sinai, a government that is all but broke and power cuts that are becoming a regular, daily feature in every Egyptian home — and it’s not even summer yet.

The problems Egypt faces in the next few years are insurmountable, and the widely held belief among many in the Egyptian population that the Gulf will continue to bail us out and will open the money floodgates once Sisi becomes president seems like a delusional pipe dream, once one does the math. The new government is already expected to fail, given that they are facing bad economic conditions, alongside huge corruption and no political will to reform how the government functions. With foreign reserves dwindling, we no longer have any safety nets, and the waste we have in government due to our exceptional corruption is simply unsustainable. The Sisi believers don’t care about any of this, talking about him in messianic fervor, with expectations so high that they dwarf those of the most enthusiastic Obama fanatic circa 2008. Once Sisi becomes president, their prayer says, he will make the government run right, and will deliver us from all of our problems.

Let’s assume that the fanatics are right and a miracle takes place that turns the dysfunctional Egyptian government into one that is both functional and efficient. Let’s assume that he manages to end the corruption and the waste, and turn employees that are used to half-an-hour-a-day productivity to working day and night to solve our nation’s ills. Would that be enough? The answer is unfortunately no. Even if he manages to do all of this, he will still fail. Here is why:

The next president of Egypt has two main responsibilities: providing food and security; and without security, there will be no food. To achieve said security, Sisi will need to turn Egypt from being a political powder keg into a state of relative political stability. To achieve said stability, he has to make the two deals: one with the youth to get their buy-in, and one with the Islamists to end the political conflict. Unfortunately neither one of those deals is realistically achievable.

The deal with the youth won’t work because there is no one to make the deal with, and even if there were, the youth have already lost all faith and good will towards the post-June 30 state. The media defamation of the January 25 Revolution symbols, the return of National Democratic Party officials in the government, alongside the widespread and unchecked police abuse and crackdowns have the youth completely believing that we are experiencing a return to the Mubarak days, if not worse. Incidentally, the amount of blood brutally spilled on Egyptian streets by the state in the past eight months is enough to make even those whose interests are aligned with June 30 very opposed to the new Egyptian state. To put it simply, the 18-year-old who saw a university colleague — who might be a Muslim brotherhood sympathizer — get shot in the head inside the university grounds will be automatically against the regime that allowed this to happen without holding anyone accountable. There will be no deal with them.

As far as making a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, Sisi is set to meet a similar fate, because although they do have leaders who can be negotiated with, those leaders will no longer be able to control their youth. There has been so many cases of death, torture and imprisonment of young Islamists that it has become a personal vendetta for some of them, and if they perceive that their leadership made a deal at their expense to secure their own freedom, those youth are likely to reject the leadership’s decision and become further radicalized and violent. To top it all off, we already have Ansar Beit El-Maqdes, the local al-Qaeda franchise, and they will not honor any deal made between the Brotherhood leaders and the Egyptian government, which will lead the government to accuse the Muslim Brotherhood of negating the deal when the first post-deal bombing takes place. The crackdown will return, and the vicious cycle will repeat itself.

It goes without saying that without a political solution, there will be no stability in Egypt. However, so far the state has shown an inclination to sticking to the “security solution only,” which is not only digging their grave deeper, it will make the price of a future political solution exponentially higher. So, if reconciliation is out of the window, what will Sisi do?

Well, if his actions so far offer any hint, and given to the government’s inability to provide any real achievement, it seems that he will stick to cheap populism: trumping up external threats in hopes of fostering unity in the population; deploying media flunkies to attack his critics and brand them as foreign agents and traitors; and, having the state tout achievements that aren’t real and make promises that they can’t keep.

If things get really bad, he’s likely to start attacking the wealthy and the upper middle class and milk them dry with new taxation or legislation or regulations on their businesses or lifestyle. You know, all the classic tricks.

It will work for maybe a year or two before it all falls apart because of economic and political realities that cannot be cheated or bargained with. Once that happens, the population will turn on Sisi, and the state, once again, will have to sacrifice his neck to save its own. For better or worse, the moment he announces his candidacy, he will seal his fate.

(Source / 07.03.2014)

Israeli forces detain 8 at Al-Aqsa following Friday prayers

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained at least eight young Palestinian men as they left the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon.

Director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said that Anas Abu Asab, Muni al-Ajlouni, Mohammad Abu Sneineh, Omar al-Zaaneen, Awni Dkeidek, Awni Abu Sbeih, and Mohammad al-Dakkak were among those detained.

The identities of the other detained individuals were still unknown.

Witnesses said that two people were also arrested from al-Wad street in the Old City near the Al-Aqsa compound.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that “masked suspects threw stones at police” at the Moroccan Gate following Friday prayers.

Following the incident, he said that police detained seven people but did not enter the Al-Aqsa compound.

Israeli authorities banned Palestinians under the age of 50 from attending Friday prayers in the compound last week, leading to large protests across East Jerusalem as thousands prayed in the streets at police checkpoints.

Israeli authorities said the restrictions were put in place to prevent “plans for unrest,” amid a debate on extending Israeli sovereignty over the compound that has provoked outrage across the region and led the Jordanian premier to call for the review of the country’s peace treaty with Israel.

The Al-Aqsa compound is located in East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967. According to a 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, the compound is under Jordanian custodianship.

(Source / 07.03.2014)


By Peter Clifford                         ©          (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3)



Conflicting reports are emerging from the battle for the Qalamoun region around Yabroud as the Assad regime and Opposition forces struggle for control of this important strategic area.

Earlier this week, the Assad regime reports gains but this morning Opposition fighters regained one of the hills overlooking Yabroud which continues to be pounded however by Syrian Government jets 6 times on Thursday and 3 barrel-bombs dropped from helicopters.


Barrel-Bombs Falling on Yabroud

Yesterday, 17 Jihadists had died in the fierce battles over the hills but the Opposition are striking back, HERE: and have received shipments of Chinese Red Arrow guided anti-tank missiles, HERE:

The Syrian Airforce is reported to have launched 6 air raids against the nearby district of Al-Aqaba today, Friday, while both sides have claimed victory over control of the Rima Farms area.

4 members of Hezbollah were reported killed this morning, according to Opposition sources, in an ambush near Yabroud and Opposition fighters also destroyed another regime tank.

The 13 Greek Orthodox nuns and their 2 maids taken from the Christian town of Maloula last year and housed by Opposition fighters in Yabroud, appear to have disappeared, says the negotiator trying to obtain their release, but it is likely that they have been moved nearer the Lebanese border because of the heavy bombing of area.

The battle for control of the Qalamoun has now been going on for a month, with Opposition activists claiming that as many as 350 members of Hezbollah have been killed in the fighting.

Reports today, Friday, also say that the Syrian Red Cross has just retrieved 150 bodies of Assad fighters in the last 24 hours, mainly 4th Brigade and Republican Guard, (Graphic Scenes Blurred), HERE:

Certainly, Hezbollah is coming under increasing pressure in Lebanon to withdraw but as part of the wider Shia community it feels compelled to continue in what has now become a sectarian conflict. This article discusses the emerging Shia/Sunni conflict in the Middle East, HERE:


Very heavy fighting is also reported around the town of Morek (famous for its production of pistachio nuts) in Hama province, which is controlled by Opposition fighters but which the regime is desperate to regain as it sits upon their supply route between Hama and Idlib cities.

While the regime have lost 3 tanks in recent days as well as 14 soldiers, the Opposition Al-nusra Front side have lost 9 fighters, with another 20 wounded. A captured T-72 is shown, HERE:

At the southern entrance to Hama city yesterday, Thursday, the Opposition exploded a truck packed with explosives in front of an Airforce Intelligence security building. 5 people were reported killed and 22 wounded.


Opposition Fighters Save Books from Destruction

Opposition fighters targeting a regime checkpoint at Khan Sheikhoun (reported earlier – scroll down below), also in Hama province, are seen, HERE:

Another suicide car bomb in the Al-Arman district of Homs on Thursday is reported to have killed 15, including 9 civilians and a child. At least 30 people were wounded in the neighbourhood which is mainly Alawite and Christian.

In the Opposition held Al-Weir district of Homs civilians are being harassed and killed again today by regime barrel-bombs and sniper fire, while at Krak des Chevaliers and nearby Azzarah heavy clashes have resumed between the 2 sides.

In Raqqah province to the north-east of Syria a new outbreak of fighting between the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) and the Syrian Army is reported aound Base 17 just to the north of Raqqah city, with a number of Assad’s soldiers killed.

In Aleppo, Opposition fighters are reported to have advanced a little in the fight for control of the Sheikh Najar industrial neighbouhood, shelling Government forces on the edge of Sheikh Najar and Sheikh Zayat villages, HERE:

In Quneitra province to the south, Opposition fighters used a M79 Osa anti-tank missile launcher to attack a BMP armoured vehicle in Quneitra province, killing the crew. The aftermath can be seen, HERE:


An Opposition dispute which errupted last month after the dismissal of General Salim Idriss as the commander of the Opposition’s Supreme Military Council, was settled yesterday with Idriss accepting his replacement by General Abdel-Ilah Bashir, but being appointed as “military advisor” to the Syrian National Coalition leader, Ahmad Jabra, instead.

15 commanders of other brigades, angry as Idriss’s “undemocratic dismissal” had threatened to leave the Supreme Military Council altogether. Assaad Mustafa, the SNC’s Defence Minister, blamed for Idriss’ firing, has resigned, but is tipped to later reappear as the Interior Minister in any provisional government.


Assad’s Lapdog Restrained in New York

In the United States, the American Government has restricted Syria’s UN Ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, to movements only within a 25 miles radius of the UN building. Recently, Assad’s UN representative has been very active promoting pro-Assad events across the US.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, and expert for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies organsiation in the US has predicted (EDITOR: God forbid!) that the war in Syria could last another “10 years”.

Assad meanwhile has sent a cable to President Putin applauding his actions in Ukraine which said, “President al-Assad stressed that President Putin’s policy which is based on the international legitimacy and the objectives of the UN remain the guarantee for all world peoples to create a balanced and transparent world based on respecting the sovereignty of countries and the right of peoples to decide their destiny”.

(EDITOR: Excuse me while I reach for the “sick bag”!)

There are an increasing number of pro-Assad rallies again, rather suddenly, across Syria. Perhaps it is the warmer weather or the prospect of a “mock election” to re-elect Assad.

Parents of school children in Damascus have complained that without warning, their children have been whisked away in the last lesson of the day, to attend the rallies.

“Even though it can be very dangerous, they just put them on a bus and take them to a march during their last period of the day without informing us or anything,” the mother of one 11-year-old boy said. “If they inform us, they know that most parents would not send their kids to school that day.” You can read more, HERE:

Lastly, more of the latest comments from the good citizens of Kafranbel in Idlib province, today, here;



“Daddy Putin Showing Baby Assad How its Done” – Kafranbel


Kafranbel – In Obama’s Good Time

Palestinians Right of Return is not Debatable: UN Resolution 194 In Force and Enforceable

UN Resolution 273 of 11 May 1949, welcoming Israel into the UN, established that the new state’s entry was based on Israel’s representations regarding its ability and willingness to implement 194.

Right of Return

International law regarding Palestinian refugees was essentially abandoned during the Camp David talks. After the 1948 war, the UN passed General Assembly Resolution (UNGA) 194, which mandated compensation for the Palestinian refugees and assured their right to return home. The UN made Israel’s own membership in the world body contingent on Israeli acceptance of 194 and the rights it granted to the Palestinians. UN Resolution 273 of 11 May 1949, welcoming Israel into the UN, established that the new state’s entry was based on Israel’s representations regarding its ability and willingness to implement 194.

The Palestinians’ right to return to their homes, despite a 52-year delay in realizing that right, is no less enforceable, no less compelling, than the same right of the Albanian Kosovars, in whose name the United States led NATO into war. It is no less than the right of Rwandans returning home from the Congo, or East Timorese going home from Indonesian refugee camps.

In fact, as law professor Susan Akram and others have noted, the Palestinian right of return has an even stronger legal basis. United Nations Resolution 194 was consciously designed to provide privileged protections for Palestinian refugees, with the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol serving as a safety net. Those special rights were not granted to other refugees, whose rights are determined solely by broader international laws.

25 August 2000—Considering that most observers of the Camp David negotiations called the contention over the Palestinian right of return “irresolvable,” it was no surprise that this issue was one of the summit’s deal breakers. Yet what most left out was the explanation of why this issue was a sticking point: Palestinian rights and international law have been overshadowed by Israel’s power.

Israel controls the land of the 530 Palestinian villages destroyed during and after the 1948 war, from which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or fled more than 50 years ago. The Palestinians have few cards to put on the table. Instead of power, they have only their roughly five million exiles; most of them are stateless. Meanwhile, the United States accepts this vast disparity of power between Israel and the Palestinians, as if Camp David were a level playing field on which an honest broker could referee a fair game.

Continuing Relevance of International Law:

International law regarding Palestinian refugees was essentially abandoned during the Camp David talks. After the 1948 war, the UN passed General Assembly Resolution (UNGA) 194, which mandated compensation for the Palestinian refugees and assured their right to return home. The UN made Israel’s own membership in the world body contingent on Israeli acceptance of 194 and the rights it granted to the Palestinians. UN Resolution 273 of 11 May 1949, welcoming Israel into the UN, established that the new state’s entry was based on Israel’s representations regarding its ability and willingness to implement 194.

The Palestinians’ right to return to their homes, despite a 52-year delay in realizing that right, is no less enforceable, no less compelling, than the same right of the Albanian Kosovars, in whose name the United States led NATO into war. It is no less than the right of Rwandans returning home from the Congo, or East Timorese going home from Indonesian refugee camps.

In fact, as law professor Susan Akram and others have noted, the Palestinian right of return has an even stronger legal basis. United Nations Resolution 194 was consciously designed to provide privileged protections for Palestinian refugees, with the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol serving as a safety net. Those special rights were not granted to other refugees, whose rights are determined solely by broader international laws.


Despite the requirements of international law, Israel specifically rejects the “right” of return, maintaining that allowing the Palestinian refugees to come home would alter the demographic balance of the Jewish state. The claim is accurate: it would more than double the number of Palestinians in Israel, which now comprises about 20 percent of Israel’s population. However, concern regarding the ethnic composition of the country is not an acceptable basis for rejecting international law. The equivalent would be a post-war Rwandan government refusing—with U.S. support—to recognize the right of indigenous refugees to return home because of fears that it would somehow change the Hutu-Tutsi demographics.

Israel apparently offered a “humanitarian compromise” at Camp David which would allow a small percentage of Palestinians to return home based on Israeli-regulated family reunification. Yet Israel continued to reject UN 194, the Palestinian right of return, and any Israeli legal or moral responsibility for the plight of the refugees. At most, one rumor held that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s team offered a passive-voice recognition that “pain was caused” to the Palestinians.

Third Generation Refugee Movement:

After the 1948 war, the families who lost their homes—many still holding their house keys in the expectation of a quick return—clung tightly to their memories. Their children grew up on the romantic vision of Palestine as a paradise where everyone was rich, everything was beautiful, everyone was happy. That second refugee generation created the intifada 40 years later, fighting for a new state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem; the unlikely possibility of actually returning to their parents’ idealized vision of Palestine inside the Green Line was not at the top of their agenda.

Now, the third generation is growing up in the fetid refugee camps of the still-occupied territories and in surrounding Arab countries. This Oslo generation, these young refugees now in their teens and early twenties, are bringing a new passion and a new realism to their right of return.

On a recent visit inside Israel, teenagers from the Ibda’ Cultural Center of the Dheisha refugee camp traveled to the villages their families had left behind in 1947 or 1948. At that time, Israeli forces ransacked many Palestinian villages, leaving most completely destroyed, with fast-growing pine trees planted over the ruined foundations. Only the rows of cactus that once marked property lines are still visible. A few walls and minarets were damaged but left standing. In most, only the ancient olive trees remain.

As part of an extraordinary oral history project, the Dheisha children have interviewed their grandparents who were expelled in 1948, and then studied the culture, architecture, and history of the villages, as well as where their residents ended up. Now, traveling to the destroyed villages, the children themselves proudly explain to visitors where the school was, where the mosque stood, how the residents made their living, where their own grandparents’ houses were located.

This third generation of children is preparing for a real, not romantic or idealized, return. They discuss what kind of houses they will build, how they will get water, from where their homes might get electricity. They debate whether and how they can live with the Israeli families who have built new houses on and around some of their land.


Is compromise possible? Absolutely. But only if it is based on a recognition of return as a real, fundamental right. The kind of compromise that will not work includes Israel’s proposal for a “humanitarian” family reunification program that would benefit only a few tens of thousands of the millions of stateless Palestinians. Another sure-to-fail “compromise” is the proposal being quietly banded about in the corridors of U.S. and Middle Eastern capitals. This plan envisions a quid pro quo in which Baghdad would settle most of the Palestinian refugees now living in Lebanon—with or without their consent—in Kurdish areas of Iraq from which equally unwilling Kurds are already being expelled, in exchange for a lifting of the crippling economic sanctions against Iraq.

Real compromise might be possible in determining how, not whether, the right of return will be implemented. The Palestinians’ return could be organized to minimize the effects on existing Israeli lives in the area. Palestinian refugees might agree to return to their lands and villages but leave negotiable which plots of land will be reclaimed. Returning refugees may work with Israeli officials to insure an orderly repossession. Certainly not all Palestinian refugees will ultimately opt to return at all. But the right to return is absolute, and cannot be compromised away.

Refugee Involvement in Decision-Making:

The question of who decides is fundamental. Palestinian refugees must be allowed to make their own decisions, accept or reject their own compromises. Current camp dwellers must themselves be represented on the negotiating teams. The starting point of any agreement must be Israeli acknowledgement of the binding legal commitment their government made in 1949 to implement Resolution 194, and to recognize the absolute right of Palestinian return.

In the destroyed village of Zakhariya, as Ibda’ children picked lemons from the prolific trees scattered across what was once their families’ land, one of the adult coordinators who was himself born in Dheisha camp said quietly, “I can close my eyes and see it, see the people coming to the mosque, to the market. They cannot play with this history.”

(Source / 07.03.2014)

Israel demolishing more Palestinian homes in Negev Desert

The Israeli regime is going ahead with its Prawer Plan, which seeks to demolish Palestinian houses and relocate tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins, Press TV reports.

To implement the plan, Israel has reportedly demolished Palestinian houses in the Negev Desert with Palestinians saying that the plan aims to cleanse their population from their land.

Approved in 2011 in the Israeli Knesset, the Prawer Plan aims to relocate 30,000-40,000 Bedouins under cover of economic development.

Palestinian activist Osama Abu Baker told Press TV that “these demolitions are part of the Israeli Prawer Plan,” while Mohammad Asayid, a Bedouin, desscribed the Prawler Plan as a “form of ethnic cleansing.”

On Wednesday, bulldozers escorted by a large group of Israeli forces knocked down homes in al-Zaarura village in the Negev Desert.

The troops approached the village, one of several Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert, from the west and demolished homes.

According to a letter signed by more than 50 public figures in Britain in late 2013, what Tel Aviv intends to do is “forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation.”

Tel Aviv has so far refused to recognize the rights of Palestinian Bedouins and denies them access to basic services. The Israeli regime has already approved military and settlement projects in the area.

Human rights groups say the measure will lead to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians living there.

(Source / 07.03.2014)

Visualizing the discrimination faced by Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

After more than six decades of forced displacement, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon find themselves largely excluded from the formallabor market. As a result of discriminatory laws and biased attitudes, most Palestinians face precarious working conditions and economic hardship.

In Lebanon nowadays, when asked why they are paid less, many refugees can only reply “because I’m Palestinian.” Why are you banned from practicing more than 70 professions? Why can’t you travel? Why can’t you own property? Why were you arrested at every security checkpoint? Why won’t Lebanese hospitals treat you?

The answer is always the same: “because I am Palestinian.”

In the last 66 years of forced displacement caused by the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon today survive but are deprived of the freedom to really live.

Visualizing Palestinian plight

Creative organizers have recently gotten together with the Visualizing Palestine initiative to publish facts and statistics via infographics to shed much-needed light on the socioeconomic situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

This series of four infographics — based on the latest International Labor Organization research — offers an overview of the key issues facing the Palestinian refugee labor force in Lebanon, including their exclusion from high status professions and social security health benefits.

One the graphics highlights the situation of Iqbal Assad. Last year, at the age of 20, she became the world’s youngest doctor.

But, as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, she couldn’t practice. Medicine is among several dozen professions from which Palestinian refugees are barred.

These infographics were created in partnership with the ILO and the Committee for Employment of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon.


To be a Palestinian in Lebanon in 2014 is a struggle to remain alive. One hopes for the least exploitation possible while surviving.

Palestinians, alienated by the Lebanese political and official discourse, are treated either as a burden, a threat, or potential agents provocateurs plotting to ruin Lebanon from inside their sunless refugee camps.

Dehumanized in the eyes of the Lebanese public, Palestinians remain isolated in their camps. They continually fend off the fire of Lebanese sectarian politics that might vent Lebanese frustration and demonstrate chauvinistic nationalism by destroying yet another Palestinian camp (as was done to Nahr al-Bared in 2007).

The most important question inside the Palestinian refugee camps is one which also has only one answer: what do you want?

The answer rings out: to return to Palestine and live in dignity.


The struggle for return remains alive as thousands of Palestinian refugees continue to survive daily. But it is a hard life of endurance.

The “lucky” few who manage to leave Lebanon risk it all as they are trafficked by sea to Europe. As for the ones left behind, their life remains shackled under strict Lebanese laws and restrictions. Because of the harsh restrictions on professions, people do whatever they can to make a living.

Hayat Masri, a 26-year-old single woman, has been a sales clerk at a perfume and cosmetics shop in the Tarik Jdideh neighborhood of Beirut for five years. She lives a few minutes away from her home in Shatila refugee camp.

“I started this job after I dropped out of university,” Hayat told The Electronic Intifada. She realized she had wasted her time. “I had to help my mother shortly after my two brothers immigrated to Germany.” She lives with her mother in a one-bedroom apartment.

As a Palestinian, Hayat had no ability to bargain for a decent salary, so she had to take whatever was offered to her. She said her first three years at work were tough. “I was making 50,000 LBP [$36] per week until two years ago when I stood up to my boss and demanded a raise. It became better as my salary jumped to 100,000 LBP [$66] per week.”

Heavy burden

Hayat is of the fortunate ones in the camp — she has a fixed income and some money sent from her brothers in the diaspora, who contribute whenever they can spare a dime or two.

The majority of men in Palestinian camps carry the heavy burden of having to put food on the table starting at a young age. Palestinian fathers, fiancés and brothers wake up to a daily struggle and hustle inside and outside their camps.

Squatting in one sunny spot on a narrow damp ally in the Shatila camp was Emad, 24, a freelance bricklayer. Emad had not had a single day of work in the last three months. A master of his profession, he spoke in despair.

“I started laying bricks when I was thirteen. Nowadays, I’m lucky to score three to four jobs a year that will pay the price for my experience,” he explained.

Due to a boom in the real-estate and construction markets, which are taking advantage of an abundant labor force caused by fleeing Syrians and Palestinians from the war in Syria, construction has seen a surge recently.

But Emad laments that “when Lebanese contractors see that [a worker] is Palestinian, they offer to pay a fixed labor rate regardless of expertise, which used to be 20,000 LBP [$13] per day two years ago — and now is between 15,000 [$10] and 10,000 [$7].”

“Daily labor rates have dropped recently because of an abundant labor force made by the fleeing Syrians and Palestinians from the war inSyria.”

The plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is so severe that it is not easy to visualize, imagine or contextualize the daily suffering.

Yet these infographics help us to understand a situation that is too often hidden from view.

(Source / 07.03.2014)

Clashes in Egypt kill at least three

An Egyptian policeman fires during clashes with Egyptian protestors following a demonstration in support of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Mursi in Cairo on March 7, 2014.
Three people were killed and 28 wounded on Friday in Egypt as Islamist protesters clashed with security forces and civilian opponents, the health ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile a security official told AFP 17 policemen were wounded in the capital Cairo, and that protesters torched three police cars.

Supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi have been near-daily protests to demand the reinstatement of the Islamist leader since he was toppled by the military in July.

The interior ministry said 60 Mursi supporters were also arrested nationwide Friday.

Friday’s violence erupted in Cairo and in other parts of Egypt, including second city Alexandria and in the Sinai city of Al-Arish where police fired tear gas at Islamist protesters, state media said.

In Cairo three people were killed and 23 others wounded in the fighting, the health ministry said.

Two people were wounded in Fayoum, southwest of the capital, two others in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya and one in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

A security crackdown on Mursi supporters since his overthrow has left more than 1,400 killed, and thousands others in jail.

Egypt’s military-installed authorities listed the Muslim Brotherhood movement, from which Mursi hails, as a terrorist group following a suicide bombing that killed 15 people in a police station in December.

The group condemned the bombing and has denied involvement in any of the violence rocking Egypt since Mursi’s ouster.

(Source / 07.03.2014)

Gazans want Egypt to revise anti-Hamas ruling

A Palestinian Hamas supporter burns an Israeli flag as he takes part in a protest in front of the Egyptian embassy in Gaza March 7, 2014, against a recent rule by an Egyptian court which banned all the activities of Hamas movement in Egypt.

A Palestinian Hamas supporter burns an Israeli flag as he takes part in a protest in front of the Egyptian embassy in Gaza March 7, 2014, against a recent rule by an Egyptian court which banned all the activities of Hamas movement in Egypt.
Thousands of demonstrators have poured to the streets in the besieged Gaza Strip to protest against a Cairo court decision banning the popular Palestinian Hamas movement from operating in Egypt.

Waving Egyptian flags and Hamas banners, the demonstrators gathered after Friday prayers and then marched to the former Egyptian embassy which has been closed since 2007.

The marchers held aloft placards called on Egypt to revoke Tuesday’s decision chanting “resistance, our way is resistance!”

Egypt has accused Hamas of colluding in attacks on its territory in the past few years, and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

Hamas slammed the ruling as playing into the hands of its Israeli occupation regime, calling it “shocking” and warning it could “open the door to new (Israeli) aggression and war against Gaza.”

Egypt hosted Hamas’s deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk following Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011, and eased passage through its Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

Morsi, elected in June 2012, was seen as helping Gaza by mediating a 2012 truce ending week-long fighting with Israel and that lifted some of the blockade restrictions on Gaza.

Since ousting him, the military has destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels under its border with the coastal enclave.

The tunnels are considered as the only way to enter basic humanitarian supplies to Gaza which is suffering from a strict and illegal siege imposed by Israel since 2006.

(Source / 07.03.2014)

Saudi Arabia designates Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization

An Egyptian riot policeman stands guard on the top of an armored vehicle outside the Police Academy where a hearing in the espionage trial of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president Mohammed Mursi is expected to open on February 16, 2014 in Cairo.

Updated 6:00 pm: Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, official Saudi television reported citing a statement by the Interior Ministry.

The kingdom has also designated al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, whose fighters are battling in Syria, as terrorist organizations.

The interior ministry decree, which was released by state media, also listed as terrorist groups the Huthi rebels fighting in northern Yemen and “Hezbollah inside the kingdom,” apparently referring to a little-known Saudi Shia group.

The order penalizes involvement in any of the groups’ activities at home or abroad — including demonstrations — and outlaws the use of “slogans of these organizations,” including in social media.

It also forbids “participation in, calling for, or incitement to fighting in conflict zones in other countries.”

Friday’s move appeared to enforce last month’s royal decree where Riyadh said it would jail for between three and 20 years any citizen who fought guilty of fighting in conflicts abroad.

The kingdom’s authorities want to deter Saudis from joining rebels in Syria and posing a security risk once they return home.

In Egypt, the Brotherhood, which won every election following the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, has been driven underground since the army deposed President Mohammed Mursi, a longtime member of the group that also endured repression in the Mubarak era.

The army-backed government in Cairo designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist group in December after accusing it of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16 people. The Brotherhood condemned that attack and denies using violence.

Saudi Arabia’s Islamic religious authorities have previously spoken out against Saudi fighters going to Syria, but the Saudi Interior Ministry estimates that around 1,200 Saudis have gone there nonetheless.

(Source / 07.03.2014)

Doctors, vets to strike Saturday in public hospitals

Strike of doctors of Al-Zawia al-Hamra hospital, Cairo, 2 October 2012. Doctors went on a partial strike in 540 public hospitals to call for higher salaries, securing hospitals, and increase of health budget.

Thousands of doctors in public hospitals plan on continuing their strike, called the “8 March Strike” in the media, starting Saturday to protest the replacement of the medical salary scheme with a set of incentives and allowances.
The doctors are also demanding the modification of the health budget, the approval of the doctors salary scheme and securing government hospitals in all governorates.
The Veterinarians Syndicate announced its participation in the strike, but three other syndicates, including the Nursing, Physical Therapy and Health Professionals syndicates, announced they would not participate.
Emloyees of urgent medical services, university hospitals and armed forces and police hospitals are excluded from the strike.
The Veterinarians Syndicate called in a statement on Friday for all graduate vets who have not been hired since 1995 to meet on Saturday at the medical professionals headquarters to approve appropriate escalatory procedures.
(Source / 07.03.2014)