<![CDATA[rss-Politics]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Politics]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Judge in California blocks Trump's order on sanctuary cities]]>
The judge, who blocked the order provisionally in April, issued a permanent injunction in the suit brought by the city and county of San Francisco and Santa Clara County, which said the order was unconstitutional.

“The Counties have demonstrated that the Executive Order has caused and will cause them constitutional injuries by violating the separation of powers doctrine and depriving them of their Tenth and Fifth Amendment rights,” U.S. District Judge William Orrick for the Northern District of California wrote in his order.

Trump issued the order in January, shortly after he was inaugurated, slashing funding to jurisdictions that refuse to comply with a statute that requires local governments to share information with U.S. immigration authorities.
As part of that policy, the Justice Department has sought to punish cities and other local jurisdictions that have joined a growing “sanctuary” movement aimed at shielding illegal immigrants from stepped-up deportation efforts.

“The district court exceeded its authority today when it barred the president from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law,” Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement. “The Justice Department will vindicate the president’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”

The department has already appealed the judge’s prior ruling from April.The Trump administration contends local authorities endanger public safety when they decline to hand over for deportation illegal immigrants arrested for crimes.

Dozens of local governments and cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, have joined the growing “sanctuary” movement.Supporters of the sanctuary policy argue enlisting police cooperation in rounding up immigrants for removal undermines communities’ trust in local police, particularly among Latinos.

The Justice Department is concerned about localities’ compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to detain people up to 48 hours beyond their scheduled release time so that immigration officials can pick them up.

Some cities say they will only honor such requests when accompanied by criminal warrants, and that compliance is voluntary and not required under the statute.

Chicago also sued the federal government in August over the threats of funding cuts by the Justice Department. A federal judge sided with the city in September and issued a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. government from denying the public-safety grants.]]>
11/21/2017 1:51:52 PM
<![CDATA[UK ministers agree in principle to higher Brexit bill: sources]]>
Leading Brexit campaigners, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have agreed to increase Britain's offer of a financial settlement in a bid to move the withdrawal negotiations onto trade, newspaper reports said.

A government source confirmed to AFP that ministers at a cabinet sub-committee meeting late Monday had agreed to offer more money on the basis that it was part of a final deal, but said "no numbers" were discussed.

A Downing Street source said: "It remains our position that nothing's agreed until everything's agreed in negotiations with the EU. The UK and the EU should step forward together."

An unnamed source told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: "Any offer would be determinant on the overall progress of the negotiations, so it's not a case of 'take that money and bank on it'."

Prime Minister Theresa May promised during her speech in Florence in September that no European Union member state would have to pay more because of Britain's exit.

This would suggest Britain will continue its payments under the current budget cycle, for around two years after Brexit in March 2019 -- about 20 billion euros ($23.5 billion).

British media reports have suggested the government could double this to 40 billion euros -- although that figure would still fall short of EU estimates which put the divorce bill at around 60 billion euros.

Britain wants EU leaders meeting at a summit in December to agree that "sufficient progress" has been made on the divorce bill, the issue of Ireland and EU citizens' rights, so that talks can move onto a future UK-EU trade deal.

May has to tread carefully, as there is strong opposition from her backbench Conservative MPs to paying a large sum to leave the EU, even if Brussels says it is simply Britain's share of four decades of EU membership.

Former Conservative minister Robert Halfon said at the weekend that the public would go "bananas" if Britain committed huge sums at a time of tightened public spending.

"If we start saying that we're going to give £40 to £50 billion (45 to 56 billion euros) to the EU, I think the public will go bananas, absolutely spare," he told BBC radio.]]>
11/21/2017 12:45:21 PM
<![CDATA[Honduran president eyes re-election amid gang crackdown]]>
His bid has drawn unease, however, not least because it was only made possible by the supreme court two years ago overruling a ban in the constitution on a second term for presidents.

His two main rivals, Luis Zelaya and Salvador Nasralla, accuse him of preparing electoral fraud on Sunday through his sway over key institutions, including the electoral tribunal, the agency in charge of voter identification, and the police and army.

Some 30,000 members of the security forces are deployed in the poor Central American nation to guarantee candidates' and public safety leading up to the vote.

The armed forces implied a connection between the feared gangs and the political opposition in a statement saying troops on Saturday had found weapons, "manuals on terrorist actions" and flags belonging to "a political institution" at an address in Tegucigalpa used by the feared Barrio-18 gang.

Hernandez, 49, has put security and combating poverty and unemployment at the center of his campaign, responding to priorities held by Honduras' 8.6 million inhabitants.

"I consider a second mandate to be a moment of consolidation," the conservative leader said Monday in a speech broadcast by state television.

He said he held a lead of 15 to 18 points over Zelaya, a 50-year-old academic heading the leftist Liberal Party who is his closest rival.
Nasralla, a 65-year-old former journalist who is the pick of leftwing Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, is believed to be in third place.

Six other candidates are in the race, but are not seen with any real chance of victory.
Voter opinion polls are banned months ahead of elections in Honduras, meaning no up-to-date survey results were available.

There is also a ban on campaign rallies five days before elections. That restriction came into force at midnight on Monday, local time.
In his last rally on the weekend, to a crowd estimated at 30,000, Hernandez said: "You have already made me president once... and next Sunday night I am going to return as president of Honduras."

He vowed to roll back insecurity and unemployment, tackle the poverty that the World Bank says affects more than 60 percent of the population, and boost investment infrastructure.

In an opposition rally, a crowd of thousands yelled "Out JO," using Hernandez's first initials, interrupting Zelaya as he promised to implement "an economic model including opportunities for all."

The election Sunday will also be to choose the 129-seat single-chamber legislature. Hernandez's National Party has 52 seats in the outgoing National Congress, ruling in coalition with two other minor parties.

The main opposition leader is Manuel Zelaya, a former president who was ousted in June 2009 by the army and elements in his own Liberal Party, with backing from churches and businessmen. He was removed because of fears he wanted to bring in Venezuela-style socialism -- and get rid of the one-term presidential limit.

He now leads the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, which is behind Nasralla's campaign.]]>
11/21/2017 12:42:09 PM
<![CDATA[Chinese human rights lawyers jailed for two years]]>
Jiang Tianyong, 46, took on many high-profile cases including those of Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetan protesters and victims of the 2008 contaminated milk powder scandal, before being disbarred in 2009.

He sat in court flanked by two police officers as a judge read the sentence and told him he would also be deprived of political rights for three years, according to a video released by the Changsha Intermediate People's Court.

The court accused him of "inciting subversion of state power" and defaming the government, following a trial that Amnesty International on Tuesday called a "total sham".

"Jiang Tianyong has long been infiltrated and influenced by anti-China forces and gradually formed the idea of overthrowing the existing political system of the country," the judge said.
The court said he had gone abroad for training on how to accomplish the goal and "applied for financial support from foreign anti-China forces."
In the years leading up to his detention, Jiang had repeatedly met with foreign officials and politicians to discuss China's human rights situation.
The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights has said he feared Jiang's previous disappearance was in part retaliation for the lawyer's assistance to UN experts.
Jiang's family has been unable to contact him since his sudden disappearance last November en route from Beijing to Changsha, where he had gone to inquire about detained human rights lawyer Xie Yang.
Xie was detained in the "709 crackdown" of July 2015, and his claims of being tortured in custody, which Jiang helped to publicise, prompted international concern.
In that crackdown, more than 200 people were detained, including lawyers who took on civil rights cases considered sensitive by the ruling Communist Party.

In August, Jiang told judges he was "ashamed" of having incited "subversion".
Amnesty called the proceedings "an act of political theatre" featuring testimony "most likely extracted under duress."

There has been a resurgence of reports of public confessions since Chinese President Xi Jinping took power in 2012 and tightened controls on civil society.

The government initially targeted political activists and human rights campaigners, but it has increasingly turned its attention to the legal professionals who represent them.

Jiang's sentence was "a textbook example of the Chinese authorities' systematic persecution of those who are brave enough to defend human rights in China today," said Amnesty International China researcher William Nee.

Nee said it was likely to have a "chilling effect" on other activists, since the evidence used against him was so minimal: critical social media comments, attendance of overseas trainings, and showing moral support to other human rights defenders facing trials.

"Many activists also do these things, and now they are likely to be frightened by how the government is spinning this case and demonising Jiang Tianyong," he said.

Jiang's wife, Jin Bianling, said none of the lawyers she had hired were allowed to see her husband and she only learned in August that the court had appointed one.

"I contacted him continuously, but as soon as he heard I was Jiang Tianyong's wife, he would immediately hang up the phone," Jin, who fled to the US in 2013, told AFP by telephone.

She said the court had tried to pit Jiang's parents against her, telling them she had been "brainwashed by the West" and to cut off contact.

His father was allowed into the courtroom Tuesday, but his sister was blocked from attending, she added.

Four wives of lawyers detained in the 709 crackdown who came to show support were harassed by plainclothes agents and also denied entry in Changsha.

Jin voiced fears for her husband's health in prison, citing the cases of other activists, such as Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died of liver cancer in July after years of imprisonment.

"When I heard all the charges they listed against him, I felt my husband was very righteous. They made me greatly admire him," she said.
"I think history will remember what my husband has done."]]>
11/21/2017 12:29:47 PM
<![CDATA[Rights activists condemn police violence in California]]>
The American Civil Liberties Union says the level of lethal violence directed at Hispanics and African Americans in the cities of Anaheim and Bakersfield is out of proportion with the level of local crime.

In a report released Monday, the ACLU said Anaheim, in Orange County, "has a rate of officer-involved deaths far exceeding law enforcement agencies in the vast majority of cities of similar and larger size."

In 2014, the city was ranked second safest from violent crime of the 50 largest cities in the United States, according to FBI statistics.

Yet the same figures rank Anaheim ninth in 2015 for the number of officer-involved deaths during arrests.

"Last year alone, the rate of police-involved deaths per million residents in Anaheim outdistanced that of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston and most other large cities," the report states.

Acting Anaheim police chief Julian Harvey said in a statement to AFP that "few public safety agencies" had initiated as much internal review in recent years and brought about as much positive change as his department.

"Our major incident review process is now a model for California. We have brought our officers closer to the neighborhoods they serve and created new ways for the community to share their concerns with us," he added.

He accused the ACLU of "mis-statements designed for maximum impact rather than honestly portraying our city."

The ACLU published a report earlier this month denouncing "a disturbing pattern of shootings, beatings and canine attacks" by police and sheriff's deputies, especially targeting unarmed suspects, in Bakersfield and across Kern County.

Police in Bakersfield did not respond to a request for comment while the Kern County sheriff's department said it would not comment, citing an ongoing investigation by the California public prosecutor.

Peter Bibring, the ACLU's director of police practices for California, warned of a "nationwide problem" with use-of-force standards which was particularly acute in the western state in part because of a culture of secrecy surrounding investigations of officer misconduct.

He noted that a small number of officers in Anaheim and Bakersfield were involved in two deaths or more.

"What's clear is that (in) both those agencies there's no strong civilian oversight and a culture that is permissive," he told AFP.]]>
11/21/2017 12:27:00 PM
<![CDATA[North Korea purge a rebalancing from military: analysts]]>
Since taking power in 2011, North Korea's young leader has brutally removed anyone perceived as a potential challenge to his authority, including ordering the execution of family members.

But observers say the latest move appears aimed at curbing the overgrown influence of the military, which blossomed under his late father Kim Jong-Il's Songun (military-first) policy.

The head and deputy head of the military's powerful General Political Bureau, Hwang Pyong-So and Kim Won-Hong, have been punished for "impudence" towards the ruling Korean Workers' Party, which Kim Jong-Un heads, the South's spy agency has said.

The bureau is tasked with ensuring loyalty to the Party among the ranks of the Korean People's Army, Yonhap reported, citing lawmakers briefed by the National Intelligence Service.

"This is another Kim Jong-Un play aimed at tightening his grip on, and taming, the military," Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP.

Kim is moving away from the Songun policy and "reaffirming the principle that the party is always above the military" Yang said.

Professor Koh Yu-Hwan at Dongguk University added: "The Songun policy has always been a double-edged sword and Kim is reorganising the military that became overgrown under his father and is restoring the system of party dominance."

The NIS said the level of punishment meted out to the two men was not known, but South Korean lawmakers who attended the closed-door briefing suggested they might have been sent to provincial farms for re-education through labour.

Hwang was once seen as the second most powerful man in North Korea. He led the high-level delegation that visited the South during the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, and made his last public appearance in October.

Kim Won-Hong had returned to office earlier this year after being sacked as minister of state security, for power abuse and corruption in mid-January.

Kim, who served as the spy chief since 2012, had played a key role in arresting and executing Kim Jong-Un's uncle Jang Song-Thaek four years ago.

The North's leader has reportedly killed more than 100 military, party and government officials, including Jang and Hyon Yong-Chol, a former defence chief who was put to death in 2015.

South Korea believes he was also responsible for the Cold War-style assassination of his half-brother Kim Jong-Nam, who was poisoned at a Malaysian airport earlier this year.]]>
11/21/2017 12:23:19 PM
<![CDATA[Zimbabwe's Mugabe faces impeachment after military takeover]]>
The ruling ZANU-PF party plans to bring the impeachment motion in parliament, after a Monday noon deadline expired for the besieged 93-year-old leader to resign and bring the curtain down on nearly four decades in power.

Impeachment would be an ignominious end to the career of the "Grand Old Man" of African politics, once lauded as an anti-colonial hero and the only leader Zimbabwe has known since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Mugabe has so far shown no signs of stepping down and has called for the weekly cabinet meeting to take place as usual on Tuesday. It would be the first time ministers sit down with him since the military took power on Wednesday.

In the draft impeachment motion, ZANU-PF - which expelled Mugabe from the party on Sunday - accused him of being a "source of instability", flouting the rule of law and presiding over an "unprecedented economic tailspin" in the last 15 years.

It also said he had abused his constitutional mandate to favour his unpopular wife Grace, 52, whose tilt at power triggered the backlash from the army that brought tanks onto the streets of the capital last week.

The military operation was launched after Robert Mugabe sacked former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a move meant to boost Grace's chances of succeeding her husband.

Zimbabwe's top general said on Monday talks were planned between Mugabe and Mnangagwa, who was expected back in the country soon.

General Constantino Chiwenga also revealed that the army's intervention was codenamed "Operation Restore Legacy" and was progressing well.

FALL OF GRACE

It has been marked by unexpected twists and turns.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Harare to celebrate the impending downfall of Mugabe, accused by critics of retaining power through terror and election-rigging and of running a once-vibrant economy into the ground.

They expected him to resign within hours. Instead Mugabe dashed their hopes with a bizarre and rambling televised address on Sunday night in which he made no mention of his own fate.

Since last week, Mugabe has been confined to his lavish "Blue Roof" residence in Harare, apart from two trips to State House to meet the generals and one to a university graduation ceremony at which he appeared to fall asleep.

Grace, known as "Gucci Grace" for her alleged fondness for extravagant shopping sprees, and at least two senior members of her "G40" political faction are believed to be holed up in the same compound.

Her stark reversal of fortune was underscored on Monday when the state-run Herald newspaper - which in August proclaimed her "A loving mother of the nation" - ran a piece headlined "Youth League slams 'uncultured' First Lady."

"Grace Mugabe lacked grooming and true motherhood as shown by her foul language," the paper quoted the ZANU-PF's youth wing as saying.]]>
11/21/2017 3:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[China supports Cambodia's crackdown on political opposition]]>
The Supreme Court banned the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last week at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen's government in a move that prompted the United States to cut election funding and threaten more punitive steps.

The European Union has also threatened action.

The CNRP was banned after its leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for alleged treason. The government says he sought to take power with American help. He rejects that allegation as politically motivated, to allow Hun Sen to extend his more than three decades in power in next year's general election.

The United States has said that Cambodia's 2018 election "will not be legitimate, free or fair".

Meeting on Monday on the sides of a Asia-Europe foreign ministers meeting in Myanmar, Wang told his Cambodian counterpart Prak Sokhon that China supported the government's actions.

"China supports the Cambodian side's efforts to protect political stability and achieve economic development, and believes the Cambodian government can lead the people to deal with domestic and foreign challenges, and will smoothly hold elections next year,", China's Foreign Ministry said in a Tuesday statement.

China has repeatedly expressed its support for Cambodia, making no criticism of the government led by Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander, who is one of Beijing's most important allies in Southeast Asia after more than three decades in power.]]>
11/21/2017 2:58:51 AM
<![CDATA[Qatari defense min. denies supporting terrorism despite evidence]]>
Speaking to Al-Haqiqa (The Truth) program which broadcasts on Qatar TV, Attiyah stressed that Qatar had not supported any terrorist group; contrarily, it only backs the aspirations of the Arab peoples and ensures their welfare.

Asked about the Gulf crisis, Attiyah noted that “it had its origin in 1996; then, it was followed by unfriendly acts in 2013 and 2014 and culminated in the severing of ties and the blockade of Qatar on June 5 this year.”

“Immediately after coming to power in June 2013, his highness Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani issued clear instructions to the Cabinet to maintain excellent relations with the GCC countries in everything – economy, social and political matters,” Attiyah recalled.

Regarding the opening of a Taliban political office in Doha, Attiyah said that the U.S. had asked for opening the office and Qatar welcomed this request that would help Afghanistan restore its peace and stability.

He affirmed that the present dispute against Qatar started in 2013 when it was planned to “shock the new government and make the country subject to others.”

On the contrary, media outlets in October reported that Qatar has been assisting the transportation of Islamic State (IS) militants from Iraq and Syria to southern Libya.


In early October, the Libyan National Army's spokesperson, Ahmed Al-Mesmari, announced that Qatar has been supporting IS terrorists financially; he also added that Doha committed numerous crimes against the Libyan people, especially transporting IS militants from Syria and Iraq to Sudan and then to Libya.

Christopher Davidson, a British researcher who teaches Middle East politics at Durham University in England, also stated that Qatar was involved in the transport of weapons and fighters from Libya to Syria in 2012 and 2013, but is now transporting them to Libya.

A March 2013 UN report pointed out that in 2011 and 2012, Qatar violated the UN's arms embargo by “providing military material to the revolutionary forces through the organization of a large number of flights and the deliveries of a range of arms and ammunition."

Doha has provided more than €750 million to extremist groups in Libya since 2011. On the other hand, the Central Intelligence Agency of America (CIA) on Wednesday, released to the public nearly 470,000 additional files recovered in the May 2011 raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. CIA director Mike Pompeo authorized the release in the interest of transparency and to enhance public understanding of al-Qaeda and its former leader, the CIA stated on Wednesday.

A paper in bin Laden’s memos said that he wanted to transmit his ideas about the revolutions of Arab countries to his son Hamza, who is supposed to travel to Qatar. Bin Laden wrote in the memos that Qatar is the only qualified country to carry this responsibility in order to avoid any crises.

The French website, Therese Zrihen, referred also to Qatar’s stubbornness in supporting terrorist organizations, claiming that it has been double-dealing in the Middle East for decades, as it destabilizes its neighbors while acting as though it is paying lip service to Gulf Arab unity.

The report accused Qatar, the world's largest exporter of natural gas, of using part of its wealth to finance extremist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Taliban, Hamas and al-Qaeda. ]]>
11/20/2017 5:55:27 PM
<![CDATA[14 local, international organizations banned from upcoming election]]>
Some of the human rights and civil society organizations that have been excluded from the elections include Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies and Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.

Egyptian human rights activist Dalia Ziada has called for accelerating the issuance of executive regulations of NGOs law to face the organizations affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. Ziada added that Egyptians become politically mature; hence, Egypt should not be afraid of these organizations.

She stressed that the Ministry of Social Solidarity should suspend all organizations that were formed during the Muslim Brotherhood regime prior to elections. She also pointed out that Amnesty International, Sawasia Charity Foundation, and Cordoba Foundation would not observe the election.

MP Solaf Darwish confirmed that the government should be wary of human rights organizations in the upcoming elections and be able to differentiate between transparent human rights organizations and the human rights organizations that are financed to attack the state’s institutions to protect our country.

Darwish stressed that Egypt does not antagonize civil society organizations as long as they work for the state’s interests and not for foreign agencies, noting that Egypt has the right to preserve its institutions from these organizations.

Presidential elections are approaching, as they are set to be held in May 2018. However, no single potential candidate announced he or she would run for office.

Around 70 local and regional civil society organizations will observe the upcoming presidential election including the U.S.-based Carter Center, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, the Election Network in the Arab Region, Transparency International and Global Network for Rights and Development.

The Candidacy for Egypt’s 2018 presidential election will be announced in February by the National Commission for Elections (NCC).

Many political parties have started their campaigns supporting President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi for a second four-year term in office.

To Build It (Alashan Tbneeha) campaign has announced organizing new supportive conferences to support President Sisi after the World Youth Forum, which is being held in Sharm El-Sheikh city of South Sinai, the campaign member Mohamed Shabaan told Egypt Today on Friday. ]]>
11/20/2017 5:34:54 PM
<![CDATA[What happens now after collapse of German coalition talks?]]>
The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) abruptly pulled out after more than four weeks of negotiations with Merkel’s conservative bloc and the ecologist Greens, citing irreconcilable differences.

The euro recovered from a two-month low on Monday as investors brushed off the broader political risks.

But Germany now faces a prolonged period of political wrangling and uncertainty. The path to a new election would be difficult and involve more than one vote in parliament.

Many fear a new election could further strengthen the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party that surged into parliament in the Sept. 24 election after winning nearly 13 percent of the vote. AfD leaders have pushed for new elections for weeks as the coalition talks failed to reach agreement.

Current opinion polls predict little change compared to the September vote. A Forsa poll released last week showed conservatives on 32 percent, the Social Democrats on 20 percent, the FDP 12 percent, the Greens 10 percent and the AfD 12 percent. It was not immediately clear what impact the latest development would have on the parties’ support.

Leaders of the other parties expressed shock about the FDP’s move since negotiators had been on the cusp of an agreement. The Greens accused the FDP of a pre-meditated move to oust Merkel.

Here’s what could happen next, and possible scenarios for the coming weeks:

PRESIDENT APPEALS FOR RESUMED COALITION TALKS

The political crisis hands significant power to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD) and a former foreign minister under Merkel who assumed the normally ceremonial post in February.

Merkel was to meet with Steinmeier on Monday to discuss the most serious political crisis to confront Germany in the post-war era.

Steinmeier had already urged negotiators on Saturday to uphold their civic responsibilities and avoid new elections. He is expected to repeat that message in a statement later Monday, according to the RND newspaper chain.

Steinmeier could push the FDP and its leader Christian Lindner to return to the negotiating table. But political experts say it would be difficult to rebuild any sense of trust among the would-be coalition partners after Sunday’s events.

MERKEL LOOKS INTO CONTINUATION OF “GRAND COALITION”

Merkel is likely to approach the SPD, which served for four years as junior partner in her “grand coalition”, but SPD leaders have vowed to return to opposition after the party’s worst election result since 1933.

Labour Minister Andrea Nahles reaffirmed that view in an interview with broadcaster ZDF on Monday, saying voters had clearly voted against a further tie-up of Germany’s two largest parties.

If they agreed to talks, the SPD - which saw its support slide in the September election after it lost stature as junior partner in the often awkward coalition dominated by Merkel - would probably insist on her departure, according to party insiders.

“The SPD is in a much stronger negotiating position now,” said Tyson Barker at the Aspen Institute. “But I just don’t see the incentives there for the SPD. The grand coalition is just teetering on a majority.”

NEW ELECTIONS

If coalition talks fail, the only way to trigger a new election under the German constitution would be for Steinmeier to suggest a parliamentary vote on Merkel as chancellor.

If Merkel wins a majority in such a vote, he would name her as chancellor. If she doesn’t raise a majority, parliament can vote again within 14 days.

If she again misses the majority, parliament votes again and the candidate with the most votes wins.

Then Steinmeier could name Merkel - or whoever wins the most votes - as chancellor, but is not required to do so. If he refrains, he would dissolve parliament and new elections must be held within 60 days.

MINORITY GOVERNMENT

If she is elected as chancellor, Merkel could form a minority government with a variety of partners, including just the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of her Christian Democrats, or among conservatives with the FDP.

She could also form a minority coalition with the Greens. Juergen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for the conservative bloc, said such a tie-up was promising and could convince Steinmeier to agree to a minority government.

A minority government would require Merkel to find changing majorities for her policies, but it would allow the smaller parties to maintain an independent profile, said Christian Odendahl, chief economist at the Centre for European Reform.

He said that could be helpful for the CSU, which has said it needs to pursue a more hardline position on immigration and security as it gears up for state elections in September 2018, given massive losses to the far-right AfD on Sept. 24.]]>
11/20/2017 4:20:22 PM
<![CDATA[Iran, Qatar, Turkey to hold meeting in coming period]]>
The trilateral meeting with Iranian Economy Minister Massoud Karbasian, Turkey’s Nihat Zeybekci, and Qatar's Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani will be held in the near future to discuss how to form closer trade ties, particularly after Arab Gulf states have boycotted Qatar.

Turkey and Iran have become suppliers of Qatar after Saudi Arabia and other countries severed ties with Qatar and suspended air, sea and land transport with it in June.

Qatar currently aims to strengthen its efforts to protect the ruling family from opposition or any military interference, which has led the tiny Gulf emirate to look for enhancing its relations with Iran and Turkey to obtain military support.

These countries formed an alliance, which grew strongly last month, to serve their different interests, ultimately leading to harming the entire Arab region.

Iran is gaining the most benefit of this evil alliance, as it has previously attempted in various ways to interfere in Gulf affairs, but failed after the formation of the Arab alliance.

Numerous telephone calls and consultations have been monitored following the crisis between both sides.

A few days after the Arab countries’ cutting of ties, Turkey sent products to Qatar, which faced a shortage of fresh produce.

The three countries have showed support for Islamist groups, such as the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar for supporting terrorism and maintaining strong ties with Iran. Qatar insisted on its stance, forming the Iranian-Turkish-Qatari alliance to support terrorism, ignoring economic and diplomatic losses.]]>
11/20/2017 4:20:17 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi FM: Arab States will not use force with Doha ]]>
His interview with El Hadidy came on the sidelines of the Arab League’s emergency meeting for foreign ministers which was held on Monday in Cairo, Egypt, where Arab countries denounced the ballistic missile fired by the Iranian-backed rebels earlier this month that was intercepted near the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

This also came in response to what Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said on Friday; remarking that Qatar is expecting Arab states to move militarily against it. The Qatari foreign minister added that his country is ready for it and will rely on Qatar’s partners – France, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America – to defend his country.

At the same time, speaking to editors of Egyptian newspapers on Sunday on the sidelines of the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting at the Arab League in Cairo, Al-Jubeir confirmed that the Qatari crisis is very small and "we need not concern ourselves with the Qatari subject."

He noted that Arab countries have more important problems than the Qatari crisis such as the risk imposed by Iran on Arab national security, terrorism, the Syrian and Libyan crises, Yemen’s stability, and the implementation of Saudi Arabia's vision 2030.

Al-Jubeir further remarked that boycotting countries have sent a message to Qatar demanding it halts support and finances to terrorism, but Qatar has chosen to ignore the six demands of the Gulf states, denying the problem.

“We ask them to leave the denial stage behind and begin the stage of reconsideration and problem-solving,” Al-Jubeir emphasized.

Al-Jubeir also pointed out that Qataris refer to the crisis as a “siege” and a “blockade” which would mean that there are warplanes over Qatari airspace and warships, but that claim is contrary to reality.

“They must not interfere in the internal affairs of countries or find platforms for people who justify suicide bombings. [They must not] host individuals involved in financing terrorists and… continue to collect money and send it terrorists and [there shouldn’t be] terrorist elements operating in Qatar, including the Muslim Brotherhood,” Al-Jubeir declared.

He noted that if Qatar continues on its current path, Arab countries will not be dealing with it, yet will not resort to using a military solution either.

Al-Jubeir revealed that Qatar has taken steps after the Arab boycott such as signing an understanding memorandum with the U.S., which Qatar had previously refused to sign, that allows U.S. officials to enter Qatari banks. In addition, the memorandum also entailed that Qatar’s support to Hamas and extremist organizations in Syria and Libya diminishes in order to allow for a peaceful solution.

“In spite of these positive steps, Qatar has not taken actions against those who call for terrorism in Qatar, [or incite] violence… [through] its media.”

On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar, hurling allegations that the state supports terrorism. Ports and airspaces were cut off to Qatari vessels. Since then, Kuwait has played the role of mediator to put an end to this rift. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held several meetings with the disputed parties, but the discussions have not yet led to a settlement. ]]>
11/20/2017 4:01:15 PM
<![CDATA[SPD leader says voters must reassess German political situation]]>
Schulz said his party was still not available to join Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in a continuation of their "grand coalition" government after her talks with other parties failed.

"In such a situation, the sovereign, that is the voters, must reassess what is going on," Schulz told reporters, adding that Merkel had yet to contact him and that he would meet President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday. ]]>
11/20/2017 3:35:40 PM
<![CDATA[EU to vote on relocation of agencies after Brexit]]>
In a process only half-jokingly compared to the Eurovision Song Contest, ministers will vote on where to relocate the European Medicines Agency and European Banking Authority.

British bookmaker Ladbrokes makes Bratislava, Milan and Amsterdam favourites to host the EMA, with Frankfurt, Vienna and Dublin lead the running for the EBA, although officials warned the secret ballot could throw up an unpredictable result.

Governments have been jostling to win the backing of other countries with "hot bargaining" behind the scenes for two agencies that promise both prestige and prosperity, a diplomatic source told AFP.

In total there are 19 candidates to be the new home of the EMA, one of the world's most powerful drugs watchdogs, which employs 900 pharmaceutical experts, biologists and doctors from every corner of Europe.

There is a smaller batch of eight bidders for the EBA, the banking overseer with 159 staff. The EBA is perhaps best known for its regular stress tests on the EU's financial sector in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Both are currently based in London's Docklands business district but must move when Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019 because EU agencies are not allowed to be based outside the union.

- 'Game theory' -

Member states brought out all the stops to extol the merits of their candidate cities, producing glossy brochures and videos and offering a host of perks.

The Irish government has said it is willing to contribute 78 million euros over 10 years to cover costs, while Vienna promised a children's nursery, and Milan threw in access to a gym.

Italy was even forced to deny news reports that it would increase its military contingents to the Baltic countries as a bargaining chip to promote Milan's candidacy.

In an unusually complex procedure -- even for the EU -- each country will have six points to distribute for each agency, including three to give to their first choice, two to their second and one to their third.

If necessary, the process can go as long as three rounds, each with different rules and scheduled breaks during which ministers can consult their capitals.

"Of course, many countries will vote tactically," a diplomatic source told AFP, adding that his country had resorted to studying "game theory" to be ready.

EU diplomats have compared the process to the annual Eurovision Song Contest, whose nail-biting televised voting sequence is one of the most watched TV moments in Europe, known for its come-from-behind surprises and mixture of backscratching and backstabbing.

- Staff worries -

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, delivered an evaluation of the applications in September based on a range of criteria from transport links, to job prospects for spouses and schools.

But the commission was careful not to formulate a preference, and member states are under no obligation to take that assessment into account in Monday's vote.

"The criteria will not only be about the intrinsic qualities of a particular candidacy," said France's EU Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau in an interview with the French daily La Croix.

But the staff of the agencies in question, already being forced to up sticks from London, are reportedly nervous about any surprise victories.

The drugs agency was warned in an internal report that the choice of certain cities would result in "a retention rate of personnel well below 30 percent".

No cities were named, but according to leaks in the press, Bratislava, Warsaw, Bucharest and Sofia stood out as the least popular.]]>
11/20/2017 3:04:57 PM
<![CDATA[Germany in political turmoil as coalition talks fail]]>
Germany now faces weeks, if not months of paralysis with a lame-duck government that is unlikely to take bold policy action at home or on the European stage.

With no other viable coalition in sight, Germany may be forced to hold new elections that risk being as inconclusive as September's polls.

Merkel, whose liberal refugee policy has proved deeply divisive, had been forced to seek an alliance with an unlikely group of parties after the ballot left her without a majority.

But following more than a month of gruelling negotiations, the leader of the pro-business FDP, Christian Lindner, walked out of talks overnight, saying there was no "basis of trust" to forge a government with Merkel's conservative alliance CDU-CSU and the ecologist Greens.

"It is better not to govern than to govern badly," he said, adding that the parties did not share "a common vision on modernising" Germany.
Voicing regret for the FDP's decision, Merkel vowed to steer Germany through the crisis.
"As chancellor... I will do everything to ensure that this country comes out well through this difficult time," she said.
News magazine Der Spiegel called the breakdown in negotiations a "catastrophe" for Merkel and said Germany, long seen as an island of stability, was having its "Brexit moment, its Trump moment".

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has sought Merkel's backing for an ambitious EU reform plan, expressed concern about Germany's political deadlock, saying "it is not in our interest that the situation becomes tense".

The euro fell on the news, but Germany's blue-chip DAX remained largely firm, losing just 0.47 percent in early trade.

The acrimonious negotiations stumbled on a series of issues including immigration.
Merkel let in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015, sparking a backlash that allowed the far-right AfD party to win its first seats in parliament.

Its parliamentary co-leader Alexander Gauland relished the collapse of the talks, saying that Merkel had "failed" and that his party "looks forward to potential new elections" in which it stands to make strong gains.

The negotiating parties also differed on environmental issues, with the Greens wanting to phase out dirty coal and combustion-engine cars, while the conservatives and FDP emphasised the need to protect industry and jobs.

The Greens angrily deplored the collapse of talks, saying they had believed a deal could be done despite the differences and accusing the FDP of negotiating in bad faith.

Lindner, who had taken a harder line on refugees as the talks progressed, "opted for his kind of populist agitation instead of political responsibility", Greens Europe MP Reinhard Buetikofer tweeted.

Merkel could now try to convince the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which has been the junior coalition partner in her government since 2013, to return to the fold.

But after suffering a humiliating loss at the polls, the party's top brass has repeatedly said the SPD's place was now in the opposition.

Merkel, who has been in power for 12 years, could also lead a minority government although she had signalled that she was not in favour of such instability.

Germany could therefore be forced to hold new elections, which would have to be called by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

But that is not without peril for Merkel, who would face questions from within her party on whether she is still the best candidate to carry its banner into a new campaign.
Top-selling Bild daily said a failure to forge a tie-up -- a so-called "Jamaica coalition" because the parties' colours match those of the Jamaican flag -- put "her chancellorship in danger".

A poll by Welt online also found that 61.4 percent of people surveyed said a collapse of talks would mean an end to Merkel as chancellor. Only 31.5 percent thought otherwise.

As talks dragged on without a breakthrough, Steinmeier had on Sunday issued a warning to parties not to recklessly force new elections.

"All sides are aware of their responsibilities. And this responsibility means not returning their mandate to voters," he told Welt am Sonntag.

Merkel was to meet with Steinmeier later Monday to discuss the crisis but planned talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte were hastily cancelled.

Rutte himself is no stranger to political turmoil, and last month unveiled a new government after a record 225 days of negotiations.]]>
11/20/2017 1:47:55 PM
<![CDATA[Is anti-Islamic bias fueling Europe’s populist far-right?]]>
The march coincided with Poland’s Independence Day, which commemorates the reinstatement of Polish sovereignty at the end of World War I after being partitioned and ruled since the late 18th century by Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although many official government events took place earlier in the day, the far-right march overshadowed this and was the largest Independence Day event in recent years.

Some protesters carried banners depicting a Falanga, a far-right symbol dating to the 1930s, as participants expressed sympathy for xenophobic and white supremacist ideas. One banner read, "White Europe of brotherly nations," while people marched under the slogan "We Want God".

Photo 2
Demonstrators burn flares and wave Polish flags during Poland's Independence Day in Warsaw. REUTERS/Franciszek Mazur

“When you get 60,000 people marching through Warsaw in an annual gathering of Europe's far-right movements waving these sorts of banners and shouting anti-Muslim slogans then there is a right to be concerned,” said Yvonne Ridley, renowned journalist and Secretary-General of the European Muslim League, to Egypt Today.

As one of Europe’s largest far-right demonstrations in recent years, the march drew influential far-right figures from around Europe; notably including Tommy Robinson, ex-leader of the English Defence League, and the leader of the Italian Forza Nuova party, Roberto Fiore.

Take into consideration the number of attendees at this rally. This does not mean that there are just 60,000 supporters of the far right in Poland, this means that there were 60,000 people who believed passionately enough to make the time to publicly display this passion.

This populist rhetoric of intolerance is not confined to Poland however. With the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union, far-right sentiment in Eastern Europe was allowed the space to blossom. After the 2008 economic crash this accelerated throughout Europe, and ever since the continent as a whole has bore witness to a sharp rise in the popularity of right-wing political parties, organizations and movements. This threatens the fundamental principles of tolerance and liberty which have guided Europe since the fall of Nazi Germany, and accentuated with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This has taken place differently in the Eastern and Western Europe context.

“Most peculiar to Eastern Europe is that you don’t have a large Islamic presence. The fact that there is an anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic backlash there is interesting. This is has a lot to do with their recent independence,” said Johannes van Gorp, professor of Political Science at the American University of Sharjah, to Egypt Today.

Photo 3
Demonstrators burn flares and wave Polish flags during Poland's Independence Day in Warsaw. REUTERS/Adam Stepien

“The difference in the way the legacy of World War II and the holocaust has been dealt with in Eastern Europe has created opportunity structures for radical right-wing ideas,” he added. “Many Eastern European countries are playing fast and loose with immigration laws.”

A nationalist sentiment is central to right-wing ideology; this manifests itself in many ways and differs accordingly in respective countries. For example, the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union can be interpreted as a struggle to retain the quintessential British culture, which many people feel has been diluted by an influx of immigrants from all corners of the EU and the world.

While anti-Semitism has long occupied an important position in the culture surrounding far-right politics, we are increasingly seeing the adoption of an anti-Islamic rhetoric.

“In extreme groups, anti-Semitism and anti-Islam go hand in hand,” said van Gorp. “As for ‘mainstream’ populist radical right groups, especially in Western Europe – they have certainly become more anti-Islamic than anti-Semitic.”

Ridley added that “sadly anti-Semitism has not gone away, but it now has a new soul mate in Islamophobia.”

“I believe Islamophobia is the wrong term, and it should be called what it is: hatred of Muslims,” she continued.

Those in the UK who act in this far-fight, anti-immigration stance, claim they are acting under the direction of patriotism, yet clearly have no understanding of the country’s history that underpins patriotism. Of course they will have heard the age-old adage: “the sun never sets on the British Empire,” but the connotations of this clearly pass them.

Britain ascended to its once-global supremacy through the domination of submissive states and the plunder of their wealth. Yet, the sharing of ideas, items and importantly individuals helped found the country they believe now needs to be saved from foreign influence.

Similar far-right nationalist movements can be found all over Europe. From the Freedom Party in Austria, which in 2016 came a close second in the presidential race while making advances in the legislature, to the Swedish Democrats in Sweden. From France’s National Front, which gained 6 million votes in 2016 presidential election, to the Alternative for Germany party.

Photo 4
Austria's extreme-right Freedom Party. AFP

“The further away we move from World War II, maybe we’re seeing a normalization of European politics, and that in democracy there will always be a strong element of radical right-wing thinking,“ added van Gorp.

Economic grievances, a fear of terrorism and a fear of immigration

It is evident there has been a rise in the popularity of right-wing parties and organizations throughout Europe. Economic grievances, a fear of terrorism and a fear of immigration are the dominant factors. When a fear of immigration and a fear of terrorism hit a crossroads, a fear of Islam is what comes out the other end.

“I believe the rise of the Far Right in Europe has been mirrored in the growth of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric,” said Ridley.

A fresh cause for conflict in the Middle East came with the 2011 uprisings – the so-called Arab Spring – which saw a dramatic increase in both immigration, in the form of refugees, and terrorism in Europe.

The commonly referred to European refugee crisis began in 2015, when rising numbers of people arrived in the EU, from predominantly Muslim Arab countries. The majority travelled across the Mediterranean Sea or overland through Southeast Europe. Almost two million refugees and migrants crossed into Europe in 2015 alone, sparking a crisis as countries struggled to cope with the demand.

The EU's external border force, Frontex, put the figure crossing into Europe in 2015 at more than 1,800,000. These people included asylum seekers, economic migrants, and some hostile agents; some of which has gone on to commit attacks in Europe targeting civilians and the police predominantly. Divisions in the EU have arisen over how best to deal with resettling people.

During the Brexit campaign in the UK, Nigel Farage, head of the UKIP party, claimed that “every single aspect” of working people’s lives have suffered from immigration: from finding school places, to getting a doctor’s appointment, commuting to work, and finding a job. “People’s lives have gotten more difficult,” he said in June 2016.

Photo 5
UKIP leader Nigel Farage unvails controversial poster in Westminster, immediately condemned by MPs from all main Westminster parties. AFP

“In many cases Islam is seen as a code word for migrants making it easier for racists to spread their hate-fuelled messages,” said Ridley.

Geert Wilders, head of the Dutch Party for Freedom, adopts arguably some of the most disturbing rhetoric. Wilders wants to close all mosques, ban the Quran, and seal the nation's borders to asylum seekers and immigrants from Islamic countries to prevent the spread of Islam. “Islam does not belong to us. It brings violence and danger everywhere. We need to de-Islamize and close our borders,” the populist politician said in 2015.

"Dutch values are based on Christianity, on Judaism, on humanism. Islam and freedom are not compatible," he said in February 2017.

There is a fear that accepting increased numbers of refugees from Muslim-majority countries will lead to an increased terror threat. Terrorists are able to hide into the vast number of people following the migrant routes. In 2015, Europe experienced an unprecedented spike in terror attacks as terrorists either returned home to Europe from Syria and Iraq, or made use of the migrant routes; such attacks inspired others and led to many copycat attacks.

“Most refugees in the world today come from Muslim countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; all have olive skins and are easy to target because of their vulnerable status. The influx of millions of refugees in Europe has caused widespread panic,” Ridley said.

Officials in Slovakia, Estonia, Bulgaria and Poland have said they want to take only Christian asylum seekers, or none at all.

The nationalist government in Hungary called a referendum, which took place on October 2, 2016, on whether to accept the European Union's migrant relocation plans. Although over 98 percent of voters supported Hungry having control of its immigration policy, the 44 percent turnout was too low to make the poll valid.

The anti-immigration campaign spurted a wealth of fear-mongering propaganda. Since Islam remains the common denominator, such propaganda only spreads and feeds people’s prejudices.

"Did you know? More than 300 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Europe since the start of the migrant crisis."

"Did you know? Almost one million immigrants want to come to Europe from Libya alone."

"Did you know? Since the start of the immigration crisis, sexual harassment of women has increased in Europe."

Photo 6
Supporters of anti-immigration right-wing movement PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) take part in a demonstration rally in Cologne. REUTERS

There is some truth to the notion that increased immigration has led to increased terrorism, but this is purely a numbers game.

Because of such threats, there have been major disagreements over how to deal with the influx of migrants. EU law states that asylum seekers must file an application in the EU country they arrive in, but this puts countries on the fringe, such as Greece, Italy and Hungary, under a disproportionate amount of pressure. EU ministers voted in September to share the refugee burden.

Some 1,321,560 asylum claims were made in Europe during 2015 alone. Germany attempted to set a precedent, and opened its doors. In 2015, it received over 475,000 new asylum applications, however real estimation for the number of asylum seekers in Germany in 2015 is much higher.

While Germany has registered the most asylum applications in 2015, Hungary took the highest in proportion to its population. With nearly 1,800 refugees per 100,000 of Hungary's local population claiming asylum in 2015, Hungry was forced to ease the flow by closing its border with Croatia. Sweden followed in a close second with 1,667 per 100,000. The EU average was 260.

As far-right parties continue to rise in popularity across Europe, all it takes is a moment of heightened patriotism to spark conflict. This occurred after the UK voted to leave Brexit, as a spike in hate crimes infected the country.

Germany’s open border policy faced major backlash as many Germans opposed the changes taking place in their country. The result was a rise in hate crimes. An average of almost 10 attacks a day were carried out against refugees in Germany last year, according to the country’s interior ministry.

Some European countries have an anti-Islamic bias entrenched in their laws. In Italy for example, Islam isn’t formally recognized, unlike Christianity and Judaism.

To appease the far-right, governments across Europe have been implementing what can only be perceived as discriminatory and anti-Islamic laws. Such discriminatory policies include a hijab ban for certain professions, a ban of the niqab in public – overt religious displays – and a regulation against building minarets, all of which restrict Muslim’s freedoms.

“It appeases voters and is a cheap and exploitive way of stealing the ground from underneath the feet of the Far Right,” said Ridley.

Photo 7
People gather for an anti-immigration demonstration organised by rightwing movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) in Dresden, Germany, on Oct. 19, 2015. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

Eerily similar to 1930s pre-Nazi Germany, immigrants and those considered “non-European” are being singled out as a scapegoat for the problems troubling many European countries. Groups which propagate fear and intolerance are gaining in popularity across Europe as a “fear of the other” becomes the norm. Well, to say it has become the norm is possibly too presumptuous; nevertheless, right-wing populist political parties and large demonstrations by far-right wing movements are becoming more common on TV screens.

“Can you draw similarities with the 1930s, pre-World War II Europe, and now?” van Gorp was asked. “Absolutely,” he replied.

“Those hardest hit by the recession and job shortages are told by the Far Right that all society’s ills are down to Muslims,” Ridley added. “Again, we've learned nothing from history – people are being targeted for their beliefs and faith.”

“Do we really want history to repeat itself again?”

While the U.S. prides itself on total freedom of speech, many European states place limits on the extent of free speech. While citizens are able to speak freely, the line is drawn at expressing hatred towards any particular group of people, and inciting violence. The racist rhetoric is so prominent during World War II and the death this caused has not left the minds of the Europeans.

While our onlookers from the West cry over their flag in an exaggerated show of patriotism, while chanting the favorite word: “freedom,” they forget an important point. The more excessive, the more unconvincing, runs the rhetoric in the UK.

Photo 8
Members of Unite Against Fascism and local people gather in a park in Tower Hamlets, east London, ahead of a demonstration by the right-wing EDL. AFP/Justin Tallis

Limits on freedom of speech in Europe allow once marginalized groups within society to live free, while they themselves do not impede upon the freedom of others. Europeans have direct experience when it comes to how intolerant nationalism can go seriously wrong, and understand how to try and avoid the terrors of World War II again.

However, we have seen this turned on its head. France’s ban on the niqab and other overt displays of religion are unfairly differentiating between groups in society.

“By outlawing this item of women's clothing, governments are satisfying calls from the Far Right and feeding their Islamophobia which affects a tiny, tiny minority of women,” Ridley concluded.

“Politicians in Europe have to take more responsibility for cultivating the right sort of atmosphere and acceptance of refugees regardless of their faith.”

While it must be remembered that these movements and parties lie on the fringes of mainstream politics, and are in no way representative of the majority, this reality shows a dark shift in the changing European political atmosphere.

Twitter:

Joseph Colonna

]]>
11/20/2017 1:44:37 PM
<![CDATA[Soros blasts 'lies' of Hungary government campaign]]>
Hungarian-born Soros, 87, said Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government has sought to portray him as "an outside enemy to distract citizens" from "health care and education systems in distress" and "rife" corruption.

"The government selected George Soros for this purpose, launching a massive anti-Soros media campaign costing tens of millions of euros in taxpayer money, stoking anti-Muslim sentiment, and employing anti-Semitic tropes reminiscent of the 1930s," a statement on his website said.

In a seven-point "national consultation" survey and letter from the fiercely anti-immigration Orban sent by mail to households nationwide from October 9, the government says it is canvassing opinion on what it calls the "Soros Plan".

This refers to a 2015 opinion piece, written as hundreds of thousands of migrants were streaming into Europe through the Balkans, in which Soros said the European Union should take in at least a million migrants annually.

The Hungarian government survey says Soros is encouraging and even orchestrating Europe's ongoing migration crisis as well as influencing European Union policy.

Orban, who is running for re-election next year, says the "poison" of Muslim immigration poses a security risk and threatens Europe's Christian culture and identity.

Soros, who has become a bete noire for nationalists and conspiracy theorists in Europe and America, said each of the statements "contain distortions and outright lies that deliberately mislead Hungarians about (his) views on migrants and refugees".

The survey, which the government calls a "democratic exercise", has been accompanied by a nationwide poster and media blitz that prominently features the Jewish emigre financier's laughing face, an image that Hungary's leading Jewish organisation has said could stoke anti-Semitism.

Soros said the national consultation is part of an "ongoing propaganda effort" since 2015 that included a "Stop Brussels" consultation earlier this year and a referendum that vilified migrants and refugees in 2016.

The right-wing Orban has been stepping up his attacks on Soros this year calling him a "public enemy" for his perceived "liberal agenda" and alleged pro-immigration stance.

Parliament, dominated by Orban's ruling Fidesz party, has approved a law widely seen as targeting non-governmental organisations supported by Soros, and another that has threatened with closure a Budapest university he founded after the fall of communism.]]>
11/20/2017 1:42:45 PM
<![CDATA[Kenya summons Tanzanian envoy over cow row]]>
In October, Tanzania seized and sold 1,300 Kenyan cattle which had been driven across the border during a routine seasonal search for pasture, angering Kenya's government.

Then, earlier this month, the dispute diversified into poultry when Tanzania confiscated 6,500 chicks and burned them alive saying they had been brought from Kenya illegally and might spread disease.

Kenya's foreign ministry issued a "note of protest" in response and has followed it up with a summons to Tanzania's ambassador in Nairobi, signalling a deepening rift between the nations.

"Following the auction of these cows and the destruction by fire of the chicks, which had also entered in violation of the law, the Kenyan government summoned our ambassador in Nairobi to ask for explanations," Tanzania's foreign ministry said in a statement Sunday.

It did not say when the meeting took place.
The statement reiterated that "the entry of livestock and livestock products into the country is governed by national laws, regional and international agreements" aimed at preventing the spread of disease and urged Kenya and other neighbours to control their farmers and herders.

A series of diplomatic and trade squabbles have soured relations between the Kenya and Tanzania in recent months.

Kenyan traders have complained of mistreatment by Tanzanian immigration agents, which has sparked protests at the border, and tit-for-tat trade jabs have seen the two nations blocking the import of various goods from either country.]]>
11/20/2017 1:27:56 PM
<![CDATA[Bipartisan Harvard panel recommends hacking safeguards for elections]]>
The 27-page guidebook shown to Reuters ahead of publication calls for campaign leaders to emphasize security from the start and insist on practices such as two-factor authentication for access to email and documents and fully encrypted messaging via services including Signal and Wickr.

The guidelines are intended to reduce risks in low-budget local races as well as the high-stakes Congressional midterm contests next year. Though most of the suggestions cost little or nothing to implement and will strike security professionals as common sense, notorious attacks including the leak of the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, have succeeded because basic security practices were not followed.

The ongoing effort is being led by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, based at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and is drawing on top security executives from companies including Google, Facebook and the cyber security firm CrowdStrike. The guidebook will be available online (here).

“We heard from campaigns that there is nothing like this that exists,” said Debora Plunkett, a 31-year veteran of the National Security Agency who joined the Belfer Center this year. “We had security experts who understood security and election experts who understood campaigns, and both sides were eager to learn how the other part worked.”

Plunkett said the goal was a digestible outline that was both realistic and helpful, and that leadership buy-in was critical.

The handbook is the first effort from the Belfer Center’s four-month-old Defending Digital Democracy program, whose leadership includes top campaign officials from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Belfer co-director Eric Rosenbach said another guidebook, scheduled for spring, will aim at state election officials, who oversee the actual vote-counting and might also have to deal with propaganda intended to mislead or dissuade voters or sow suspicions about election integrity.

“Deterring information operations is inherently a government responsibility, and the technology firms will decide how to act on their platforms, but state organizations are the victims,” Rosenbach said.

The Belfer Center is also sending students out to the states to understand various voting technologies and procedures. The idea is to recommend best practices for each type of set-up, which could include mandated software updates, paper back-ups and audits.

Thus far, the project has offered no advice for the internet companies that are under fire for allowing Russian advertising and false claims to polarize Americans. That could come later, as could a broader program for quick sharing of threat information.]]>
11/20/2017 10:40:19 AM
<![CDATA[Arab League seeks anti-Iran UN Security Council resolution]]>
At the end of the emergency meeting titled “Iranian Interference in Arab States’ Affairs,” The Arab foreign ministers issued a statement Sunday in which they condemned the Iranian regime supplying missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen, who in turn used the weapons against Saudi Arabia, according to Sky News.

The Arab League denounced the ballistic missile fired by the Iranian-backed rebels earlier this month that was intercepted near the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It affirmed its solidarity with the measures Saudi Arabia took to protect its national security.

Addressing the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the pan-Arab organization needed to take a “serious” decision in dealing with Iran.

“Showing leniency toward Iran will not leave any Arab capital safe from those ballistic missiles,” he said. “We are obliged today to take a serious and honest stand to counter these belligerent policies so that we can protect our security,” Jubeir stressed.

He said his country was targeted by a total of 80 ballistic missiles, fired by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Shiite rebels, since the kingdom led a coalition to fight them alongside the internationally recognized Yemeni government in 2015.

Saudi Arabia, he added, will not stand idly in the face of Iran’s “blatant aggression.”

Yemen, one of the Arab world's poorest countries, has been devastated by a war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign aimed at restoring Hadi's government.

The Houthis remain in control of Yemen’s capital, Sana'a, and most of the country’s north. Government forces and their allies, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, have driven them out of most of the country’s south.

The coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US, UK, and France.

Syria is another battlefield of the proxy conflict between Shiite Iran and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia; Riyadh has been supporting groups fighting the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Iran, on the other hand, has supported Assad’s government, providing it with billions of dollars’ worth of economic and military aid since the civil war there began in 2011. Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah, a Shiite guerrilla group, and an assortment of Iranian-linked Shiite militias from places like Iraq and Afghanistan have been fighting on the Syrian government’s side.

Shiite-majority Iraq has been ravaged in recent years by cycles of warfare, a growing refugee crisis, crippling sectarianism, and the violent spread of the self-styled Islamic State extremist movement. It shares close military, religious ties, and the Islamic State extremist view with its Iranian neighbor.

Lebanon’s Iranian-backed guerrilla group Hezbollah is a key member in Beirut’s government; Hezbollah was accused by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri of destabilizing the country.

Qatar has been hit by its biggest diplomatic crisis in years after Arab nations including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with the peninsula, accusing it of destabilizing the region with its support of Islamist groups and allowing Iranian interference in the Gulf States’ affairs.

The Arab quartet halted all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, and withdrew their diplomats and ambassadors from the Qatari peninsula. The Arab quartet issued 13 demands to Doha – then shortened their demands to six principles - including closing Al-Jazeera channel, curbing relations with Iran and shutting a Turkish military base.]]>
11/20/2017 10:13:12 AM
<![CDATA[No deal on tax among German coalition parties ]]>
Hans Michelbach, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc, said earlier that an agreement had been reached with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) to abolish the "solidarity tax" by 2021.

The FDP had made abolishing the tax, which was due to expire in 2019, an election promise. ]]>
11/20/2017 1:56:11 AM
<![CDATA[Aboul Gheit: Iran uses nuclear deal to bully countries]]>
Security Council to prevent Iran’s action, which pushes the region towards an abyss, especially that Iran adopts sectarian policies and is using the nuclear deal to bully countries.

Aboul Gheit noted that Iran has provoked conflicts and incited Shiite communities in many Arab countries.

“Iran has launched 60 ballistic missiles on Saudi Arabia, violating the Security Council resolutions on the non-arming of militias,” he added.

He noted that all attempts to establish good neighborly relations with Iran have failed, confirming that the world should take an action against the attacks on Saudi Arabia with a ballistic missile.

The Arab foreign ministers issued a statement at the end of the meeting, in which they condemned the Iranian regimes’ supply of missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen, who in turn have used the weapons against Saudi Arabia, according to Sky News.

The Arab ministers affirmed their solidarity with the measures Saudi Arabia took to protect its national security.

They warned Iran not to interfere in the internal affairs of the region and stressed that Tehran should halt its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran should relent in its provocation of unrest in Bahrain and should adhere to the good neighbor policy, the statement read.

The Arab ministers called on Arab countries in the United Nations to make the necessary contacts to arrange an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council in order to discuss Iranian threats to the region. ]]>
11/19/2017 7:39:52 PM
<![CDATA[Islamic State’s destruction will not come without setbacks]]>
"Our heroic forces have liberated Rawa district in a record time and will continue purging and securing the border areas," Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said in a statement on Friday.

This declaration was supported by Lieutenant General Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah, who said in a statement that the Iraqi army and paramilitary forces “liberated Rawa entirely, and raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings.”





The town of Rawa holds strategic and symbolic importance for the Islamic State. The town lies on the Iraqi-Syrian border and exuded significance in the Islamic State’s so-called “Euphrates Caliphate”. The Islamic State highly contests the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1917, and Rawa symbolised the eradication of the artificial borders in the Middle East.

Units from the Iraqi army, Counter-Terrorism Services, and Hashd al-Shaabi instigated an offensive on November 3 to retake the towns of al-Qaim and Rawa which lie on the Syrian border. Al-Qaim was liberated with speed and skill, and the liberation of this important territory signals a major catastrophe for the Islamic State.

The locations, which lie on the Syria-Iraq border, have been vital to the Islamic State’s so-called Caliphate. They facilitate not only the movement of weapons and money, but more importantly people. As IS-controlled territory becomes fragmented and fighters become compressed in tight pockets of control, the ability to move easily, which facilitated their success, is eradicated.

The Islamic State has lost 95 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq since 2014, and the allied Iraqi forces have freed 4.4 million Iraqis from the Islamic State’s chokehold, according to the U.S.-led Coalition.

Photo 2
ISIS militants wave a flag in Iraq. AFP

Islamic State fighters no longer have control over any significant town or city in Iraq, and it is believed that many Islamic State fighters have fled west into Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province. However, the Islamic State’s loss of control over the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on November 3, the capital of the oil-rich eastern province, has compressed IS further into the east of Deir Ezzor province. The Islamic State now holds a small pocket of territory on the Syrian side of the border.

With the collapse of IS control in Iraq, and the recent revelations unveiled by the BBC that in fact thousands of IS soldier and families were shipped from Raqqa to eastern Deir Ezzor, the Syrian army will set its sights on the terror group's last urban stronghold in Syria: the town of Abu Kamal. The Iraqi army controlling its western border, and the Russian-backed and Iranian supported Syrian forces bombarding IS controlled areas of eastern Deir Ezzor, the result is inevitable.

It is likely that the group's leaders and militants will flee, with many heading towards the numerous local refugee camps in the desire to hide among civilians, while many will seek refuge across state borders, most notably with Turkey.

While the destruction of IS’ territory is a powerful reminder that the war against the terror group is a success, it has come with three major setbacks which cannot be ignored.

With the indiscriminate bombing of the major cities under IS control, most notably Raqqa and Mosul, IS has been destroyed but so has everything else. Almost all key infrastructure has faced destruction; beyond this, almost all infrastructure has been destroyed. With people unable to return to the rubble which was once their house, a coordinated approach to regenerate these cities is crucial to a return to normal life and to avoid re-invigorated discontent and violence.

Also, the success of the Russian-backed Syrian government forces and the U.S.-backed Kurdish-dominant SDF forces in Deir Ezzor, raises the question of potential clashes.

As IS’s downward spiral continues, the U.S. and Russia must favor cooperation over competition to avoid an accidental war and establish peace. It should be remembered that the future of Syria must be dictated by the people of Syria, which cannot be overshadowed by great-power politics and the desire to bolster regional influence.

Photo 3
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani uses a walkie-talkie at the frontline during offensive operations against ISIS militants in Salahuddin province March 8, 2015. REUTERS

The situation on the ground in Syria is becoming ever more complex as Qasem Soleimani, his Quds Force, and the overarching IRCG attempt to expand Iran’s already growing sphere of influence. With Iran eager to consolidate its influence, the question of the Trump administration's policy towards Iran gains prominence as Iranian proxies take control and exude power to the Mediterranean and beyond.

With the loss of its short lived self-proclaimed Caliphate, the determined insurgency is expected to invigorate tensions as IS reverts to its roots. As a coordinated effort is gaining success in expelling IS from its territory, IS is attempting to rally Sunnis and rekindle their desire for domination. To avoid IS replicating their previous success through a sustained underground insurgency, the ethnic and religious pendulum in Iraq is in desperate need of re-balancing.

Twitter:

Joseph Colonna


]]>
11/19/2017 6:34:24 PM
<![CDATA[Hamdallah supports Palestinian factions’ meeting in Cairo]]>
During the meeting, the Palestinian cabinet stressed the necessity of mobilizing all efforts to continue the construction of the nation and its institutions.

The Palestinian cabinet stressed the importance of enabling the government to exert its full control over the Gaza Strip in order to carry out its tasks as stipulated in the agreements of national reconciliation.

They asserted that the national reconciliation government can succeed only with clear solutions in all security, financial, civil and administrative issues, which resulted from the division, based on the Palestinian laws and regulations.

The Palestinian cabinet reviewed the most important challenges and obstacles faced by the government in exercising its rule in the Gaza Strip since the signing of the reconciliation agreement, foremost of which is the security file.

In late October, a delegation from the National Palestinian Government, headed by director of the Border Crossings Authority, Nazmi Mehanna, arrived in Cairo to discuss taking control of the Egypt-Gaza border crossing from Hamas, a high-profile official requesting anonymity told Egypt Today.

The delegation’s visit came after the recently achieved inter-Palestinian reconciliation, which was brokered by Egypt. As per the condition, the Palestinian Authority should assume responsibility of all border crossings by November 1.

On October 3, the consensus government held its first cabinet meeting in Gaza.

Despite numerous attempts to reconcile the Palestinian split – led by international and Arab efforts – only Egypt, with its historic and political significant position, was able to bring an end to the nightmare. Egypt managed to bring conflicting Palestinian factions together to overcome their differences, creating new conditions away from the fear of exclusion.

Egypt helped the factions realize that they need to move forward towards a partnership based on the notion that Palestine is for all Palestinians.]]>
11/19/2017 5:59:22 PM
<![CDATA[Canadian Amb: Canada supports young Egyptian entrepreneurs]]>
Egypt Today interviewed Dutton during the Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit (EES) in Hurghada on Thursday.

“Many youths are joining the economy every year. They need jobs and they have creative ideas. So impowering them to implement their ideas, create opportunities and create their companies, that will benefit Egyptians; that’s a great way for success,” Dutton said.



He added that Canada partners with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Egyptian entities to provide jobs to young Egyptians through projects like “Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People”, which aims to create and access decent work opportunities for young men and women in different Egyptian governorates.





In celebration of the 2017 “Global Entrepreneurship Week” (GEW), the third annual EES was launched by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Canada's Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People project, in collaboration with the Middle East Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (MCSBE) under the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation.

EES was held in Hurghada from November 15-18. The summit offers a meeting point for entrepreneurs, businesses, educators and policymakers to discuss how to overcome new challenges to business.

Ambassador Dutton joined Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in 2005. He has served as the director of the Intergovernmental Relations Division and deputy head of the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force. Overseas, he has served in Seoul, South Korea, and then in Kandahar, Afghanistan as the director of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team and in Kabul as deputy head of the mission. Before Cairo, he served in New Delhi as deputy head of the mission, according to the Canadanian government’s official website.
]]>
11/19/2017 5:09:27 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament approves draft law to amend establishment of family courts]]>
However the parliament decided to postpone the final voting on the draft law as it is complementary to the constitution and needs a two-third majority for adoption.

The joint committee of the constitutional and legislative affairs and the office of the committee on social solidarity, family and persons with disabilities recommended the approval of the draft law, saying that it is consistent with the provisions and principles of Islamic law, as well as the convention on children rights.

Earlier in July, the cabinet approved a bill to amend some provisions of law no. 10 of 2004 on the establishment of family courts.

The amendment aims at protecting children of unknown parents, who are monitored by the Ministry of Social Solidarity. ]]>
11/19/2017 4:43:58 PM
<![CDATA[Qatari FM: Qatar has unique relationship with Iran]]>
"Qatar is located between and shares borders with two big countries – Saudi Arabia and Iran. There are concerns of Iran's increasing influence in the region. However, those fears must be addressed peacefully, and that is what Qatar is encouraging other Gulf states to do," Sheikh Mohammed stated.

Asked about the reason behind the continuing of the siege, he claimed that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have taken illegal measures against his country by shutting their borders and leading an anti-Qatar propaganda campaign, although Qatar declared its commitment to reaching a resolution. He added that the propaganda war that accuses Qatar of financing terrorism is baseless.

On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar, hurling allegations that the state supports terrorism. Ports and airspaces were cut off to Qatari vessels. Since then, Kuwait has played the role of mediator to put an end to this rift. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held several meetings with the disputed parties, but the discussions have not yet led to a settlement.

Qatar has so far ignored the demands set by the Arab countries, which include downgrading diplomatic ties with Iran and closing a Turkish airbase in Qatar.

With the passing of over five months of the Arab crisis with Doha, Qatar's emir said on November 14 in a speech at the Shura Council that his country was "a thousand times better off" without them.

"We do not fear the boycott of these countries against us; we are a thousand times better off without them," the emir told members of the council and foreign dignitaries in Doha. "But vigilance is required," he noted.

As for the allegations of Qatar’s funding terrorism, Tamim noted that “the international community cannot be deceived by these allegations, and Qatar’s record of combating terrorism throughout history is well known.”

He confirmed on this regard that his country will continue to support the international mediation efforts in Libya and the government of national concordance in their attempts to reach reconciliation between all Libyan parties.

In October, media outlets reported that Qatar has been assisting the transportation of Islamic State (IS) militants from Iraq and Syria to southern Libya.

In early October, Libya National Army spokesperson Ahmed al-Mesmari announced that Qatar has been supporting IS terrorists financially. He also added that Doha committed numerous crimes against the Libyan people, especially through transporting IS militants from Syria and Iraq to Sudan and then to Libya. ]]>
11/19/2017 4:17:41 PM
<![CDATA[Hariri’s resignation precedes sectarian war: analysts ]]>
"The Iranian influence in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria alerted the Saudis, who have been always in rivalry with the Shiite country,” Atwan wrote on November 7 on al-Rai al-Youm website.

“A new alliance, along the lines of the Desert Storm coalition formed in 1990 to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait, will be formed with the participation of regional powers such as the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and Morocco,” Atwan revealed.

A_man_walks_past_a_banner_in_the_mainly_Sunni_Beirut_neighbourhood_of_Tariq_al-Jadideh_in_Beirut,_Lebanon_November_6,_2017-_Reuters
A Fighter Squadron 114 (VF-114) F-14A Tomcat aircraft flies over an oil well set ablaze by Iraqi troops during Operation Desert Storm via U.S. Department of Defense Official Websit

The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri deems a final alert to defend the domestic stability of Lebanon, which separates the sources of regional threats from the Arab countries, according to a studies’ center based in Abu Dhabi.

The Future Center for Research and Studies released a strategic study illustrating the impacts and reasons of the Lebanese prime minister’s resignation, considering it an attempt to confront the Iranian aggressive policies that have threatened the Middle East countries.

According to the study, PM Hariri has slammed Iran and Hezbollah with his shocking resignation on November 4, 2017, accusing Iran and Hezbollah of plotting to drag Lebanon to the period before 2005 and of repeating the scenario of assassinating his father, Rafiq al-Hariri.

A_Fighter_Squadron_114_(VF-114)_F-14A_Tomcat_aircraft_flies_over_an_oil_well_set_ablaze_by_Iraqi_troops_during_Operation_Desert_Storm_via_U.S._Department_of_Defense_Official_Website
A man walks past a banner in the mainly Sunni Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh in Beirut, Lebanon November 6, 2017- Reuters.

During his televised speech, Hariri mentioned the phrases “the danger of Hezbollah and Iran” five times, “Hezbollah refuses to disarm” three times, “Hezbollah is swaying over the Lebanese decision” five times, and “Hezbollah is entangling Lebanon” three times.

These rhetorical features show the danger of the current situation and the strong grip of Hezbollah over Lebanon and its institutions – and thus over the Lebanese decision making process – supported by the Iranian weapons and the fragile Lebanese presidency affiliated with the March 8 Coalition and led by Hezbollah.

Hariri’s resignation and his refusal to accept the status quo reflects his political awareness of the fact that this is the right time to take a step towards the right direction, as the U.S. and Israel are also exerting efforts to set a blockade and impose sanctions on Hezbollah in light of the new U.S. strategy announced by the U.S. administration on October 13 to curtail and besiege Iran.

Also, it reflects an expectation of the possibility to cut off Hezbollah and Iran’s arms in Lebanon and Syria in light of Israel's fears of the growing influence of Hezbollah and Iran in Syria.

On the other side, Hariri and his Future Movement (FM) do not actually have the power to cut Iran’s arms, or even the power to start a conflict with Hezbollah. Hariri is only speaking of what he thinks will happen regarding the new political equations that will be imposed in Lebanon and Syria.

His statements clearly show that the Future Movement will not be part of any government that includes Hezbollah. If Hezbollah plays any lobbying efforts to form a new government, then Lebanon will face a new crisis, which is the lack of international and Arab recognition. This will increase the political and economic pressures due to the sanctions that would be imposed on Hezbollah.

However, the size and direction of such a greatly significant action cannot be precisely foretold; although it is mostly stated that it is likely to set a military siege near Lebanon, especially after signs of defeating the Islamic State group.

Hariri’s departure does not necessarily make another Israel-Hezbollah conflict more likely, but it does make Lebanon as a whole more vulnerable. With Hariri out, the Lebanese government’s legitimacy is immediately in question, making it a theoretically easier target for Hezbollah’s foes, including Washington and Tel Aviv, who consider the Shiite group a terrorist organization.

Speaking from Saudi Arabia, Hariri asserted, "I am free" and announced during his interview on Future TV on Sunday that he would return to his country within a few days. He dismissed reports that his residence in Saudi Arabia is against his will.

Hariri described his decision to resign as a necessary move to “cause a positive shock” to the Lebanese political scene, warning against what he called the Iranian interference that is ruining relations with other Arab countries.

Hariri served as prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and took office again in 2016.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said before the interview that the “mysterious circumstances for Hariri’s stay in the Saudi capital makes all his stances questionable, doubtful and seemingly out of his own volition.” ]]>
11/19/2017 3:46:34 PM
<![CDATA[Lebanese anchor affirms Hariri’s interview was ‘live’ ]]>
She revealed that Hariri had not minded answering all her questions, adding that she did not meet with any Saudi national at Hariri’s house where the interview was conducted – “only Hariri’s family living in Riyadh.”

“I was on my way to Abu Dhabi on a private work trip not related to journalism, and when I arrived, I learned that PM Hariri had tried to contact me. I called him back and he told me, ‘You’ve been seeking a live interview for some time now. You can come now’,” added Yacoubian.

“I said ‘sure’ and this is how it happened,” she told Lebanon-based An-Nahar newspaper.

Al-Jadeed television meanwhile reported that “Saudi authorities have not allowed Future TV’s crew to accompany Yacoubian.”

Hariri said during the interview that he planned to return to Lebanon to confirm his resignation in accordance with the constitution. But he also said that if he rescinds his decision to quit, the Hezbollah movement must respect Lebanon's policy of staying out of regional conflicts.

On November 4, the 47-year-old Lebanese Sunni politician unexpectedly declared his resignation in a pre-recorded message during his visit to Riyadh. He said in the televised speech that he feared for his life and accused Iran and its proxies of destabilizing his country and the region. Hariri’s resignation has raised regional and international controversy, threatening of a political crisis in Lebanon.

Hariri described his decision to resign as a necessary move to “cause a positive shock” to the Lebanese political scene, warning against what he said was Iranian interference that is ruining relations with other Arab countries.

Hariri served as prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and took office again in 2016.

Lebanon President Michel Aoun said before the interview that the “mysterious circumstances for Hariri’s stay in the Saudi capital of Riyadh makes all his positions questionable and in doubt and not of his own volition.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain have issued last week advisories to their citizens about traveling to Lebanon and urged those who are in the country to leave as soon as possible.

They warned would-be Lebanon visitors about “safety considerations."

In 2016, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait had ordered their nationals to leave Lebanon after they considered that Hezbollah, the armed group fighting in Syria alongside the regime, controls Lebanon's political leadership. The UAE has not lifted its travel bans on Lebanon since then.]]>
11/19/2017 3:25:59 PM
<![CDATA[Abul-Gheit meets Palestine FM on political developments]]>
Maliki reviewed during a meeting with Abul Gheit developments related to Israeli settlement measures that disable peace chances.

They met shortly before an extraordinary meeting to be held later today upon a Saudi request for the Arab foreign ministers on Iran's interference in the region.
]]>
11/19/2017 2:51:27 PM
<![CDATA[Tripartite deal removes Iran’s militia from Southern Syria]]>
The agreement was approved by Russia, and the U.S. while Jordan assures the withdrawal of non-Syrian fighters, in reference to Hezbollah and Iran’s forces from the de-escalation zone; representing a middle ground of five kilometers between regime forces and opposition factions.

On November 11, Russia’s Putin and U.S.’s Trump released a joint statement from Vietnam stressing the importance of reaching the ceasefire in Southern Syria that was initially agreed to in July.

The text of the agreement obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat stipulates that Russia spreads 10 checkpoints and two search points in return of a pledge from Washington and Amman to immediately work with opposition factions fighting the Islamic State (IS), Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda at the separation line in the ceasefire area Southwestern Syria.

Of particular interest, the statement noted that a Memorandum of Principles on the ceasefire had been concluded in Amman, Jordan, on November 8. However, the Tripartite talks in Jordan were clearly tackling Tehran-linked militias fighting in Syria.

A U.S. official had earlier asserted that the agreement “involves Iranian forces and militias backed by Tehran, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, in addition to foreign fundamentalist militias fighting with Al-Nusra Front and other extremist groups,” Asharq Awsaat added. However, a Russian official said that such an explanation was “wrong.”

The text also asserts that no foreign intelligence is allowed in the designated “buffer zone,” based on maps attached to the text and probably located five kilometers adjacent to opposition-controlled areas in the countryside of Daraa, Sweida and Quneitra.

The tripartite agreement is based on seven principles similar to the texts of the “de-escalation zones” reached in Damascus’ Ghouta, the countryside of Homs and other areas.

The agreement, however, encompasses an item stipulating that local administrative councils remain in the area.

It also includes an item allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid and construction materials and a Jordanian pledge to open the border crossings with Syria.

Following the agreement in Amman, it became clear that U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met informally on the sidelines of the regional economic summit in Vietnam earlier this month and agreed to an extensive statement on the conflict in Syria. During their talk, both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to defeat IS in the country, and the need to keep existing military communications open.

The agreement includes three main principles:
1. Supporting the Geneva process and the resolution no. 2254 which includes constitutional amendments for Syria’s upcoming elections.

2. Coordination between the American and Russian armies to combat terrorism and defeat IS in Eastern Syria.

3. Implementation of the de-escalation agreement in Southwest Syria and endorsement of Amman’s Understanding Memorandum. ]]>
11/19/2017 2:34:59 PM
<![CDATA[Dabbas hails Egypt's role in Palestinian reconciliation]]>
In a conference titled “Egyptian Efforts and their Role in Unifying the Palestinians” held on Saturday in Cairo, Dabbas said that Egypt has exerted great efforts to complete the reconciliation process, stressing that Gaza’s security situation is considered an integral part of Egyptian’s national security because of its geographical location.

Dabbas stated that Palestinian leaders will hold a meeting on November 22 in Cairo to discuss the most recent political issues and to announce the formation of the government and the National Authority.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Sharm El-Sheikh on November 5 while taking part in the World Youth Forum (WYF).

Abbas’s visit is the first since Egypt brokered a deal between Fatah and Hamas in mid-October to advance reconciliation.

In late October, a delegation from the National Palestinian Government, headed by director of the Border Crossings Authority, Nazmi Mehanna, arrived in Cairo to discuss taking control of the Egypt-Gaza border crossing from Hamas, a high-profile official requesting anonymity told Egypt Today.

The delegation’s visit came after the recently achieved inter-Palestinian reconciliation, which was brokered by Egypt. As per the condition, the Palestinian Authority should assume responsibility of all border crossings by November 1.

On October 3, the consensus government held its first cabinet meeting in Gaza.

Despite numerous attempts to reconcile the Palestinian split led by international and Arab efforts, only Egypt, with its historic and political significant position, was able to bring an end to the nightmare. Egypt managed to bring conflicting Palestinian factions together to overcome their differences, creating new conditions away from the fear of exclusion.

Egypt helped the factions realize that they need to move forward, towards a partnership based on the notion that Palestine is for all Palestinians.]]>
11/19/2017 1:03:53 PM
<![CDATA[Syrian opposition reaffirms 'Assad must leave']]>
Seif noted that the upcoming Riyadh conference, due on December 22, will strengthen the position of the opposition in the upcoming round in Geneva talks.

Meanwhile, 144 Syrian opposition members were invited to the Riyadh conference, set to take place on November 22 on the years-long Syrian crisis.

During the first visit of its kind on November 12, a delegation from the Kurdish National Council discussed with Saudi Foreign Ministry officials the possibility of the their participation in the conference, amid talks about the Saudis growing closer to the Kurds in Syria, according to media reports.

"The Syrian opposition meeting in the Saudi capital will assess the performance of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), and review the negotiating mechanisms," Seif revealed on Friday.

Seif stressed that the Syrian opposition is decisively settled on the stance that Assad must go. "The opposition will not waver," he said, adding that most participants in the Riyadh gathering support that view. He said that the conference would come out with a clear vision for the opposition.

Seif expressed concern that the upcoming round of negotiations in Geneva will end in failure. "UN-sponsored negotiations have been ongoing for four years. The Assad regime has not yet shown any readiness for a political solution.”

"If the situation continues like this, there will be no point in any negotiations or any conference," Seif said.

He added: “We participate so that the ranks of the opposition are unified, not to produce a fake opposition or one that is not committed to serving the interests of the Syrian people."

The meeting of the representatives of the Syrian opposition will comprise members of the so-called Moscow and Cairo groups; in addition to the Syrian National Coalition and military commanders of armed opposition groups.

The list of the participants includes 22 seats for the National Coalition, 21 seats for the armed groups, 14 seats for the Coordination Committee, 10 seats for the Cairo group, seven seats for the Moscow group and 70 seats for independent delegates.

The meeting will take place in Saudi capital Riyadh from November 22 to 24. It aims to unite the Syrian opposition before the upcoming round of the Geneva talks which are planned for November 28.]]>
11/19/2017 12:34:09 PM
<![CDATA[Climate change conf. to discuss water rights of downstream countries]]>
The conference should recommend the necessity of full coordination with the downstream countries regarding the implementation of dams and facilities in the upstream countries so that no harm could happen to the other side, Abdel Ati said in his speech at the close of the conference in Germany, according to a ministry statement.

He called for listing the issue of the Arab water on the agenda of the climate conferences, saying the Arab region is one of the driest regions in the world.

He pointed to Egypt's efforts to develop a water resources management strategy, which is aimed at maintaining water quality, rationalizing the use of water and developing water resources.]]>
11/19/2017 12:06:57 PM
<![CDATA[Defiant Hun Sen tells U.S. to cut all aid to Cambodia]]>
Hun Sen, the strongman who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades, has taken a strident anti-American line in an increasingly tense run-up to a 2018 election that has included a crackdown on critics, rights groups and independent media.

The United States announced on Friday it was ending funding for the election, and promised more "concrete steps", after the Supreme Court dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) at the request of the government, on the grounds it was plotting to seize power.

The party denied the accusation.

The pro-government Fresh News website reported that Hun Sen said in a speech to garment workers that he welcomed the U.S. aid cut and urged it cut it all.

"Samdech Techo Hun Sen confirmed that cutting U.S. aid won't kill the government but will only kill a group of people who serve American policies," Fresh News reported, using Hun Sen's official title.

It did not identify the people suspected of serving U.S. policies but added:

"Hun Sen ... welcomes and encourages the U.S. to cut all aid."

The U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to a request for comment.

In April, the U.S. embassy announced a $1.8 million grant to assist local elections this year and next year's general election.

CHINESE SUPPORT

The U.S. State Department said on its website that U.S. assistance to Cambodia for programmes in health, education, governance, economic growth and clearing unexploded ordnance was worth more than $77.6 million in 2014.

However, Chinese support for big ticket projects has allowed Hun Sen to brush off Western criticism of his crackdown on dissent.

China vastly outspends the United States in a country once destroyed by Cold War superpower rivalry, and its money goes on highly visible infrastructure projects and with no demands for political reform.

In September, authorities arrested the CNRP leader, Kem Sokha, and charged him with treason over what they said was a plot to take power with U.S. help. He denied any such plot.

The U.S. State Department called on Friday for Cambodia to release him and reverse the decision to ban his party. The court also banned 118 party members from politics for five years.

Police have begun to take down CNRP signs from their offices across the country.

Mu Sochua, a senior CNRP member who moved abroad shortly before the party was banned, said Hun Sen was jeopardizing foreign investment.

"Foreign investors serious about investing in Cambodia won't be coming and are, or will be, looking at an exit if they can't compete with China's monopoly in Cambodia because Hun Sen needs to pay back favours to China," she said.

Western countries, which for decades supported Cambodia's emergence from war and isolation, have shown little appetite for sanctions in response to the crackdown, but the European Union has raised the possibility of Cambodia losing trade preferences.

Tariff-free access to Europe for Cambodian garments - and similar trade preferences in the United States - have helped Cambodia build a garment industry on low-cost labour. EU and U.S. buyers take some 60 percent of Cambodia's exports.]]>
11/19/2017 11:25:22 AM
<![CDATA[Former leader Pinera seen as favorite as Chileans vote for president]]>
Opinion polls show Pinera, who was president between 2010 and 2014 and leads the Chile Vamos bloc, with a commanding lead over his seven mostly left-of-center rivals, but still shy of the 50 percent needed for an outright win.

Former TV anchorman, Senator Alejandro Guillier, is the flagbearer for President Michelle Bachelet's fractured center-left Nueva Mayoria coalition. He leads the race for second place, with around 21 percent of likely voter support compared to about 42 percent for Pinera, according to a CEP poll last month.

The election is the latest in South America to pit left-leaning leaders against the conservatives taking their places.

It also marks a turning point for Chile's coalition of center-left parties, previously known as the Concertacion. The pact, which for decades has dominated Chilean politics, fissured under Bachelet, riven by disagreements over policies such as loosening Chile's strict abortion laws and strengthening unions.

Bachelet, who is barred from running in this election by term limits, will step down with approval ratings near 30 percent and the legacy of her social and economic policies uncertain.

Many Chileans view the election as a referendum on her second term, which focused on reducing inequality by making education more affordable and overhauling the tax code.

Pinera, the market favorite, campaigned on a platform of scaling back and "perfecting" her tax and labor laws, seen by many in the business community as having crimped investment at a time when slumping copper prices were already driving down economic growth in the world's No. 1 copper producer.

Guillier, who is ideologically aligned with Bachelet, has promised to deepen her reforms and sought to tap into fears that a return of Pinera would mark a setback for gains made for students, women and workers.

Pinera garnered international attention and domestic praise for his handling of the dramatic rescue of 33 trapped miners during his prior term in 2010, and is seen as a safe pair of hands by investors.

But his administration was marred by massive student protests seeking an education overhaul. His responses were often seen as out of touch and grassroots groups still oppose him.

Both Pinera and Guillier would keep in place the longstanding free-market economic model in one of Latin America's most developed countries.

SUBDUED ATMOSPHERE

On the eve of the vote, the atmosphere in Chilean capital Santiago was subdued. New restrictions on campaigning have left the city uncluttered with political posters and the sense that a Pinera victory was inevitable had quieted the usual political debates in cafes and bars.

In addition, Chileans have grown disenchanted with politics following campaign financing and other cash-for-influence scandals that have entangled politicians on both the left and right.

But voter turnout will serve as a bellwether for the runoff.

A strong showing of voters could help the left marshal enough votes to defeat Pinera in the second round, while apathy and continued quarrelling among left-leaning parties would pave the way for a Pinera victory.

Bachelet's administration has offered free rides to voting centers on public transportation, part of a get-out-the-vote campaign criticized by Pinera's campaign as a political maneuver aimed at bolstering Guillier.

Turnout in elections following Chile's transition from compulsory to voluntary voting in 2012 has dipped as low as 42 percent, near the bottom of developed countries, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

"I'm not going to vote because in the end it doesn't change anything," said Santiago resident Catalina Avedano, 38, as she waited in line at a public health center this week.]]>
11/19/2017 11:23:19 AM
<![CDATA[Sacked Catalan leaders get pride of place in electoral lists]]>
Of the 14 members of the Catalan government who were dismissed by the central government in October, 12 are on the two main separatist lists, the "Together for Catalonia" group of sacked president Carles Puigdemont and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), led by his vice president Oriol Junqueras.

Seven of the former officials, including Junqueras, are currently jailed pending an investigation into charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, while Puigdemont and four others are in Belgium fighting an extradition request filed by Spain.

Prosecutors in Brussels asked a judge Friday to extradite Puigdemont and the others, and a new hearing has been set for December 4.

But a final decision could still be months away, as both sides are expected to appeal if the judge rules against them, which means Puigdemont might be out of the country when the Catalonia vote is held.

Junqueras and the others being held may be released before the election.

Puigdemont presented on Twitter the lists backed by his conservative PDeCAT party, saying the candidates supported "independence, the republic and freedom", as well as the restitution of the regional government and "a return of political prisoners and exiles".

He had hoped to form a united separatist front for the new elections, as was the case in the region's last elections in 2015, when the pro-independence camp secured a majority of 72 seats in the 135-seat parliament.

But the ERC rejected a joint ticket, and opinion polls suggest that while it is leading in the current campaign, which officially opens on December 5, the independence coalition as a whole could lose its absolute majority.

The polls indicate a tight race against the "Constitutionalist" bloc which favours Spanish unity, which includes Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party (PP), the centrist Ciudadanos and Catalonia's Socialist party.

Madrid has imposed direct rule on the once semi-autonomous region since the independence declaration made after a banned referendum on October 1, and called the new elections in a bid to "restore normality".

Regional authorities said 90 percent chose to split from Spain, though less than half of eligible voters turned out in a region deeply divided on independence]]>
11/18/2017 6:12:00 PM
<![CDATA[German parties regroup for last-ditch coalition push]]>
For German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an awkward three-way conservative-liberal-Green alliance is her best hope of securing a fourth term, but the parties are still far apart after four weeks of talks.

The biggest sticking points are over climate change, where the Greens want emissions cuts that the other parties see as economically ruinous, and immigration, where Merkel’s arch-conservative allies in Bavaria insist on stricter rules.

“The next two days are going to be decisive,” said Volker Kauder, parliamentary leader of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) as he arrived for the talks.

CONCESSIONS

A self-imposed deadline of Thursday for wrapping up exploratory talks and starting formal coalition negotiations passed without agreement, forcing the conservatives to promise further concessions on emissions cuts to the Greens.

Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) fears that it risks being toppled by the far-right in regional elections next year after 60 years in power if it fails to secure immigration red lines that are anathema to the left-leaning Greens.

“We’ll have a sense this evening of whether it’s going to work,” CSU leader Horst Seehofer said.

Among its demands are a cap of 200,000 per year on the number of refugees Germany will take, and an end to the practice of allowing successful asylum seekers to bring their immediate families to join them.

Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a former foreign minister who now plays an apolitical role, warned against “fresh election panic”, suggesting in a newspaper interview that the brinkmanship was not out of the ordinary.

“Before they get going there are always attempts by parties to drive prices up as high as possible,” he told Welt am Sonntag. “What we’ve seen in the past weeks isn’t so different from previous negotiations.”

All parties are anxious to avoid a repeat election, which they fear could boost the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which surged into parliament for the first time in September’s national election.

But the heterogeneous three-way coalition, made necessary after the conservatives and the center-left suffered punishing election losses, is almost without precedent in Germany’s post-war history.

The “Jamaica” tie-up, so-called because the three camps’ colors match the island nation’s flag, is untested at national level.]]>
11/18/2017 3:49:38 PM
<![CDATA[Cambodian court charges two journalists with espionage]]>
Prime Minister Hun Sen, the strongman who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades, has taken a strident anti-American line in an increasingly tense run-up to a 2018 election and a crackdown on critics, rights groups and independent media.

The United States announced it was ending funding for the election, and promised more “concrete steps”, after the Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Thursday at the request of the government on the grounds it was plotting to seize power.

The party denied the accusation.

The two journalists, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, had in the past worked for the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) which broadcast in the Khmer language until it shut down in September.

The two were charged with “providing information that is destructive to national defense to a foreign state”, when they were caught filing stories to RFA, said Ly Sophana, a spokesman at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

“They will be sent to investigating judge for further procedures,” Ly Sophana told Reuters.

RFA has said it has no ties to the two journalists.

“We are watching the situation as it unfolds with great concern,” Rohit Mahajan, RFA’ spokesman, said in an email to Reuters before the charges were brought.

Mahajan did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment on the charges.

A lawyer for the two said the charges were too serious and they had merely been doing their jobs as journalists.

“This is not dangerous to the country,” said the lawyer, Keo Vanny.

The charges carried up to 15 years in prison if the men were convicted, he said.

Hun Sen has been fighting a deepening war of words with the U.S. embassy and State Department over his government’s crackdown on the opposition.

CNRP leader Kem Sokha was arrested on Sept. 3 and charged with treason for an alleged plot to take power with U.S. help. He denied any such pot.

The U.S. State Department called on Friday on Cambodia to release him and reverse the decision to ban his party.

Western countries, that for decades supported Cambodia’s emergence from war and isolation, have shown little appetite for sanctions in response to the government’s crackdown, but the European Union has raised the possibility of Cambodia losing vital trade preferences.]]>
11/18/2017 9:57:05 AM
<![CDATA[Qatar alleges Iran's protection against UAE ‘attack’, Iran denies]]>
However, Iranian media outlets denied reports of sending warships to protect Qatar, assuring that the news is completely groundless; adding that it is difficult for Iran to establish a military base in Qatar as long as there is already a large U.S. military base.

An opposition source commented on these allegations suggesting that Doha is trying to blackmail the U.S. by hinting that if the U.S. moves its base from Qatar, Iran will replace it with its base.

On October, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Doha amid Qatar-Gulf crisis and met Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The visit was the Iranian diplomat's first trip to Doha since the start of a five-month blockade against Qatar.

According to Qatari state media, Zarif and Al-Thani's discussions centered on the blockade and what could be done to ease the region's tensions.

The boycott led by the four Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE, was launched in part because of Qatar's relationship with Iran as well as Qatar’s hostile policy against Arab countries.

On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar, hurling allegations that the state supports terrorism. Ports and airspaces were cut off to Qatari vessels. Since then, Kuwait has played the role of mediator to put an end to this rift. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held several meetings with the disputed parties, but the discussions have not yet led to a settlement.

The Arab countries listed 13 demands to be met by Qatar, including severing ties with terrorist groups, closing down the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera satellite channel, downgrading ties with arch-rival Iran and the closure of the Turkish air base in Qatar.

With the passing of nearly five months of the Arab crisis with Doha, the tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar insisted on its stubborn policy of strengthening relations with Iran and Turkey.

Qatar ignores the demands set by the Arab countries, which include downgrading diplomatic ties with Iran and closing a Turkish airbase in Qatar.]]>
11/18/2017 9:18:09 AM
<![CDATA[Qahtan tribe protests against Tamim’s violations in Qatar]]>
Social media users circulated photos and videos showing hundreds of vehicles heading to the eastern area of Saudi Arabia to support the prominent leader of Al-Qahtan tribe, Sheikh Shafi Nasser Hamoud Al-Hajri, whose Qatari nationality was recently stripped by the ruling regime. The gathering was believed to be the largest of its kind in a long time.

Footage posted on Twitter showed some protesters firing shots into the air to celebrate their successful gathering.





Qatari royal Sheikh Sultan Bin Suhaim Al Thani, a son of the first-ever foreign affairs minister of Doha, participated in the Al-Qahtan tribe meeting. The prince has boycotted the Qatari regime since the outbreak of the Gulf crisis in June. Earlier this month, he released a televised speech where he criticized the Qatari leadership’s position towards terror groups in the region.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Tamim has stripped the nationality of some Qatari tribal leaders and frozen the assets of others, including Sheikh Sultan; Sheikh Talib bin Mohamed Bin Lahoum Bin Sherim, leader of Al-Murra tribe; and Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family.

Al-Qahtan is a large tribe located in southern Saudi Arabia (where most of the tribe is congregated), Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

In light of the growing concern that the country may witness a tribal revolution to overthrow the current regime, Sheikh Tamim has put the tribesmen under security and economic pressure using Qatari state institutions.

The pressure exerted by Sheikh Tamim's intelligence and security agencies came after a number of senior tribal leaders in Saudi Arabia stressed their support for the Gulf blockade imposed on Qatar.

Qatar has been hit by its biggest diplomatic crisis in years after multiple Arab nations, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilizing the region with its support for Islamist groups.

The Arab quartet halted all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, and withdrew their diplomats and ambassadors from the Qatari peninsula. The Arab quartet issued 13 demands to Doha – then shortened to six principles - including closing Al Jazeera television, curbing relations with Iran and shutting down a Turkish military base.
]]>
11/18/2017 4:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Lebanese Sunni politician warns of Arab sanctions over Hezbollah]]>
Former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, who rose to prominence with vocal opposition to Shi'ite Hezbollah, is closely aligned to the Saudi position in Lebanon and more hawkish than long-established Sunni leaders.

"We can expect economic repercussions. At the political level too, at the level of our Lebanese-Arab relations. And it's open to all the possibilities, unfortunately," he said.

His comments to Reuters echo recent statements by Saad al-Hariri, who quit abruptly as Lebanese prime minister in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia two weeks ago.

The shock resignation thrust Lebanon into a regional rivalry between Riyadh and its allies against an Iranian bloc, which includes the Hezbollah militant group and political party.

Rifi said he has been in touch with Saudi officials recently over Lebanon's crisis and is familiar with Riyadh's thinking.

A political rival of Hariri, Rifi defeated a Hariri-backed list in local elections in the mostly Sunni city of Tripoli last year, though he lacks the premier's country-wide standing.

"Today, Lebanese officials have a big responsibility. All the Lebanese officials have to be careful about good relations with the Arab world," Rifi told Reuters. "There is no more leniency towards Hezbollah...using its illegitimate arsenal" in Middle East conflicts.

Lebanon's heavily armed Hezbollah, a part of the political fabric, wields great influence in the country. It also has sent thousands of fighters into Syria to battle alongside the Damascus government against mostly Sunni rebels and militants.

Lebanese politicians and bankers have said they fear Saudi Arabia corralling Arab allies to economically blockade Lebanon as they did with Qatar.

"Lebanon cannot live without the Arab countries," Rifi said. "We know how many Lebanese work in Saudi Arabia or in the Gulf and how much revenue they bring...to the Lebanese economy."

Up to 400,000 Lebanese work in the Gulf, and remittances flowing into the country are a vital source of cash to keep its economy afloat and the heavily-indebted government functioning.

Political sources have said that potential sanctions include a ban on flights, visas, exports and transfer of remittances.

LINE IN THE SAND

Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have now drawn a line in the sand, Rifi said. "That there is no place for (Hezbollah) in (Lebanon's) future government, if it keeps choosing to be a security and military arm for Iran."

The Lebanese state will have to distance itself in "a real and practical" way from regional wars "so that we don't bear the repercussions of Hezbollah's acts," he added.

In his resignation speech, Hariri said he feared assassination, railing against Iran and Hezbollah. A Sunni Muslim leader and long-time Saudi ally, Hariri has yet to return to Beirut.

In his public comments after quitting, Hariri warned of possible Arab sanctions and a danger to the livelihoods of Lebanese in the Gulf. Hezbollah must stop intervening in regional conflicts, particularly Yemen, he said.

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun has called Hariri a Saudi hostage, refusing to accept his resignation unless he returns to Beirut, and stressing that the government still stands. Saudi Arabia and Hariri say he is a free man.

Hariri became prime minister last year in a power-sharing deal that made Aoun, a Hezbollah political ally, president and his coalition government includes Hezbollah.

Rifi criticised Aoun's stance, as well as other Lebanese accusations that Riyadh forced Hariri to quit, as "surprising and unprecedented." He considered Hariri's resignation constitutional and said Lebanon would have to form a new, "more balanced" government in the near future.

Rifi, a former police chief, resigned as justice minister in 2016 in protest at what he described as Hezbollah's dominant role. He had also heaped criticism on Hariri for nominating another Hezbollah ally to fill the vacant presidency.

"From the moment the prime minister uttered his desire to quit, the government became a resigned one," he said.]]>
11/18/2017 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Omar Refae: An indomitable Mujahideen militant and Faqeeh]]>
According to Mismary, Sorour is seen by militants as their Faqeeh (an expert in the Islamic jurisprudence). Sorour also took on the important role of persuading militants, who were willing to join the Islamic State terrorist organization (IS), to remain in the Derna-based Mujahideen group.

In a TV interview, Mismary, 25, confessed that he joined the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna in late 2014. The umbrella organization of the Derna-based Islamist faction opposed the IS and the Libyan army, led by Khalifa Haftar.

He pointed out that he participated in planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that targeted IS militants and Haftar’s troops in Derna, describing his enemies as “infidels”.

Here is the latest information about Refaee:

1. Nicknamed as Sheikh Abdallah Al-Masry, Omar Refae Sorour, is the eldest son of the jihadist Sheikh Refae Sorour.

2. Sorour is possibly between 35 and 40 years old.

3. Sorour issued several fatwas in Libya; describing the heads of state as tyrants, IS as “Khareeji of the era" and al-Qaeda as loyalists.

4. Sorour developed close ties with Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda and Mukhtar Belmokhtar, leader of al-Qaeda in Africa.

5. Sorour was a key participant in the process of youth recruitment for the terrorist organizations, with the special goal of recruiting individuals to carry out terrorist attacks.

6. At the time of the 2012 presidential hustings, Sorour called for the complete allegiance of the then-candidate Salafist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail.

7. Sorour fled from Egypt to Libya after the Muslim Brotherhood’s overthrow in 2013, after which the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) officially became a terrorist group.]]>
11/17/2017 10:34:06 PM
<![CDATA[Mismary reveals incriminating information about Mujahideen]]>
The captured militant, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Abdullah Al-Mismary, was the only survivor of the security raid that tracked fleeing terrorists in the Western Desert near the terror attack scene and left 15 militants and 17 policemen dead.

Mismary, 25, confessed that he joined the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna in late 2014 in a statement that aired on Al-Hayah channel, Thursday. The umbrella organization of the Derna-based Islamist factions opposed the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group and the Libyan army, led by Khalifa Haftar.

He pointed out that he participated in planting IEDs that targeted IS militants and Haftar’s troops in Derna, describing his enemies as “infidels.”

Egypt Today delved deeper behind the story of the Mujahideen Shura Council in Derna in Libya’s existence in Egypt, compiling the most important facts about the militants and their history.

1. Like many of the similar groups, the Derna-based group’s main goal is to implement Sharia law in the world

2. Upon its founding, militants bearing the name “Ansar el-Sharia” (the champions of Sharia) that was officially placed in the United Nations’ Security Council’s list of terrorism on November 20, 2014 joined the Derna-Group, along with the Army of Islam militants.

3. The fighters were previously closely allied with the Islamic State (IS) before their top leaders were killed, and fighting broke out between militants from the two sides.

4. The group started to branch out in Egypt after an Egyptian terrorist called Emad Eddin Abdel Hamid or Sheikh Hatem quickly headed the group. He is known as the top assistant to Hisham al-Ashmawy, who was involved in several terrorist acts, most notably the Farafra attack that claimed the lives of 15 Egyptian soldiers on a 2014 Ramadan night.

5. Since then, the militants began to infiltrate Egypt’s desert border and proceeded to attack Egyptians. They are believed to be the executers of the Minya bus attack, where 28 Christians died, including several children.
]]>
11/17/2017 9:39:16 PM
<![CDATA[Venezuela opposition leader Ledezma flees to Colombia]]>
"Welcome to freedom!" tweeted former Colombian President Andres Pastrana, who is close to Venezuela's opposition.

Ledezma, 62, was the best-known detained opponent of President Nicolas Maduro's government after Leopoldo Lopez, who is also under house arrest in Caracas.

The former Caracas metropolitan mayor spearheaded street protests against Maduro in 2014 that led to months of violence and 43 deaths.

Government officials mocked Ledezma as "The Vampire" and at the time of his arrest accused him of having ties with violent hardliners and supporting dissident military officers plotting to topple the president via air-strikes.

"I salute Antonio Ledezma, moral compass for Venezuela," said Organization of American States (OAS) head Luis Almagro, who has also been a vocal backer of Venezuela's opposition.

Ledezma's family, lawyer and political party did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking confirmation.

But Colombia's migration service confirmed he had entered overland, crossing a bridge between San Antonio town in Venezuela to Cucuta on the other side.

His wife Mitzy Capriles told Colombia BLU Radio from Madrid that he had left his Caracas home, but she did not know where he was. "I haven't spoken to him for several hours," she said.

An array of Venezuelan opposition leaders are now in exile, detention or barred from holding office.

They say Maduro has turned Venezuela into a dictatorship, while the government accuses them of joining forces with a U.S.-led global plot to topple him.]]>
11/17/2017 7:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Ivorian leader 'calls for Mugabe to go']]>
He praised Mugabe's role in the fight against colonialism, saying he "has been the object of respect and even adulation from many Africans and young Africans".

However, the "world has changed" and because of his age and the "long time he has spent in office, everyone is aware that it is time for him to hand over his seat to a new generation", Mr Ouattara added.

Zimbabwean media mogul Trevor Ncube has been tweeting his insights into the negotiations happening between the Mugabes and the military at State House today.

He suggests that the two sides are close to a deal.]]>
11/17/2017 5:11:33 PM
<![CDATA[Lebanon's Bassil says the country's sovereignty is not for sale]]>
He made his comments in relation to the crisis over the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.]]>
11/17/2017 5:05:51 PM
<![CDATA[Libya works with EU to address security concerns]]>
The deputy minister made the remarks after a meeting with an EU delegation, according to US-based Al Hurra TV channel.

The Libyan diplomat said the meeting was an opportunity to discuss all aspects of cooperation with Brussels to face illegal immigration and train Libyan coast guards to respond to this phenomena.]]>
11/17/2017 4:36:26 PM
<![CDATA[North Korea rules out negotiations on nuclear weapons]]>
In an interview with Reuters, Han Tae Song, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, brushed off the new sanctions which the Trump administration has said it is preparing, as well as the possibility of North Korea being added to a U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism.

South Korea and the United States agreed on Friday to keep working for a peaceful end to the North Korean nuclear crisis, but a U.S. envoy said it was difficult to gauge the reclusive North's intentions as there has been "no signal".

Han, asked about those bilateral talks in Seoul, replied: "As long as there is continuous hostile policy against my country by the U.S. and as long as there are continued war games at our doorstep, then there will not be negotiations."

"There are continued military exercises using nuclear assets as well as aircraft carriers, and strategic bombers and then...raising such kinds of military exercises against my country," he said.

He, who is ambassador to the U.N.'s Conference on Disarmament, was speaking at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) mission in Geneva, where the DPRK and the United States secured a 1994 nuclear deal which later fell apart.

He said he had no information on when North Korea might test a ballistic missile again, after the last one two months ago.

"The DPRK, my country, will continue to build-up its self-defense capability, the pivot of which is nuclear forces and capability for a triumphant...strike as long as U.S. and hostile forces keep up nuclear threat and blackmail," Han said.

"Our country plans ultimate completion of the nuclear force," he said.

'NUCLEAR DETERRENT'

China said on Thursday that a "dual suspension" proposal to handle North Korea was still the best option, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had rejected a "freeze for freeze" agreement.

Han, asked about China's latest appeal for a freeze, said "the situation is far from those things".

Han said that U.S. administrations had "never accepted" halting joint military exercises, adding: "So if they accept such things, then we will think what we do in the future."

North Korea could not consider abandoning its nuclear programme, he said, adding: "This is the deterrent, the nuclear deterrent to cope with the nuclear threat from America."

Han said that Trump was expected to announce further sanctions against North Korea. Existing sanctions have constituted "large-scale human rights violations" that had delayed delivery of aid and consumer goods, he said.

"It is obvious that the aim of the sanctions is to overthrow the system of my country by isolating and stifling it and to intentionaly bring about humanitarian disaster instead of preventing weapons development as claimed by the U.S. and its followers," he said.

Han, asked whether new U.S. sanctions were expected against North Korean individuals or financial structures, said:

"The media is saying the Americans and Trump are considering such things.

"But that is their business and then we don't mind what they want to do against my country since the aim is quite clear.

"So we are ready for such kinds of measures taken by America against my country," he said.]]>
11/17/2017 3:45:54 PM
<![CDATA[Iran says biased French stance threatens regional stability]]>
"It seems that France has a biased view towards the ongoing crises and humanitarian catastrophes in the Middle East Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying.

"This view fuels regional conflicts, whether intentionally or unintentionally," he said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that France was worried about Iran's involvement in the Middle East crisis and its disputed ballistic missile program.

"Iran’s role and the different areas where this country operates worries us," Le Drian told a joint news conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel Jubeir in Riyadh.

"I am thinking in particular of Iran's interventions in regional crises, this hegemonic temptation and I’m thinking of its ballistic programme," he said.

Iran has repeatedly rejected France's call for talks on its missile programme, saying it was defensive and unrelated to a nuclear agreement with world powers struck in 2015.

Paris suggested that new European Union sanctions against Iran may be discussed over its missile tests. But EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini seemed to dismiss that idea on Tuesday, keen to avoid risks to the hard-won deal that curbed Iran's nuclear activity.

Shi'ite-dominated Iran and its regional arch-rival Sunni Saudi Arabia, are involved in proxy wars across the region, backing opposite sides in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

Jubeir told Reuters on Thursday that the kingdom's actions in the Middle East were a response to what he called the "aggression" of Iran.

Qasemi said Jubeir was repeating baseless claims, the state news agency IRNA reported on Friday.

"Saudi Arabia's foreign minister's gestures and his blame game will definitely not reduce the responsibility of this country in undermining the regional stability and security," Qasemi said.]]>
11/17/2017 3:06:31 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian parl’t calls for anti-Qatar steps after Ethiopian meeting]]>
“After the failure of the recent talks between Egypt and Ethiopia as a result of Ethiopian stubbornness, Qatar took the chance and immediately invited the Ethiopian Prime Minister to visit Qatar; aiming to give a message to Egypt that Qatar is determined to interfere in Egypt’s issue with the Nile Basin Initiative.”

Commenting on the Ethiopian-Qatari meeting, MP Mohamed Abu Hamid said that Egypt and other boycotting countries should be ready to take severer actions since Qatar refuses to retreat from its aggressive policy toward the Arab countries, whether by backing opponents of the Arab Quarter or by supporting terrorism.

These steps should be taken in accordance with the provisions of international law, Abu Hamid added; pointing out that that there are procedures in the International Court of Justice that Arab countries can take against Qatar.

“Qatar is working against us in the Nile Basin Initiative, and therefore our government should develop plans to face it. We keep saying Qatar is moving against us, when we should be thinking about the moves we ought to take against Qatar,” Abu hamid added.

Deputy of the National Defense and Security Committee of the Parliament, Yahya Kedwani, stated that the Ethiopian prime minister’s visit to Qatar shows that Qatar is a conspirator against Egypt.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn headed to Doha on Monday, directly after the Tripartite National Committee meeting in Cairo failed to approve the initial studies' report on the regional impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad invited the Ethiopian prime minister to discuss ways of enhancing and promoting bilateral relations.

The visit came in the framework of pursuing Qatar’s national political agendas to undermine Egyptian security and stability, a Qatari opposition source revealed to Egypt Today; indicating that they discussed the issue of funding the Renaissance Dam during the visit.

At the same time, the Sudanese president received Qatar Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi and Qatari Ambassador to Sudan Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi to discuss promoting bilateral relations between the two countries.

In addition, Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah met his Ethiopian counterpart, Siraj Fegessa, to discuss the defense and military fields and means of enhancing and developing them, in addition to the exchange of experiences and military training courses.

Cairo hosted the 17th round of the Tripartite National Committee negotiations on Sunday, which was attended by the irrigation ministers of the three Nile Basin states.

It aimed to reach a consensus over the introductory report prepared by the two French firms, BRL and Arterlia, on their technical studies of the dam's potential impact on Egypt’s and Sudan’s share of the Nile’s water, according to Minister of Irrigation Abdel-Ati.

The studies were proposed to begin in late 2016, but required an agreement on methods from the three governments before they could begin.

Abdel-Ati said that committee did not reach an agreement on adopting guidelines. The guidelines were indicated in a report prepared by a technical committee on the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile Basin states after two days of talks.

Abdel-Ati declared that Egypt approves of the report’s outcomes, but the Ethiopian and Sudanese ministers did not express consensus and called for amendments. Egypt halted all negotiations and said that all future decisions are at the hand of the cabinet.

Although Sudan was initially opposed to the dam’s construction, the country has recently warmed to the idea. This could be because Sudan has agreed to purchase electricity from the dam, while the two countries have also agreed to collaborate on a free economic zone. ]]>
11/17/2017 3:00:45 PM
<![CDATA[NATO general points to increasing strength of China, Russia]]>
During an address to the Atlantic Council, Mercier noted that China is leveraging its economic power to increase defense spending as a foundation of the growing global power strategy, The Hill reported Friday.

“The neighboring India is following the same path and could reach a comparable status in the medium term. At the same time, Russia is resurfacing with the will to become a major power again, challenging the established order in the former Soviet space," he said.

Mercier highlighted some of the major trends, including a worldwide shift in economic and military power from North America and western Europe to countries like China and Russia.

The report noted that China and Russia are major defense spenders, with China spending around $215 billion on defense in 2015. It also mentions that among NATO countries, 22 declared increased defense spending in 2016.

The report predicted that this trend will continue, stating, “Asia-Pacific economies are projected to drive 60% of the total global increase in defense acquisition, research and development and 30% of the total defense acquisition budget through 2020."

According to the report, the shift in political power will require NATO to develop stronger ties with more countries.]]>
11/17/2017 2:41:11 PM
<![CDATA[Qahtan tribe to discuss Qatar’s decisions against its chieftains ]]>
A footage posted by Arab activists on Twitter shows hundreds of vehicles was heading to the eastern area to support prominent chieftains of Qahtan tribe.




Activists vowed to hold a protest on Friday on the boarders with Qatar against Tamim, as a response to the Qatari regime exercises against his people.

Chieftains of two main tribes called Qahtan and el-Hawager were preparing to receive 100 thousand of their tribes’ members coming from Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf countries to support the protest against Tamim, according to several news sources.

Earlier, Sultan Ben Qarmala, a chieftain of the tribe Qahtan, has warned the Qatari regime from affecting the security of Saudi Arabia.

He said that Qatari regime involved the tribes in political conflicts after revoking citizenships of two chieftains, adding that this contradicts the international law of human rights.

He also condemned the regime which is hiring Iranian, Israelis and Turkish in internal posts such as media and military, instead of Qataris who have the right to work in these posts.

Ben Qarmala called Qatari people and intellectuals to support Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani and Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, two members of the Qatari royal family, whose assets were frozen by the Qatari regime. ]]>
11/17/2017 2:36:54 PM
<![CDATA[Zimbabwe Vets say Mugabe will not be allowed to stay in power]]>
Chris Mutsvangwa added that the veterans saluted Zimbabwe's military for seizing power earlier in the week.]]>
11/17/2017 2:34:37 PM
<![CDATA[Lebanese FM: some forces trying to oust Lebanon leader-Ifax]]>
"Some sides are trying to use certain forces in order to displace the leader of Lebanon," Interfax quoted Bassil as telling his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. ]]>
11/17/2017 2:29:26 PM
<![CDATA[US says no communication, from N. Korea amid nuclear crisis]]>
North Korea is under heavy international pressure to end its nuclear and missile programmes, pursued in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, but has vowed never to give up its nuclear arsenal which it says it needs to counter perceived U.S. aggression.

Lee Do-hoon, South Korea's special representative for Korean peace and security affairs, and his U.S. counterpart, Joseph Yun, met on the southern resort island of Jeju, following a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump in Seoul last week. "There is no doubt that both of the presidents want to find a peaceful way in regard to North Korea's nuclear issue," Yun told reporters, according to Yonhap news agency.

"So we discussed them and we agreed the pressure campaign has to be a central element."

Trump has said the time for talk is over but he took a softer tone on his trip to Seoul.

North Korea's last missile test was on Sept. 15 but Lee and Yun did not seem to put much emphasis on the lull, Yonhap said, as they were unable to gauge its intentions.

"I hope that they will stop forever. But we had no communication from them so I don't know whether to interpret it positively or not. We have no signal from them," Yun said.

Lee drew significance from the fact that China, the North's lone major ally, had sent a special envoy to Pyongyang, saying that South Korea was closely watching what would come out of the visit. The envoy arrived on Friday.

Trump has traded insults and threats with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as North Korea races towards its much publicised goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war. It denies North Korea's persistent accusation that it is planning to invade.]]>
11/17/2017 2:24:44 PM
<![CDATA[Germany, France disagree with Russia over peacekeeping in Ukraine ]]>
Both Kiev and Moscow have proposed U.N. peacekeepers be deployed to help resolve Ukraine's pro-Russian separatist conflict but the sides disagree on whether the troops should be positioned on the rebel-controlled part of the Ukraine-Russia border.

Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine have previously held talks in an effort to end the fighting that has killed more than 10,000 people despite a notional ceasefire.

"Germany and France's idea and Russia's idea on how a blue helmets (peacekeeping) mission would be shaped are still very far apart," Gabriel said during an official visit to Belarus.

Nevertheless Gabriel said the deployment would represent a real chance for peace in the war-torn Donbass region.

"Although our ideas are still far apart, it would be inadvisable to close this window of opportunity," he said. ]]>
11/17/2017 2:15:03 PM
<![CDATA[KSA strikes agreements with recent high-level detainees]]>
The deals involve separating cash from assets like property and shares, and looking at bank accounts to assess cash values, one of the sources told Reuters.

Dozens of princes, senior officials and businessmen, including cabinet ministers and billionaires, have been detained in the graft inquiry at least partly aimed at strengthening the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

These include billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the kingdom's most prominent businessmen.

One businessman had tens of millions of Saudi riyals withdrawn from his account after he signed. In another case, a former senior official consented to hand over ownership of four billion riyals worth of shares, the source said.

The Saudi government earlier this week moved from freezing accounts to issuing instructions for "expropriation of unencumbered assets" or seizure of assets, said a second source familiar with the situation.

There was no immediate comment from the Saudi government on the deals and the sources declined to be identified because these agreements are not public.

Analysts said the deals may help end uncertainty about the anti-corruption crackdown but could have an impact on Saudi Arabia's risk perception among investors.

"Eliminating uncertainty about what the Saudi authorities are going to do goes a long way towards giving the market comfort that the regime is getting its house in order, and plugging its deficit," said Louis Gargour, founder and senior portfolio manager at London-based hedge fund LNG Capital.

Riyadh has been cutting spending while raising taxes and fees to curb a state budget deficit caused by low oil prices. The deficit, which hit $98 billion in 2015, is shrinking but at a high cost to the economy - data in late September showed Saudi Arabia in recession during the second quarter.

The Saudi government has in recent years been pressing wealthy individuals to invest more in the kingdom and bring home some of their wealth from overseas.

DEPLETED COFFERS

"From a civil liberties point of view obviously incarcerating people doesn’t give us comfort, and that’s why we’ve seen spreads on Saudi bonds go 50 basis points or so wider," Gargour said.

Funds started selling Middle East bonds early this month after Saudi Arabia detained dozens of senior officials and businessmen in an unprecedented crackdown on graft.

Credit spreads and the cost of insuring debt against default have increased not only for Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, but across the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Qatar, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.

Reuters could not immediately verify a Financial Times report that in some cases the government is seeking to appropriate as much as 70 percent of suspects' wealth to channel hundreds of billions of dollars into depleted state coffers.

A third source familiar with the matter said if people are willing to return "ill-gotten gains" then their punishment will be "time served" in Riyadh's Ritz Carlton hotel, where they are being detained.

The Saudi authorities have help from international auditors, investigators and people with experience in tracing assets. Bank representatives are on hand to execute the decisions immediately, one of the sources said.

Saudi authorities have said they have questioned 208 people in an anti-corruption investigation and estimate at least $100 billion has been stolen through graft, an official said last week as the inquiry expanded beyond the kingdom's borders into the United Arab Emirates.

Those detained include other high-profile businessmen such as Mohammad al-Amoudi, whose wealth is estimated by Forbes at $10.4 billion, with construction, agriculture and energy companies in Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia; and finance and healthcare magnate Saleh Kamel, whose fortune is seen at $2.3 billion.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to use the anti-corruption purge as a way of boosting his popularity with the Saudi population, said Jason Tuvey, Middle East economist at Capital Economics.

"But he may have realised that by doing this he’s gone a step too far and ruffled too many feathers, and he is maybe trying to find a way out that means these people don’t end up in prison forever and can carry on their business operations as before."]]>
11/17/2017 1:57:22 PM
<![CDATA[Bahrain FM says whoever cannot see Iran’s danger is blind ]]>



Bin Ahmed emphasized that whoever attend Cairo meeting and cannot see the following danger from Iran and its alliances is considered dangerous and in an unjustifiable denial.

On the other hand, the Arab foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Cairo next Sunday to discuss Iran interventions in Arab countries especially after launching a rocket into the Saudi city of Riyadh from Houthis militants.]]>
11/17/2017 1:49:51 PM
<![CDATA[Ireland says not ready to let Brexit talks move on to trade]]>
The border between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will be the UK's only land frontier with the bloc after its departure, is one of three issues Brussels wants broadly solved before it decides in December whether to move the talks onto a second phase about trade, as Britain wants.

Meeting in Dublin, Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney struck an amicable tone but remained far apart on several key aspects.

"Yes we all want to move onto phase two of the Brexit negotiations but we are not in a place right now that allows us to do that," Coveney said. "We have very serious issues, particularly around the border, that need more clarity."

He said Ireland's preference was that Britain as a whole would share the same regulations as the EU post-Brexit but if that was not possible, then London effectively needed to commit to allowing a tailor-made solution for Northern Ireland

"In the absence of that, from an Irish persecutive, there is a sense of jumping into the dark," Coveney said.

Speaking before a meeting with his counterpart on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Sweden, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Dublin would need those assurances written into the conclusions of phase one.

"What we want to take off the table before we even talk about trade is any idea that there would be a physical border," he told reporters. "Once those parameters are set, then we'd be happy to move onto phase two, provided the other issues are resolved as well."

Johnson said moving the talks onto the next stage would help to resolve the border issue as many of the questions around it were bound up with Britain's future customs arrangement with the European Union.

"The British government has absolutely no interest whatever in seeing any kind of hard border..," he said.

Johnson added that he understood why Ireland wants a four to five-year post-Brexit transition period for Britain to allow businesses in Ireland time to adjust to any new arrangements, but said this was possible within a much tighter timescale.

"I think it's possible to do that in a much shorter timescale... Now is the time to make haste]]>
11/17/2017 1:45:00 PM
<![CDATA[Cambodia faces U.S., EU action after banning opposition]]>
But China said it supported Cambodia in following its own path, making no criticism of the government led by the former Khmer Rouge commander who is one of Beijing's most important allies in Southeast Asia after more than three decades in power.

The ban on the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), decreed by the Supreme Court at the government's request, followed the arrest of its leader for treason. Kem Sokha is accused of plotting to take power with American help.

Hun Sen's critics called the CNRP dissolution an attempt to steal the election and the death knell for democracy. Western donors have spent billions of dollars since 1993 trying to build a multiparty system following decades of war.

"On current course, next year’s election will not be legitimate, free or fair," a White House statement said, promising to take "concrete steps".

The first of those was to end support for the Cambodian National Election Committee ahead of the 2018 election, it said. In April, the U.S. embassy announced a $1.8 million grant to assist local elections in 2017 and next year's general election.

In Brussels, an EU spokesman said the election could not be legitimate without the opposition and noted that respect for human rights was a prerequisite for Cambodia's access to EU trade preferences under its "Everything But Arms scheme."

That scheme, giving tariff-free access, and similar trade preferences in the United States have helped Cambodia build a garment industry on low-cost labour. Between them, EU and U.S. markets take some 60 percent of Cambodia's exports.

"I am very worried after the dissolution of the party," factory sewer Heng Kheang, 35, said as other colleagues nodded in agreement at their lunch break. "Workers will be most affected, more than the rich."

In a symbolic step, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution calling on the Treasury and State departments to consider placing Cambodian officials implicated in abuses on a watch list for asset freezes and travel bans.

Huy Vannak, undersecretary of state at Cambodia's Interior Ministry who is close to Hun Sen, said the U.S. position was "made without consideration to the evidence and court hearing".

"We hope that the U.S. will consider the overall bilateral relations with Cambodia and continue to collaborate with common interests of both countries," he said.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing that China supported Cambodia in pursuing its own development path. China is by far the biggest single donor to Cambodia and its biggest investor.

WAR OF WORDS

Hun Sen has been in a deepening war of words with the U.S. embassy and State Department over a crackdown on his critics, but at the weekend posed with U.S. President Donald Trump at a regional summit and praised his policies of non-interference.

The fact that the threat of action came from the White House gave it greater weight than previous statements from the State Department calling for the release of Kem Sokha.

So far, Western countries have shown little appetite for sanctions and the opposition itself has shied away from calling for steps to restrict garment exports because of the hundreds of thousands of workers who depend on them.

But leaders of the CNRP now say they support some sanctions.

"Sanctions are the best leverage for negotiation for free, fair and inclusive elections," said Mu Sochua, a deputy to CNRP leader Kem Sokha, who fled Cambodia fearing arrest.

There have been no protests over the opposition party ban and many people in the capital, Phnom Penh, said they were afraid to speak out.

There were no party members at the CNRP headquarters on Friday, only security guards. "They are worried about their safety," said guard Chin Savy.

The central market was full of its usual bustle and one man told Reuters he was glad to see the back of the opposition.

"Hun Sen has a lot of help from China. If he just depended on the U.S., we wouldn’t be anywhere," said Khen Kong, 69, a businessman.

In a televised address on Thursday, Hun Sen told Cambodians the election would go ahead "as normal" and appealed to politicians from the CNRP who had not been banned to join his Cambodian People's Party.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed grave concern about the conduct of credible elections next year as well as a clampdown on civil rights groups and independent media. ]]>
11/17/2017 1:42:00 PM
<![CDATA[S. Korea, US vow peaceful solution to N.Korean issue]]>
The reaffirmation came after Lee Do-hoon, South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, and his US counterpart, Joseph Yun, met on the southern resort island of Jeju to discuss their coordinated approach towards the North's nuclear and missile threats, Yonhap news agency reported.

The meeting followed a summit between their leaders -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump in Seoul last week.

After finishing a meeting that lasted for more than a hour, Yun told reporters there is no doubt that both of the presidents want to find a peaceful way in regard to North Korea's nuclear issue, so we discussed them and we agreed the pressure campaign has to be a central element.

He noted that the common policy between Seoul and Washington against the North is to attain its denuclearization and rally global support for putting pressure on the reclusive state to engage in a "meaningful" and "credible" dialogue.

"We have been engaged with countries like China, Russia, as well as Japan and the EU, aimed at getting pressure on North Korea to have a meaningful and credible dialogue with us so that they can take steps towards the denuclearization," he added.

Answering a question seeking comments on a planned visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy to North Korea, Yun hoped that it would help "forward" the goal of its denuclearization.

In a press statement, the South Korean foreign ministry said that Lee and Yun agreed to meet again "as soon as possible" to discuss detailed follow-up measures based on the talks that they had here.]]>
11/17/2017 1:37:32 PM
<![CDATA[Lebanon FM says Hariri crisis part of attempt to create regional chaos]]>
Speaking in Moscow, Bassil also said Lebanon has the "full powers" to respond, but hoped this would not be necessary.]]>
11/17/2017 1:36:27 PM
<![CDATA[Kenyan police fire in air to disperse opposition demonstrators]]>
Odinga has called for a "National Resistance Movement" to protest the outcome of a repeat presidential election, which was ordered by the Supreme Court after it annulled the results of an August poll over procedural irregularities.

Police fired into the air to disperse hundreds of people gathered outside Jomo Kenyatta International Airport who were waiting for Odinga to return from an overseas trip, a Reuters photographer said.

In what is seen as the last chance for legal scrutiny of the vote, the court will rule on Monday on cases that seek to nullify the rerun election. The political crisis has stirred fears for the stability of the east African nation, a regional hub for trade, diplomacy and security.

In Friday's violence, people threw stones at the police and threw up burning barricades on Mombasa Road, the highway that links Nairobi's downtown business district and the airport.

Despite a partial police ban on protests in the capital, demonstrators had gathered in the morning near the airport to wait for Odinga's return. Police checked vehicles headed from the city centre to the airport in another attempt to stop the demonstration from building.

Kenyan TV channels broadcast footage of what they said was Odinga's motorcade leaving the airport after he landed just before midday. Motorcycle taxi drivers and people on foot shouted their support as the motorcade moved toward downtown.

President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second, five-year term with 98 percent of the vote in the repeat election after Odinga boycotted the contest. Only 39 percent of registered voters took part.

In Monday's Supreme Court rulings, judges could order a fresh vote or clear the way for the incumbent to be sworn in for his second term. If the election is upheld, Kenyatta will be sworn in on Nov. 28.

Dozens of international flights depart and arrive daily at Nairobi's main airport. The national airport authority said on its official Twitter handle just before midday that operations were running normally.

Kenya's prolonged election season has disrupted its economy. Human rights groups say at least 66 people have died in bloodshed surrounding the two elections.

Ahead of Monday's Supreme Court ruling, Kenya Airways' chairman told an investor briefing on Friday morning: "Hopefully we don’t have another presidential election so we can get on with life."]]>
11/17/2017 1:27:26 PM
<![CDATA[Iraqi forces recapture last Islamic State-held town]]>
The capture of the town marks the end of Islamic State's era of territorial rule over a so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi forces "liberated Rawa entirely, and raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings," Lieutenant General Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah said in a statement from the Joint Operations Command.

Rawa borders Syria, whose army declared victory over the militants on Nov. 9, after seizing the last substantial town on the border with Iraq.

"With the liberation of Rawa we can say all the areas in which Daesh is present have been liberated," a military spokesman said, referring to Islamic State by an Arabic acronym.

Iraqi forces will now focus on routing militants who fled into the desert and exert control over Iraq's borders, he said.]]>
11/17/2017 1:03:27 PM
<![CDATA[Iran says 'biased' French policy stoking Mideast crises]]>
"Unfortunately it seems that France has a biased and partisan approach to the crises in the region and this approach, whether intentionally or not, is even contributing to turning potential crises into real ones," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said.

Le Drian made his comments in Iran's arch rival Saudi Arabia on Thursday during a visit aimed at resolving a crisis sparked by the shock resignation earlier this month of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a staunch critic of Iran.

Hariri's resignation, which has not been accepted by President Michel Aoun, was widely seen as the latest salvo in an intensifying proxy war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, which back opposing sides in regional conflicts in countries including Syria and Yemen.

"The concerns you express fly in the face of regional realities and are addressed to the wrong side," Ghassemi said in response to Le Drian's comments.

"Ignoring regional realities and echoing baseless concerns that have been pulled out of the air by deluded, warmongering Saudi officials and are aggressive towards Iran do not contribute towards settling the crises in the region in which Saudi Arabia clearly plays a destructive role."

Ghassemi urged the international community to focus instead on "arms sales by some foreign powers to regional countries, which are used in particular in the devastating war in Yemen, and the support being given to Saudi Arabia and its allies, which only makes them more brazen."

Saudi Arabia has led a military coalition in Yemen since 2015 in support of its beleaguered government.

Riyadh accuses Tehran of backing rebels who control the capital Sanaa and much of the north of the country.

The coalition has repeatedly rejected UN appeals to lift an aid blockade on rebel-held territory that it imposed on November 6, despite warnings from UN agencies that "untold thousands" of needy civilians risk death.]]>
11/17/2017 11:38:35 AM
<![CDATA['There's no going back,' Zimbabwe's party tells Mugabe]]>
The self-styled grand old man of African politics, the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980, insists he is still in charge. But the source, a senior member of Mugabe'sc, made clear the party wanted him gone.

"If he becomes stubborn, we will arrange for him to be fired on Sunday," the source said. "When that is done, it's impeachment on Tuesday."

Zimbabwe's official newspaper, the Herald, ran photographs late on Thursday that showed a grinning Mugabe shaking hands with military chief General Constantino Chiwenga, who seized power this week.

That suggested Mugabe was managing to hold out against Chiwenga's coup, with some political sources saying he was trying to delay his departure until elections scheduled for next year.

The ZANU-PF source said that was not the case. Anxious to avoid a protracted stalemate, party leaders were drawing up plans to dismiss Mugabe at the weekend if he refused to quit, the source said.

"There is no going back," the source told Reuters. "It's like a match delayed by heavy rain, with the home side leading 90-0 in the 89th minute."

Mugabe's options look limited. The army is camped on his doorstep. His wife, Grace, is under house arrest, and her key political allies are in military custody. The police, once a bastion of support, have showed no signs of resistance.

Furthermore, he has little popular backing in the capital, a hotbed of support for the opposition, which has tapped into the anger and frustration at his handling of the economy, which collapsed after the seizure of white-owned farms in 2000.

Unemployment is now running at nearly 90 percent. Chronic shortages of hard currency are driving up the price of imports as much as 50 percent a month.

"PEOPLE OF ZIM"

On social media, Zimbabweans circulated a spoof message to Chiwenga demonstrating the depth of anger at Mugabe.

"If Mugabe refuses to resign, let the army take him to First Street and leave him there. People of Zim will negotiate with him," the message read.

In a statement broadcast on national television, the military said it was "engaging" with Mugabe and would announce an outcome as soon as possible.

The United States, a longtime Mugabe critic, is seeking "a new era", the State Department's top official for Africa said, an implicit call for Mugabe to quit.

In an interview with Reuters, acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto appeared to dismiss the idea of keeping Mugabe in an interim or ceremonial role.

"It's a transition to a new era for Zimbabwe, that's really what we're hoping for," Yamamoto said.

The army appears to want Mugabe to go quietly and allow a smooth and bloodless transition to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president, whose sacking last week triggered the military takeover.

The main goal of the generals is to prevent Mugabe from handing power to his wife, Grace, who appeared on the cusp of power after Mnangagwa was pushed out.

Dumiso Dabengwa, a former head of intelligence and a Mnangagwa ally, will hold a news conference in Johannesburg at 1200 GMT.

A South African government source said he expected Dabengwa to discuss the events in Zimbabwe.

"It seems there is some sort of agreement," the source said.]]>
11/17/2017 11:24:00 AM
<![CDATA[Withdrawal from Palestinian reconciliation is not allowed: Sinwar]]>
The state of division would damage the Palestinian national project, if persisted, Sinwar said during a meeting arranged by the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies (Masarat).

Achieving reconciliation has become a national and religious duty, Sinwar said. “If we could not mobilize our efforts to eliminate the state of division, then next year, our people would regret wasting this historical opportunity,” he added.

Hamas is overcoming all difficulties in order for the reconciliation to succeed, Sinwar said.
Last October, the two main Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, signed an Egypt-brokered reconciliation deal in Cairo, in a key step towards ending a decade-long rift between the two movements.

The deal sees administrative control of the Gaza Strip handed to a Fatah-backed unity government.
]]>
11/17/2017 11:14:18 AM
<![CDATA[Arrested Qaeda militant reveals incidents of Al-Wahat attack]]>
The militant Abdel Rahim Mohamed Abdullah Al-Mismary – a Libyan national – was the only survivor of the security raid that tracked fleeing terrorists in the Western Desert near the terror attack scene and left 15 militants dead.

Deadly confrontations occurred on October 20 on Al-Wahat highway and left 16 policemen dead and 13 wounded, in addition to the kidnapped officer Mohamed al-Hayes who was freed later by the forces.

In the Thursday’s interview, Al-Mismary, a 25-year-old resident of Libya's Derna, said that he adopted the Salafi Jihad ideology amid the spread of Islamist groups in his hometown following the 2011 Libyan Revolution.

Al-Mismary added that he joined the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna in late 2014 along with few neighbors. It was an umbrella organization of Derna-based Islamist factions opposed to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group and the Libyan army, led by Khalifa Haftar.

He pointed out that he participated in planting IEDs that targeted IS militants and Haftar’s troops in Derna, describing his enemies as “infidels.”

In 2016, Al-Mismary met with Egyptian Islamist militant Emad El-Din Abdel Hakim, also known as Sheikh Hatem, who was preparing to create a new militant group in Egypt. Al-Mismary accepted a membership offer in the new group that started with 13 Egyptians along with other militants holding different nationalities.

He justified joining a group outside Libya that the Islamic religion had no boundaries, stressing and there are many Islamists fighting in Derna but no one “resists injustice” in Egypt. He also described his travel to fight in Egypt as Hijrah (migration for the sake of God) to impose the Sharia Law in Egypt.

Al-Mismary said that Sheikh Hatem rented a small farm in Derna, where they held their military training. Sheikh Hatem assigned Al-Mismary and another Libyan militant with logistic jobs in the new group.

Asked about the financing source of the militant group, Al-Mismary said that the Jihadist groups mainly rely on donations and booty.

In August 2016, Sheikh Hatem decided to build a militant camp in Egypt’s Western Desert to launch attacks against the national army and police with the aim to establish the Islamic Caliphate.

Al-Mismary confessed infiltrating into Egypt by two SUVs carrying several types of weapons, most of which were provided by the Islamist groups in Derna.

Some of this group’s arms were looted after a battle with Libyan Toubou tribe which was assigned by Haftar to guard the border lines with Egypt, he said.

Al-Mismary added that the trip from Derna into Egypt’s desert took 15-30 days, and they stayed in several desert areas near Qena, Sohag and Asyut. Then, Sheikh Hatem managed to recruit new Egyptian elements, with the help of an Egyptian member called Buka, who provided logistic services to the group that resided in Al-Wahat area in January on the outskirts of Giza, the terrorists said.

He revealed that Sheikh Hatem prohibited any personal communication between the group’s members for security purpose.

Al-Mismary noted that six new elements joined the group later bringing the total number to 16 men. He added that those newcomers had participated in the IS-claimed attack on the bus that was carrying Christians travelling from El-Minya to the St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Upper Egypt.

Regarding the Al-Wahat clashes, the terrorist said that the militants responsible for watching the area were surprised by the security forces heading towards the camp. Sheikh Hatem divided the militants into two groups on the top of a hill and ordered them to attack the forces from behind sand dunes.

The clashes between the police forces and militants lasted for an hour and a half, where two militants were injured and one killed, Al-Mismary said. He added that the group members fled the area and hid in different places to be away from security forces.

He said the members could not flee to the Libyan border due to lack of food and fuel, thus they continued to hide in the desert for 13 days.

Al-Mismary added that after the 13 days they were surprised by security SUVs and warplanes, which conducted several strikes against the militants’ vehicles killing Sheikh Hatem and other militants on the spot.

The airstrikes killed all the group members and Al-Mismary was the only survivor. Then, he contacted some members in Libya via Thuraya phone, but they failed to help him.

Later, the terrorist came under fire from security forces and was arrested.

Security sources said the DNA analysis of bodies of militants killed in the air raid showed that Sheikh Hatem was among them.

The sources added that Hatem was the deputy of Hesham Al-Ashmawy who was a former Egyptian military officer turned jihadist and carried out several past attacks against the police and army. The two men graduated from Egypt’s military academy the same year and were both fired from the army for adopting radical Islamist beliefs.

The Al-Wahat attack was the latest to plague Egypt’s security forces that face an Islamic insurgency mostly focused in the Sinai Peninsula. ]]>
11/17/2017 11:10:43 AM
<![CDATA[Media council responsible for religious content on media shows ]]>
In a press conference at the SCMR headquarters, Ahmad clarified that the SCMR will regulate religious discourse until legislation is issued to organize means of religious advisory in Egypt.

The SCMR chairman added that the SCMR will demand all media outlets stick to a list of 50 scholars authorized by Al-Azhar and Dar al-Iftaa to give religious advisories in media outlets.

He warned against any violation of the decision, stressing that religious advisories and fatwa should be issued by authentic preachers.

“According to decision’s regulations, freedom of expression in religious issues is not included in the religious advisory activity, iftaa,” Ahmed stressed.

“Yet it will be conditioned with awareness and commitment to moderation and away from abuse of other religions or extremism,” he stated.

The SCMR clarified that punishments to be imposed on violators will be part of the SCMR regulations, which include banning the violator from media outlets.

For his part, a source from Al-Azhar clarified that the SCMR list of 50 scholars are the only ones who have the right to give fatwas and conduct religious discourse on media shows.

The source noted that those scholars are the only ones accredited by Al-Azhar to give fatwas. ]]>
11/16/2017 10:34:33 PM
<![CDATA[Trump urges U.N. council to renew Syria chemical arms inquiry]]>
"Need all on the UN Security Council to vote to renew the Joint Investigative Mechanism for Syria to ensure that Assad Regime does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again," Trump said in a note on Twitter.

The 15-nation council was due to vote on Thursday on rival U.S. and Russian bids to renew the international inquiry, diplomats said on Wednesday, a move that could trigger Russia’s 10th veto to block action on Syria.]]>
11/16/2017 8:54:37 PM
<![CDATA[Analysis: Human rights in Egypt are multifaceted ]]>
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has also been questioned by journalists during his official visits to other countries, until he delivered a clear message to the world during his previous visit to France last October.

In a new step described as “one towards democracy” by parliamentarian Margret Azer, Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marwan announced in a press conference on November 16 establishing a new committee to reconsider human rights conditions in Egypt.

Marwan, who was assigned by Prime Minster Sherif Ismail to study the file and issue recommendations to the government regarding correcting the questionable conditions and concerns, came with the full report yesterday.

"Egypt’s human rights report issued by the ministry included both negative and positive aspects," said Marwan. He added that they were keen to reveal the negative aspects in the newly-issued report.

He also noted that the report tackles human rights in health and society since 2014 to date, adding that the report's final recommendations were handed over to the relevant authorities and ministries.

The report’s main recommendations include forming a committee to set a new human rights strategy for the country during the upcoming period to follow up with the current conditions, and determine what is needed to be adjusted, among legislation guaranteeing better conditions for a human rights framework.

Additionally, a separate unit for human rights will be established within every ministry and governorate to receive civilians’ complaints, and spread the needed awareness among people concerning their rights.

The committee that was recommended to be established will also be responsible for replying to international reports regarding human rights' conditions in Egypt.

Azer, who was announced as one of the selected members to join the committee, told Egypt Today that this committee should be considered a major step towards democracy. She added that the committee’s first meeting is scheduled for next week.

So, what will this new committee do exactly?
Cabinet spokesperson Ashraf Sultan said in statements to CBC television channel Wednesday night that the government was already concerned from the beginning with the human rights file; however “we look at it from a wider perspective to include the cultural, economic, and social rights as well.”

Sultan explained in his statements that the committee will review the state’s current legislations regarding human rights, noting that many points will be tackled by the committee darting that its discussions will kick off next week. Those discussions are set to include finding a way to spread awareness between people regarding their rights and involving civil society in their activities.

Taking about the separate units of human rights that will be established within every ministry, Sultan affirmed that their role will be more related to communicating with people and discussing their complains and suggestions.

“This step says to the world that we are ready to talk, open to the outside, and able to disucss everything with others,” Sultan said.

When did all of this start?
Marwan’s assignment by the government came shortly after Sisi’s return from France last month.

During a press conference with Sisi’s counterpart Emmanuel Macron, one of the journalists asked about human rights conditions in Egypt. President Sisi responded affirming that no officials in Egypt avoid answering similar questions. “We are very much keen on establishing a modern civil state,” he stated.

Sisi also wondered during his answer, "Where are the rights of the martyrs and their families in Egypt, and the rights of the three million citizens who work in the field of tourism and are affected by terrorism? We cannot limit human rights to political rights only.”

In a strongly worded tone, Sisi commented on the Human Rights Watch allegations presented by the French journalist, saying, "Why don't you ask me about good education, medicine, employment, housing and true awareness that we should instill in the Egyptian mentality? We do not evade the question about human rights, but we have to take into consideration that we are not in Europe; we are in a country with different circumstances."

Shortly after returning to Egypt, Sisi discussed what happened with the government, which assigned the job to Marwan.]]>
11/16/2017 8:34:32 PM
<![CDATA[International arbitration as least option against Ethiopia]]>
The same suggestion was raised by Hisham Magdy, member of the parliament's African Affairs Committee, on Thursday. However, parliamentarians in charge of the file set four main dimensions on Tuesday to handle the issue excluding legal procedures. Political experts also preferred to make litigation the least option.

Recommendations by international law and African affairs experts
Ayman Salama, international law professor at Cairo University, told Masrawy on Tuesday that there are three options Egypt can attempt before resorting to the United Nations. The first option is holding direct negotiations with Ethiopia to halt constructions in the dam until an agreement is reached.

The second is seeking the mediation of state leaders and international organizations. The third is holding talks by the leaders of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia in case of the failure of all other solutions.

That last proposition was also mentioned by Momtaz el-Dessouky, member of the Legislative Committee at the parliament, saying that the crisis must be solved on the political leadership level of the three countries.

The chairman of the Institute of African Studies and Research, Ayman Shabana, Ph.D., shared the same opinion on the two last points as he said in a TV phone call that the three leaders must set a timeline for negotiations, and that Gulf countries can assume mediation depending on their economic influence in Africa.

International law professor Mosaed Abdel Aty said in a TV phone call that Egypt can file a complaint in the Security Council which is entitled - based upon Articles 33, 36, and 38 of the Charter of the United Nations - to “call upon the parties to settle” disputes peacefully and avoid endangering the “maintenance of international peace and security.”

The Security Council can also recommend that parties involved refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice, in accordance with the provisions of the Statute of the Court.

Recommendations by parliamentarians
Parlmany, news website, reported on Tuesday the main points parliamentarians, following up with the Renaissance Dam file, agreed upon for future handling of the crisis. They settled on the necessity of a strategy to cooperate with African countries, especially Nile Basin ones, in developmental projects, as well as encouraging the Egyptian private sector to invest in those markets.

Furthermore, they emphasized that Sudan must be treated as a beneficiary from the dam because of its ambitions to benefit from the electricity that the dam will generat. Parliamentarians in charge of the file also stipulated on the importance of diplomacy in clarifying to the international community repercussions of building the dam in the current capacity, and filling its reservoir over three years instead of seven.

The mediation suggestion proposed by experts was also raised by these parliamentarians, highlighting that Egypt’s allies can cooperate with Ethiopia in different domains with the goal of influencing it to take a lenient stance on the issue.

Information on the dam and impact on Egypt
Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo. The Italian company is headquartered in Milan. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.

Since May 2011, Cairo has voiced its concern over how the dam can reduce the country’s annual shares of more than 56 billion cubic meters of Nile water. Egypt’s average water per-capita is expected to drop from 663 cubic meters per year to 582 cubic meters by 2025, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) in 2014. Addis Ababa, however, claimed that the dam is necessary for its development and will not harm downstream countries.

Meanwhile, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi signed a tripartite joint cooperation agreement in Khartoum on March 23, 2015 between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. In December 2015, Sisi addressed the public, saying that there is no reason to worry about the dam and that the matter would be resolved. The three countries held 14 rounds of consultation on resolving the disputes over the Renaissance Dam. However, these rounds failed to solve the dispute.

Former Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Hossam el-Moughazi, stated in November 2015 that the dam’s construction is going faster than the tripartite talks. On October 1, The Telegraph reported that Ethiopia is finalizing the construction of the dam and then will start filling its reservoir. ]]>
11/16/2017 6:40:34 PM
<![CDATA[Grace Mugabe: Zimbabwe's Iron lady]]>
She has a high-profile role in ruling the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) as the head of its women’s league, and has been instrumental in the ousting of several alternative potential successors to her husband's presidency, according to BBC.

Her husband’s party has nominated him to stand for re-election next year, but there are continuing concerns about his health after he made several medical trips abroad.
In this regard, earlier this year she memorably said that he could even win votes as a corpse. She has not denied wanting to take the helm of the country, and at a 2014 rally she said, "They say I want to be president. Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?" mentioned BBC.

Her main rival was Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the army chief and a veteran of the country's struggle for independence, who was sacked on November 8 by Mugabe for showing "traits of disloyalty."

Some believe that Mugabe appeared to replace recently fired Vice President Mnangagwa. Therefore, the military intervened and seized the capital Harare and blocked off access to government offices early on Wednesday. Early life Mugabe was born in Benoni, South Africa in 1965. She moved with her family to Zimbabwe at the age of five. After taking a job as a secretary in Zimbabwe State House, Mugabe’s official residence in Harare, she began to meet President Mugabe regularly while his first wife Sally was terminally ill. They got married in 1996. President Mugabe is 41 years older than Grace.


She quickly became the most forceful businesswoman, and she was given the nickname "Gucci Grace" for her extravagant shopping trips that were negatively criticized, due to a crippling budgetary crisis, which saw many Zimbabweans in poverty.
Since Mugabe became more active in politics, she has been known for her sharp tongue and tough reputation especially in attacking political opponents to defend her husband. She has become increasingly visible in politics to succeed her husband as the next president – a succession strongly opposed by senior ranks in the military.
“I might have a small fist but when it comes to fighting I will put stones inside to enlarge it. Do not doubt my capabilities,” she once said.

In 2014, she earned a PhD in sociology from the University of Zimbabwe that was given to her just two months after enrolling at the University. She later used the doctorate as her campaign material to take over the leadership of the Zanu-PF women's wing.
It was the shortest time anybody had ever completed the course, and her final thesis does not exist anywhere in the university’s library, mentioned The Telegraph.
For years, Mugabe confirmed that her husband will never leave power. She declared, “We are going to create a special wheelchair for President Mugabe to be able to rule until he is 100 years old, because that is what we want.”

She spent years touring Zimbabwe’s provinces, making speeches, attacking her husband’s rivals and threatening them that whoever would take his place would need to get her first. During the tour, she campaigns for herself to rise to power. Consequently, she called on her husband to remove Mnangagwa last week by claiming that his supporters were planning a coup; her attempts to seize power were proven.]]>
11/16/2017 4:24:26 PM
<![CDATA[Lavrov accuses US, coalition of hindering Russian aviation in Syria]]>
The Syrian army’s actions supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces to eliminate the remaining Daesh militants were hindered, while more time was needed to reach our goals," the Russian foreign minister had stated, commenting on reports of the US letting Daesh terrorists flee from Raqqa.

According to Lavrov, Russia has asked for an explanation as the "consequences of militants' leaving safe and sound have influenced the situation on the ground."]]>
11/16/2017 3:28:04 PM
<![CDATA[All options are on the table: MP on Renaissance Dam crisis]]>
“All options are on the table. We will never dispose of any drop of our water shares, as this is considered our right to live. The prolongation of negotiations by Ethiopia over 16 sessions and the Sudanese non-cooperation are alarming. It is possible that we will go to the Security Council and International Court of Justice,” Magdy told El-Watan newspaper.

The MP stressed that Egypt will not forfeit its water shares indicated in the 1902 Agreement as 55.5 billion cubic meters. He added that Ethiopia’s goal of building the dam is political rather than developmental as it does not suffer from water shortage, and thus, could have built a dam with a lesser capacity to generate electricity. “Ethiopia wants to harm Egypt’s water shares. It has political goals, and is backed by other countries,” Magdy said.

Cairo hosted a Tripartite National Committee on Renaissance Dam (TNCRD) meeting on Sunday. They met to discuss the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. However, the meeting ended without reaching consensus. The meeting has become a subject of concern among experts, parliament members, and former officials.

Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Mohamed Abdel-Ati, said that TNCRD did not reach an agreement on adopting guidelines. The guidelines were indicated in a report prepared by a technical committee on the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile Basin States after two days of talks.

Abdel-Ati declared that Egypt approves of the report’s outcomes, but the Ethiopian and Sudanese did not express consensus and called for amendments. Egypt halted all negotiations and said that all future decisions are at the hand of the cabinet.

Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo. The Italian company is headquartered in Milan. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.

Since May 2011, Cairo has voiced its concern over how the dam can reduce the country’s annual shares of more than 56 billion cubic meters of Nile water. Egypt’s average water per-capita is expected to drop from 663 cubic meters per year to 582 cubic meters by 2025, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) in 2014. Addis Ababa, however, claimed that the dam is necessary for its development and will not harm downstream countries.

Meanwhile, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi signed a tripartite joint cooperation agreement in Khartoum on March 23, 2015 between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. In December 2015, Sisi addressed the public, saying that there is no reason to worry about the dam and that the matter would be resolved. The three countries held 14 rounds of consultation on resolving the disputes over the Renaissance Dam. However, these rounds failed to solve the dispute.

Former Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hossam el-Moughazi stated in November 2015 that the dam’s construction is going faster than the tripartite talks. On October 1, The Telegraph reported that Ethiopia is finalizing the construction of the dam and then will start filling its reservoir. ]]>
11/16/2017 3:11:13 PM
<![CDATA[SPLM Head hails Sisi’s efforts in ending civil wars in South Sudan]]>
During the signing ceremony of the Declaration of Unification, he stated that a meeting of the political leaders of the SPLM was held in Cairo in order to reach confidence-building measures between all parties to unify the movement and end the war

“The concerned parties agreed to comply with Abuja Agreement,” he continued.

The head of South Sudan’s delegation also praised Sisi’s efforts for reaching the unification deal of the SPLM, which will in turn end the war and unite the SPLM.

The head of South Sudan’s delegation said that the civil war, which has been ongoing since 2013, has led to the displacement of millions and the severe suffering of southern Sudan’s people; referring to the efforts exerted by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to solve the crisis.

The head of South Sudan’s delegation vowed to put aside all differences to reestablish peace in the country.

Cairo witnessed the signing of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Declaration of Unification in the Egyptian General Intelligence's headquarters under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Cairo hosted a meeting from November 13 to 16 for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, where the Cairo Declaration was discussed for the purposes of unifying the popular movement in the African state.

The signing of the Cairo Declaration is an important step in supporting peace and ending the war between the factions in the neighboring Republic of South Sudan, which is a political entry point for the return of refugees and displaced persons to their areas of origin.

The parties also agreed that the Egyptian General Intelligence would coordinate with the parties concerned and follow up on the implementation of what was agreed upon.

Since 2013, the ruling party South Sudan (SPLM) has witnessed many conflicts and differences amongst its main leaders and ranks.

South Sudan has plunged into civil war since South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued on July 23, 2013 a presidential decree firing his longtime Vice President Riek Machar and dissolving the entire cabinet.

Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup d’état. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

Kiir, who is also the chairman of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), also issued an order calling for investigating the party’s Secretary-General Pagan Amum; accusing him of inciting violence and criticizing his actions.

Security developments have risen within the SPLM since the leader Abdul Aziz Adam Al-Helou resigned from his duties as vice president of the Movement to the Regional Liberation Council in the Nuba Mountains, according to the movement's official Facebook page. ]]>
11/16/2017 3:00:16 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar Leaks publishes scenes of Hamad’s coup against his father]]>
The video entitled "The Serpents Clash… Hamad backstabs his father" highlights that Sheikh Khalifa was growing suspicious of his children whom he kept constantly under surveillance.

Hamad, according to the video, was known for his hunger of power and disseminated a rumor about his Uncle Sehim’s intention to overthrow his father to put an end to his political aspirations.

A documentary titled “The History of Qatar… the Struggle for Power” lately aired on Al-Arabiya, revealing former Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani’s struggle with his father Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, Qatari emir at the time, for power and political dominance.

The three-part documentary aired from November 12 to 14.

Former officer in Qatar’s investigation department, Ali al-Dahnim, said in an interview that Hamad decided to make ministerial changes and hire individuals who hate his father Sheikh Khalifa.
]]>
11/16/2017 2:33:43 PM
<![CDATA[Indonesia anti-corruption agency seeks arrest of parliament speaker]]>
KPK spent about five hours searching his house on Wednesday night. Novanto is a suspect in a major scandal involving US$170 million (S$230 million) of stolen state funds.

Investigators have alleged that Novanto was among many politicians who received kickbacks from funds earmarked for a government project to issue new identification cards, called e-KTP, to citizens aged 17 or above in the country witha population of 255 million.

KPK raided his Novanto's house in south Jakarta as special force mobile brigade police stood guard outside his residence. The KPK confiscated a suitcase of documents and records and footage of the house's CCTV system.

Novanto's lawyer Fredrich Yunadi said Novanto is in Jakarta and is not trying to avoid the law."We are going to meet the leaders of this country. We will ask for time to meet the President," Fredrich told reporters.

Fredrich says members of Parliament enjoy parliamentary impunity and that they cannot be prosecuted without the President's consent]]>
11/16/2017 2:12:54 PM
<![CDATA[Moscow has contacts with Hariri through its embassy in Riyadh]]>
In press statements carried by Russia Today, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said tha Hariri met with number of foreign diplomats, including the Russian ambassador in Riyadh.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil in Moscow tomorrow, Zakharova added. ]]>
11/16/2017 1:36:37 PM
<![CDATA[Russia expects US to abide by agreements contained in Putin]]>
"We expect that the US side will strictly adhere to the agreements to fight terrorism that were enshrined in the joint statement by the Russian and US presidents following their meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Da Nang on November 11, Zakharova said.

Putin and Trump reiterated their determination to defeat the terrorist group Daesh in Syria and agreed to maintain the existing military communication channels to ensure the safety of Russian and US military personnel and prevent risky incidents involving the forces of partners fighting against Daesh.]]>
11/16/2017 12:14:50 PM
<![CDATA[Russia in talks with Syrian opposition over dialogue congress]]>
Gatilov and Russian envoy to the Mideast Sergey Vershinin, who attended the talks, were trying to convince Qahm Movement's Haytham Manna and the Southern Front's Khaled Mahameed to attend the Russian-back event, to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The Russian officials underlined the importance that Qahm Movement and Southern Front representatives would attend the congress that aims at launching face-to-face negotiations with the Assad regime.

The negotiations are meant to find a permanent solution to the Syrian crisis based on UNSC resolution 2254.

Meanwhile, 144 Syrian opposition members were invited to Riyadh-2 conference to take place on November 22 over the years-long Syrian crisis.]]>
11/16/2017 12:00:49 PM
<![CDATA[Sudan People's Liberation signs Declaration of Unification in Cairo]]>

Cairo hosted a meeting from November 13 to 16 for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, where the Cairo Declaration was discussed for the purposes of unifying the popular movement in the African state.


The signing of the Cairo Declaration is an important step in supporting peace and ending the war between the factions in the neighboring Republic of South Sudan, which is a political entry point for the return of refugees and displaced persons to their areas of origin.


The parties also agreed that the Egyptian General Intelligence would coordinate with the parties concerned and follow up the implementation of what was agreed upon.



Since 2013, the ruling party South Sudan (SPLM) has witnessed many conflicts and differences amongst its main leaders and ranks.


South Sudan has plunged into civil war since South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued on July 23, 2013 a presidential decree firing his longtime Vice President Riek Machar and dissolving the entire cabinet.


Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup d’état. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.


Kiir, who is also the chairman of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), also issued an order calling for investigating the party’s Secretary-General Pagan Amum; accusing him of inciting violence and criticizing his actions.


Security developments have risen within the SPLM since the leader Abdul Aziz Adam Al-Helou resigned from his duties as vice president of the Movement to the Regional Liberation Council in the Nuba Mountains, according to the movement's official Facebook page.


The head of South Sudan’s delegation praised Sisi’s efforts to reach the unification deal of the SPLM, which will in turn end the war and unite the SPLM.


During the signing ceremony of the Declaration of Unification, he said that the civil war, which has been ongoing since 2013, has led to the displacement of millions and the severe suffering of southern Sudan’s people; referring to the efforts exerted by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to solve the crisis.


The head of South Sudan’s delegation vowed to put aside all differences to reestablish peace in the country.

]]>
11/16/2017 11:57:51 AM
<![CDATA[Britain preparing to transfer 400 million pounds to Iran]]>
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was sentenced to five years after being convicted by an Iranian court of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment. She denies the charges.

Britain has sought legal advice over whether it could transfer the funds which it owes as a result of a disputed arms deal in the 1970s. Diplomats told the newspaper that any payment should not be linked to the fate of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is a charity organisation that is independent of Thomson Reuters. It operates independently of Reuters News.

A spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office could not be reached for comment out of normal business hours. ($1 = 0.7588 pounds)]]>
11/16/2017 11:49:55 AM
<![CDATA[Lebanon's pres. says crisis over with PM Hariri's France trip]]>
Earlier a source close to Hariri said the prime minister, who resigned this month while in Saudi Arabia but has yet to return to Beirut, was expected to leave Riyadh for France within the next 48 hours.

Aoun said Lebanon remained committed to its policy of staying out of regional conflicts, especially those between Arab states, presidential sources said on Thursday.]]>
11/16/2017 11:48:39 AM
<![CDATA[Japan to deal with North Korean evacuees in case of crisis]]>
The Japan Coast Guard would escort boats fleeing North Korea to designated ports, where police would screen them by checking their identity and possible criminal records and expel those deemed a threat, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Thursday.

It did not say where those people would be sent, however.

Evacuees granted temporary entrance would be transferred to emergency detention centres, probably in southern Japan, after completing quarantine and other procedures.

Officials would then decide whether they were eligible to remain in Japan, the Yomiuri said.

Regional tension over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear arms programmes remain high.

A senior Chinese diplomat was to visit the North from Friday as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, just a week after U.S. President Donald Trump met Xi in Beijing and pressed for greater action to rein in Pyongyang.

Junji Ito, an official of the justice ministry's immigration bureau, said the Japanese government was looking at steps to deal with a possible influx of people from North Korea but declined to comment on details.

Outspoken Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso grabbed headlines in September when he touched on the possibility of shooting armed refugees from North Korea.

"Will police respond and arrest them on charges of illegal immigration?" media quoted him as saying in a speech. "If the Self-Defense Forces (military) are dispatched, will they shoot them down?"

On Thursday, the Japan Coast Guard said it had rescued three North Korean men on a capsized boat a day earlier and was searching for 12 missing crew. The men said they were fishermen, not defectors, and Japan was arranging to send them home, it added.

Japan has strict requirements for recognising asylum seekers and accepted only three refugees in the first half of 2017 despite a record 8,561 fresh applications.

In January, Human Rights Watch described Japan's record on asylum seekers as "abysmal".

The country took in more than 11,000 Indochinese "boat people" refugees over three decades to 2005 in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, a little-remembered open-door policy. ]]>
11/16/2017 11:11:57 AM
<![CDATA[US, Japan start drill near Korean Peninsula]]>
The 10-day exercise - which will see US and Japanese troops performing war games in the waters off Okinawa - comes as the Kim regime continues to pursue its nuclear missile development program.

It comes just days after North Korean Ambassador Ja Song Nam slammed US drills in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, saying that the current situation around the Korean peninsula was 'the worst ever'.

The drills began on Thursday and include aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan, and the guided-missile destroyers USS Stethem, USS Chafee and USS Mustin, among others.

North Korea, which has stoked regional tensions with nuclear and missile tests in recent months, has repeatedly denounced such military drills as rehearsals for invasion and sometimes conducts its own military manoeuvres in response.]]>
11/16/2017 11:02:41 AM
<![CDATA[UN to vote on rival US, Russia bids to renew Syria inquiry]]>
The mandate for the joint inquiry by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which found the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent sarin in an April 4 attack, expires at midnight Thursday.

The United States was first to ask for a vote on its draft resolution, followed quickly by Russia. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted.

Diplomats say there is little support among the 15-member council for the Russian draft, which Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has said aims to correct "systemic errors" of the inquiry, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).

Russia has vetoed nine resolutions on Syria since the conflict started in 2011, including blocking an initial US bid on Oct. 24 to renew the JIM, saying it wanted to wait for the release two days later of the inquiry's report that blamed a sarin gas attack on the Syrian government.

"The United States hopes the Security Council will stand united in the face of chemical weapons use against civilians and extend the work of this critical group," the US mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Wednesday.]]>
11/16/2017 10:58:17 AM
<![CDATA[Guy Verhofstadt: "Not so pessimistic" about reaching deal]]>
"It's our goal to conclude the talks with an agreement. And I'm actually not so pessimistic about that," Verhofstadt told Handelsblatt newspaper in an interview published on Thursday. ]]>
11/16/2017 10:54:35 AM
<![CDATA[Zimbabwe priest mediating potential Mugabe exit]]>
Separately, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been receiving cancer treatment outside Zimbabwe, returned to Harare late on Wednesday, a party spokesman said, fuelling speculation about a post-Mugabe political settlement.]]>
11/16/2017 9:55:54 AM
<![CDATA[Bahrain, Kuwait discuss boosting bilateral ties]]>
The prime minister and the Kuwaiti Crown Prince discussed historic fraternal relations between both countries and their perpetual progress at all levels.

The Kuwaiti Crown Prince thanked the Premier for his kind feelings which reflect deeply-rooted bilateral relations.]]>
11/16/2017 9:52:34 AM
<![CDATA[Who is Zimbabwe's sacked 'crocodile': Emmerson Mnangagwa?]]>
The move has been preceded by a last week decision by the 93-year old ruler to dismiss his long-term minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a step believed to be for preparing the president's wife, Grace Mugabe, to succeed him in power.

The decision stirred anger within the army and the ruling party, leading to a military coup in the South African country. Hence, the Zimbabwean army sacked ministers over "corruption," seized power and controlled the state’s parliament, television and all state institutions.

The dismissal of Mnangagwa, who served as vice-president of Zimbabwe from 2014 to November 6, 2017, was cited by Mugabe as for allegedly plotting against the government.

Nicknamed as "The Crocodile" in his country, Mnangagwa fled to South Africa shortly after his dimissal, citing "incessant threats" against him and his family.

Unconfirmed reports said that Mugabe and his wife have been sent to Namibia as a result of the coup.

But Mnangagwa, who has reportedly returned to his country on Tuesday, is believed to be prepared to assume a leadership role
.

The army’s goals behind seizing power

The military move by army came in line with other goals, including a crackdown on supporters of Vice President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in the wake of a statement by Cheonga at a press conference attended by senior army commanders on the sidelines of dismissal of the vice president.

In the statement, "We must remind those behind the current treacherous treasons that the army will not hesitate to intervene when matters are concerned with the protection of our revolution."

Here are the most important highlights about Mnangagwa

1. Emerson Dambodzu Mnangagwa was born on September 15, 1942.

2. Mnangagwa is 72 years old.

3. He joined the student movement during his study and was elected for a post in the executive authority.

4. Mnangagwa was dismissed from Hodgson Technical College in 1960 for political activity that resulted in the burning of some property.

5. He joined the University of Zambia in 1973 and received a bachelor's degree and did his post-graduate LLB degree, as well as another post-graduate program in advocacy in 1975.

6. After successfully completing his legal studies, he was admitted to the Bar of the High Court of Zambia in 1976.


His political career

Mnangagwa had held leading positions throughout his political career, culminating in becoming Zimbabwe’s vice president on December 10, 2014.

7. Appointed Minister of State Security from 1980 to 1988.

8. Appointed Minister of Justice in 1988.

9. In 2000, he became Speaker of Parliament until 2005.

10. He was ZANU-PF's Secretary of Administration from July 2000 to December 2004 and became its Secretary for Legal Affairs in December 2004.

11. Minister of Rural Housing from 2005 to 2009.

12. Appointed Minister of Finance for a few months in 2009.

13. Appointed Minister of Defense from 2009 to 2013.

14. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in 2013.

15. On December 10, 2014, President Robert Mugabe appointed him as his vice president.

17. Mnangagwa continued to serve as Minister of Justice until the ministerial reshuffle in October 2017.

18. In August 2017, Mnangagwa had suffered from food poisoning during a public meeting with President Mugabe, and he then underwent surgery in South Africa for treatment.

19. Mnangagwa returned home on August 21, 2017 and appeared in good health.

20. On November 6, 2017, President Mugabe dismissed Mnangagwa, as Mugabe believed that Mnangagwa showed signs of disloyalty and fled to South Africa.

21. Mnangagwa was one of President Mugabe’s supporters since independence from Britain in 1980.

22. The movement of the army to control power was due to the dismissal of Mnangagwa from office.

The sacked vice president is most likely to come to power in the wake of the army’s move to seize power, due to his prominent political life, as well as being a business tycoon.
]]>
11/16/2017 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[3,000 form chain of light against far right in Austrian gov't]]>
Demonstrators holding flickering candles, torches and bicycle lamps encircled the capital's government district.

"Our republic's most powerful political offices should be exclusively reserved for trustworthy people who are not in the slightest connected to right-wing extremists," said Alexander Pollak, spokesman for SOS Mitmensch, one of several human rights groups which organised the demonstration.

It was the biggest protest in Austria since coalition talks between the conservative People's Party (OVP) and the Freedom Party (FPO) started two weeks ago.

Organizers estimated the number of people taking part at 8,000 to 10,000, the police at around 3,000.

"We are here because they (the FPO) feed hatred and want to divide people," said Brigitte Griesser, holding a candle.

But the protest was far smaller than unrest 17 years ago, when the FPO last formed a government with the OVP and more than 100,000 took to the streets.

"(The shift to the right) has become a European trend... it's no longer just an Austrian issue and that's why it is not that controversial any longer," said protester Juergen Pucher.]]>
11/16/2017 6:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Two U.S. Senate Republicans critical of party's tax plan]]>
Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said he would not vote for the proposal being debated by the Senate Finance Committee, telling the Wall Street Journal that it unfairly benefited corporations over other kinds of businesses.

Senator Susan Collins, one of three Republicans who opposed a Republican Obamacare repeal effort earlier this year, also warned that some middle-income taxpayers could see tax cuts wiped out by higher health insurance premiums if the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's mandate goes through.

Their views could signal problems for Senate Republicans, who want to pass tax legislation by December but can afford to lose no more than two votes from their ranks because they have only a 52-48 majority in the Senate.

"If they can pass it without me, let them," the Wall Street Journal quoted Johnson as saying. "I'm not going to vote for this tax package."

Republicans produced a new plan late on Tuesday that would guarantee permanent tax cuts for corporations but only temporarily lower tax bills for individuals and small businesses, while tying the overall package to an effective repeal of a key part of Obamacare, former Democratic President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

Exposing the tax-cut initiative to the same political risks that wrecked a mid-2017 anti-Obamacare push by Republicans, Senate tax committee chief Orrin Hatch unveiled an amendment that he defended as helpful to the middle class.

Collins, a Maine Republican, told reporters that adding the mandate repeal was a mistake. "This is going to be difficult and I just don't know why we had to complicate it by bringing up the ACA," she said.

Several moderate Republicans including Collins and John McCain have not said if they support the tax plan.

The new Republican plan, Hatch said at a committee meeting, would expand the child tax credit and slightly reduce some middle-class tax rates. Taken together, those changes "will let us channel even more tax relief to the middle class," he said.

But those changes would be temporary, while a deep cut in the corporate tax rate would be permanent under Hatch's plan, which was widely expected to become the main vehicle for Republicans efforts to revamp the tax code before year end.

The effort is seen by Republicans as critical to their prospects of retaining power in Washington in the November 2018 congressional elections. So far, Republicans and President Donald Trump have no major legislative victories from 2017 to show voters despite controlling the White House and Congress.

They are hoping the tax cut will fix that problem and have made progress in recent days while Trump toured Asian capitals. He returned late on Tuesday and was scheduled to meet with lawmakers on Thursday.

The House of Representatives prepared to begin debating its tax bill on Wednesday afternoon, with a vote expected on Thursday. It was approved last week by the House tax committee.

The Senate and House tax plans must eventually be reconciled and merged into a final plan that can pass both chambers before it goes to Trump to sign into law.

EXCLUDING DEMOCRATS

By including an effective repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate, Senate Republicans likely ended any possibility of gaining support from Democrats.

"This is not just another garden variety attack on the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. This is repeal of that law," said Senator Ron Wyden, the finance committee's top Democrat. He blasted Republicans for setting a "double standard" by guaranteeing permanent tax cuts only for corporations.

The individual mandate clause of Obamacare requires healthy younger people to buy insurance or pay a federal penalty. The aim is to hold down coverage costs for those sick or older.

By repealing that penalty, Republicans would raise more than $318 billion over a decade to pay for tax cuts, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan unit of Congress.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office separately estimated last week that repealing the mandate would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 13 million by 2027.

Trump backed the inclusion of the mandate repeal in the tax bill, as do Republican conservatives in the Senate and House.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNBC on Wednesday that while the House tax plan did not repeal the mandate, Republicans in that chamber would likely approve a final measure hammered out with the Senate that included it.

Hatch's Senate plan would also expand access to deductions for "pass-through" businesses and increase the child tax credit to $2,000 from the earlier proposed $1,650. But those benefits would expire at the end of 2025.

The changes would still allow the measure to comply with a deficit requirement that must be met if Senate Republicans are to pass the legislation with a simple majority. The Senate tax plan is required to add no more than $1.5 trillion over 10 years to the federal deficit and national debt. Otherwise, Senate Republicans would need 60 votes.]]>
11/16/2017 4:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. embassy defends credibility of Liberia presidential poll]]>
First-round winner George Weah, a former international football star, was initially set to face the runner-up, Vice-President Joseph Boakai, last week to determine who will replace current term-limited President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

But the third-place finisher, Charles Brumskine, contested the outcome of the first round, claiming gross irregularities had occurred and accusing NEC officials of fraud, an allegation the body denies.

"No accredited Liberian, regional, or international observation group suggested that the cumulative anomalies observed reflect systemic issues sufficient to undermine the fundamental integrity of the electoral process," the U.S. embassy said in a statement.

Liberia's Supreme Court ordered the elections commission to fully examine Brumskine's allegations last week, a decision likely to push back the run-off date by weeks and even creates the possibility of the first round being re-run.

A number of first-round candidates, including Boakai, have publicly backed Brumskine's challenge to the results and echoed his fraud allegations.

The dispute led Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, to state in a radio address following the Supreme Court decision that Liberia's democracy was "under threat", without elaborating.

"Efforts by any actors to impede the expressed will of Liberia's people for personal ambition could risk goodwill and future investments in Liberia by international partners," the U.S. statement warned.

Liberia, Africa's oldest modern republic, was founded by freed U.S. slaves in 1847, and maintains a special relationship with the United States.

The West African timber and rubber producer is still trying to heal the wounds of one of the continent's most brutal civil wars, which ended nearly 15 years ago. A successful vote would be its first democratic transfer of power in more than seven decades.]]>
11/16/2017 2:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Zimbabwe's ruling party apologizes to military on state TV]]>
Kudzai Chipanga, whose powerful ZANU-PF youth wing has been a strong supporter of Mugabe and his wife Grace, said he had voluntarily given his statement.]]>
11/16/2017 1:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Zimbabwe's army seizes power, Mugabe confined but "safe"]]>
Soldiers seized the state broadcaster and a general appeared on television to announce the takeover. Armored vehicles blocked roads to the main government offices, parliament and the courts in central Harare, while taxis ferried commuters to work nearby. The atmosphere in the capital remained calm.

In his first contact with the outside world since the takeover, Mugabe spoke by telephone to the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, and told him he was confined to his home but fine, the South African presidency said in a statement.

It was not clear whether the apparent military coup would bring a formal end to the 93-year-old Mugabe's rule; the main goal of the generals appeared to be preventing Mugabe's wife Grace, 41 years his junior, from succeeding him.

But whether or not he goes, it may mark the end of the country's dominance by Mugabe, the last of Africa's state founders still in power from the era of the struggle against colonialism, and one of the continent's most polarising figures.

Mugabe, still seen by many Africans as a liberation hero, is reviled in the West as a despot whose disastrous handling of the economy and willingness to resort to violence to maintain power destroyed one of Africa's most promising states.

He plunged Zimbabwe into a fresh political crisis last week by firing his vice president and presumed successor. The generals believed that move was aimed at clearing a path for Grace Mugabe to take over and announced on Monday they were prepared to "step in" if purges of their allies did not end.

"We are only targeting criminals around him (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice," Major General SB Moyo, Chief of Staff Logistics, said on television.

"As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."

In a sign Grace Mugabe's allies were coming under pressure, the head of the ruling party's youth wing, Kudzanai Chipanga, appeared on state TV on Wednesday evening to apologise for comments he had made criticising the army a day earlier. He said he was speaking voluntarily.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the African Union and Western countries called for calm.

South Africa's defence and state security ministers flew into Harare to try to arrange talks between Mugabe and the generals, South African media reported without going into further details.

"We cannot tell how developments in Zimbabwe will play out in the days ahead and we do not know whether this marks the downfall of Mugabe or not," British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told parliament. "We will do all we can, with our international partners, to ensure this provides a genuine opportunity for all Zimbabweans to decide their future."

Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, a leading member of the ruling party's 'G40' faction, led by Grace Mugabe, had been detained by the military, a government source said.

CAREENING OFF A CLIFF

By Wednesday afternoon it was business as usual in Harare's suburbs while there was less traffic than normal in the city centre. Residents spoke in awe of events that had previously seemed unthinkable.

"I don't support the army but I am happy to see Mugabe gone, maybe this country can start to develop again," said Rumbi Katepfu, preparing to shut her mobile phone shop early in downtown Harare. "I did not think this would ever happen... We used to think Mugabe and Grace were invincible."

As evening fell there were fewer people on the streets than usual. In one park, a lone couple shared a chocolate bar, seemingly unconcerned by the presence of troops. "What's there to fear? This is a free country," said Nathan Mpariwa, stroking the hand of his partner.

Tanks blocked roads after dark and soldiers with automatic weapons kept up their patrols, but made no effort to stop people streaming home from work.

Whatever the final outcome, the events could signal a once-in-a-generation change for the southern African nation, once a regional bread-basket, reduced to destitution by an economic crisis Mugabe's opponents have long blamed on him.

Even many of Mugabe's most loyal supporters had come to oppose the rise of his wife, who courted the powerful youth wing of the ruling party but alienated the military, led by Mugabe's former guerrilla comrades from the 1970s independence struggle.

"This is a correction of a state that was careening off the cliff," Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of the liberation war veterans, told Reuters. "It's the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife."

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change called for a peaceful return to constitutional democracy, adding it hoped the military intervention would lead to the "establishment of a stable, democratic and progressive nation state".

Zuma - speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - expressed hope there would be no unconstitutional changes, and urged Zimbabwe's government and the military "to resolve the political impasse amicably".

ECONOMIC IMPLOSION

While most African states gained independence by the end of the 1960s, Zimbabwe remained one of the last European colonies on the continent, ruled by white settlers as Rhodesia until 1980. Mugabe took power after a long guerrilla struggle, and two decades later ordered the forcible seizure of white-owned farms.

The collapse in output that followed was one of the worst economic depressions of modern times. By 2007-2008 inflation topped out at 500 billion percent. Mugabe blamed Britain and the United States for sabotaging the country to bring it to heel. His followers used violence to suppress a growing domestic opposition he branded lackeys of former colonial powers.

The economy briefly stabilised from 2010-2014 when Mugabe was forced to accept a power-sharing government with the opposition, but since then the recovery has unravelled. In the last year, a chronic shortage of dollars has led to long queues outside banks. Imported goods are running out and economists say that by some measures inflation is now at 50 percent a month.

The economic implosion has destabilised the region, sending millions of poor labourers to neighbouring South Africa.

"It's an amazing thing that is happening. It was about time but it might be 20 years too late," said Billy, 30, a Zimbabwean working as a marketing officer in South Africa. Asked if he would return to Zimbabwe if the economy was revived, he said: "Definitely, there is no place like home."

The political crisis came to a head last week when Mugabe sacked his presumed heir, Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa, a long-serving former leader of the security forces nicknamed "the Crocodile" for his role as Mugabe's enforcer over the decades.

The head of the military held a news conference with top brass on Monday threatening to "step in" if the purge of veterans continued. Soldiers deployed across Harare on Tuesday and seized the state broadcaster after Mugabe's ruling party accused the military chief of treason.

According to a trove of intelligence documents reviewed by Reuters this year, Mnangagwa has been planning to revitalise the economy by bringing back white farmers kicked off their land and patching up relations with the World Bank and IMF.]]>
11/16/2017 12:15:14 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria emphasize Libya stability]]>
This came in a a joint statement called "The Cairo Declaration" read by Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry following his talks with counterparts of Tunisia Khemaies Jhinaoui and Algeria Abdelkader Messahel.

They appreciated the efforts of the UN Libya envoy and expressed support for his plan to settle the Libyan crisis.

The top diplomats said they reviewed efforts exerted by their countries over the recent period to achieve accord among the disputing parties in Libya.]]>
11/16/2017 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Zimbabwe’s political scene: Egyptian perspective ]]>
Several countries issued warning statements urging citizens to avoid Zimbabwee any possible concerns or troubles including the United States and United Kingdom.

“As a result of the ongoing political uncertainty through the night, the ambassador has instructed all employees to remain home. U.S. citizens in Zimbabwe are encouraged to stay in shelter until further notice. Please monitor news and embassy notifications,” read a U.S. embassy in Zimbabwe statement released November 14.

The British government also issued a statement on November 15, noting, “due to the uncertain political situation in Harare, including reports of unusual military activity, we recommend British nationals remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer.”

In Egypt, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zaid responded to the diplomatic reporter’s questions regarding the state’s official stance on Wednesday by saying that the government has been following the recent political updates in Harare with deep concern. “We are calling all parties in Zimbabwe to commit with self-control and deal with the ongoing situation with wisdom according to the people’s interests.”

Abu Zaid added that the Egyptian government has been in constant contact with the Egyptian Embassy in Harare during the past hours, affirming that the Egyptian community there, estimated at about 80 people, is safe and secured. “None of them have been hurt in any way,” he added.

How should we act?

“The only thing that will define what is happening exactly in Zimbabwe is international reactions towards it. For example, if the Southern African Development Community (SADC) refused to accept what happen and defined it as a hostile movement against the legitimate government, then many things will be clear,” African Studies Institute Professor Ayman Shabana said in statements to media outlets Wednesday.

He added that SADC had succeeded earlier to stop similar movements in other countries in Africa, further explaining that even if there are countries that support the current movement in Harare, they would never declare it publicly.

Shabana affirmed that the Army in Zimbabwe used the argument between Robert Mugabe and his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over the country. “Claiming that they are following some of the corrupt people around the president is totally not true, they are taking power,” Shabana added.

Despite Shabana’s speculations, nothing can be affirmed until now, especially since Mugabe and his wife Grace are in Namibia, according to The Guardian.

Egyptian – Zimbabwean relations

Egypt and Zimbabwe have been sharing “brotherly” relations, according to the FM’s spokesperson statement Wednesday. President Abdel Fatah al -sisi met earlier with his Zimbabwean counterpart Mugabe on the sidelines of the three African economic blocs (COMESA, SADC, IAC) Conference in 2015.

During the meeting both sides have praised the international relations between the two countries, stressing on the importance of developing it. Mugabe then expressed his admiration with the Egyptian role supporting the African countries, including his. The meeting tackled several issues, including the conflicts within the African and Arab region.

Several agreements and deals are signed between the two nations, according to the State Information Service (SIS) website. On Tuesday night, Zimbabwe’s military seized power in the country, announcing that they were chasing “criminals” close to the president and that he and his family are completely safe. 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe Mugabe has been ruling the country for about 37 years.]]>
11/15/2017 10:33:34 PM
<![CDATA[No single journalist is detained: Makram]]>
In a press conference, Ahmed said that most of the news sites that were blocked during the last period belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Freedom does not mean leaving sites that belong to a group which millions of Egyptians protested against (Muslim Brotherhood) free to publish lies about the June 30 Revolution, claiming that it was a military coup,” Ahmed said.

“So far, we have not disagreed with anyone on any political issue and we are trying to protect the profession,” Ahmed explained.

On May 25, a total of 21 websites were blocked in Egypt, including Qatar’s Aljazeera on allegations of publishing content that “supports terrorism and deliberately spreads lies.”

Since then, Egyptians have not been able to access pro-Islamistnews websites and other venues such as Masr al-Arabia, Arabi 21, Al-Sharq, Klmty, al-Horria Post, Hasam Egypt, Ikhwan Online, Rassd, Cairo Portal, Egypt Window, as well as the website of Palestinian group Hamas.

Aljazeera and several Qatari news websites, such as Al-Arab and Al-Watan, have also been blocked in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, in addition to the Egyptian pro-Muslim Brotherhood website Rassd. The reaction from the Gulf states comes after a statement that attacked Gulf countries was attributed to Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. ]]>
11/15/2017 8:52:01 PM
<![CDATA[France's Macron says not offering Hariri exile]]>
"No, not at all," Macron told reporters in Bonn when asked if he was handing Hariri exile. "I hope that Lebanon will be stable, and that political choices should be in accordance with institutional rule."

"We need a strong Lebanon with her territorial integrity respected. We need leaders who are free to make their own choices and speak freely." ]]>
11/15/2017 8:37:20 PM
<![CDATA[Profile: 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe]]>
Tension escalated after Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife Grace appeared to replace Mugabe's recently-fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, leading many to suspect that she would succeed her husband. Armored vehicles blocked roads to the government’s main offices, parliament and the courts in central Harare.

But it is not clear whether the move taken by the military would end Mugabe’s rule.
He came to power in 1980 as he was seen as a revolutionary hero when he fought Zimbabwe's last white ruler for the freedom of his people and for guiding Zimbabwe toward democracy after 14 years of rebellion against the Crown, headed by white Southern Rhodesian leader Ian Smith.

But his 37-year legacy in ruling was dominated by murder, torture, tyranny, persecution of political opponents, and vote-rigging on a grand scale, leading to the country’s economic collapse. Despite concerns over his health, he declared that he has no plans of stepping down.

Early life

Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924, in Katuma, 50 miles west of the Southern Rhodesian capital. He graduated from Katuma’s St. Francis Xavier College in 1945. For the next 15 years, he taught in Rhodesia and Ghana and pursued graduate studies at Fort Hare University in South Africa.

In 1960, Mugabe joined the pro-independence National Democratic Party, becoming its publicity secretary. In 1961, the NDP was banned and reformed as the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU). Two years later, Mugabe left ZAPU for the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).

In 1964, ZANU was banned by Rhodesia’s ruler. Smith and Mugabe were imprisoned for 10 years when he began to plan for a guerilla war against Smith’s ruling. A year later, Smith issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence to create the white-ruled state of Rhodesia, following Britain’s plans for majority rule where Zimbabwe’s people faced oppression.

While he was in prison, he relied on secret communications to launch guerilla operations toward freeing Southern Rhodesia from British rule. Soon after his release from jail in 1974, he caused a seismic shift in the then-Rhodesian politics, riding a wave of popular outrage against the racist colonial rulers.

Then, in Ghana, he met and married his first wife, Sally Hayfron, who died of a kidney disease in 1992. He later crossed the border to neighboring Mozambique to launch a protracted guerrilla war for independence. He returned to Rhodesia in 1979 and became Prime Minister in 1980 of the newly-independent country renamed Zimbabwe.

In 1987, Mugabe switched tactics, inviting ZAPU to be merged with the ruling ZANU-PF and creating a de facto one-party authoritarian state with himself as the ruling president.
He married his current wife and Zimbabwe's First Lady, Grace Mugabe, in 1996.

His way to tyranny

In 1990s, he was reelected twice. In 2000, Mugabe organized a referendum on a new Zimbabwean constitution that would expand the powers of the presidency and allow the government to seize white-owned land. Since then, he has won a series of controversial elections that critics claim he rigged, including one in 2008.

On March 29, 2008, when he lost the presidential election to Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposing Movement for Democratic Change, Mugabe was unwilling to let go of the reins. Mugabe's refusal to hand over presidential power led to another violent outbreak that injured thousands and resulted in the death of 85 of Tsvangirai's supporters.

Consequently, Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed to reach a power-sharing deal.
His tyranny was greatly imposed when his bullying men – "veterans" of the guerrilla war against the Smith regime – began invading white farmer’s lands, killing them, burning their homes and looting their possessions. At the same time, any voice of dissidence was met with violence and shut down, which reflected that he had become increasingly authoritarian.

Besides, the economy of the mineral-rich Zimbabwe descended into chaos with thousands of people reduced to grinding poverty and many suffering from near-starvation. Recently, he has scaled back his public engagements, while his wife, who is 51, has become increasingly visible in politics, according to The Guardian.
Asked whether he plans to run again in 2018 election, Mugabe, 93, confirmed that he would be the sole candidate for the presidential election, according to Mail Online.

Mugabe's medical trips to Singapore have become frequent in recent years, fuelling questions about his health, but he declared in July 2017 that "there is the issue that the president is going. I am not going. That the president is dying. I am not dying," according to the Telegraph.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the army chief and a veteran of the country's struggle for independence, was sacked on November 8 by Mugabe for “showing traits of disloyalty." With Mnangagwa's exit, Mugabe ousted one of his last remaining associates from the liberation war who have stood by him since independence from Britain in 1980.

Mnangagwa, who fled the country soon after, was seen as a likely successor to the ailing president, and his ousting appeared to pave the way for First Lady Grace Mugabe. Therefore, the military intervention came after a recent period of unrest within Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. ]]>
11/15/2017 8:01:21 PM
<![CDATA[Zimbabweans in S. Africa hope for change at home after coup]]>
Zimbabwe's military seized power early on Wednesday saying it was targeting "criminals" around Mugabe, 93, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

Several million Zimbabweans have fled the country, mostly to South Africa, after the economy shrank by more than a third from 2000 to 2008 following the collapse of the agriculture sector. Unemployment rose to over 80 percent. Many in the diaspora said they were happy to see change back home at last.

"I think it's a step in the right direction for a political situation which was now a joke," Kevin Mpofu, 28, said. "The arrests that have happened so far are a celebration for many Zimbabweans tired of the corruption and abuse of power."

A 30-year-old Zimbabwean working as a marketing officer in South Africa who gave his name as Billy said it was "about time but it might be 20 years too late."

He worried that one strongman might follow another: "It may be hard in future to remove that person as well. We might have another 37 years ahead of us of a single person."

The main goal of the generals appears to be preventing Mugabe's wife Grace, 52, from succeeding him.

The military stepped in after Mugabe sacked his presumed successor, Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa, last week. Mnangagwa's unexpected downfall followed months of sometimes vitriolic attacks by Grace Mugabe, who used national rallies organised by ZANU-PF youths to attack her party rivals.

"We have suffered way too long under Mugabe, and ironically to some point Grace Mugabe is our hero. If it wasn't for her big mouth and her big ego this situation would not have happened," said 36 year-old Mbangeni Nyathi, Johannesburg-based spokesman for Tajamuka, a pressure group calling for change in Zimbabwe.

"We are not sure who is in charge but we are ready for any kind of change. Our hope is for the military to pave way for free and fair elections," he added.

Zimbabwe's economy briefly stabilized from 2010-2014 when Mugabe was forced to accept a power-sharing government with the opposition, but since then the recovery has unraveled. A chronic shortage of dollars has led to long queues outside banks and imported goods are running out.

Asked if he would return to Zimbabwe if the economy was revived, Billy said: "Definitely, there is no place like home."]]>
11/15/2017 7:28:06 PM
<![CDATA[France, Germany urge more action on climate after US pullout]]>
"Climate change is by far the most significant struggle of our times," Chancellor Angela Merkel told a Nov. 6-17 meeting of 200 nations in Bonn on ways of bolstering the Paris agreement that aims to end the fossil fuel era this century.

Both she and French President Emmanuel Macron said the pact was only a start to reining in a rise in global temperatures and needed to be toughened.

Germany needed to reduce its dependence on coal power in order to significantly cut emissions, she said.

Merkel's conservatives are seeking to form a coalition government that includes the ecologist Greens, who are demanding steep cuts in carbon dioxide emssions by 2020.

"We know that Germany still uses coal to a large extent and coal, especially brown coal, should make a contribution to meet our (emissions reduction) goals," Merkel said.

Macron said France aimed to close down all coal-fired power plants by 2021 as part of action to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

And he said France would make up for a shortfall in U.S. funding for the climate science research by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"I can guarantee that starting in 2018 the IPCC will have all the money that it needs to continue our decision making," he said. "They will not miss a single euro."

Trump, who doubts climate change is primarily caused by man-made emissions, said in June that he will pull out of the Paris Agreement and instead promote the coal and fossil fuel industries.

Merkel praised an alliance of U.S. states, cities and companies called "America's Pledge" to compensate for Trump's decision.

"I welcome this as it highlights the importance of climate protection in large parts of the U.S. regardless of the decision by President Trump to leave the Paris accord."]]>
11/15/2017 7:09:25 PM
<![CDATA[Russian lawmakers approve law on media "foreign agents"]]>
The legislation, which needs approval from the upper house and President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law, is part of the fallout from allegations that the Kremlin interfered in the U.S. presidential election last year in favour of Donald Trump.

U.S. intelligence officials accuse the Kremlin of using Russian media organisations it finances to influence U.S. voters, and this week Washington required Russian state broadcaster RT to register a U.S.-based affiliate company as a "foreign agent".

The Kremlin denies meddling in the election and has said the restrictions on Russian broadcasters in the United States are an attack on free speech. It has vowed to retaliate by imposing restrictions on some foreign media operating in Russia.

In the 450-seat State Duma, 414 lawmakers voted on Wednesday for the bill on a third and final reading, with none against, Russian news agencies reported.

If the upper chamber and Putin also back the draft, it will become law but implementation of its provisions would be left to the discretion of the Russian government.

Putin has been fiercely critical of U.S. measures towards Russian media, but he has not given wholehearted support to the draft legislation, saying at the weekend it "might be a little too harsh".

BRANDED AS FOREIGN AGENTS

The draft legislation states that Russian authorities can designate foreign media as "foreign agents", making them subject to the same requirements that are applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organisations under a 2012 law.

That law, heavily criticised by Western governments, was an attempt by Moscow to insulate itself from a wave of popular revolutions in eastern Europe and the Middle East. Moscow said they were fomented by Western governments using civil society groups as proxies.

Under the 2012 law, "foreign agents" have to include in any information they publish or broadcast to Russian audiences a mention of their "foreign agent" designation.

They also have to apply for inclusion in a government register, submit regular reports on their sources of funding, on their objectives, on how they spend their money, and who their managers are.

They can be subject to spot checks by the authorities to make sure they comply with the rules, according to the 2012 law. ]]>
11/15/2017 5:47:35 PM
<![CDATA[Climate action by China, India to offset Trump: study]]>
But average world temperatures are still on track to rise far above the key goal set in the 2015 Paris Agreement of limiting warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, it said.

The Carbon Action Tracker (CAT) report, by three independent European research groups, said current policies meant the world was headed for a warming of 3.4 degrees Celsius (6.1 Fahrenheit) by 2100, down from 3.6 degrees (6.5) it predicted a year ago.

"This is the first time since the CAT began tracking action in 2009 that policies at a national level have visibly reduced its end of century temperature estimate," it said.

China was on track to over-achieve its pledge under the Paris Agreement to peak its carbon emissions by 2030, it said. And India was also making progress to limit a surge in emissions driven by more coal use.

A rise of 3 degrees Celsius (5.4F) in global average temperatures could cause loss of tropical coral reefs, Alpine glaciers, Arctic summer sea ice and perhaps an irreversible melt of Greenland's ice that would drive up world sea levels, a U.N. science panel says.

"It is clear who the leaders are here: in the face of U.S. inaction, China and India are stepping up," said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, one of the research groups.

Trump, who doubts that climate change is primarily caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions, said in June that he would instead focus on promoting jobs in the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

Hare told Reuters that it was too early to say that global emissions were peaking.

"While China an India's emissions growth have slowed, they are still growing," especially in India, he said. "The most fundamental step to halt the global emissions growth now is for coal plants to be phased out in many countries."

On Monday, another report said that man-made carbon dioxide emissions were on target to rise by 2 percent in 2017, dashing hopes that they had peaked. The main driver was a 3.5 percent rise by China in 2017.]]>
11/15/2017 1:53:11 PM
<![CDATA[Qatari regime excludes Qahtan and Bani Hajer from military ]]>
Qahtan and the Bani Hajer tribes are expected to gather on Friday at Dammam and Riyadh cities, Saudi Arabia, to show their solidarity with Sheikh Shafi and his family. Qatar withdrew their citizenships in September after Sheikh Shafi had met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and tribal leaders.

“No good things are expected to come out from the country that is withdrawing nationalities from its people and recruiting army personnel from abroad,” stressed Sheikh Shafi.

This is not the first time that Qatar withdraws nationalities from those opposing the Qatari regime for supporting terrorism and funding extremist organizations. Qatar has most recently revoked the citizenship of poet Mohammed bin Futais al-Marri accusing him of supporting Saudi Arabia at the expense of the Qatari government.

In addition, Qatar has withdrawn the citizenship of head of Al-Murrah tribe Sheikh Taleb bin Muhammed Lahm bin Shraim and put many members of the Al-Murrah tribe in prison without trial, where they were subjected to torture and humiliation.

Qataris are used to the regime’s lies and attempts to distort the tribes of Qatar in order to tear up the tribal social fabric in favor of the minority of Iranians.

In 2005, Qatar revoked the citizenship of about 5,000 to 6,000 members of Al-Ghafran clan of the Al-Murrah tribe and exiled them to Saudi Arabia, allegedly for playing a major role in the failed counter-coup of 1996. The tribe used to hold ministerial positions between 1996 and 2013 until Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani became the emir.

Three months ago, on June 5, the Arab-Qatar crisis broke out after four countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – severed diplomatic ties with the country for funding and supporting terrorism and chaos in the Middle East.
]]>
11/15/2017 1:35:08 PM
<![CDATA[Attacks targeted more countries in 2016 but fewer killed: report]]>
Its report, produced by Australia's Institute for Economics & Peace, found there were 25,673 deaths last year due to terror attacks -- down 22 per cent from a 2014 peak.
It noted significant decreases in Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

However, 77 countries experienced at least one fatal attack, more than at any time in the 17-year history of the Global Terrorism Database, on which it is based.

The data set, collated by America's University of Maryland, is considered the most comprehensive of its kind globally.

The GTI called the falling victim numbers the "main positive finding" and "a turning point in the fight against radical Islamist extremism".

It reported the biggest improvement in Nigeria, where terrorism deaths attributed to Boko Haram fell by 80 percent last year.

But deaths attributed to the Islamic State group increased by nearly half in 2016, with the majority of the rise -- 40 percent -- in Iraq.

The GTI found "disturbing" trends in the worldwide spread of terrorism.
A dozen more countries were the victim of a deadly strike last year than in 2015.
The report's authors also warned of the potential for Islamic State fighters from Iraq and Syria to join new radical offshoots in other countries.

In Afghanistan, they described the picture as "complex" in 2016, as the Taliban reduced attacks against civilians but stepped up conflict with government forces.

In Europe and other developed countries, it was the deadliest year for terrorism since 1988, excluding the September 11 attacks in 2001, according to the GTI.

It blamed Islamic State activity for the continued spike there, with 75 percent of terror-related deaths in these countries directed or inspired by the organisation since 2014.
"There has been a general shift towards simpler attacks against non-traditional and softer civilian targets," the authors noted.

However, they also found the Islamic State's "diminishing capacity" had led to a sharp drop in the number of deaths in the first half of 2017.]]>
11/15/2017 11:55:32 AM
<![CDATA[Tongans to vote after monarch dissolved parliament]]>
King Tupou VI has never explained why he dramatically intervened in the island nation's politics in August, dismissing Akilisi Pohiva, the first commoner to ever serve as Tonga's prime minister.

But many hope the poll will help reinvigorate the tiny nation's stalled experiment with democracy, which descended into in-fighting and instability under Pohiva.

Candidate Ana Bing Fonua, who resigned from a top public service job to contest the election, said more women and young people should be represented.

"There needs to be a diversity in parliament and the youth voice is absent," she said. "There are social issues that women need to address."

"I also want to lift the calibre of the character of the MPs in how they deliberate," she added.

Tonga, with 60,000 voters from a population of just 110,000, has a 26-seat parliament with 17 members elected by the people and nine spots taken by hereditary nobles.

Suffrage was extended in 2010 after rioting in the capital Nuku'alofa four years earlier that left eight people dead, sparked by anger that reform of the semi-feudal political system was progressing too slowly.

Pohiva, once a prominent pro-democracy activist, was widely criticised for failing to adapt to leadership after he was elected in 2014.

After Pohiva's August sacking, parliamentary speaker Lord Tu'ivakano said that the prime minister had been trying to "trespass" on the monarch's powers.

He also said Pohiva wasted parliament's time with "frivolous" motions of impeachment.
This year's election campaign has been peaceful and the head of the Tonga Media Council Pisi Fonua said voters were concentrating on local issues.

"They are more or less looking at their urgent needs like to have good water or good roads or street lights," he told Radio New Zealand.

"That's what comes out. The more serious issues of employment and things like that, seem to be on the next page."

Unofficial results are expected late Thursday but the process of selecting a prime minister and forming a government could take weeks.

Tonga does not have formal political parties, meaning post-election negotiations involve protracted horse trading.]]>
11/15/2017 10:14:16 AM
<![CDATA[Efforts to free UK citizen will be 'long-haul': UK Ex-diplomat]]>
Richard Dalton also poured cold water on the idea of giving Zaghari-Ratcliffe the status of diplomatic protection, an idea proposed by her family and supporters as way of placing greater pressure on the Tehran regime.

Johnson is due to discuss the idea of diplomatic protection with Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s British husband, Richard, at a meeting on Wednesday. It will be the first time Johnson has met him since Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested during a visit to Iran in April 2016 and accused of espionage, a charge she denies.

He said Iran’s revolutionary courts believed they had a proper case, but it was possible for early releases to be granted if it was deemed to be in the higher interest of the Iranian state.

Dalton also poured cold water on the idea of diplomatic protection, saying the proposal is “extremely vague”.

“I do not see its relevance in this case; we claim that as a British citizen, as well as an Iranian citizen, consular protection should apply,” he said. “The Iranians however have a settled view that second nationality is irrelevant when it comes to extraction.”

Johnson has apologized for incorrect comments, which risked lengthening the prison sentence of a British woman incarcerated in Iran.

He has faced calls to resign over mistaken remarks made to MPs, where he claimed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been “teaching journalism” in Tehran when she was arrested 19 months ago – rather than visiting relatives as her family claims.

Iranian state TV seized on the comments as an “unintended confession”, prompting fears that his remarks were being used by the Iranian authorities to justify her continued imprisonment over spying allegations.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a British-Iranian dual citizen, who has been detained in Iran since 3 April 2016.]]>
11/15/2017 1:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Qatar funds Ethiopia’s dam to escalate crisis with Egypt]]>
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn headed to Doha on Monday, directly after the Tripartite National Committee meeting in Cairo failed to approve the initial studies' report on the regional impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad invited the Ethiopian prime minister to discuss ways of enhancing and promoting bilateral relations between the two countries in an attempt to persuade Ethiopia to escalate the crisis with Egypt.

The visit came in the framework of pursuing Qatar’s national political agendas to undermine Egyptian security and stability, a Qatari opposition source revealed to Egypt Today, indicating that they discussed the issue of funding the Renaissance Dam during the visit.

At the same time, the Sudanese president received Qatar Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi and Qatari Ambassador to Sudan Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi to discuss promoting bilateral relations between the two countries.

In addition, Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah met his Ethiopian counterpart, Siraj Fegessa, to discuss the defense and military fields and means of enhancing and developing them, in addition to the exchange of experiences and military training courses.

Cairo hosted the 17th round of the Tripartite National Committee negotiations on Sunday, which was attended by the irrigation ministers of the three Nile Basin states.

It aimed to reach a consensus over the introductory report prepared by two French firms, BRL and Arterlia, on their technical studies of the dam's potential impact on Egypt and Sudan, according to Minister Abdel-Ati.

The studies were proposed to begin in late 2016, but required an agreement on methods from the three governments before they could begin.

Abdel-Ati said that committee did not reach an agreement on adopting guidelines. The guidelines were indicated in a report prepared by a technical committee on the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile Basin states after two days of talks.

Abdel-Ati declared that Egypt approves of the report’s outcomes, but the Ethiopian and Sudanese did not express consensus and called for amendments. Egypt halted all negotiations and said that all future decisions are at the hand of the cabinet.

Although Sudan was initially opposed to the dam’s construction, the country has recently warmed to the idea. This could be because Sudan has agreed to purchase electricity from the dam, while the two countries have also agreed to collaborate on a free economic zone.

Abbas Sharaky, chair of the Natural Resources Department at the African Studies Center at Cairo University, said in a TV interview on Monday that Egypt should have raised its objections to the United Nations since construction works already started. He said that it would not cripple the negotiations with Ethiopia.


Sharaky added that Ethiopia did not adopt correct studies when building the dam, and that chances of it collapsing are quite possible, which would inundate Sudan.s
Egypt has previously expressed concerns about the ongoing delays in the approval of the technical studies, given that Ethiopia is continuing the construction of the dam.

Egypt’s concerns include the negative impact the Ethiopian dam will have on their historic Nile water share, amounting to 55.5 billion cubic meters in Egypt only, in accordance with the historic 1959 agreement with Sudan.

In April 2011, Ethiopia started the construction of the Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile River, one of the major sources of water to Egypt’s Nile Delta.
]]>
11/14/2017 11:42:21 PM
<![CDATA[Zimbabwe's ruling party says will never succumb to army threats]]>
In the statement, ZANU-PF said it stood by the "primacy of politics over the gun" and accused armed forces chief Constantino Chiwenga of trying to disturb the peace and stability of the impoverished southern African nation.]]>
11/14/2017 8:59:28 PM
<![CDATA[Hariri’s resignation was expected: Former Lebanese official]]>
According to Hariri, he resigned because he had received death threats by Iran-backed Hezbollah. Hezbollah had increased inside and outside of Lebanon. He also declared that he would return in two days.

The former consultant of the Lebanese president, Beshara Khair Allah, affirmed in an interview with Egypt Today that Hezbollah’s acts are unconstitutional, favoring its private interests rather than that of the nation. He added that Hariri’s resignation had been expected in light of Hezbollah’s continuous militant operations outside the country’s borders.

Khair Allah suggested on Tuesday a bundle of measures that should be taken by Lebanese President Michael Aoun to resolve the crisis and curb the guerilla group’s power.

The measures are set in place to neutralize the country, keeping it away from the conflict between regional powers, obliging Hezbollah to withdraw from the fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, setting a timeline for the guerrilla group to seize its weapons, and putting into effect the Baabda Declaration signed by Lebanese factions in 2012 to inhibit internal conflicts.

The former presidential consultant added that Egypt plays a pivotal role in the endeavors aiming to resolve the current Lebanese crisis by virtue of its political influence on the Arab and regional scales, as well as it strong ties with all countries.

Iranian website Amadnews published a report titled "what happened during the meeting between Velayati and Hariri" last week, revealing that the Supreme Leader of Iran advisor Ali Akbar Velayati threatened Hariri’s assassination in order to pressure him to comply with Iranian demands regarding Hezbollah. “You will meet the same fate as your father,” is reportedly the threat relayed by Velayati.

Velayati also threatened to sink Lebanon into chaos, bringing in commanders from Hezbollah's security apparatus and asking them to present documents proving that the Lebanese Future Party (led by Hariri) had provided Western sources with sensitive information that led to the elimination of Hezbollah's field commanders in Syria by Israel.

Hariri refuted supporting the Iran-backed guerrilla group in any way, announcing his resignation the following day from the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Rafik Al-Hariri, initially a businessman, was the Prime Minister of Lebanon between 1992 and 1998, and again since 2000 until his resignation in 2004. He was assassinated on February 14, 2005 by Hezbollah militants after a car bomb exploded on his motorcade. He is credited for reconstructing the capital Beirut after the 15-year civil war. He was the father of Saad El Hariri.]]>
11/14/2017 8:54:32 PM
<![CDATA[MPs call for equal gender representation in judicial system ]]>
In several articles, the constitution emphasizes the right of women to hold any position in the state, equal to men, and that preventing women from accessing a particular position is one form of discrimination against them that violates the constitution and all international conventions ratified and adopted by Egypt.

These articles include article 11 which explains that, “The State shall ensure the achievement of equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. The State shall take the necessary measures to ensure the appropriate representation of women in the houses of representatives, as specified by Law. The State shall also guarantee women’s right of holding public and senior management offices in the State and their appointment in judicial bodies and authorities without discrimination. The State shall protect women against all forms of violence and ensure enabling women to strike a balance between family duties and work requirements. The State shall provide care to and protection of motherhood and childhood, female heads of families, and elderly and neediest women.”

And article 53 that reads, “All citizens are equal before the Law. They are equal in rights, freedoms and general duties, without discrimination based on religion, belief, sex, origin, race, color, language, disability, social class, political or geographic affiliation or any other reason. Discrimination and incitement of hatred is a crime punished by Law. The State shall take necessary measures for eliminating all forms of discrimination, and the Law shall regulate creating an independent commission for this purpose.”

Discussions on women’s rights to access the judicial system were intense in the parliament on Tuesday as female MPs called for laws and policies that respect, empower and protect women and their rights to access all state positions. They also called to examine the fairness of the current recruitment procedures to ensure that there is no discrimination against women based on their gender, and they requested to question the Minister of Justice and State Council.

This women’s rights crisis was triggered by Umniah Gadallah; a top class law female graduate that was rejected when she applied for a judge position in the State Council, for no other reason but her gender.

Gadallah first filed a case against the state council in 2014 for refusing her enrolment in the council, citing that there is an abuse by the council towards women’s appointments. She appealed again in 2016 and in February 2018 the Supreme Administrative Court will hear Gadallah’s appeal.

“Why should I not be appointed after four years now? Why is the State Council the opponent and the judge at the same time?” Gadallah remarked to Egypt Today on her case. Gadallah further explained that the number of female judges does not exceed half the number of male judges with 66 female judges and 16,000 male judges according to the latest statistics by the Ministry of Justice. She added that the State Council remains the only institution strongly rejecting the appointment of women.

She also noted that the State Council practice is against the laws, the constitution, and international agreements that support gender equality and women participation. Also, she said that the State Council transferred her case to the Supreme Administrative Court and prevented her from appealing to the administrative judiciary first.

Egypt Today spoke to several MPs on the issue and the suggested draft laws that aim to ensure a non-discriminatory policy and procedure for appointing women in the judicial system. MP and assistant professor at the University of Alexandria, Suzy Adly Nashed, said that she will submit a draft law that would force the State Council to appoint female judges. She said that the draft law adopts and reflects all constitution articles which call for equality between men and women in all fields. She said that the State Council is the only judicial institution in Egypt that does not welcome female judges, while other state institutions do not experience the same issue.

She said, “This is not a privilege, it is womea’s right and must be realized especially with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi declaring 2017 the year of women.”

Nashed pointed out that women are represented in administrative prosecution, ordinary judiciary, and constitutional judiciary; explaining that it is about time to see women represented in the state council. She also explained that the proposed law, will call for similar selection criteria to be applied on both genders and for professionalism to be the only condition for appointment.

Nashed also noted that “the rationale of using biological factors to forbid women from being judges is unreasonable. Women in Egypt have occupied high positions, such as cabinet ministers, and succeeded. Why didn’t their biological makeup stand in their way then?”

Salah Fawzi, a professor of constitutional law and member of the Supreme Committee for Legislative Reform in the parliament, noted that he strongly supports the proposed draft law by MP Suzy Adly Nashed. He pointed out that in 2009 the General Assembly of the State Council took a decision to exclude women from appointment in the Council; despite clearly contradicting the constitution. The discussion led to several lawsuits being filed by female graduates of law school, as they were prevented from pursuing any position at the State Council.

Following the 2009 decision, in 2010 Justice Minister Mamdouh Marei sent a letter to the Supreme Constitutional Court to seek its advice on the State Council’s decision. The court replied that the Council has the right to make its own policy on the matter. Later, the State Council formed a three-member committee that ultimately agreed on four items that lead to delaying the appointment of women as judges and affirmed the right of women to be hired for technical positions provided there are no Sharia, constitutional or legal constraints preventing it. Yet despite this theoretical affirmation, the committee noted that there were practical constraints preventing women from assuming such positions for the time being.

MP Dina Abdel Aziz, a political and economic researcher representing Helwan district in Cairo, said to Egypt Today that the Constitution guarantees full equality of genders in all posts. Therefore, there is no justification for rejecting the appointment of women as judges. She said that she will request an explanation on this matter from the Minister of Justice, Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim.

Women’s battle against the State Council began in 1952, when Aisha Rateb, a lawyer, filed suit against the council, calling for the appointment of women to judicial positions. Rateb took the step after the State Council announced its need for assistant delegates, but refused to appoint her. The State Council held that the time had not yet come for women to occupy judicial positions. Although Rateb lost her suit, she succeeded in serving in other senior positions and became ambassador to Denmark and minister of Social Affairs and Security in the 1970s.

In 2003, Tahani Al-Gebali became the first woman to hold a judicial position in Egyptian history as she held the position of Vice President of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the highest court in Egypt, until 2007.

Also in 2015, Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind announced during a press conference on “Female Judges in the Arab World”, the intention to appoint female judges which he described as “part of a plan by the justice ministry to eliminate all hurdles facing women’s work in the judiciary.” As a result, 26 women were appointed in the primary jurisdiction. This was the third group of female judges to be appointed in Egypt’s judiciary, with 42 having been appointed two stages earlier, prior to 2008.]]>
11/14/2017 7:07:01 PM
<![CDATA[Health Ministry launches campaign, convoy for World Diabetes Day]]>
Dean of the Diabetes Institute Hesham Al-Hafnawi said that the campaign includes seminars and educational trips for diabetic patients as well as a launch of free medical convoys.

Hafnawi added that an educational day was held for the patients and their relatives this morning at the institute's lecture hall. Free blood tests were also conducted for the patients and nutritious meals were distributed among them, pointing out that another seminar will be held to raise awareness regarding the disease on Wednesday, November 22 at Cairo University’s Faculty of Nursing.

Lectures on early detection of diabetes and its complications with free blood tests for all attendees will also take place.


Hafnawi noted that two treatment convoys will be launched to diagnose diabetes and provide free treatment on November 16 at Al-Ahrar hospital in Al-Sharqia. Another one will be held on December 7 at Qaft Hospital in Qena followed by a scientific day for doctors on how to apply the protocols of the global treatment of diabetes type I and II.


An educational recreational trip for diabetic children will be held on Thursday, November 23. Children will learn to coexist safely with diabetes, as well as participate in recreational sports competitions, eat at food stalls and undergo free diabetes blood analyzers that will be distributed to sick children. At the end of the day, they will return to the institute.

Throughout the whole day, children will be accompanied by a medical team carrying out follow-ups.


Khaled Megahed, the Ministry of Health and Population’s official spokesperson, announced that the professional diploma on diabetes in Egyptian universities, which is in collaboration with the National Institute of Diabetes, has begun since November 8. The certificate identifies its holder as a diabetes specialist.

"This certificate is considered the first of its kind in Egypt," said Megahed.

The rate of diabetes in Egypt has significantly increased, exceeding international rates, according to participants in the fourth Arab Diabetes forum.

“Egypt is now ranked the eighth highest in the world in terms of the disease. Diabetes in Egypt rose to 16.5 million people, half of which do not know they suffer from this disease, while the other half receives treatment. The disease has risen 83 percent over the past 15 years, which is a very large increase compared to international rates,” said Megahed.

The number of people suffering from diabetes around the world is 360 million and is expected to increase to 500 million by 2030. The Middle East and the Arab region are the countries with the highest rate of diabetes, specifically Egypt and the Gulf countries.


The increase of the disease is attributed mainly to the unhealthy lifestyles and poor nutritional habits, in addition to genetic factors.


Inas Shaltout, professor of diabetes at Kasr Al-Ain University and head of the Arab Diabetes Association, said that the number of diabetic people in Egypt, according to the statistics of 2015, is about 8 million Egyptians.


She noted that the expected numbers in Egypt, according to the International Federation of Diabetes, will reach 15 million people by 2040, because it will double if the state does not exert efforts, in cooperation with concerned parties, to manage the spread of diabetes.

Women who have already had gestational diabetes, ovarian calcification, pancreatitis, pancreatic surgery, who take certain drugs such as "cortisone," or are classified as obese are more susceptible to diabetes, and they have to test for diabetes each year after the age of forty, and every three years before the age of forty.]]>
11/14/2017 7:03:34 PM
<![CDATA[Australia to introduce safeguards against foreign interference]]>
The decision to improve safeguards follows a review of Australia's espionage and foreign interference laws and will include legislation to ban foreign political donations, Attorney-General George Brandis told Parliament.

"Espionage and covert foreign interference can cause immense harm to our national sovereignty, to the safety of our people, to our economic prosperity, and to the very integrity of Australian democracy," Brandis said.

Policies modeled in part on the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, requiring individuals or institutions to make a declaration if acting on behalf of a foreign power to influence the political processes, would also be introduced, he said.

While Brandis did not mention any countries targeted by the legislation, there has been growing concern about China extending its influence.

In June, Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, reported there had been a concerted campaign by China and its proxies to "infiltrate" the Australian political process and institutions to promote their interests.

China dismissed the accusation as "totally unfounded and irresponsible".

This week, one of Australia's largest independent publishers said it decided to delay the publication of a book that alleges widespread Chinese government influence in Australian institutions due to legal concerns.]]>
11/14/2017 6:37:12 PM
<![CDATA[Experts, officials designate Ethiopian Dam as imminent threat]]>
Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Mohamed Abdel-Ati, said that TNCRD did not reach an agreement on adopting guidelines. The guidelines were indicated in a report prepared by a technical committee on the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile Basin States after two days of talks.

Abdel-Ati declared that Egypt approves of the report’s outcomes, but the Ethiopian and Sudanese did not express consensus and called for amendments. Egypt halted all negotiations and said that all future decisions are at the hand of the cabinet.

Development of the issue:
Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. It was built by the Italian construction and engineering company Salini Impergilo. The Italian company is headquartered in Milan. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.

Since May 2011, Cairo has voiced its concern over how the dam can reduce the country’s annual shares of more than 56 billion cubic meters of Nile water. Egypt’s average water per-capita is expected to drop from 663 cubic meters per year to 582 cubic meters by 2025, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) in 2014. Addis Ababa, however, claimed that the dam is necessary for its development and will not harm downstream countries.

Meanwhile, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi signed a tripartite joint cooperation agreement in Khartoum on March 23, 2015 between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. In December 2015, Sisi addressed the public, saying that there is no reason to worry about the dam and that the matter would be resolved. The three countries held 14 rounds of consultation on resolving the disputes over the Renaissance Dam. However, these rounds failed to solve the dispute.

Former Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Hossam el-Moughazi, stated in November 2015 that the dam’s construction is going faster than the tripartite talks. On October 1, The Telegraph reported that Ethiopia is finalizing the construction of the dam and then will start filling its reservoir.

Suggested future measures:
The Chair of the Natural Resources Department at the African Studies Center at Cairo University Abbas Sharaky said in a TV interview on Monday that Egypt should have raised its objection to the United Nations since construction works already started. He said that it would not cripple the negotiations with Ethiopia.

Sharaky stated that although Sudan seems to be a beneficiary of the dam, it would suffer the most of its repercussions. He explained that Sudan wants to import electricity generated by the dam, and benefit from the fact that it would prevent silt from accumulating in its dams.

Sharaky added that Ethiopia did not adopt correct studies when building the dam, and that chances of it collapsing are quite possible which would inundate Sudan.

Former Egyptian Ambassador to Sudan Mohamed El Shazly said in a TV phone call that Sudan is subject to pressure by certain countries to approve of the current construction design of the dam.

The Head of the African Affairs Committee at the Parliament El Sayed Fleifal said in a TV phone call that negotiations on dams’ construction typically take a long time, and that Ethiopia has been gaining time in the past negotiations. He added that the state has been dealing with Ethiopia in a spirit of goodwill and without any pressure.

El Shazly agreed on the MP’s statements asserting that Egypt cannot afford to be more lenient in the negotiations, and that the focus must shift from environmental studies to structural studies.

The MP described the construction of the dam as a breach to the international law as it prohibits another state from getting its water share. He stated that Ethiopia has avoided addressing the dam’s negative impact indicated in the technical committee’s report.

“We will not dispose of one single cubic meter of our water shares,” Fleifel added. He stipulated that the goal of building the dam is political rather than developmental.

El Shazly stressed that Egypt must take a further solid and stronger stance on the matter. He accused Ethiopia of lacking transparency in the negotiations asserting that the state’s soft handling of the matter incurred the construction of over 60 percent of the dam.]]>
11/14/2017 6:01:11 PM
<![CDATA[Trade, economic relations on top of Zambian president visit ]]>
Sisi said that he met with the Zambian president several times on the sidelines of African summit conferences and expressed his happiness with Lungu’s visit to Cairo. “Our talks today focused on trade and economic relations with the aim of boosting joint projects in different economic sectors, especially that the activity of Egyptian companies working in electricity, construction, and telecommunication sectors in Zambia has increased,” the president stated.

Sisi also highlighted Egypt’s eagerness to provide professional training for Zambian citizens in multiple fields. He added that both countries cooperate to achieve peace and stability in the continent, as well as accomplishing the African Union (AU) 2063 Agenda whose goals is promoting socio-economic development across the continent.

“I look forward to further communication in the future,” the president concluded.

On the other hand, Lungu expressed his delight with being in Cairo. “We had tight relations since 1964, as we cooperated in trade, youth, sports, tourism, and others sectors,” the Zambian president said.

“We appreciate Egypt’s efforts to establish peace and stability in Africa and the Middle East which has been reflected in its role through the Security Council, United Nations, and COMESSA (Common Market for Eastern Southern Africa),” Lungu stated.
Both parties signed three memoranda of understanding (MOUs) upon cooperation in the sectors of tourism, trade, sports, and others.

In 2009, Egypt’s imports from Zambia reached $106.4 million while its exports recorded $15.3 million. The top Egyptian exports to Zambia are electricity meters and parts, TV sets, electric cable, food products, juices, tires, medicines, cosmetics, paper products, textiles, carpets, paints, chemicals, construction, ceramics, and sanitary ware.

On the other hand, Zambia mainly exports to Egypt copper, tobacco, wood and wood products, according to the State Information Service.

The last Zambian presidential visit to Egypt took place in December 2010 by former President Rupiah Banda who held talks with former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on ways to boost bilateral relations before the eruption of the January 25 Revolution.

Egyptian-Zambian relations date back to the latter’s struggle for independence from the British colonization, which was finally achieved in 1964. Later on, mutual relations between Egypt and Zambia evolved on the political and economic scales. ]]>
11/14/2017 5:18:49 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar 'thousand times better off' without Gulf allies: emir]]>
In a speech to the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said his government had nonetheless put in place contingency plans as he expected the bitter political dispute with his neighbours and former allies to drag on.

"We do not fear the boycott of these countries against us, we are a thousand times better off without them," the emir told members of the council and foreign dignitaries in Doha. "But vigilance is required," he added.

Sheikh Tamim nonetheless said his government was working on "introducing a number of food security projects" and had "given special attention to water security" as it looked to a future without its former Arab allies. Iran, Turkey and most recently Spain have stepped in to help Qatar secure food imports amid a boycott by four Arab states.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in June announced they had severed ties with Qatar, sealing off the emirate's only land border in the wide-ranging boycott. They accuse Qatar's government of supporting Islamist extremism and fostering close ties with Iran.

Qatar denies the charges, claiming the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty. Both parties in the crisis, the worst to grip the Gulf Cooperation Council in its 36-year history, have refused to back down despite mediation attempts by Kuwait and the United States.

Sheikh Tamim said his country also planned to hold elections for the Shura Council, whose 45 members are currently appointed by the emir. The world's largest exporter of liquified natural gas, Qatar has claimed it can cope with the demands of the dispute, despite the boycott being put in place by former regional allies and major trading partners.

Moody's has estimated that Qatar used $38.5 billion -- equivalent to 23 percent of its GDP - to support the economy in the first two months of sanctions. Qatar, which is scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup, insists that it is economically strong enough to survive the crisis. Doha this month said it was investigating an alleged attempt to manipulate its currency the Qatari riyal early on in the crisis by an international company partly owned by United Arab Emirates investors.]]>
11/14/2017 1:39:51 PM
<![CDATA[Trump's Asia tour more style than substance: analysts]]>
Regional leaders vied with each other during the five-nation sweep to fete a president known for his partiality to grand gestures of honour and respect. And it clearly worked.

"It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received," Trump said. In Tokyo, a golfing date with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was followed by a gala dinner and in Beijing he toured the Forbidden City as part of an extravagant "state visit-plus" which also included a performance of Peking Opera.

In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-In gave a presidential toast in honour of a man who "is already making America great again". The gaffe-prone Trump - who has little love for long foreign trips - navigated the tricky visits without incident, appearing relaxed and comfortable.

'Nothing has really changed'

From Tokyo to Manila, via Seoul, Beijing, Danang and Hanoi, the 71-year-old president hammered out two priorities: increasing pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme and pushing for better access to Asian markets for US companies.

But beyond the rhetoric and smiling photo opportunities, questions remain as to what progress he actually made on either issue."If you compare the before and after of Trump's Asia tour, nothing has really changed (on the issue of North Korea)," Go Myong-Hyun, an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies --a Seoul-based think tank -- told AFP.

Trump pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping to exert more pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, but Beijing, Pyongyang's main trading partner, "is sticking to its existing stance" of limited sanctions, Go said.Some experts note, however, that the meeting between the presidents of the top two world powers could bear fruit in the medium term.

"Xi Jinping gave Trump a huge welcome.... so China and US relationship is relatively stable at the moment. Under such an atmosphere, Xi Jinping won't completely reject Trump' demands," said Cheng Xiaohe, associate professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

On the issue of trade, it was also unclear whether Trump -- who has accused his Democrat and Republican predecessors of having failed for decades on international deals - managed to bag any major wins. Beijing announced it would be easing limits on foreign ownership in the financial sector, but numerous obstacles remain.

The US president announced some $250 billion worth of contracts with China, but many were non-binding memorandums of understanding which will take years to bear fruit, if they ever do. "These contracts are just a painkiller; momentary relief for China-US trade disputes," said Cheng.

Before leaving, Trump said he would deliver his own verdict on the trip when he returns to Washington. "We've made some very big steps with respect to trade, far bigger than anything you know," he said, without elaborating.

'US looking backward'

The visit also provided disappointment on the long-term aim of a change in geo-strategic relations in the region.Trump's speech at the APEC regional forum in Danang, praised in advance by the White House, was at times reminiscent of his election campaign rallies on the theme of "America First".

Drawing a picture of the United States as a victim of "chronic trade abuses", he slammed multilateral agreements that "bind the hands" of his country.Back in 2011, the US proposed the concept of a free and open "Indo-pacific region" but Trump has yet to spell out what that might mean, said Yoshinobu Yamamoto, professor of international relations at the University of Niigata Prefecture.

"We'll have to see what kind of substance will be achieved through the concept," he added. According to Ryan Hass, former Asia adviser to Barack Obama, the presidential trip reinforced the impression that "the region is accelerating forward while the United States is looking backward".

The decision of ministers from 11 Asia-Pacific countries to press ahead with a major trade pact without the United States was particularly striking, he said. Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) just days after taking office.

Hass also highlighted the comparison between Xi Jinping's calls for the region to "come aboard the fast train of Chinese development" and the economic nationalism of his American counterpart. On the personal side, even if his chummy rapport with Abe, both on the golf course and beyond, proves genuine, his relationship with Xi will be infinitely more complex.

Trump has said he has "a very good relationship with Xi", who he described as "strong... the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong". But it is difficult to predict how the relationship will evolve in the coming years if tensions spike.]]>
11/14/2017 1:29:19 PM
<![CDATA[Overview of Zambia-Egypt ties amid Lungu’s visit to Cairo ]]>
Zambia has supported the majority of Egyptian Candidates for international positions, and voted for the resolution submitted by Egypt to apply the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the Middle East in 2008/2009, after abstaining from the vote in 2007. Egypt has held several training programs for Zambian cadres in civilian and military domains, according to the State Information Service (SIS).

In 2009, Egypt’s imports from Zambia reached $106.4 million, while its exports recorded $15.3 million. The top Egyptian exports to Zambia are electricity meters and parts, TV sets, electric cable, food products, juices, tires, medicines, medical products, cosmetics, paper products, textiles, carpets, paints, chemicals, construction materials, ceramics, and sanitary ware.

On the other hand, Zambia mainly exports to Egypt copper, tobacco, wood and wood products, according to SIS. The last Zambian presidential visit to Egypt took place in December 2010 by former President Rupiah Banda who held talks with former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on ways to boost bilateral relations before the eruption of the January 25 Revolution.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu will discuss with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during his three-day visit joint cooperation, as well as regional and global issues. Zambian Ambassador to Egypt Topply Lubaya told Lusaka Times on Sunday that Lungu will hold site visits to the Arab Authority for Manufacturing, the Suez Canal Fisheries Establishment and the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone). It is also expected that a number of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) will be signed by both parties. ]]>
11/14/2017 1:04:17 PM
<![CDATA[Myanmar Rohingya exodus leaves ghostland behind]]>
A rare military-organised trip for foreign media by helicopter to Maungdaw district -- the epicentre of a crisis that exploded in late August - showed a landscape devoid of people, with the emerald paddy fields scarred by the blackened patches of destroyed Rohingya villages.

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the area over the past two and a half months, running from a scorched-earth military campaign against militants that the UN has described as a "textbook example" of ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar, a mainly Buddhist country, has denied committing atrocities but has heavily restricted access to the conflict zone with the exception of brief government-organised visits.

Under the watchful eye of an army brigadier and border police, journalists on Sunday were able to speak to some of the several hundred Rohingya camped at the beach near Ale Than Kyaw village, hoping to flee across treacherous waters to neighbouring Bangladesh.

While the worst violence appears to have subsided, those left behind say they are trapped -- unable to afford the $50 boat fee, but without the means to eke out a living in the region.

"We used to work in farming and fishing, but now the owners don't want labour," said 25-year-old Osoma, explaining that most Rohingya businesses and landowners have joined the exodus.

The young mother of three, carrying a month-old baby in her arms, said her family was not certain if life in Bangladesh's sprawling refugee camps would be better.

"But we want to stay with the others who are there already," she told AFP.

Desperate escape

Rakhine's northernmost Maungdaw district was once home to around three quarters of Myanmar's 1.1 million - strong Rohingya population, according to government figures.

Aid workers estimate that only some 150,000 remain there, with other communities living further south.

With no one left to work Maungdaw's fields, huge swathes of verdant farmland are at risk of rotting - a cruel irony given the severe food shortages in aid-dependent Rakhine and the squalid refugee camps across the border.

Myanmar says it has trucked in workers from other parts of the state to harvest 70,000 acres of abandoned rice paddies.

But some stretches of untouched fields have already started to turn brown in the mountain-studded region.

The media trip to Rakhine comes amid mounting global pressure on Myanmar over its handling of the crisis, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson set to visit the capital on Wednesday.

The top American diplomat is expected to take a firm tone with the country's powerful military leaders, whom he has deemed "responsible" for the crisis.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Rakhine, some desperate Rohingya are taking matters into their own hands.

Ro Shi Armad, 18, has teamed up with several other families to build a flimsy-looking raft using plastic containers and bamboo.

Scores of refugees have drowned in recent months while attempting the perilous journey to Bangladesh.

"We're not worried if we die on the way over," the teenager told AFP.

"What else can we do now?"]]>
11/14/2017 12:33:37 PM
<![CDATA[Tamim's speech reveals determination to deepen rift with neighbors]]>
Although the consequences of the severe sanctions enforced on Qatar in June have shown huge economic losses, Tamim insisted during the opening session that Qatar does not fear the boycott as it has become better after cutting off ties with the Gulf states, describing it as an “unjust embargo that violates all values.”

Qatar is rich in oil and gas, but it does not produce its own food as it has depended mainly on imports from Saudi Arabia. Consequently, after the borders with Saudi Arabia have been shut, Qatar is facing food shortages.

The same applies to national airlines; according to the Official Airline Guide (OAG) estimates, the suspension of Qatar Airways' services to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt amounts to about 324 flights per week. Hamad International Airport is losing some $200 million everyday day.

On this regard, a deal between Qatar Airways and American Airlines fell through. Qatar Airways wished to buy 10 percent of the American company’s shares. American Airlines refused to be associated with Qatar Airways due to it being accused of receiving billions of dollars in government support, as well as its country's reputation for terrorism.

Besides, the slump in the Qatari tourism sector is a clear sign that the Gulf state is unable to adequately withstand the effects of the recent diplomatic crisis. Qatari hotels have previously hosted considerable numbers of tourists and are currently witnessing far less, with only 57 percent of hotels occupied on the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

As for the allegations of Qatar’s funding terrorism, Tamim noted that “the international community cannot be deceived by these allegations and Qatar’s record of combating terrorism through history is well known.”

He confirmed on this regard that his country will continue to support the international mediation efforts in Libya and the government of national concordance for their attempts to reach reconciliation between all Libyan parties.

Media outlets in October reported that Qatar has been assisting the transportation of Islamic State (IS) militants from Iraq and Syria to southern Libya.
In early October, the Libya National Army's spokesperson, Ahmed Al-Mesmari, announced that Qatar has been supporting IS terrorists financially; he also added that Doha committed numerous crimes against the Libyan people, especially transporting IS militants from Syria and Iraq to Sudan and then to Libya.

Christopher Davidson, a British researcher who teaches Middle East politics at Durham University in England, also stated that Qatar was involved in the transport of weapons and fighters from Libya to Syria in 2012 and 2013, but is now transporting them to Libya.

A March 2013 UN report pointed out that in 2011 and 2012, Qatar violated the UN's arms embargo by “providing military material to the revolutionary forces through the organization of a large number of flights and the deliveries of a range of arms and ammunition."

Doha has provided more than €750 million to extremist groups in Libya since 2011.
On the other hand, the central Intelligence Agency of America (CIA) on Wednesday, released to the public nearly 470,000 additional files recovered in the May 2011 raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. CIA director Mike Pompeo authorized the release in the interest of transparency and to enhance public understanding of al-Qaeda and its former leader, the CIA stated on Wednesday.

A paper in bin Laden’s memos said that he wants to transmit his ideas about the revolutions of Arab countries to his son Hamza, who is supposed to travel to Qatar. Bin Laden wrote in the memos that Qatar is the only qualified country to carry this responsibility in order to avoid any crises.

The French website, Therese Zrihen, referred also to Qatar’s stubbornness in supporting terrorist organizations, claiming that it has been double-dealing in the Middle East for decades, as it destabilizes its neighbor’s while acting as though it is paying lip service to Gulf Arab unity.

The report accused Qatar, the world's largest exporter of natural gas, of using part of its wealth to finance extremist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Taliban, Hamas and al-Qaeda.

“Only in Doha can one see Muslim Brotherhood leaders from Egypt rubbing shoulders with Taliban leaders from Afghanistan and Hamas leaders from Gaza,” the report read; asserting that all those extremists receive personal support from Qatar’s emir.

]]>
11/14/2017 12:19:05 PM
<![CDATA[US House urges political solution in Yemen, sanctions against Iran]]>
The resolution denounces the targeting of civilian populations in Yemen and calls on all parties involved to “increase efforts to adopt all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent civilian casualties and increase humanitarian access.”

The resolution stressed the US' support for the Saudi-led coalition forces and urged other governments to extend relief aid and allow journalists into Yemen.

The resolution also called for imposing sanctions on Iran over extending weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Yemen has been devastated by a war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthi rebel movement.

Saudi Arabia is leading a campaign to defeat the Houthis, and is the biggest power in an international air coalition that has bombed the rebel group since 2015. ]]>
11/14/2017 11:13:10 AM
<![CDATA[17th round of GERD tripartite talks hits wall in Cairo]]>
The 17th round of GERD Tripartite National Technical Committee was attended by the irrigation ministers of the three Nile Basin states. It aimed to reach a consensus over the introductory report prepared by two French firms, BRL and Arterlia, on their technical studies of the dam's potential impact on Egypt and Sudan, according to Minister Abdel-Ati.

The studies were proposed to begin in late 2016, but required an agreement on methods from the three governments before they could begin.The minister revealed that Egypt approved the initial report, though Ethiopia and Sudan demanded major amendments to the proposed studies.

Egypt has previously expressed concern about ongoing delays in the approval of the technical studies, given that Ethiopia is continuing the construction of the dam.The 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam, which is slated for completion this year, is situated near Ethiopia's border with Sudan.

In 2011, Ethiopia started the construction of the 6,000-megawatt Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile River, one of the major sources of water that forms the Nile River downstream. Concerns have risen in Cairo and Khartoum over the negative impact the Ethiopian dam will have on their historic Nile water share, amounting to 55.5 billion cubic meters in Egypt only, in accordance with the historic 1959 agreement with Sudan.

However, Ethiopia stressed that the dam will not have any negative impact on Egypt or Sudan.Egypt and Sudan opposed the dam’s construction from the very beginning; however, Sudan changed its stance towards the dam in 2013, expressing support for its construction, and claiming that it is going to serve the interest of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt.

President Omar al-Bashir claimed that his country’s approval for the construction of the Ethiopian dam was driven by economic not political reasons.

Addis Ababa was pleased by Sudan’s support to the new dam project and welcomed Bashir several times on its territory. The Sudanese president's remarks about the GERD seemed to be a bargaining chip to secure Addis Ababa's support before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

In July 2017, Sudanese Media Minister Ahmed Bilal asserted that Egypt and Sudan share strong links and a long history of unending relationship, adding that Khartoum will not harm Egypt's national security. Bilal pointed out, in a press conference at the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo, that the filling of GERD’s reservoir should be applied in cooperation with downstream countries to minimize potential negative impacts.

The real average consumption of water in Egypt is 105 billion cubic meters, and we get only 55.5 billion cubic meters from the Nile. The remaining 80 billion cubic meters are covered by the reuse of wastewater. ]]>
11/14/2017 10:49:53 AM
<![CDATA[Arab countries involved in a row with Qatar are not interested in a solution: Emir]]>
Speaking to members of the Gulf Arab state’s consultative Shoura Council, Tamim also accused Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt of trying to deprive his country of hosting the soccer World Cup in 2022.]]>
11/14/2017 9:38:52 AM
<![CDATA[The truth behind the U.S. show of force in Asia]]>
Getting three carriers to the Pacific has been an intrinsic part of Washington’s strategy to intimidate North Korea. But to do so required pulling forces from a host of other potential conflict areas, including the Gulf.

The ever-increasing demand for military resources in a growing number of places is causing increased concern in the U.S. military. In June, a report by the U.S. Army War College described America’s military clout as “fraying” and bluntly concluded that the era of U.S. global military primacy that followed the fall of the Berlin wall was over. America’s armed forces have a variety of strategies to tackle that decline but the truth is that coming wars will look very different from the sort of military deployments taken for granted in the recent past.

The change from a decade or so ago could scarcely be starker. In the aftermath of 9/11, America’s conventional military capability was narrowly focused on a handful of locations, primarily Iraq and Afghanistan. The resources plowed into them were stupendous – $5.6 trillion so far, academics at Brown University estimated this month. That would imply a cost per individual U.S. taxpayer of more than $23,000, including future care for veterans.

At their height, those wars dominated U.S. military thinking, planning and workload in a way that is hard to overstate. Working from Pentagon figures, the Brown researchers estimate that some 2.7 million American service personnel passed through those two countries in that time, more than half of them deploying more than once. Officially, however, these conflicts were never seen as endless wars – the hope was always that one last surge of troops would win the day and allow a larger withdrawal.

That didn’t happen, and U.S. military planners now assume there will be a substantial presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and several other countries for years, if not decades, to come. Since the middle of the Obama administration, however, the Pentagon has quietly and comprehensively changed its approach to those wars, aiming for a much more sustainable “advise and assist” model working through local forces.

Speaking at the Association of the U.S. Army meeting in Washington in October, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley made it clear he expected such missions to grow substantially in the years to come. The success of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria demonstrates such tactics can work. But there have also been substantial failures and wastage, not least in Afghanistan where local security forces continue to struggle despite absorbing $70 billion of U.S. funding since 2001.

Much of the burden of U.S. operations in the last 15 years has fallen on a handful of special operations units, whose budgets, personnel numbers and deployments have all risen dramatically. They are now dangerously overstretched, and the U.S. Army is now looking to create more mainstream units to take on unconventional deployments.

With much of the fighting left to local forces, U.S. casualties are substantially lower. But as the death of four U.S. Green Berets in Niger last month demonstrated, putting troops far forward with less backup than they could call on in Iraq and Afghanistan means that when things go wrong, they go bad fast.

Another awkward truth: In the last year U.S. personnel have been more likely to die in accidents than action, the result of a series of incidents including the high profile collisions of destroyers USS Fitzgerald and McCain. That toll suggests that even the parts of the U.S. military that have not been fighting wars are perhaps dangerously overstretched.

That’s been particularly true in Asia, where both the Fitzgerald and McCain were based. Tensions with China and North Korea have kept those units on high alert. In Europe too, heightened tensions with Russia have resulted in a scale of U.S. military activity unseen since the Cold War. U.S. troops, planes, ships and submarines are now on almost continuous exercises to reassure allies and track Russia’s increasingly active forces as Moscow probes NATO air and sea borders.

The Pentagon budget – $825 billion this fiscal year – is rising, and continues to dwarf that of any other nation. But it is also spread much more widely. China and Russia – spending $146 billion and 70 billion respectively – lack America’s global reach, but are more aggressively focused on their own immediate neighborhoods. Both have aggressively plowed resources into techniques and tactics such as cyber warfare and missiles that U.S. tacticians worry might give them the edge in any local war.

Some of that was expected – the Obama administration began its “pivot” to Asia in 2012 because of the perceived growing China threat. Much, however, was not – not least the speed with which North Korea has raced towards being able to strike the U.S. with nuclear-tipped missiles.

Washington’s military capabilities still dwarf anyone else’s. But it now faces a very real danger that its foes may be able to bleed it to death without ever confronting it in battle. ]]>
11/14/2017 1:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Lebanese patriarch makes historic visit to Saudi Arabia]]>
Patriarch Beshara al-Rai heads the Maronite church, which has a presence in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus and follows an Eastern rite of the Roman Catholic church. Maronites number about 900,000 in Lebanon, around a quarter of the population.

An official visit to Saudi Arabia by such a senior figure marks a rare act of religious openness for Riyadh, which hosts the holiest sites in Islam and bans the practice of other religions, but says it wants to open up more to the world.

During his visit, Rai is expected to meet King Salman, his son and heir-apparent, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Saad al-Hariri, who has been in Riyadh since resigning as Lebanese prime minister on Nov. 4.

Top Lebanese government officials and senior sources close to Hariri believe Saudi Arabia coerced Hariri into resigning and has put him under effective house arrest since he flew to Saudi Arabia more than a week ago.

Hariri said in a television interview on Sunday that he was a free man and would return to Lebanon within days to affirm that he had resigned. He said Lebanon was at risk of Gulf Arab sanctions because of the Shi'ite group Hezbollah's regional meddling.

Rai, whose trip was in the works before the latest political crisis in his country, will take a message to Saudi Arabia that "Lebanon cannot handle conflict", his spokesman said last week.

Hariri's resignation and its aftermath have thrust Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran and destabilised the country, where Sunni, Shi'ite, Christian and Druze factions fought a civil war from 1975-1990, often backed by rival powers around the region.]]>
11/13/2017 9:48:15 PM
<![CDATA[Assad replaces his brother with Russian-backed commander]]>
The real reasons behind the announcement were not clear; however, some of the outlets affirmed that the president’s decision came due to several disputes between him and his brother, which ended with him excluding Maher from the position.

What complicated the decision and made it even more unexpected, is that Maher had just received a new promotion by his brother a few months ago. In June 2017, Maher was announced to be promoted from Brigadier General to Major General for the Daraa military campaign.

Several speculations spread about the scenarios, in particular since Maher was known to be his brother’s right hand, especially after the 2011 awakening in Syria. The rumors included that the disagreement between the two brothers led to the division of the army.

According to Sky News, the 49-year-old younger brother was reported to have lost a leg during an attack on Syria's security cabinet in Damascus in 2012. He is also named on the International Criminal Court (ICC) chemical weapons list.

Major General Talal Makhlouf was announced to take the position as a successor to Maher. According to the Syrian outlets, Makhlouf is a Russian-backed commander with high influence within the army.

From his side, the new commander excluded most of the former leaders and commanders in the army who were known to be loyal to Maher, as others were appointed.

This announcement comes shortly after the latest international reports that accused the Syrian president and his government, including Maher, with being responsible of the latest chemical attack over the town of Khan Shaykhun, Idlib in April 2017.

The investigation committee affiliated with the United Nations affirmed in its latest report that Bashar al-Assad was involved, and several governments demanded the investigation to continue.

Syria’s political situation has been deteriorating since the protests emerged with the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, when the opposition created the Free Syrian Army to face Assad’s forces. The situation worsened when the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group began interfering in the country in 2014.

About 470,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the war, as of February 2016, according to the latest data from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Some 1.6 million Syrians have been domestically displaced, while the number of refugees has reached 4.8 million people, the data added.
]]>
11/13/2017 7:32:48 PM
<![CDATA[Britain considers diplomatic protection for jailed aid worker in Iran]]>
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was sentenced to five years after being convicted by an Iranian court of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment. She denies the charges.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said the case had become a bargaining chip for Iran in its relations with Britain and urged Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to extend diplomatic protection for his wife.

It is unclear how such protection could be offered retrospectively to a dual Iranian-British citizen, or whether such a move would secure her release, but May's spokesman said that it was one option being considered.

"I think that the foreign secretary has obviously spoken with her husband and that is one of the options being looked at," the spokesman said.

"The prime minister has been involved with this case from the outset, she's raised it with the Iranian president on at least two occasions, the entire government is working towards securing her release as quickly as possible."

A legal opinion prepared for human rights charity Redress on Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case said the British government could grant her diplomatic protection as she is "predominantly" a British citizen who has been denied a fair trial.

It is unclear how Tehran would view such a step which would explicitly make Zaghari-Ratcliffe's fate an issue in state-to-state relations rather than a purely consular case.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's fate become a major political issue in Britain after Johnson said on Nov. 1 that she had been teaching people journalism before her arrest in April 2016, contradicting statements from her employer.

IRANIAN JAIL

The Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity organisation which is independent of Thomson Reuters and which operates independently of Reuters News, said she had been on holiday and had not been teaching journalism in Iran.

Iranian state television said Johnson's comments showed Zaghari-Ratcliffe's guilt and that she was involved in spying.

Johnson later said his remarks could have been clearer and there was no doubt she had been on holiday, although opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he should resign.

Her husband said it would not be helpful for Johnson to resign but asked to come with Johnson on a trip to Tehran planned for later this year.

"Nazanin is being held because she is British and is being used as a bargaining chip against the UK, now justified by your words," he said in an article in the Evening Standard newspaper.

"Nazanin is no longer simply a consular case as she has been endangered in a deeper way," he wrote.

The situation had affected his wife's health, he said, saying she had gone to hospital for tests after finding lumps on her breasts, which the specialist thought were benign and stress-related.

Opposition lawmakers have called on Johnson to resign for his remarks which they say have endangered Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

British ministers have rallied round Johnson but one of his allies, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, was accused of muddying the waters in a television interview on Sunday when he said he did not know what Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran.]]>
11/13/2017 5:35:40 PM
<![CDATA[NCW prepares report to empower Egyptian, African women economically]]>
The NCW organized in cooperation with the commission a two-day workshop on the economic empowerment of women in Africa.

During the workshop which ended on November 13, the council presented its report in the presence of representatives from the African Economic Commission, representatives of local concerned ministries as well as representatives of NGOs and members of the NCW's economic committee to discuss the economic situation of women in Egypt through data and statistics. Egypt's Vision for 2030 and the strategy of women empowerment were included in the final report.



The report aims to highlight Egypt's role in taking measures to achieve the economic empowerment of women through various bodies, in order to enlarge their knowledge base, which is essential to address the structural and emerging issues related to women in the field of labor market and the development of the private sector. This is all to be in accordance with objectives of the 2030 sustainable development plan.

The report is based on the original analysis of data at the companies, individual and country levels. It focuses on the status of women in the field of economic empowerment through a number of points: status of women in entrepreneurship in Egypt, the relation between entrepreneurship and women's economic empowerment, as well as obstacles and difficulties facing women.



Amr Soliman, an economic expert who participated in the workshop pointed out that this workshop aims to help those who will prepare the final report know more about the status of women’s economic empowerment in Egypt.

"We have invited our partners from ministries and civil society to introduce them to Egypt's role in realizing the economic empowerment of women," said Soliman.



Representatives of the African Economic Commission in Addis Ababa reviewed the report on the economic empowerment of women in Africa, especially the section on Egypt, where they discussed the background, objectives, methodology used in preparing the report and the report's outputs.



Representatives of ministries and civil society organizations also presented an electronic presentation focusing on their role in achieving women's economic empowerment. The participants were divided into three groups to come up with final recommendations.]]>
11/13/2017 5:24:02 PM
<![CDATA[More Tamim-loyal members appointed in Qatar's Shura Council]]>
The 45-member Shura council is responsible for discussing draft laws that should be approved by a third of the cabinet and emir, general government policy, and the state's draft budget.

In a historic move, Qatar has appointed four women to the Advisory (Shura) Council, one of its most important consultative bodies, for the first time. The four women are: Hessa Sultan Jaber Mohammed al-Jaber, Aisha Youssuf Omar al-Hamad al-Mannai, Hend Abdurrahman Mohammed Mubarak al-Muftah, and Reem Mohammed Rashid al-Hammoudi al-Mansouri.

Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and the State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Ahmed Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud joined the Shura council and would be elected as president of the council in the opening session of the council, scheduled to be held on Tuesday.

Mahmoud has tackled the Darfur file in Sudan.

Previously, Qatari Foreign Ministry issued a ministerial decision on November 7 appointing Lulwah Rashid al-Khater as the official spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry.

It is the first time that Qatar appoints a woman in the position of the Foreign Ministry’s official spokesperson during Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani’s ruling.

The announcement comes as Qatar continues to deal with the impact of the worst and most bitter diplomatic crisis in the Gulf for years, which has seen the emirate politically and economically boycotted by neighboring countries.

In the coming period, the U.S. Congress is scheduled to hand over the text of the U.S. Qatari protocol at the same time Khater is appointed; the text outlines that sources of terrorism in Qatar are to be monitored. Congressmen Dan Donovan and Brian Fitzpatrick called for amendments in the protocol.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed a memorandum of understanding with the Qatari government in July, pledging greater cooperation in the fight against illicit financing of terrorist groups throughout the Middle East.

The Congress is considering new legislation that requires the president to impose sanctions on individuals and state-sponsored agencies that finance terrorist groups like Hamas. Qatar is trying to convince the U.S. administration to steer clear of adding any Qatari agencies to that list, according to The Hill. ]]>
11/13/2017 2:58:25 PM
<![CDATA[Breakaway Somaliland votes for new president]]>
The northern territory, which is more tribally homogenous and stable than the rest of Somalia, broke away in 1991 and has been striving to attain international recognition ever since.

Three candidates are running for the state's top office, seasoned politicians Muse Bihi of the ruling Kulmiye party and opposition candidates Abdirahman Iro and Faysal Ali Warabe, who was defeated in previous elections in 2010.

"The procedure started peacefully this morning and we are confident that this election is going to be a milestone for the entire region," said Iro as he voted.

Elections are meant to be held every five years, however the poll was delayed for two years due to drought and other technical issues.

Incumbent Ahmed Mohamud Silaanyo is not seeking re-election.

Somaliland's history of peaceful, credible elections and democratic transition sets it apart from anarchic southern Somalia, and indeed much of east Africa.

Somalia's election earlier this year saw a president chosen via a limited electoral process that saw handpicked clan elders choosing delegates who were allowed to vote.

- Debates and eye scanners -

Ahead of the Somaliland election, the three main candidates held a televised debate to present their political agendas, focusing on the economy, jobs and international recognition.

"This is a very critical election ... for the youth, they need a leader who can develop the economy and bring jobs so that everybody can stay their country to enjoy their lives," said university student Ismail Mohamed.

The vote is set to be the most sophisticated yet with some 700,000 voters registered using biometric eye scanners which will identify them before they cast their ballots.

A decision by authorities to shut all social media when polling stations close at 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) was criticised by Human Rights Watch last week.

Said Ali Muse, spokesman for the national electoral commission, said the move was necessary to prevent interference from outside the borders of the semi-autonomous state and speculation over results.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, won independence in 1960 but days later joined with Somalia. In 1991, after years of bitter war with the government in Mogadishu, it declared independence from the rest of the country.]]>
11/13/2017 2:33:26 PM
<![CDATA[Magnitude 7.3 earthquake rocks the Iraq/Iran border]]>
A powerful magnitude 7.3 earthquake has rocked the border region between Iran and Iraq on Sunday night, killing more than 328 people in Iran, seven in Iraq and injuring thousands more on either side of the border. The epicenter lay just miles outside the eastern Iraqi Kurdish city of Halabja; a city infamous for the chemical attacks it suffered in 1988 under the thumb of Saddam Hussein and Ali Hassan al-Majid.

The earthquake centered 19 miles of Halabja, according to the most recent measurements from the U.S. Geological Survey. Magnitude 7 earthquakes on their own are capable of widespread, heavy damage, and large loss of life.

Photo_2
Middle East trembles as huge earthquake strikes. AFP/USGS

The worst damage appears to have happened in Iran's western Kermanshah province, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq. Residents in the rural area rely mainly on farming to make a living.

More than 236 people alone died in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, just miles from the Iraqi border. Three days of mourning have been announced.

“Sarpol-e Zahab has only one hospital, which was demolished in this incident. All patients and hospital staff have been buried beneath the rubble, so it cannot offer any service,” Farhad Tajari, the local MP, stated to local media.

More than 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter, the Iranian Red Crescent said.

The Turkish Red Crescent has announced it is sending supplies to Erbil, including 3,000 tents, 10,000 blankets, a mobile kitchen, 3,000 heaters, and 10,000 beds.





Iran sits on many major fault lines and is prone to frequent quakes. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people. The last major casualty earthquake in Iran struck in East Azerbaijan province in 2012, and killed over 300 people.

Although effects of the earthquake were felt in Arab Iraq and Persian Iran, the Kurdish people endured the most severe consequences.

Photo_3
A woman stands next to wounded people as they are treated following an earthquake in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah. REUTERS

Iraqi Kurdistan has faced more turmoil and upheaval in the past four years than most nations do in a decade; or two, or three. The wave of ISIS advances in 2014 shook Iraq and the northern Kurdish region. Several years of intense fighting followed, however while ISIS’s territorial majesty has been crushed, Iraqi Kurdistan has failed to regain stability. A controversial independence referendum in September gave reason for Iraqi and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi forces to take control of significant strategic locations on the disputed Iraqi/Iranian Kurdish border.

Main_Photo
Apartment complexes rapidly collapsed in Sarpol-e Zahab, with some residents barely evacuating in time. REUTERS

Although the death toll in Iraqi Kurdistan is far shy of that in western Iran, this comes as another blow to the region with the infrastructure destroyed and morale hit hard.

Twitter:

Joseph Colonna

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11/13/2017 2:20:34 PM
<![CDATA[Vietnam and China agree to back off conflicts in S. China Sea]]>
The communist neighbours have long-sparred over the sea -- to which Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines also have partial claims -- through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually.

China has built artificial islands and airstrips capable of hosting military installations in the sea, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

Hanoi and Beijing agreed Monday to keep the peace in the sea, the countries said in a joint statement during a state visit to Hanoi by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

They agreed to "well manage disputes at sea, make no moves that may complicate or expand disputes, (and) maintain peace and stability on the East Sea," the Vietnamese version of the statement said, using Hanoi's term for the sea.

Tensions flared earlier this year when Vietnam suspended an oil exploration project in an area off its coast that China claims as its own, reportedly following pressure from Beijing.

Relations hit rock bottom in 2014 when Beijing moved an oil rig into waters claimed by Vietnam, sparking weeks of protests.

On Sunday US President Donald Trump offered to use his negotiation prowess to help Vietnam resolve the long-simmering tensions.

"If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know... I am a very good mediator," Trump said on his own state visit to Hanoi at the tail end of his marathon tour of Asia.

But on Monday, China appeared to take a swipe at his offer.

"We hope non-regional countries can respect the regional countries' efforts in maintaining the regional stability of the South China Sea, and play a constructive role in this aspect," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

Trump was in Manila Monday for meetings with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and several other countries.

Later Monday China and ASEAN, which includes Vietnam, were expected to announce in Manila that they have agreed to begin talks on a much-delayed code of conduct for the sea.

China insists the code must not be legally binding, a demand to which Southeast Asian countries have so far acquiesced.

Vietnam had been pushing for the code to be legally binding but ASEAN agreed in August that it would not have any legal force.

China agreed in 2002 to begin talks on a code, but has delayed actually doing so while carrying out its expansionist strategy.]]>
11/13/2017 12:57:10 PM
<![CDATA[Morocco offers to mediate in Gulf crisis ]]>
King Mohammed arrived in Qatar on Sunday as a part of his Gulf tour to discuss the latest international and Arab developments in the region. The discussions especially tackled the Gulf crisis after a four-day visit to the United Arab Emirates. It was the first time that King Mohammed visited the Gulf region since the boycott.

Although Morocco is strongly associated with the Gulf countries, Rabat favors constructive neutrality in the crisis and has been careful not to issue any hasty public statements.

Since the beginning of the crisis in June, Morocco has declared that it feels intimately concerned about the crisis. Morocco called on all parties to be wise and to reduce tension, overcome this crisis and finally settle the causes that led to this.

“Morocco aims to support the stability in all countries for the Gulf Cooperation Council to keep its privileged position,” mentioned the statement released by the Moroccan Foreign Ministry in July.

The statement also referred that Morocco is ready to exert efforts to encourage an inclusive dialogue focusing on the noninterference in the interior affairs and combating extremism.

Other foreign mediations

Several countries since the beginning of the boycott have been trying to mediate the crisis, solve it, and defuse the tension.

On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar, hurling allegations that the state supports terrorism. Ports and airspaces were cut off to Qatari vessels. Since then, Kuwait has played a role of mediator to put an end to this rift. Also, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held several meetings with the disputed parties to heal the rift, but the discussions reached a stalemate.

In addition, U.S. President Donald Trump declared in September his willingness to step in and mediate the worst dispute in decades among the U.S.-allied Arab states and Qatar.

Besides, France declared that Paris wants to assist a Kuwait-led mediation on the crisis between Qatar and four other Arab states. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drain held talks in Qatar and Saudi Arabia in July.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also paid a visit in July to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar to wade deeper in the Gulf crisis and to declare his willingness to contribute in solving the crisis.

Ankara has been a strong ally to Qatar since it was isolated by the four nations. Turkey has shipped it food and expanded its military presence. However, Turkish mediation was excluded because of the unwavering, expanded support it has extended to Doha and due to its position on the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Despite all the diplomatic efforts to end the crisis, a solution has not been reached yet and the crisis is still ongoing without a quick fix to the spat. The Gulf States need a clear signal that Qatar is willing to reexamine its position regarding extremism and terrorism.]]>
11/13/2017 12:44:04 PM
<![CDATA[EU to sign defense pact, may allow limited British role]]>
In Europe’s latest attempt to lessen its reliance on the United States, the 22 governments will create a formal club that should give the European Union a more coherent role in tackling international crises.

“We’ve never come this far before,” said a senior EU official said of EU defense integration efforts that date back to a failed bid in the 1950s. “We are in a new situation.”

The election of pro-European Emmanuel Macron as France’s president and warnings by U.S. President Donald Trump that European allies must pay more towards their security have propelled the project forward, diplomats said.

European Union foreign and defense ministers are expected to sign the pact at around 1030 GMT on Monday in Brussels, and EU leaders to back it December to make it EU law.

A system to spot weaknesses across EU armed forces, in coordination with U.S.-led NATO, is due to start in a pilot stage, while a multi-billion-euro EU fund to support the pact is still under negotiation.

Long blocked by Britain, which feared the creation of an EU army, defense integration was revived by France and Germany after Britons voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

It follows years of spending cuts that have left European military forces short of vital assets.

They struggled in military and humanitarian missions in the Balkans, Libya and in Africa over the past 20 years and were caught off guard by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Aside from Denmark, which has opted out of all EU defense, only Austria, Poland, Ireland and Malta have yet to decide whether to join the pact.

London is not part of the initiative but British officials have been pressing for third country involvement. Britain’s aerospace industry and its biggest defense firm BAE Systems fear losing out, diplomats said.

Britain may be able to join in, but only on an exceptional basis if it provides substantial funds and expertise.

Despite the broad show of support, France and Germany also have differences over what the club should seek to achieve. Paris originally wanted a vanguard of EU countries to bring money and assets to French-led military missions and projects.

Berlin has sought to be more inclusive, saying even the smallest EU country may have expertise to offer. Some officials are wary that approach could reduce effectiveness.

Proposals include work on a European medical command, a network of logistic hubs in Europe, creation of a European Crisis Response center, and joint training of military officers.]]>
11/13/2017 10:45:59 AM
<![CDATA[Trump says has 'great relationship' with Duterte; brief mention of rights]]>
Their meeting was one of the most anticipated of the summit of East and Southeast Asian leaders in Manila, with human rights groups pressing Trump to take a tough line on Duterte over his bloody war on drugs, in which thousands of people have been killed.

“We are your ally. We are an important ally,” Duterte told Trump at the beginning of their talks, according to reporters allowed in to the meeting room.

Trump replied: “We’ve had a great relationship. This has been very successful. And the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) conference has been handled beautifully by the president in the Philippines.”

When a reporter asked Trump if he would raise human rights at the meeting, Duterte said: “Whoa, whoa. This is not a press statement. This is the bilateral meeting.”

A Philippines government spokesman later said human rights were not raised.

However, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the topic was mentioned briefly.

“The conversation focused on ISIS (Islamic State), illegal drugs, and trade. Human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs.”

Duterte, who has spoken highly of Trump, said last week he would tell the U.S. president to “lay off” if he were to raise accusations of rights violations.

Duterte has been called the “Trump of the East” for his brash style and provocative language.

Trump was criticized in May for praising Duterte during a phone call for the “great job” he was doing to counter illegal narcotics.

More than 3,900 people have been killed in a war on drugs that Duterte declared when he took office last year. His government says the police act in self defense, but critics say executions are taking place with no accountability.

The United States and the Philippines, a former U.S. colony, have been strategic allies since World War Two. But their relations have been strained by anti-U.S. outbursts from Duterte and his enthusiasm for better ties with Russia and China.

However, Duterte clearly appears to be getting on better with Trump than with his predecessor Barack Obama.

The two leaders seem to have warmed to each other after meeting for the first time on Saturday at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group meeting in Vietnam.

On Sunday, Duterte crooned hit Filipino love song “Ikaw” (You) at a gala dinner for summit leaders in Manila, saying it was on “the orders” of Trump.

One of the song’s verses, translated from Filipino, begins: “You are the light in my world, a half of this heart of mine”.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I sang uninvited, upon the orders of the commander-in-chief of the United States,” Duterte said later, according to the ABS-CBN news channel.

Trump lavishly praised Duterte for successfully hosting the summit meetings.

“Rodrigo,” he said, “I would like to commend you on your success as ASEAN chair at this critical moment in time, and in the association’s history.”

Duterte’s Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told reporters the two leaders got on well, after a tense relationship between Duterte and Obama.

“The issue between President Duterte and former President Barack Obama is a thing of the past,” Andanar said.
]]>
11/13/2017 10:41:05 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt concerned over failure on Ethiopia's dam, says min.]]>
Cairo hosted activities of the tripartite technical committee meeting on the Renaissance Dam, which were held on Saturday and Sunday.

A consultative office had been assigned to finalize two studies on the impact of the controversial dam on Egypt and Sudan. ]]>
11/13/2017 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Hariri speaks out on resignation, refutes detention claim in Riyadh]]>
Speaking from Saudi Arabia, Hariri asserted "I am free" and announced that he would return to his country within a few days. He dismissed reports that his residence in Saudi Arabia was against his will.

On November 4, the 47-years-old Lebanese Sunni politician unexpectedly declared his resignation in a pre-recorded message, during his visit to Riyadh. He said in the televised speech that he feared for his life and accused Iran and its proxies of destabilizing his country and the region. Hariri’s resignation has raised regional and international controversy, threatening of a political crisis in Lebanon.

In Sunday's live interview, Hariri said he planned to return to Lebanon to confirm his resignation in accordance with the constitution. But he also said that if he rescinds his decision to quit, the Hezbollah movement must respect Lebanon's policy of avoiding regional conflicts.

Hariri spoke out following intensive pressure from Lebanese officials, who said his resignation was not accepted because it was declared in Saudi Arabia. He said his resignation was his decision, dismissing reports he was forced to quit a unity government with Hezbollah.

Hariri described his decision to resign as necessary move to “cause a positive shock” to the Lebanese political scene, warning against what he said was Iranian interference that is ruining relations with other Arab countries.

Hariri served as prime minister from 2009 to 2011 and took office again in 2016.

Lebanon President Michel Aoun said before the interview that the “mysterious circumstances for Hariri’s stay in the Saudi capital of Riyadh makes all his positions questionable and in doubt and not of his own volition.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain have issued last week advisories to their citizens about traveling to Lebanon and urged those who are in the country to leave as soon as possible.

They warned would-be Lebanon visitors about “safety considerations."

In 2016, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait had ordered their nationals to leave Lebanon after they considered that Hezbollah, the armed group fighting in Syria alongside the regime, controls Lebanon's political leadership. The UAE has not lifted its travel bans on Lebanon since then.]]>
11/12/2017 11:22:38 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar’s suspicious relation with Iran in CIA memos ]]>
During the meeting, Abo Anas complained about the situation and treatment inside the prisons, confirming that Iran breached its agreement with al-Qaeda and arrested some of al-Qaeda members.

The document revealed how Iran facilitated at first the reception of al-Qaeda members before changing it policy to arrest a lot of members from the organization as well the photographer of Al Jazeera.

The most important thing that Qatari regime did not mention is this arrest in its terrorist channel, while conducted large campaign when U.S. arrested its correspondent in Afghanistan due to the good relation between Qatari regime and Iran.

The CIA released last week to the public nearly 470,000 additional files recovered in the May 2011 raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. CIA director Mike Pompeo authorized the release in the interest of transparency and to enhancepublic understanding of al-Qaeda and its former leader, the CIA stated on Wednesday. ]]>
11/12/2017 10:33:56 PM
<![CDATA[UK foreign secretary says Hariri should return to Lebanon]]>
In a statement, Johnson said he had spoken with Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil on Sunday and reiterated Britain's support for Lebanon. Johnson said Lebanon "should not be used as tool for proxy conflicts" and its independence should be respected. ]]>
11/12/2017 10:23:20 PM
<![CDATA[Jordanian King receives Egyptian foreign minister]]>
During the meeting, held at Al Husseiniya Palace, the King highlighted the strong ties between Jordan and Egypt as well as his keenness to further boost them in various domains.

The King also stressed the importance of efforts to enhance Arab cooperation and solidarity and coordinate stances to address challenges facing the region.

Talks during the meeting, also dealt with current regional developments, mainly the Palestinian reconciliation agreement, efforts to push the peace process forward in addition to the latest developments in Syria and Lebanon.

The King and the Egyptian minister affirmed the need to find political solutions to regional crises that restore security and stability to peoples of the Middle East and avert tension and violence.

He asked the Egyptian minister to convey to President El Sisi his greetings as well as an invitation to visit Jordan.

The meeting was attended by the Royal Court chief, the foreign minister, the director of the King's Office and the Egyptian ambassador in Amman.]]>
11/12/2017 9:49:58 PM
<![CDATA[Hariri indicates possibility of revoking his resignation]]>
Speaking from Riyadh in an interview with Future TV, a station affiliated with his political party, Hariri said he planned to return to Lebanon to confirm his resignation in accordance with the constitution. But he also said that if he rescinds his decision to quit, the Hezbollah movement must respect Lebanon's policy of staying out of regional conflicts.]]>
11/12/2017 9:33:36 PM
<![CDATA[Donald Trump: The Politics of Hypocrisy ]]>
His policies and perspectives are arguably the most conflicting of any U.S. President in recent history. Not only does this undermine his authority domestically, but challenges those loyal to him abroad who don’t know which way to turn, who to believe and how to react. Our world is dominated by an intricate mess of interconnected and tangled webs, meaning continuity and stability is essential to maintain the world order.

Trump has offered a fresh wave of deeply conflicting perspectives again in the past few days. The topic? Russia, of course; specifically, Russian allegedly meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

After a recent meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin, Donald Trump said on Saturday he believes Putin’s denial of Russian involvement and manipulation of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s extensive diplomatic experience has clearly taught him some important skills, including to believe almost anyone if it works to his personal benefit. The offer of a promise, a small smile, and a wealth of power is all that is needed to convince one of the most powerful men in the world to contest the work of his own intelligence community.

Trump’s comments stand in stark contrast to the U.S.’s intelligence agencies, which are conducting investigations into Russian influence and believe that there was a concerted effort to manipulate the presidential election by Russian entities.

Trump also used the same day to launch a tirade against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin.

The president’s comments were aptly criticised by Senator John McCain, who tweeted there was “nothing America First about taking the word of KGB colonel [Putin]” over the US intelligence community.

However, Trump’s own CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, quickly came to his defence.

“The director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections. The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed,” a statement read.

Photo_2
This photo, taken on June 18, 2013, shows then FBI director Robert Mueller awaiting the start of a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. AFP/Alex Wong

Although the big man himself stood in opposition to the intelligence community on Saturday, on Sunday he disputed his own beliefs once again. On the question of Russian interference, he claimed he was “with our agencies,” leaving people in ponder over what and who to believe.

“As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted,” Trump told a news conference in Vietnam. “As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”

This hypocrisy is nothing new though. The hot air spurted out of Trump’s mouth exceeds that of any of his predecessors, and since his presidency began this has only continued.

Not only is Trump an expert in contradicting himself, he has a skill for dividing his age by a factor between 5 and 10, and acting as such. Using Twitter as his mouthpiece, he proclaims the first thing to come to his head to 42.5 million followers and the world.

It is easy to confuse the U.S. President’s Twitter with that of a parody account. Many of Trump’s comments make it hard to believe they are coming from the one of the highest offices in the world, instead, they are more likened to a petty argument between a group of children in the sandpit at school.

“You’re stupid,” “no, you’re stupider,” runs the rhetoric between Donald Trump and his foes. Dotard Donald’s recent tweet embodies his childish hypocritical personality.





Oh how it makes your lips curl at the sides as a breath of hot air is expelled from your nose. You sit back and wonder “how, what, why?” How? While he feels the need to inform the public that he does in fact occupy the Oval Office, his proclamations and actions help to test people’s belief at every step.

He must be aware that to the majority of the world, even the biggest allies of the Unites States, he is a laughing stock. Nothing else would justify his insistence for constant approval, believing that he could get away with such a comment.

As long as you sit back and forget that he is the commander-in-chief of the world’s superpower, you can enjoy the implausibility of his rhetoric and pass it off as the words of a madman. Although this may be a difficult and disconcerting response, maybe it is the only path to get through the coming years with one’s sanity intact.

Twitter:

Joseph Colonna

]]>
11/12/2017 9:13:28 PM
<![CDATA[Women are more likely to be poor than men: UN Women]]>
The research aims to improve policy interventions to eradicate global poverty and meet sustainable development goals. Sex, age, household composition and other relevant variables were put into consideration.

Senior Economist of the World Bank Kinnon Scott said that women aged 20-34 years are more likely to be poor than men, relating these results to several factors, including divorce, separation, widowhood as well as having young children in the household and the higher probability of women to leave the labour market to respond to the demands of unpaid care-giving.

The research also showed that single mothers with children are among the poorest, since divorced women in the 18-49 age group are more than twice as likely to be poor than divorced men in the same age group.

Chief of Research and Data Section at UN Women Shahra Razavi said that this inequality in the division of unpaid care work and the greater likelihood of women not having an independent income place them at a severe economic disadvantage compared to men and lead to a higher risk of poverty. She pointed out that policy interventions should pay attention to those barriers that women face.

Former Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Magdalena Sepúlveda explained that the success or failure of social protection systems in addressing women’s poverty heavily depends on other multiple forms of discrimination against women. She noted women’s agricultural work across South Asia is an example.
The Collective for Social Science Research in Pakistan Haris Gazdar said that women’s work there is unrecognized by governments, data collectors, employers, families and even women themselves, which leads to their either being underpaid or unpaid at all. The undernourishment of women and their children may consequently seem unsurprising.

This research will feed into the first issue of UN Women’s new flagship report, Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which will launch in February 2018. The report will examine the performance of the global community's efforts to turn the new development agenda into tangible progress for women and girls. ]]>
11/12/2017 8:15:00 PM
<![CDATA[Former intelligence officials say Trump is being manipulated by Putin]]>
Former CIA Director John Brennan and ex-National Intelligence Director James Clapper both said Trump was mishandling Moscow ties even as a special counsel investigates possible collusion between Trump's campaign team and Russia.

"I think Mr. Trump is, for whatever reason, either intimidated by Mr. Putin, afraid of what he could do, or what might come out as a result of these investigations... It's either naiveté, ignorance or fear in terms of what Mr. Trump is doing vis-à-vis the Russians," Brennan said in an appearance with Clapper on CNN's "State of the Union."

Clapper added that foreign leaders who roll out the red carpet for Trump are able to manipulate Trump.

"I do think both the Chinese and the Russians think they can play him," Clapper said.

Their comments came after Trump told reporters over the weekend that he had spoken with Putin again over allegations of Russian meddling in the presidential election and that the Russian president again denied any involvement.

"I really believe that, when he tells me that, he means it," Trump told reporters. "I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country."

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on the same show that the criticism leveled against Trump's management of relations with Russia and China was "ridiculous."

"President Trump is not getting played by anybody," Mnuchin said.

Trump also took a swipe at Obama-era intelligence officials Brennan, Clapper and former FBI Director James Comey, calling them "political hacks" and questioning the findings of a U.S. intelligence report that concluded that Russians sought to tilt the election in Trump's favor.

Facing sharp criticism, Trump walked back from some of those comments on Sunday, saying he has faith in the intelligence leaders he has hired.

Brennan on Sunday called Trump's criticism of him a "badge of honor," and Clapper suggested said Trump's denial of Russian interference in the election "poses a peril to the country."

When asked, Brennan declined to say whether he knows of any intelligence to suggest that the Russians have compromising or damaging information on Trump.

A dossier penned by a former British spy contains unverified claims that Russia does have embarrassing information on Trump.]]>
11/12/2017 8:08:29 PM
<![CDATA[Health Ministry establishes 73 primary care units in 5 governorates]]>
This comes as a first step towards implementing the new comprehensive health insurance law.

Nahla Rushdi, head of the Central Administration for Primary Care, said that the plan includes the establishment of 18 new units in the abovementioned five governorates. The plan also includes the replacement and development of 28 units, in addition to the processing of 27 other primary care units; noting that these units will be the first line of defense for the new comprehensive health insurance system.

For his part, Khaled Megahed, the official spokesman of the Ministry of Health and Population, said that a training program was prepared to include all medical staff working in primary care facilities; in addition to contracting doctors from various disciplines to cover the deficit. He pointed out that all centers will provide services for child vaccinations and follow-up growth development and that holistic services will be provided to women including pre-natal follow-ups, birth, family planning and reproductive health.


He added that the services provided in the primary health care units will also include dealing with emergencies and urgent cases, as well as performing minor surgeries. It also provides public health services such as resistance to communicable diseases and vector diseases, health services that span from birth to death, and include surveillance and dental services.

Furthermore, preventive, therapeutic, and diagnostic radiology services, sonar, cardiology and analysis will also be available; in addition to the availability of specialists in pediatrics and gynecology.

According to the new health insurance law, the government will fully cover health expenses for those who are unable to pay for their medical treatment. They form 30 percent of Egypt's population, Megahed stated.

"The system will be applied gradually between 2018 and 2032," said Hegazy. He added that around 42 million citizens do not benefit from any health insurance services.

The current budget for this insurance has reached LE 8 billion annually, according to Hegazy; however, covering the appropriate services in accordance with international standards would require LE 90 million annually.

Employees will be obliged to subscribe to the new health insurance system. It will cost between LE 1,300 and 4,000 per year, depending on the income. However, citizens who cannot afford the fees will be exempted from paying any subscription fees.

The current insurance system covers only about 60 percent of citizens, where each one pays only LE 112. However, due to its poor quality, only six percent of citizens use its services.

Megahed pointed out that Egypt has been working for over two years to prepare the infrastructure of the state-owned hospitals in preparation for the new health insurance program. The new program will cover all members in a family and will be provided to all citizens. "The new health insurance program covers all diseases," said Megahed.

Hegazy stated that the new program will be funded through the taxes imposed on cigarettes and tobacco, along with other items and other funding sources. "The new program will be introduced with high efficiency. It will also end the high costs of the medical services that are provided by the private sector," said Hegazy.

According to Hegazy, all private hospitals will have to adhere to the prices set by the government. The bill was drafted by 22 health insurance officials, bankers, and academic physicians. It has been under progress for the past six years.]]>
11/12/2017 6:25:34 PM
<![CDATA[Bahrain opposition leaders who spied for Qatar to be tried]]>
Sheikh Ali Salman, secretary-general of al-Wefaq party, and Sheikh Hassan Sultan are accused of colluding with Qatar to “incite violence” in Bahrain and damage its national interests and prestige, according to a statement by the state news agency BNA.

The three leaders are accused of transferring confidential information in exchange for receiving financial support from Qatar.

The state-run Bahrain Television aired a report stating that Qatar was behind the anti-government protests that have threatened the kingdom for the past six years.

On June 5, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar, hurling allegations that the state supports terrorism. Ports and airspaces were cut off to Qatari vessels.

Since then, Kuwait has played the role of mediator to put an end to this rift. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held several meetings with the disputed parties, but the discussions have not yet led to a settlement.

The Arab countries listed 13 demands to be met by Qatar, including severing ties with terrorist groups, closing down the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera satellite channel, downgrading ties with arch-rival Iran and the closure of the Turkish air base in Qatar.]]>
11/12/2017 4:42:38 PM
<![CDATA[Ireland will not threaten to veto Brexit talks "at this stage"]]>
"The question is very much a hypothetical one, we don't know if Ireland will be the only outstanding issue in December. What I'm not going to do at this stage, I'm not going to make ultimatums or threaten to use a veto," Varadkar told Irish national broadcaster RTE.

]]>
11/12/2017 2:46:01 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament committees promote WYF recommendations abroad ]]>
During the visits, the committees will discuss the issues and recommendations agreed upon at the WYF and will try to pressure foreign countries to request the UN to enlist “counter-terrorism,” according to Chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee MP Tariq Radwan.

“The committees are keen to spread and promote the WYF’s recommendations abroad to be followed by many foreign countries,” said Radwan; noting that the Foreign Relations Committee will arrange meetings with the ambassadors of Hungary, Greece and the United Kingdom regarding this matter.

Besides, the Foreign Relations Committee will communicate with parliaments worldwide to discuss ways to confront illegal immigration and poverty and to include counter-terrorism in the Human Rights' list.

On this regard, MP Mohammed al-Ghoul , deputy of the parliament's Human Rights Committee, further explained that enlisting counter-terrorism in the Human Rights' list is one of the most basic rights of people around the world, according to Paris Convention for Life, which is violated by terrorism.

In addition, the Human Rights Committee in coordination with the Foreign Relations Committee will hold meetings with representatives of Egyptian diplomats and officials to set strategies for fighting extremism and poverty; a cause that President Sisi called for during the forum.

At the same time, the Chairman of the House of Representatives' African Affairs Committee, Hatem Bashat, referred that the committee will send messages to the member states of the African Union about the WYF’s recommendations; stressing that the African Parliament will discuss the mechanisms to implement and benefit from these recommendations during its January session.

Sisi delivered on Thursday the closing speech of the first edition of the World Youth Forum (WYF) in Sharm El-Sheikh, setting eight recommendations for future youth conventions.

Sisi tasked the organization committee of the first and biggest international youth conference in the Middle East to take the necessary measures to establish an international center for dialogue among Arab-African youth around the world.

He also ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to coordinate with all relevant world bodies and the United Nations to adopt the outcomes of the Security Council simulation model conducted during the conference.

The first edition of the WYF recommended the establishment of a center for cultural communication between the youth of Egypt and the youth of the world in coordination with the ministries of culture, tourism, education and planning.

Furthermore, the organization committee of the forum will establish an African Youth Center to bring African youth together and benefit from their ambitious ideas.

The president called on the National Youth Academy for Training and Empowerment, established in Egypt in 2016, to put a plan for cultural exchange with all similar centers all over the world to provide scholarships for youth.

The main outcome of the forum was to develop a strategy to confront extremism, terrorism and illiteracy by the beginning of 2018. During his inauguration speech on Sunday, Sisi stressed the importance of counter-terrorism, adding that Egypt spares no efforts in fighting extremism.]]>
11/12/2017 2:09:45 PM
<![CDATA[Polls open in Slovenian presidential election runoff]]>
In the first round three weeks ago, Pahor got about 47 percent of the vote among nine candidates with Sarec, who is a former comedian and imitator, coming in second with almost 25 percent.

Although opinion polls published on Friday showed Pahor was still in the lead and would get between 52 to 56.3 percent of the vote, analysts said the outcome was uncertain.

"Polls show that the difference in support for Pahor and Sarec is getting smaller therefore I would not dare predict who will win," said Meta Roglic, a political analyst of daily paper Dnevnik.

"A relatively high support for Sarec indicates that many voters are hoping that a new political figure will bring positive changes," she added.

Pahor, 54, is a former prime minister and a long-time leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, although he is running as an independent candidate.

He was Slovenian prime minister from 2008 to 2012, in the years which led to the worst financial crisis in Slovenia's history. In 2013, the country managed to only narrowly avoid an international bailout for its banks, burdened by a large amount of bad loans.

A former fashion model, Pahor is also known as "the king of the Instagram" for posting his photos on Instagram showing him in his official duties but also in various sports activities.

He has said he will focus on "connecting people, cooperation, political stability in security" if he gets another mandate, while Sarec, 39, claims a change of policy is needed to further improve economy and enable better life for Slovenians.

Sarec is supported by his own non-parliamentary centre-left party Lista Marjana Sarca, which has so far only been active on a local level.

Although the role of the president is mainly ceremonial, the president leads the army and also nominates several top officials, including the central bank governor. Most of his nominations have to be confirmed by parliament.

Sarec has said he will nominate a new candidate for the central bank governor in 2019, when Jazbec's mandate expires, while Pahor has said he will renominate Jazbec.

Polls are due to close at 1800 GMT, with preliminary results expected around 2000 GMT. ]]>
11/12/2017 1:00:07 PM
<![CDATA[Catalonia: What is democracy?]]>
The drive towards independence has accelerated in recent years, and culminated in the October 1 independence referendum. Under the shadow of the central government and the Spanish police, people fought through baton and barrier to cast their vote.

Madrid tried to stop the vote by attempting to block IT systems and sending Spanish riot police to seize ballot votes. The result of this "excessive force" was anarchy, with almost 100 polling stations closed and many hundreds injured. It was a mockery of democracy and democratic values regardless of whom one supports. The result was a resounding victory for the independence movement, with 90 percent voting in favor of independence; albeit, the turnout of the electorate was a controversial 43 percent.

Independence and democracy
A declaration of independence was signed on October 10 at the Parliament of Catalonia, however it was immediately and temporarily suspended to allow for negotiations to take place with Madrid. In the period which followed, Madrid continued to clamp down on the independence movement. On October 27, after the

Catalan Parliament voted for independence

, the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attained consent from Parliament to impose direct rule over Catalonia; Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his entire Cabinet were sacked and charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds were filed against them.

European arrest warrants for former Catalan President Puigdemont and his cabinet colleagues who fled to Belgium have been issued. As of November 5, Puigdemont and several former advisers have t

urned themselves in to the Belgian authorities

. Eight ministers are also being held by the Spanish authorities after they attended a court hearing in Madrid.

The people of Catalonia have voted to break the social contract of the Spanish political community, and secede from the established Spanish central authority. Yet the complications are endless.

Is this a success or failure of democracy? We are yet to know for sure. Catalan officials continue to follow the appropriate channels towards independence, while the Spanish authorities in Madrid stand firmly and refuse to compromise. The more pertinent question is whether Catalonia has a right to independence, and whether the Spanish authorities and the international community have a duty to uphold this right. Yet legal questions of secession differ from the political difficulties. Understanding these fundamental controversies surrounding secession, which are rooted in international law, is essential to grasp the political complications of Catalonia’s aspiration to separate from Spain.

Photo_2
Photo 2: People shout slogans as they wave Catalan pro-independence flags during a protest in Barcelona on October 2, 2017 a day after hundreds were injured in a police crackdown during Catalonia’s banned independence referendum. AFP

In regards to international law and statehood, international law takes a back-seat and simply lays down the rules for the game of power-politics to unfold. This is the case since statehood is generally a political notion, which has thus gained prominence through its entrenchment in international law. Nevertheless, it is essential to understand these rules of the game which set the field of play for the political game of state-building and expansion.

Hierarchy of law
The principal defense put forth by Spanish authorities to refuse Catalonia’s independence is that the separation of the Spanish state violates Spanish constitutional law; and this view has been consistently upheld by the Spanish Constitutional Court. Domestic law clashes with international law and international legal precedence creating a realm of confusion.

The Kosovo and Quebec cases help provide advice regarding the legality of secession. However, it is important to not overstate the importance of legal precedence.

“At the formal level, international law doesn’t offer a system of precedence,” said Jason Beckett, professor of international law and international human rights law at the American University in Cairo, to Egypt Today. “Formally speaking, court decisions do not fit into international law, but lawyers like to quote it.”

This clash of laws raises the question of the hierarchy of law, and which legal order dictates the rules in an act of secession.

International law does not address sub-state units, such as Catalonia; it applies to established states such as Spain. Thus, the rules in play do not apply to both in the same manner. International laws are developed by states, for states, to dictate the essential respect between states to maintain the global order. It generally accepts the territorial integrity of states, however since international law does not apply to sub-state collectives this is not a prohibition of sub-state independence.

Photo_3
Photo 3: Sacked Catalan leader Puigdemont says he's not in Brussels to seek political asylum. Reuters/ Eric Vidal

However, just because sub-state secession is not prohibited does not mean there is a positive right to secession. A positive right in this sense means that one has a legal privilege to pursue their aims. Not being prohibited is good only if one is successful; it is a matter of effectiveness which accordingly relies on hindsight to judge its worth.

Although not illegal under international law, a matter of independence is politically very difficult. The absence of positive rights makes secession a difficult process since there is no vehicle for Catalonia to appropriate cleaning the dusty path on the road to independence.

Since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the order of nation-states as the prevailing blocks in the international order has moved from notion, to reality. In our modern world, new states can only come into existence at the expense of the territorial integrity of a sovereign state. In the case of a bilateral secession, the process is usually amicable as the central state waives its claim to sovereignty over a particular territory and permits the will of the people to prevail. This was the case in 2014, when Westminster allowed Scotland to hold a referendum addressing independence from the United Kingdom. In the case of Catalonia however, Spain has been firmly against independence meaning any declaration of independence is wholly unilateral.

Unilateral independence
Unilateral declarations of independence are not illegal per se. The International Court of Justice, in paragraph 81 of its 2010 Kosovo Advisory Opinion (KAO) argued that unilateral independence is not illegal in being, but may have illegality attached to it. The KAO also confirmed that the notion of territorial disruption only applies in the inter-state context, and does not apply internally: “The principle of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between states.”

Photo_4
Photo 4: Kosovans celebrate independence in 2008. Only 69 countries recognised their declaration. AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff

Paragraph 122 of the KAO found that a unilateral declaration of independence does “not violate general international law” if a declaration is not “connected with the unlawful use of force or other egregious violations of norms of general international law, in particular those of a peremptory character (jus cogens).”

Albeit, “international law presumptions are very strongly against unilateral independence,” said Beckett.

In accordance with paragraph 155 of the Quebec Case (QC), in the case of a unilateral declaration, international recognition is essential to gain legitimacy and thus success.

This notion is generally accepted as a matter of principal. Recognition is necessary to participate in foreign relations and in international institutions which mediate the global order. A state must show that it has the capacity and the competence to engage in foreign relations.

International law, in this sense, is neutral on the secession question; however states in general want to maintain territorial integrity as it sets a precedence which may help preserve the unity of one’s state in the future. Recognizing Catalonia as an independent state is riddled with difficulties, and will prove a political nightmare; a nightmare heightened by the obligations of states to

preserve the integrity of the European Union

.

Self-determination
The fundamental international right underpinning Catalonia’s independence aspiration is the notion of self-determination, laid out in the UN Charter.

Chapter one, article two of the UN Charter:
To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.

The Charter stipulates that all peoples have the right to self-determination. They possess the right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Yet the power of this doctrine is restricted.

Many cases have shown that self-determination is limited to the colonial context, within the boundaries of uti possidentis. Catalonia clearly lies beyond this scope.

Beckett upholds this skeptical view of self-determination: “No one’s really sure why self-determination is in the UN Charter; how it got there or what it means.”

“Self-determination is a concept which no state likes, which is why there was such an effort to contain it in the de-colonization moment,” he continued.

Yet a fundamental principle of democracy is that the governing body is contracted by the will of the people. A declaration of independence marks the moment at which a collective removes itself from the central authority and from the legal, political, economic and social order from which it previously existed. If this is the will of the people and if it was decided through a referendum, then a legal entitlement does exist.

Photo_5
Photo 5: Young "YES" supporters, wearing frocks with the French word "OUI", walk outside a rally in Quebec City, in this October 29, 1995 file picture. REUTERS/Shaun Best

Although there is no constitutional entitlement to self-determination, the state cannot “remain indifferent to the clear expression of a clear majority,” as said in paragraph 87 of the QC. Should the clear majority of people choose the goal of secession and the seceding entity respect the right of others? The central government and domestic actors involved cannot deny the right to independence. Thus, under the banner of democratic values, the Spanish state should respect the democratic will of the people if the seceding authority has not violated the rights of the people.

This criterion has been fulfilled by the Catalan authorities: they have both acted upon the will of the people, have not impeded the rights of individuals and more importantly, have not committed jus cogens violations. Some people would argue whether a 43 percent turnout does truly represent the will of the people; however, others would argue that it is the fault of the electorate for not participating in the democratic process.

Changing the social contract requires a democratic vote. A free, fair and transparent referendum process must effectively and conclusively represent the will of the people. This electoral process took place. More importantly, it took place following an extended period of negotiations.

Negotiations and human rights
The Supreme Court of Canada highlighted that negotiations are the essential mechanism to uphold the rights of both the seceding entity and the central authority. Both parties are required to negotiate in good faith to find a mutually consented settlement.

“The negotiations that followed such a vote would address the potential act of secession as well as its possible terms should in fact secession proceed. There would be no conclusions predetermined by law on any issue,” said paragraph 151 of the QC.

Photo_6
Photo 6: Violence broke out as voters took to the polls. AFP/ Pau Barrena

The democratic will expressed by the people of Catalonia to secede establishes a duty on both sides to negotiate the future relationship. Independence declarations do not simply announce immediate unilateral independence, but they should trigger democratic deliberation between both sides. Catalan officials have attempted this; however, Spain has not, and will not negotiate on the issue of Catalonia’s independence. Instead, it insists on compliance with the national constitution.

In regards to human rights violations, these have not been committed thus far by individuals or entities representing Catalonia. In contrast, violations on the Spanish side of the aisle have infected efforts to prevent the referendum and spoiled the reputation of the central government. How can it claim to protect the right of all citizens in Spain if it abuses those who take part in an unfavorable democratic process?

“Self-determination does not prejudice the territorial integrity of a state that doesn’t discriminate against or oppress their people,” said Beckett. “The reaction [by the Spanish police] afterwards doesn’t reach the standards usually spoken about in self-determination discourses.”

Although disapproving of the term, Beckett said that the experience in Catalonia didn’t fall under the notion of “real oppression.”




As violent reprisals and the uncompromising position of the Spanish persist, the opportunity for Catalonia to invoke the doctrine of remedial secession improves. The exploitation of the Catalan people only helps to serve the moral right of resistance to Madrid, and to demand independence.

The legal arguments surrounding independence are intertwined and often conflicting. Although Catalonia may not have a legal right to independence, this is not to say that Catalonia is doing anything illegal per se when declaring independence; especially given the specific circumstances. While international law sets the field of play, the game is played primarily in political circles.

The European Union
The EU and its “ever-closer union” plays an incredibly important role with all its member states. The EU is facing an uphill struggle with the Brexit negotiations and the crisis in Catalonia running in tangent. The EU will be scrutinized at every step in play. This crisis is a major threat to the functionality and principles of the EU and many argue this is a fundamental challenge to the future existence of the union in its current form.

Typical of Brussels when facing a major issue within a member state, the EU has largely ignored and failed to comment on what is going on in Spain. A fundamental issue with the EU is that is does not have an intellectual framework. It wants to overcome the nation-state – bypass state sovereignty – and be a supranational organization.

“Europe needs to decide whether it’s a federation, or a confederation, or a confederation of nation-states,” said Brendan Simms aptly on the “Talking Politics” podcast.

Currently however, the EU is a collection of 28 nation-states, expected to be 27 in March 2019 but at the moment, your guess is as good as mine. Regardless, the EU is a collection of member-states and thus has a bias towards member states. Catalonia is not a member of the EU, but Spain is. Thus the EU’s obligations are to support Spain and not Catalonia. Spain is aware of this, which may be a reason for its accelerated use of violent and unjust coercion against Catalan people and officials.

“Beating up old ladies on camera is a hard sell anyway, but I don’t think it’ll harm Spain, maybe just the Rajoy government,” said Beckett. “If the government had just ignored the referendum completely, we wouldn’t be talking about it anymore. The only reason we are still talking about it was because of their idiotic reaction.”




Yet Rajoy knows the EU will be on Spain’s side. Spain is adamant about the maintenance of territorial integrity, just as the EU is. It is crucial that the EU’s institutions are efficient and successful in dealing with the major challenges from Brexit and Spain, and ensure that they do not reignite another European debt crisis. Spain was at the core of the crisis in 2012, and although it has pulled away a bit, this could throw them into economic ruin once more. This is not helped by the economic prosperity in Catalonia. If Catalonia secedes, it will take 20 percent of Spain’s revenue with it based on GDP statistics from 2016.

Spain has emerged as a privileged member of the EU in the fallout of the European debt crisis. With the promise of extensive economic loans to help recover the Spanish and Italian economies, the European Central Bank (ECB) required that both countries pass certain legislature and austerity measures to help nurse their economies back to health. Neither country followed through. No action was taken against Spain. However in Italy, EU pressure prevailed. Merkel, Sarkozy and the ECB president forced Berlusconi’s removal from power.

Spain is consistently let off the hook. EU fiscal policy demands are often ignored, yet Spain still reaps the benefits of EU aid. Thus, Spain knows it can look to the EU for support. The EU can pressure member-states into refusing to recognize Catalonia if unilateral independence becomes a confirmed reality, and Spain has veto power to deny a Catalan bid for EU membership.

Photo_7
Photo 7: Catalan President Carles Puigdemont Reuters/Albert Gea
The EU’s closed mouth over Catalonia may prove to be the union’s downfall. The EU claims to exist for the rights of every individual, yet it failed to respond to the abuse carried out by Spain’s police against mostly peaceful civilians. The images of police abuse spread around the globe immediately; how can the EU claim to protect the EU’s citizens’ rights? This silence will only bolster EU-skeptics.

The strength of the EU and the

health of the EU’s economy

are not only in the interest of member-states. The whole world looks to the EU as a major economic power and an integral part of an integrated, globalized world economy.

However, things are not looking good. The global financial crash was followed by economic catastrophes in several member states, then Brexit began and now Catalonia.

“It is beginning to look like there is a pattern which is very bad news for the EU,” said Beckett.

What will come of Catalonia’s struggle for independence is uncertain. Spain’s strong hand is suppressing attempts at every angle, while the EU will quietly support Spain at every turn. Catalonia must play the clever political game. Up until now, Catalonia has morality on its side, and sympathy from many sides of the world. Yet Catalonia doesn’t need support from the average Joe, Catalonia needs state support and recognition.

Twitter:

Joseph Colonna

]]>
11/12/2017 12:58:40 PM
<![CDATA[Australia to discuss North Korea, Islamist terrorism at Manila talks]]>
North Korea was a criminal regime and the single largest threat to the region, Turnbull told a televised news conference in Hong Kong.

"They are very cunning operators," he said, urging a tightening of economic sanctions.

Islamist terrorism in the southern Philippines is the other key security issue Turnbull aims to discuss with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila.

Australia said in September it would send troops to train Philippines armed forces engaged in a 154-day battle with Islamic State fighters in the southern city of Marawi, in the country's biggest security crisis in decades.

Turnbull stressed the importance of help by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in defusing Islamist extremism as the leader of the world's largest Muslim-majority country, which is also a democracy.

"He speaks with great authority when he says Islam is compatible with democracy and moderation," Turnbull added. "He's a powerful voice for moderation in the region."

Australia's embattled prime minister will attend the high-powered regional summit at the same time as a citizenship crisis at home has destroyed the parliamentary majority of his ruling centre-right coalition.

The constitution bars dual nationals from parliament, and Turnbull's government was thrown into disarray last month by a High Court ruling that five parliamentarians, including his deputy, Barnaby Joyce, were ineligible to be lawmakers.

The resignation of another MP on Saturday has left Turnbull as the head of a minority government, with his position guaranteed only by the votes of two independents.

Turnbull said he expects Joyce to be returned to Parliament following a Dec. 2 by-election. ]]>
11/12/2017 12:31:33 PM
<![CDATA[Trump agrees with U.S. intelligence assessment of Russian meddling]]>
He was speaking a day after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and saying he believed the Russian leader when he denied accusations that Russia meddled, despite U.S. intelligence agencies' conclusion of Russian interference.

Addressing a news conference during a visit to Vietnam, Trump said he was not interested in arguing with Putin over meddling and wanted to get on with Russia to work on world problems.

"What he believes, he believes," Trump said of Putin's belief that Russia did not meddle.

]]>
11/12/2017 12:30:21 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar fails to host UNCAC 10th session for 2023]]>
During the seventh session of the world biggest anti-corruption conference held in Vienna, Austria, from November 6 to 10, which was attended by 1,600 participants, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates as well as many other countries thwarted Qatar’s intensive attempts to host the UNCAC’s tenth session.

The countries affirmed that Qatar is unqualified to host high-level international political events particularly in light of its involvement in funding terrorism.

Most of the member states have agreed that Egypt will host the ninth session of the conference scheduled to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in 2021.

UNCAC was adopted 14 years ago and is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument, according to the press release of the UN International Service.
The guardian of the convention is the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and every two years states parties to the convention meet to review implementation of the convention and discuss how states can better tackle corruption.
At the seventh session, the conference focused on key issues regarding the review of the implementation of the convention, asset recovery, international cooperation, prevention and technical assistance.

Qatar’s relations with several Arab states have been strained since May 24 over a leaked statement attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad. The statement criticized Saudi's foreign policy with Iran, describing it as “unwise.”

On 5 June, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed economic sanctions on it, accusing it of funding terrorism – a claim Qatar rejects. They also closed their airspace and seaports to Qatari vessels.]]>
11/12/2017 11:26:22 AM
<![CDATA[Three US carriers begin drill in Sea of Japan]]>
The 3 strike groups led by vessels USS Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz are in waters east of North Korea for the 4-day drill from Saturday.

A senior US armed forces officer said the unusual exercise is the first in the western Pacific since 2007. The US sent 2 carriers to the Sea of Japan in June for a war game.

A US naval source said the objective is for crewmembers and pilots to rehearse smooth joint operations of the 3 strike groups.

Vessels from Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force and the South Korean Navy will also join bilateral drills with the United States.

US President Donald Trump emphasized the capabilities of the US military in a speech in Seoul last week. He warned North Korea not to try US resolve to defend its allies. Trump urged other countries to put maximum pressure on Pyongyang.]]>
11/12/2017 11:23:46 AM
<![CDATA[Hariri to appear on TV Sunday for first time since resignation]]>
According to the circulated news, Hariri will be interviewed by Lebanese anchorwoman Paula Yacoubian at 21:30 (Cairo local time) on Future News satellite channel.

In his speech, Hariri said he feared assassination and accused Iran and Hezbollah of sowing strife in the region. He said the Arab world would “cut off the hands that wickedly extend to it;” using a language which one source close to him said was not typical of the Lebanese leader.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, told ambassadors to Lebanon that Saudi Arabia had “kidnapped” Hariri, a senior Lebanese official told Reuters on Saturday. On Friday, France said it wanted Hariri to have “all his freedom of movement.” However, Saudi officials have reiterated that Hariri is free and not “under house arrest” as some reports stated earlier.

Hariri’s resignation came as more than 200 people, including 11 Saudi princes, current and former ministers and tycoons were arrested in an anti-corruption purge in Saudi Arabia.

Hariri refused supporting the Iran-backed guerrilla group, and announced his resignation the following day from the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Rafik al-Hariri, originally a businessman, was the prime minister of Lebanon between 1992 and 1998, and again from 2000 till his resignation in 2004. He was assassinated on February 14, 2005, by Hezbollah militants through a car bomb, blowing up his motorcade. Rafik al-Hariri is credited for reconstructing the capital Beirut after the 15-year civil war.

In 2006, Israel imposed a blockade on Lebanon from July 12 till August 14, for a total of 34 days, because of the missile attack launched by Hezbollah on the Israeli border towns in an attempt to release the Hezbollah prisoners.

The incidents resulted in Lebanese casualties ranging between 1,191 and 1,300, mostly civilians, and 165 Israeli casualties, including 44 civilians, according to the BBC. Around one million Lebanese and between 300,000 to 500,000 Israelis were displaced, in addition to the destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure.
]]>
11/12/2017 10:10:51 AM
<![CDATA[Hariri's party condemns attacks against Saudi Arabia]]>
Hariri's Future Movement political party said it stands by him and was "waiting impatiently for his return to Lebanon to handle his national responsibilities in leading this stage."

Hariri's shock resignation, in a broadcast from Riyadh last week, has plunged Lebanon into crisis and thrust it back into the forefront of regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. ]]>
11/12/2017 7:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Foreign Ministry hails late leader Arafat as symbol of struggle]]>
"On the 13th anniversary of Arafat's death, his biography will remain a motive for working to restor the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people," the spokesman tweeted. ]]>
11/12/2017 12:12:03 AM
<![CDATA[US signals caution to Saudis despite shared concern about Iran]]>
The Trump administration, which shares Saudi Arabia's view of Iran as a regional menace, has strongly backed the Kingdom in the wake of a failed missile attack from Iran-aligned forces in Yemeni territory that demonstrated an ability to strike the Saudi capital.

Trump has cultivated much warmer ties with the Saudis after a fraught relationship with the Obama administration - the president made Riyadh his first stop on his maiden international trip - and has vowed to take strong action to confront Iran. Nevertheless, Washington, which has U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq, is telegraphing a more tempered stance toward the confrontation in a region beset with turmoil.

On Thursday, the State Department called for "unimpeded access" for humanitarian aid to Yemen, after Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on the country to stem the flow of arms to Iran-aligned Houthi fighters.

A day later, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear he still recognized as Lebanon's prime minister Saad al-Hariri, who unexpectedly announced his resignation on Nov. 4 from Riyadh.

In announcing his decision on television, Hariri said he feared assassination and accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world, thrusting Lebanon into the front line of the competition between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran.

Two U.S. officials said the Saudis, led by Crown Prince Mohammed, had "encouraged" Hariri to leave office and Lebanese officials say he is being held in Saudi Arabia, a charge Riyadh denies. Hariri has not commented publicly on whether he is free to come and go as he pleases.

In a statement on Saturday, the White House said it "rejects any efforts by militias within Lebanon or by any foreign forces to threaten Lebanon's stability...or use Lebanon as a base from which to threaten others in the region."

When asked to comment on whether the United States was pushing for a more cautious Saudi response, both the White House and State Department referred to Saturday's statement on Lebanon.

Tillerson was "not going along with the Saudi position in describing the Lebanese state as under capture by Hezbollah,” said Paul Salem, the senior vice president of the Middle East Institute, a Washington think tank. "That’s significant."

Tillerson was also "signaling to the Israelis ... that now is not the time to go after Lebanon," said Salem, referring to long-standing Israeli concerns about Hezbollah's growing military prowess.

Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said he believed the Trump administration was still seeking to help the Saudis advance their interests against Iran without destabilizing the region.

"This is a delicate balancing act. It involves supporting allies in a policy that the administration agrees with, while trying to mitigate aspects of it that it (sees as) overstated," Takeyh said.

Tillerson's statement also urged "all parties both within Lebanon and outside" to respect Lebanon's independence and said there was no role for any foreign forces.

The United States regularly criticizes Iran and Hezbollah for their role in Lebanon. Tillerson's backing of Hariri and the Lebanese government contrasted sharply with the approach taken by Saudi Arabia, which has lumped Lebanon with Hezbollah as parties hostile to it.

"I see Rex Tillerson as being an old fashioned American diplomat and old fashioned American diplomacy in the Middle East is all about stability," said F. Gregory Gause, chairman of the International Affairs Department at Texas A&M University.

"I'm not entirely sure that that is the position of the chief executive of the United States," Gause added.

CONCERNS WITH SAUDI PURGE

The Saudi actions coincide with an anti-corruption purge by the country's future king that tightened his grip on power.

Trump tweeted on Monday that he had "great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia" following the mass arrests - the biggest such purge of the kingdom's affluent elite in its modern history.

Trump also tweeted that "they know exactly what they are doing."

Former and current U.S. officials with deep knowledge of Saudi Arabia say Trump's enthusiastic support for Prince Mohammed has emboldened the youthful Saudi leader.

Tillerson told reporters the purge appeared "well intended" but the mass arrests, which have swept up officials long known in Washington, also fueled U.S. concerns.

"It raises a few concerns until we see more clearly how these particular individuals are dealt with," Tillerson added.

Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the president's senior adviser, who has cultivated a close relationship with Prince Mohammed, recently returned from Saudi Arabia, fueling speculation on whether he may have had wind of the Crown Prince's plans. A senior administration official said they had no advance knowledge. ]]>
11/12/2017 12:08:29 AM
<![CDATA[London journalist exclaims why MB is not on U.S. terrorism list]]>
Speaking on a defense panel at an American Conservative Union event in Kansas, Kassam asserted that Trump’s policies reveal his keenness to address the threat of terrorism and extremist thought, but there are many obstacles and steps towards that, including adding the Brotherhood on the terrorism list.

Kassam commented on how deeply embedded the Muslim Brotherhood is in American governmental institutions, saying that the influence is “quite massive”, considering the small numbers of individuals involved, according to Breitbart’s London website.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is very adept at working its way into institutions, playing the victim card, and the funding stream is almost unlimited with blank checks coming from abroad,” he said.

Earlier, in response to a question posed by FOX News anchor Sean Hannity on whether the U.S. should designate the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a terrorist organization, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said the U.S. is a country with its own respected agenda, and it may take some time for the country to recognize terrorist groups and their impact on the whole world.

In the wake of assuming responsibilities as the president of the United States, and given his anti-extremism-themed narrative, Donald Trump was highly expected to pick up the speed of labeling the MB as a foreign terrorist group.

Congressmen like Ted Cruz have long encouraged labeling the MB as a foreign terrorist organization. “A move that should have been implemented early on,” Frank Gaffney, the creator of a 10-part video titled ‘The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within’,” said on Monday during an online radio meeting with Phil Haney, former Department of Homeland Security employee.

A short time before Trump’s inauguration, Republican Senator Ted Cruz tabled a bill that designated the MB as a terrorist organization; however, the decision has dragged heels until today. Since December 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood has been declared a terrorist group in Egypt.]]>
11/11/2017 8:34:52 PM
<![CDATA[Qatari regime refuses to reveal death report of British worker]]>
Cox was killed while building Qatar’s Khalifa Stadium for the World Cup, and his death has been met with a wall of silence from the Qatari authorities, leaving his relatives distraught and angry for 10 months.

This week, the coroner criticized the family’s reaction about how much the Foreign Office has done to force the Qatari regime to submit the reasons of the death.
The British police have been unable to extract information from the misleading Qatari system or the array of firms involved in the work.

Cox’s wife died in 2015, and his two sisters-in-law, Ella Joseph and Hazel Mayes, have been trying to reveal the truth behind his death. Joseph pointed out that 10 months on, they still don’t have an official account of why their brother died and who was responsible.

The results of a postmortem examination in Qatar had not been supplied to the British inquest despite a request, coroner Hamilton-Deeley said. The coroner agreed on Thursday to the family’s request to delay the closing of the inquest, hoping that more information might be released from the Qatari regime.

Reference to an inquiry into his death was made in the supreme committee’s second annual human rights report published in June, but it said full details could not be disclosed due to a continuing local authority inquiry. Cox was working on a suspended catwalk platform, on which cameras, sound and lighting could be installed, when a lever hoist failed and one end of the catwalk dropped, leaving it hanging. Overloaded, Cox’s lifeline snapped, and he fell.

International human rights organizations and committees announced the formation of an International Equity Committee to look into the violations committed against Doha-based workers in the 2022 World Cup’s related venues, according to Emirate-led newspaper Kahleej.

About 800,000 migrant workers in Qatar are involved in construction projects, representing 40 percent of the migrant workers there, according to a HRW report.

The formation of the said committee was announced at the meeting of the seventh session of the seven state members of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which started last Monday and ends Friday, in Vienna, Austria.

The organizations involved are the African Organization for Heritage and Human Rights, the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Europe and Britain, the Arab Network of National Human Rights Institutions and the Gulf League for Rights and Freedoms, as well as the families of victims of the inhumane work conditions experienced during their work at the sports facilities of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.]]>
11/11/2017 8:08:00 PM
<![CDATA[Meet Karim El-Siginy, Egyptian-Austrian IT savant who widely has hands on automation practices]]>
Siginy currently works at business management consultancy Accenture, and he participated in the Egypt-sponsored World Youth Forum that recently took place in Sharm el-Sheikh under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Siginy holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from the German University in Cairo. He enjoys roughly eight years of experience in IT transformation, digitization, e-government and program management. He is currently working on his master’s in business administration at the Vienna Business School of Economics, Technical University of Vienna.



“The forum represented a great opportunity for me to get introduced to several in-the-field experienced people,” Siginy said, adding that the current government is eager to transform the whole governmental paper-based process into an automated process, as highlighted from his meeting with Immigration Minister Nabila Makram on the sidelines of the WYF.

Egypt’s first international youth event brought together 3,000 youth represented by 60 delegations from around the world in order to discuss means of common interest.

It is also important to educate people working in the state organizations how the technology works, Segini further said, highlighting that the government is fully aware that it is about time to implement automation within every nook and cranny of the state.

He also recounted his experience with having family allowances in Austria automated.

In summary, Karim El-Siginy shared interesting personal views on e-Government gathered from previous experience that could benefit the country.]]>
11/11/2017 7:42:10 PM
<![CDATA[Trump says he trusts Putin's denials of election meddling]]>
Trump made the comment after he and Putin met briefly at a summit in Vietnam on Saturday and agreed on a joint statement supporting a political solution for Syria, now in its seventh year of civil war.

It was their first encounter since July and came during a low in U.S.-Russia relations and at a time Trump is haunted by an investigation into accusations that Putin influenced the election that brought him to the White House.

Putin reiterated the denials of interference, Trump said.

"Every time he sees me he says 'I didn’t do that,' and I really believe that, when he tells me that, he means it," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One after leaving the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the resort of Danang.

"I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country," Trump said.

Trump, who has called allegations of campaign collusion with Moscow a hoax, has faced questions from Democrats about the matter since he took office. A special counsel, Robert Mueller, is conducting a probe that has led to charges against Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates.

U.S. intelligence agencies have also concluded Russians interfered to tip the election in Trump's favour through hacking and releasing emails to embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and spreading social media propaganda.

Russia has repeatedly denied meddling.

The top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee, which is investigating the issue, harshly criticized Trump's comments and accused him of siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies.

"The President fools no one. He understands that the Russians intervened through the hacking and dumping of his opponent’s emails, the fruits of which he exploited time and again on the campaign trail," Adam Schiff said in a statement.

In Danang, Putin told reporters an alleged link between Manafort and Russia was fabricated by Trump's opponents.

Putin dismissed suggestions Russia influenced the elections through political advertising. Tech companies, including Facebook, have said some Russian-bought political content spread on their platforms around the time.

"There is no confirmation of our mass media meddling in election campaigns – and there can't be any," Putin said.

LIMITED CONTACT

After emphasizing on the 2016 campaign trail that it would be nice if the United States and Russia could work together, Trump has had limited contact with Putin since taking office.

Trump again made this case on Saturday, saying it would benefit Washington to have good ties with Moscow so they could work together on issues including Syria's civil war, the conflict in Ukraine and the North Korean nuclear crisis.

"Look, I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria," Trump said. "I would rather ... get to work with him on the Ukraine rather than standing and arguing."

In Vietnam, Trump and Putin agreed a joint statement that said there was no military solution to the Syrian conflict, pledged to continue "de-confliction" to ensure the U.S. and Russian militaries do not clash there, and pledged new support for the U.N.-backed "Geneva process" that has failed to find a political solution to end the conflict despite years of effort.

Russia has militarily supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while the United States has at times backed Syrian rebels against him, though its recent focus has been on defeating the Islamic State militant group that had seized parts of Syria.

With Islamic State having suffered losses in Syria, Iraq and beyond, greater attention is turning to the broader conflict between Assad's forces and rebel factions.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, U.S. State Department officials praised the statement for re-committing Russia to the Geneva process though it was unclear why Assad would take part given, from the U.S. point of view, the Syrian leader is not expected to keep power at the end of the day.

Trump also hailed the joint statement.

"We did it very quickly," Trump told reporters. "We seem to have a very good feeling for each other, a good relationship considering we don't know each other well."

Talking after their meeting, Putin described Trump as "a well-mannered person and comfortable to deal with".

"We know each other little, but the U.S. president is highly civil in his behaviour, friendly. We have a normal dialogue but unfortunately little time," he said.

Trump said they had two or three very short conversations.

They were seen chatting amicably as they walked to the position where the traditional APEC summit photo was being taken at a viewpoint looking over the South China Sea.

Pictures from the APEC meeting also showed Trump approaching Putin at the summit table and patting him on the back. They also shook hands at the summit dinner on Friday. ]]>
11/11/2017 7:35:44 PM
<![CDATA[MB leaders fear ‘intellectual revisions’: Brotherhood member]]>
Abdel Hafez told Egypt Today via a social platform that “the revisions” train has moved within the Brotherhood organization, but the senior leaders have tried to hinder it.

Abdel Hafez, who is in charge of collecting the intellectual revisions carried out by Brotherhood members inside prisons, described the revisions as a “threat” to the MB senior leaders. The situation also reveals a dispute among the Brotherhood leaders over these revisions.

“Brotherhood senior leaders believed these revisions would lead to rifts within the group’s body. They attempted to defame the revisions and slammed the members who expressed their intention to carry out intellectual revisions on the Brotherhood beliefs,” Abdel Hafez added.

He pointed out that Brotherhood prisoners at Al-Fayoum prison and its neighboring prisons have defected from the MB after various revisions, revealing that “The MB embraces three camps over the revisions. The first rejects the idea of revisions categorically. The second accepts revisions over some beliefs, but not all. The third camp, which I and my mates belong to, seeks a comprehensive revision to all the group’s beliefs.”

Pro-Muslim_Brotherhood_Rabaa_sit-in-_Ahmed_Ramadan_-_File_photo
Pro-Muslim Brotherhood Rabaa sit-in- Ahmed Ramadan - File photo

Ibrahim Al-Zafrani, a onetime Brotherhood official who served on the group’s Shura Council, repeated the appeal that the group leaves politics.

“The Brotherhood should take a sincere decision to abandon the quest for political power and devote itself to proselytizing work. I hope to hear clear responses to this vision from the Brotherhood’s leaders. If they have alternative ideas, they should voice them clearly and publicly.”

Hundreds of young detainees have been freed after proving their intellectual revisions and showing good intentions of interacting with the Egyptian society and state.

Hundreds of elements of the Muslim Brotherhood group inside prisons have presented requests for pardon after they denounced the Brotherhood and signed a revision document known as ’repentance acknowledgments’, according to media reports in February.

Egyptian security authorities made a classification process of Islamists inside prisons in the middle of last year, and isolated those who took up arms and carried out terrorist operations. They also separated the organizational leaders of the Brotherhood from the elements that they noticed were criticizing the policies of the Brotherhood leaders.

Presidential advisor for religious affairs Osama al-Azhari and a number of preachers also held preaching sessions with Islamists, most of whom were Brotherhood members, hoping they would revise their ideas.

These measures seemed to have produced fruit, as there is information that hundreds of Brotherhood elements have already signed "repentance acknowledgements", where they denounced the Brotherhood. They also presented applications to the committee that was formed by the presidency last year to study files of youth prisoners. The files were an initial step for having a pardon issued, according to committee member MP Tarek al-Kholy’s statements to local media outlets.

“A number of the Brotherhood cadres announced repentance after expressing their opposition to the approach adopted by the Brotherhood lately and in rejection of violence,” local media reported earlier in 2016.

It was noticeable that the former late Guidance Bureau member Mohammad Kamal and opposing Brotherhood acting-Guide Mahmoud Ezzat did not use the usual phrases about injustice and oppression, nor the religious vocabulary the group had previously used.]]>
11/11/2017 4:57:12 PM
<![CDATA[Syrian Coalition: Iran is occupying force, not guarantor ]]>
The coalition condemned the latest remarks made by Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the threats he issued against the Syrian people.

In a press release issued on Thursday, the coalition said that Velayati’s provocative remarks “have once again exposed the real role Iran is playing in Syria.”

The coalition stressed that these remarks and explicit threats “blatantly contravene Iran’s so-called role in the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement, and violate the agreement itself and are no less heinous than the litany of crimes being committed by the Iranian militias against civilians in Syria on a daily basis.”

“Iran is also seeking to spread extremism and terror, with the sole aim of serving its plans for changing the demographic landscape in Syria,” the coalition added.

“There is no denying the fact that Iran plays a pivotal role in disrupting all efforts to put an end to the bloodshed in Syria and cannot be a guarantor of any agreement,” the SNC continued.

The coalition also condemned the entry of the militias of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) into the town of Al-Bukamal and any other part of the Syrian territory as a blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty, especially as the PMF militias are part of the military establishment of the Iraqi government and have previously committed war crimes in Syria.

The coalition underscored that the Assad regime is primarily responsible for the current situation in Syria and for exposing the country to various forms of foreign hegemony, occupation, and violation of sovereignty. The coalition renewed calls on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to stop the ongoing crimes against civilians in Syria.
]]>
11/11/2017 2:39:17 PM
<![CDATA[Khaled Abu Baker: Sunni-Shiite war would lead to catastrophe]]>
Abu Bakr wrote on his Twitter account that “igniting a Sunni-Shiite war would lead to a catastrophe,” adding that “there is no need for recklessness.”

“The Arabs’ future generations would pay the price for that reckless war if it takes place,” Abu Bakr stressed.

Responding to one of the reporters' questions, during his meeting with media representatives on the sidelines of the World Youth Forum (WYF) Wednesday, regarding the possibility of targeting Tehran with military strikes, he affirmed that he is against the option of war.

Khaled_Abu_Bakr_Tweet_screenshot
Khaled Abu Bakr Tweet screenshot.

“We should be careful while dealing with any diplomatic problem within the region, including Iran and Hezbollah. We do not need more troubles in the Middle East region; what has already happened is enough,” President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said.

Sisi also noted that Egypt’s security and stability are linked to those of the Gulf. “We stand with our brotherly countries in the Gulf,” he added.

Iran’s relations with several countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, are severely tense. Tehran has been described by several governments as the major player regarding financing and supporting terrorism, aiming to destabilize the whole region, especially that it has nuclear ambitions.

One of the main demands in the reconciliation list issued by the Arab quartet to Qatar’s government was to cut all of its relations with Tehran.

During his interview with France 24 in October, President Sisi said that Egypt’s relations with Iran have been cut for nearly 40 years; however, “we are keen on easing the current tension in the region,” Sisi added.]]>
11/11/2017 2:34:53 PM
<![CDATA[Firm decision needed to drop Qatar’s GCC membership: Khalfan]]>




He continued to state on his official Twitter account that the support that Qatar offers to Iran should not be passed without a true account.





With the passing of nearly five months since the tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar refused to comply with the Arab Quartet’s demands, Arab parliamentarians and ministers are calling to revoke Doha’s membership in all Arab councils and leagues.

An Egyptian parliamentarian called for further escalatory steps against Doha by freezing its membership in the Arab League, following Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed al-Khalifa’s request to revoke Qatar’s membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Parliamentarian Mustafa Bakri stated that Khalifa’s request came late, pointing out that Qatar’s membership in the Arab League must be frozen after its support of violence and terrorism has been proven.

He added that freezing its membership in the GCC is not enough, as there must be diplomatic and economic measures to force the Qatari government to comply with the demands.

“The Qatari people will not wait too long to overthrow this regime, which pushed them into further problems with Arab countries. The overthrow of this regime is very near,” Bakri said.

Qatar’s ongoing support and funding of terrorism will inevitably be met by escalation from the Arab quartet, said Deputy of Parliament’s National Defense and Security Committee Yahya Kadwani.

He added that the Arab quartet has yet to take a decisive stand against Qatar to curb the spread of terrorism worldwide.

Egypt’s parliament seconded the Bahraini foreign minister’s request to revoke Qatar’s membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Qatar’s membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council should be suspended since it does not deserve the honor of belonging to the alliance,” the Bahraini foreign minister tweeted, adding that Bahrain wouldn’t attend the GCC summit and sit with Qatar.

On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar, hurling allegations that the state supports terrorism. Ports and airspaces were cut off to Qatari vessels. Since then, Kuwait has played the role of mediator to put an end to this rift. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held several meetings with the disputed parties, but the discussions have not yet led to a settlement.

The Arab countries listed 13 demands to be met by Qatar, including severing ties with terrorist groups, closing down the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera satellite channel, downgrading ties with arch-rival Iran and the closure of the Turkish air base in Qatar.]]>
11/11/2017 1:54:11 PM
<![CDATA[Togo president blames opposition for violence]]>
Since the first protests began in late August more than 200 others have been injured as the opposition agitates for Gnassingbe to step down and the introduction of a two-term limit for presidents, applied retroactively to prevent him standing for re-election.

"Togo is currently disrupted by demonstrations, which, far from being peaceful as permitted by law, have often been extremely violent," said Gnassingbe, visiting the Temedja military camp, about 200 km (120 miles) north of Lome on Friday.

"Those who organise these events bear the heavy responsibility for the victims and the damage they caused," he said in a speech broadcast on national television.

Last month West African leaders made their first comments after two months of increasingly bloody violence, calling on the presidency and the opposition to sit down to talks.

France has called for an "immediate dialogue" between the two sides in its former colony, saying it was concerned by reports of civilian militia working alongside security forces.

The government has promised to hold a referendum to adopt reforms including a limitation of presidential terms, but the proposed change would not be retroactive, allowing Gnassingbe to run for polls in 2020 and 2025.

Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005 and won three elections. His father General Gnassingbe Eyadema was president before him and ruled for 38 years.]]>
11/11/2017 1:43:56 PM
<![CDATA[Putin, Trump agree political solution needed for Syria]]>
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the Kremlin announcement or the conversation the Kremlin said took place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Vietnamese resort of Danang.

The Kremlin said the statement on Syria was coordinated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson especially for the meeting in Danang.

With Islamic State having suffered losses in Syria and beyond, greater attention is turning to the broader conflict between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebel factions.

Putin and Trump had agreed to continue joint efforts to fight Islamic State, the Kremlin statement said.

They confirmed their commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to take an active part in the Geneva political process, it said.

Moscow and Washington agree there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict, according to the text of the joint statement published on the Kremlin's website.

It said the leaders "had a conversation before the group photo ceremony for the APEC Economic Leaders."

Television pictures from Danang showed Putin and Trump chatting - apparently amicably - as they walked to the position where the traditional APEC summit photo was being taken at a viewpoint looking over the South China Sea.

Earlier pictures from the meeting show Trump walking up to Putin as he sits at the summit table and patting him on the back. The two lean in to speak to each other and clasp each other briefly as they exchange a few words.

Although the White House had said no official meeting was planned, it also said it was possible they would bump into each other.

Trump's entourage made no comment before he left Danang for Vietnam's capital Hanoi, the next step on his 12-day tour of Asia.

Trump has shown little appetite for holding talks with Putin unless there is some sense that progress could be made on festering issues such as Syria, Ukraine and North Korea.

After emphasizing last year on the campaign trail that it would be nice if the United States and Russia could work together on world problems, Trump has had limited contact with Putin since taking office.

Trump publicly sitting down with Putin also revives the issue of Russian meddling in last year's U.S. presidential election, which remains under investigation.

Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been indicted in the probe along with his former deputy, Rick Gates.]]>
11/11/2017 12:53:19 PM
<![CDATA[Petitions for presidential pardon are examined: NCHR member ]]>
The committee consists of prominent politicians, a journalist, and an NCHR member.

Furthermore, Sallam stressed Saturday on the importance of holding professional training camps, teaching prisoners about different crafts, agriculture, and poultry farming so that they would be able to make a living when they finish their sentences.

Article 155 of the Egyptian constitution gives the president the power to pardon or commute the sentence of prisoners following consultations with the cabinet; on the condition that their offences do not include violence or attacks on public or security properties. The pardon, usually taking place during official and religious holidays, entails:

1. Ending any freedom-restricting penalties.

2. Canceling fine penalties, if applicable.

3. Pardoning the prisoner from police surveillance.

4. The legal effects of the sentence continue to be shown in the criminal record of the released prisoners.
]]>
11/11/2017 12:01:42 PM
<![CDATA[Saad El Hariri was due to attend WYF: Lebanese official]]>
Shalala explained that Hariri did not inform any of the Lebanese officials of his resignation prior to the televised announcement from Riyadh last week amid a very busy schedule, and that he called Lebanese President Michel Oun afterwards, according to El-Masry El-Youm.

“Hariri is still the prime minister of Lebanon as President Oun did not accept his resignation,” Shalala added.

The spokesperson stipulated that there is a general consent among all Lebanese political and spiritual leaders on the necessity of Saad al-Hariri’s return to the country.

“There is intent to turn Lebanon into a platform for conflict like before,” Shalala added referring to Iranian intervention in Lebanon through the guerrilla group Hezbollah.

Hariri mentioned in his resignation announcement that he was threatened of assassination like his father, late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, if he did not comply with the demands of the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

“You will meet the same fate as your father” is reportedly the threat relayed by the Supreme Leader of Iran advisor Ali Akbar Velayati to the resigned Lebanese prime minister in a meeting held on Friday, November 3.

An Iranian opposition website, Amadnews, published earlier this week a report titled "What Happened during the Meeting between Velayati and Hariri," revealing that the former threatened the latter in order to pressure him to comply with the Iranian demands regarding Hezbollah.

Velayati also threatened to spread chaos throughout Lebanon, bringing in commanders from Hezbollah's security apparatus and asking them to present documents proving that the Lebanese Future Party (led by Hariri) had provided Western sources with sensitive information that led to the elimination of Hezbollah's field commanders in Syria by Israel.

Hariri refused supporting the Iran-backed guerrilla group, and announced his resignation the following day from the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Rafik al-Hariri, originally a businessman, was the prime minister of Lebanon between 1992 and 1998, and again from 2000 till his resignation in 2004. He was assassinated on February 14, 2005, by Hezbollah militants through a car bomb, blowing up his motorcade. Rafik al-Hariri is credited for reconstructing the capital Beirut after the 15-year civil war.

In 2006, Israel imposed a blockade on Lebanon from July 12 till August 14, for a total of 34 days, because of the missile attack launched by Hezbollah on the Israeli border towns in an attempt to release the Hezbollah prisoners.

The incidents resulted in Lebanese casualties ranging between 1,191 and 1,300, mostly civilians, and 165 Israeli casualties, including 44 civilians, according to the BBC. Around one million Lebanese and between 300,000 to 500,000 Israelis were displaced, in addition to the destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure.]]>
11/11/2017 11:44:33 AM
<![CDATA[Mahmoud Shalaby: Bigger than disability]]>
“I refused to give up after the accident,” Shalaby affirmed to media outlets during several interviews as the first officer with special needs.

During his participation in a conference held by South Valley University in 2015, Shalaby said to the students that “life itself could be meaningless, unless we decide to give it a purpose,” and that’s how he became his own life master.

Shalaby didn’t only decide to keep his job with the Interior Ministry, but he also won many tournaments in swimming, horse riding and diving, and he is considered to be the world's first person to swim alone for a mile and a half, after manufacturing some of the world's first supplies to help him swim, according to the official WYF Facebook page.



The WYF, which launched on Sunday under the theme “We Need to Talk”, is a forum designed to give global youth the chance to be heard by world leaders and influential individuals. The event brought 3,000 youth together from all over the world.
The idea to hold an international youth conference in Egypt came during the third National Conference of Youth (NCY) in Ismailia.

The forum included 46 sessions and workshops that discussed various key issues, including youth employment to achieve sustainable development, as well as fighting terrorism, extremism, and illegal immigration.
]]>
11/11/2017 10:10:07 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt backs Arab national armies; rejects militias]]>
"Egypt backs the Arab national armies and always rebuffs militias," the spokesman said in remarks to Sada ElBalad TV channel's Moustafa Bakry.

He stresses President Abdel Fattah El Sisi's firm stand on supporting citizenship principles.

As for the outcome of the World Youth Forum (WYF) that wrapped up its activities on Thursday, the presidential spokesman said it conveyed an important message, which is urgency to combat extremism.

He said "we are in a dire need to support youth. It's necessary to integrate them into the decision-making process".

"This was President Sisi's recommendation at the conclusion of the forum," he added.]]>
11/11/2017 4:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Tillerson says US supports stability in Lebanon]]>
In a statement released Friday, Tillerson said, "There is no legitimate place or role in Lebanon for any foreign forces, militias or armed elements other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state."

Tillerson also called Saad al-Hariri a "strong partner of the United States."

"The United States urges all parties both within Lebanon and outside to respect the integrity and independence of Lebanon's legitimate national institutions, including the government of Lebanon and the Lebanese armed forces," he said.]]>
11/11/2017 3:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[S.Sudan's government using food as weapon of war]]>
During 2016 and 2017, the U.N. monitors said a military campaign by government troops in the northwestern town of Wau and surrounding areas in Western Bahr el-Ghazal targeted civilians on ethnic grounds and displaced more than 100,000.

"The government has during much of 2017 deliberately prevented life-saving food assistance from reaching some citizens," the monitors wrote. "These actions amount to using food as a weapon of war with the intent to inflict suffering on civilians the government views as opponents to its agenda."

"The denial of aid had caused extreme food insecurity among large sections of the population, with malnutrition and death by starvation the documented outcome, in particular in the Greater Baggari area in Wau County," they said in the report submitted to the U.N. Security Council's South Sudan sanctions committee.

South Sudan's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the U.N. report.

South Sudan spiraled into civil war in late 2013, two years after gaining independence from Sudan, and a third of the 12 million population has fled their homes. The conflict was sparked by a feud between Kiir, a Dinka, and his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, who is being held in South Africa.

The United Nations has warned that the violence in South Sudan was providing "fertile ground" for a genocide.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley visited the Juba late last month, where she told Kiir that the United States had lost trust in his government and risked losing Washington's support if he did not pursue peace.

'CATASTROPHIC'

The U.N. monitors reported that the government had regularly denied humanitarian aid access to certain parts of the population, in particular areas outside the town of Wau, which was visited by U.N. Security Council ambassadors in September last year.

"One of those areas, Greater Baggari, is noteworthy for the persistent and systematic nature of the government's access denials, and the catastrophic humanitarian conditions that have resulted," the independent U.N. monitors said.

In August, the government eased restrictions, allowing aid groups to distribute food and lifesaving assistance to more than 12,000 people in Greater Baggari. Villages had been looted and burned and crops destroyed, the U.N. monitors wrote.

One humanitarian assessment mission told the U.N. monitors that 164 young children and elderly had died from hunger and disease between January and September 2017.

The report by the U.N. monitors found that despite the catastrophic conditions across South Sudan, armed forces, groups and militias - particularly those affiliated with Kiir and Vice President Taban Deng Gai - continued to "actively impede both humanitarian and peacekeeping operations."

U.N. peacekeepers have been deployed in South Sudan since 2011.

An East African bloc, IGAD, led two rounds of peace talks over two years, culminating in a brief power-sharing agreement signed by Kiir and Machar in 2015. But even as IGAD urges a new ceasefire, the warring parties are preparing for more fighting.

"The coming dry season in South Sudan will, absent a change in the current conflict dynamics, see further fighting and civilian suffering as the government continues to pursue military victory over political compromise," the U.N. monitors wrote.]]>
11/11/2017 1:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[John Kerry: 'Netanyahu urged Obama to bomb Iran’]]>
Kerry made the remarks during a conversation he held in London in Chatham House this week about the nuclear threat posed by Tehran.

"Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu was urging President [Barack] Obama to bomb Iran," Kerry said but did not clarify when that request was made.

But Kerry expressed his doubts over this widely-shared notion, saying that "Bombing Iran does not necessarily stop them from having a nuclear weapon. It is the same dilemma that we face with North Korea. We do not know where everything is."

At the time that the nuclear deal was put in place, Iran did not have a nuclear weapon, Kerry continued.

"I guarantee you, once you bomb the country, you have surely [sic] given them a good reason to want to have a weapon," the ex-Secretary of State asserted. ]]>
11/11/2017 1:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Meet Egyptian Mohamed Ali; Hollywood's visual effects designers]]>
The now 28-year old Egyptian man called on the WYF in his speech to draw more attention to education; pointing out its necessity in the lives of peoples and nations. Ali praised the successful organization of the forum, as well.

Ali designed the visual effects of films like “Fast and Furious,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Captain America,” “Iron Man,” “Harry Potter,” and “Spiderman”.

He received a Bachelor's degree in computer science from a university in the United States of America, before deciding to study the influence of industry at the San Francisco Art Academy.

Ali is one of the few Egyptians who have entered this field on a global level and has managed to reach this level of professionalism and proficiency.

The WYF kicked off on Saturday in Sharm El-Sheikh, South Sinai under the auspices of President Sisi, bringing together 3,000 youths represented by 60 delegations from around the world.

The seven-day gathering witnesses the participation of official youth representatives over 18-years-old, leaders of various youth networks, heads of state, media figures and around 250 young Egyptian expats. It is held under the slogan "We Need to Talk."]]>
11/10/2017 9:22:36 PM
<![CDATA[Mina Bakheet: Turning medical research into reality ]]>
Bakheet, who was honored by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during the last day of the World Youth Forum (WYF), is the founder and chairman of the Panasia Group of Scientific Innovation and Investment in the United Kingdom.

Bakheet is also a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford.

In 2017, Bakheet was selected by Forbes magazine to be featured on the “30 Under 30 in Europe: Health and Science” list. In a short interview on July 2017, Bakheet said that his main goal in the beginning was to find a way to use all of his academic research in real medical innovations so that everyone, especially patients, can benefit from them.

“I noticed that all researches turned eventually to be just words and papers, I wanted to turn them to something real,” he said.

Bakheet added that later on he started about 56 companies in different fields from manufacturing medicines to working on finding vaccines for diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, Zika and Ebola.

According to his statements, Bakheet’s coming step is to develop the pharmaceutical industry in Egypt, and to create new job opportunities for youth.

The WYF, which launched on Sunday under the theme “We Need to Talk”, is a forum designed to give global youth the chance to be heard by world leaders and influential individuals. The event brought 3,000 youth together from all over the world.

The idea to hold an international youth conference in Egypt came during the third National Conference of Youth (NCY) in Ismailia.

The forum included 46 sessions and workshops that discussed various key issues, including youth employment to achieve sustainable development, as well as fighting terrorism, extremism, and illegal immigration.]]>
11/10/2017 7:52:58 PM
<![CDATA[Meet Rachel Sibande, African technology entrepreneur honored by Sisi]]>mHub, which is considered an incubator for Mawali technological start-ups.

About Rachel Sibande

The 31-year-old entrepreneur established mHub in November 2013 to provide several platforms for inspiring entrepreneurs from different ages; she also established the Children's Codec Club, which provides computer science skills for children aged between 7 and 14 years old. The center also provides events and competitions for entrepreneurs. The Google scholar is now a program director at Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) at the United Nations Foundation.

At the WYF’s opening session, Sibande said that she dreams of seeing a generation of young creative minds building technological innovations that serve mankind.

The Malawian Embassy in Cairo praised Sibande in a post; “She was a shining star at the World Youth Forum inauguration which took place from 4th to 10th November, 2017, in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. She motivated the participants to the conference by sharing her touching story of youth empowerment in Malawi.”

In 2016, Sibande was chosen to be Ambassador of Malawi to the next Einstein Forum, an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (Aims) in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung that promotes science, engineering, technology and mathematics (Steam). In May 2016, Forbes Magazine described Sibande as one of the 30 promising entrepreneurs in Africa under the age of 30.

The mother of three is preparing a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Hodges University; she obtained a Master’s degree in Information Theory, Coding and Cryptography and Grade Distinction in 2008. She also obtained a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Statistics in 2005.]]>
11/10/2017 7:46:34 PM
<![CDATA[Hezbollah says Saudi declares Lebanon war with Hariri detention]]>
France became the first Western country to indicate that Saudi Arabia was holding Hariri against his will, saying it wished for him to have "all his freedom of movement and be fully able to play the essential role that is his in Lebanon".

Hariri's resignation has plunged Lebanon into crisis, thrusting the small Arab country back to the forefront of regional rivalry between the Sunni Muslim monarchy Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite revolutionary Iran.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, said Saudi Arabia's detention of Hariri, a long-time Saudi ally who declared his resignation while in Riyadh last Saturday, was an insult to all Lebanese and he must return to Lebanon.

"Let us say things as they are: the man is detained in Saudi Arabia and forbidden until this moment from returning to Lebanon," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

"It is clear that Saudi Arabia and Saudi officials have declared war on Lebanon and on Hezbollah in Lebanon," he said.

His comments mirror an accusation by Riyadh on Monday that Lebanon and Hezbollah had declared war on the conservative Gulf Arab kingdom.

Riyadh says Hariri is a free man and he decided to resign because Hezbollah was calling the shots in his government. Saudi Arabia considers Hezbollah to be its enemy in conflicts across the Middle East, including Syria and Yemen.

Western countries have looked on with alarm at the rising regional tension.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned other countries and groups against using Lebanon as vehicle for a larger proxy fight in the Middle East, saying Washington strongly backed Lebanon's independence and respected Hariri as a strong partner of the United States, still referring to him as prime minister.

"There is no legitimate place or role in Lebanon for any foreign forces, militias or armed elements other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state," Tillerson said in a statement released by the U.S. State Department.

Tillerson told reporters on Friday there was no indication that Hariri was being held in Saudi Arabia against his will but that the United States was monitoring the situation.

The French foreign minister said earlier on Friday that he also believed Hariri was a free man - a statement at odds with the later French foreign minstry comment that it wanted Hariri to have "all his freedom of movement".

Hariri has made no public remarks since announcing his resignation in a speech televised from Saudi Arabia, saying he feared assassination and accusing Iran and Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Two top Lebanese government officials, a senior politician close to Hariri and a fourth source told Reuters on Thursday that the Lebanese authorities believe Hariri is being held in Saudi Arabia.

Nasrallah said Saudi Arabia was encouraging Israel to attack Lebanon. While an Israeli attack could not be ruled out entirely, he said, it was unlikely partly because Israel knew it would pay a very high price. "I warn them against any miscalculation or any step to exploit the situation," he said.

"Saudi will fail in Lebanon as it has failed on all fronts," Nasrallah said.

Riyadh has advised Saudi citizens not to travel to Lebanon, or if already there to leave as soon as possible. Other Gulf states have also issued travel warnings. Those steps have raised concern that Riyadh could take measures against the tiny Arab state, which hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees.

Hariri's resignation is being widely seen as part of a Saudi attempt to counter Iran as its influence deepens in Syria and Iraq and as Riyadh and its allies battle Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Hariri's resignation unravelled a political deal among rival factions that made him prime minister and President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, head of state last year.

The coalition government included Hezbollah, a heavily armed military and political organisation.

STUCK BETWEEN "ANTAGONISTIC INTERESTS"

Aoun told Saudi Arabia's envoy on Friday that Hariri must return to Lebanon and the circumstances surrounding his resignation as prime minister while in Saudi Arabia were unacceptable, presidential sources said.

An "international support group" of countries concerned about Lebanon, which includes the United States, Russia and France, appealed for Lebanon "to continue to be shielded from tensions in the region". In a statement, they also welcomed Aoun's call for Hariri to return.

In comments to Reuters, top Lebanese Druze politician Jumblatt said Lebanon did not deserve to be accused of declaring war on Saudi Arabia. "For decades we've been friends," he said.

"We are a country that is squeezed between two antagonistic interests, between Saudi Arabia and Iran," he said. "The majority of Lebanese are just paying the price ... Lebanon can not afford to declare a war against anybody."

The Saudi foreign minister accused Hezbollah of a role in the launching of a ballistic missile at Riyadh from Yemen on Saturday. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Iran's supply of rockets to militias in Yemen was an act of "direct military aggression" that could be an act of war.

Nasrallah mocked the Saudi accusation that Iran and Hezbollah were behind the firing of the missile from Yemen, saying Yemenis were capable of building their own missiles.]]>
11/10/2017 7:34:01 PM
<![CDATA[Youssef Sadek brought life again to the national anthem ]]>

Youssef_Sadek_-_CC_facebook,_By_Matthew_Muise
Youssef Sadek - CC facebook, By Matthew Muise

Sadek was honored by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi at the end of the International World Youth Forum along with a number of youth participants of different nationalities.



Sadek is a pianist, specializing in music for film and visual media. He moved to the United States where he was given the opportunity to study film scoring at the Berkley College of Music, according to Sadek’s official website.

He has been writing music for orchestra and smaller ensembles. Apart from the orchestra, he was introduced to writing electronic music using synths as well.




The WYF kicked off on Saturday in Sharm El-Sheikh, South Sinai under the auspices of President Sisi.

Egypt’s first international youth event is set to run until November 10, bringing together 3,000 youths represented by 60 delegations from around the world.

The seven-day gathering witnesses the participation of official youth representatives over 18-years-old, leaders of various youth networks, heads of state, media figures and around 250 young Egyptian expats. It is held under the slogan "We Need to Talk."
]]>
11/10/2017 7:14:33 PM
<![CDATA[France suggests Hariri not free, urges he play role in Lebanon]]>
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had told Europe 1 radio that as far as France was aware, Hariri "was free of his movements" and that it was "important he made his own choices."

However, when asked by reporters in a daily briefing to clarify those comments, a foreign ministry spokesman said France wanted Hariri to be free, suggesting he may not be.

"We wish that Saad al-Hariri has all his freedom of movement and be fully able to play the essential role that is his in Lebanon," deputy foreign ministry spokesman Alexandre Georgini said.

He added that France's envoy to Saudi Arabia had seen Hariri after a short-trip to the United Arab Emirates earlier this week.

French officials said the ministry's latest comments were the most accurate.

France's ambassador to Saudi met Hariri before President Emmanuel Macron's unscheduled visit to Riyadh to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday.

Paris has close ties with Lebanon, a former colony, and with Hariri, who has a home in France after spending several years in the country. Macron said in Dubai on Thursday there had been informal contacts with Hariri, but no request to transfer him to France.

Two top Lebanese government officials said on Thursday that Riyadh was holding Hariri captive and a third told Reuters that the Saudi authorities had ordered Hariri to resign while he was in Riyadh last weekend, and put him under house arrest.

Le Drian is due in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 16 and is scheduled to also travel to Iran later in the month.]]>
11/10/2017 7:14:17 PM
<![CDATA[Profile: Shad Askary provides a new design for refugees’ shelters ]]>



Askary’s design for refugees’ shelters can facilitate their lives. In Askary’s design, new shelters have a sanitation system, clean water and walls that can resist extreme temperatures, al-Watan newspaper reported.

The idea came after Askary visited many camps for refugees and witnessed their suffering first hand.

Snow_is_gathered_under_a_broken_bicycle_and_a_bed_frame_next_to_a_tent_at_a_refugee_camp_in_Ritsona,_northern_of_Athens,_Greece,_December_30,_2016._REUTERS
Snow is gathered under a broken bicycle and a bed frame next to a tent at a refugee camp in Ritsona, northern of Athens, Greece, December 30, 2016. REUTERS

“I’m thankful to the World youth forum which helped promote my Idea, and I believe that the youth are the future, so it’s very important for all youth to take that opportunity and start dreaming. Don’t be afraid of creating; we can make the world a better place,” Askary said during an interview with DMC channel.

The WYF kicked off on Saturday in Sharm El-Sheikh, South Sinai under the auspices of President Sisi.

Egypt’s first international youth event is set to run until November 10, bringing together 3,000 youths represented by 60 delegations from around the world.

The seven-day gathering witnesses the participation of official youth representatives over 18-years-old, leaders of various youth networks, heads of state, media figures and around 250 young Egyptian expats. It is held under the slogan "We Need to Talk." ]]>
11/10/2017 6:21:18 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian swimmer who tried to cross English Channel honored by Sisi ]]>
Husseini, 18, attempted to enter the Guinness World Records as the first swimmer with Down Syndrome to cross the English channel.

Husseini is training under the supervision of coaches from the Stroke for Egypt Academy (SFEA), a swimming association. He spends more than 10 hours a day training in the open waters of Egypt’s Red Sea city, Hurghada.

In an earlier statement to Egypt Today, Husseini Taj Al Din, the swimmer’s father, said his son Mohamed managed to swim 6.2 kilometers in two hours and 15 minutes.

"Mohamed has been in a training camp for three years in Hurghada, and we only get to see him for a day and a half every week,” he said.

The WYF kicked off on Saturday in Sharm El-Sheikh, South Sinai under the auspices of President Sisi, bringing together 3,000 youths represented by 60 delegations from around the world.

The seven-day gathering witnesses the participation of official youth representatives over 18-years-old, leaders of various youth networks, heads of state, media figures and around 250 young Egyptian expats. It is held under the slogan "We Need to Talk."

Concluding the five-day forum, President Sisi announced on Thursday the recommendations of the international event that came to an end.

The recommendations include assigning the organizing committee of the WYF to take measures and turn the forum into an international center concerned with Arab, African, and international dialogue among the world’s youths. ]]>
11/10/2017 5:58:37 PM
<![CDATA[Former Lebanese PM: ‘We have to stand by Hariri’]]>
"Lebanon cannot persist in the absence of any of its components. We are surrounded by the flames ravaging the Arab world and what we need is wisdom," Salam said after his meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian at Dar El-Fatwa.

"It is our responsibility to overcome the many differences and to stay away from biddings, now more than ever. Lebanon's relationship with Saudi Arabia is historic and close-knit, and the Kingdom is keen to support Lebanon in all of its crises. Saudi officials realize how important it is to preserve Lebanon, and Lebanon, in return, is keen on its relations with Arab states," Salam went on.

"National unity is required today more than ever," he stressed, hoping the situation would not witness further escalation. ]]>
11/10/2017 4:34:17 PM
<![CDATA[IS’s magazine calls for more terror attacks in Europe]]>
“Kill people until you’re killed” was the main message from the IS leaders to its followers living in European countries, while the message did not specify carrying out attacks in a certain city, but the background image of this incitement’s topic was for Paris’s Eiffel Tower.

After IS has lost its last major stronghold in Syria following the fall of Deir Ezzor to the Syrian army, destroying the ideology inspiring terror attacks around the world will be much harder than crushing the physical “caliphate,” according to British Independent Magazine early November.

The rate of atrocities carried out in the West could continue to increase as the group struggles to remain relevant to Jihad.

A former Islamic State commander has warned IS militants are using the internet to recruit potentially deadly ISIS sleeper cells in European countries. Al-Naba’ magazine has sent many messages to IS supporters around the world who are inspired by its terrorist beliefs and carried out several terrorist attacks against civilians in Sweden, France and Germany.

In France, the matter surpassed mere calls to taking actual measures in order to exterminate French IS fighters. An investigation by Wall Street Journal published in May revealed that French Special Forces sought the help of the Iraqi Army to inhibit French nationals fighting with IS from escaping so they would not compromise the security of their homeland.

Hundreds of French citizens have joined the group since its rise to prominence in 2014. A joint military operation was assumed by the French and Iraqi forces, but no figures of killed French IS members were revealed. However, they announced that “up to 30 men had been identified as senior, ‘high-value’ targets.”

President_Abdel_Fattah_El_Sisi_meets_with_Foreign_Minister_of_France_Jean-Yves_Le_Drian_in_June-_Press_Photo.
President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi meets with Foreign Minister of France Jean-Yves Le Drian in June - Press Photo

France has witnessed more than 15 terrorist acts in the past 5 years. French official statistics announced the death of more than 600 people in these terrorist attacks from several nationalities.

Islam is the second-most widely professed religion in France. With an estimated total of 7 to 9 percent of the national population, France has the largest number of Muslims in Western Europe. However, French authorities for the first time closed three mosques in the aftermath of November’s attacks in Paris.

France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when 130 people were slaughtered in a wave of coordinated violence across Paris. The French anti-terrorism campaign coincided with Egypt's intensive fight against terror groups since the ousting of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

The bloody attacks forced France to strengthen its foreign policy in the Middle East, with priority given to besieging networks of foreign militants in Syria, Libya and Iraq.
Egypt has a particularly key role for France regarding Libya. The French administration believes that Egypt is the number one key to resolving the Libyan crisis, as well as an important player in Syria too.

Here is a recap of major attacks and foiled attempts only in 2017:

- February 3: A man armed with a machete in each hand attacks four soldiers on patrol at Paris's Louvre Museum, shouting "Allahu Akbar." The attacker, a 29-year-old Egyptian, was seriously injured.

- March 18: A 39-year-old man is killed at Paris's Orly airport after attacking a soldier. The attacker shouted: "I am ready to die for Allah," according to the Paris prosecutor, Francois Molins.

- April 19: Police arrest two Frenchmen in their 20s in Marseille on suspicion of planning an attack, with bomb-making materials and guns found in searches.

- April 21: A known terror suspect shoots dead a policeman and wounds two others on the Champs-Elysees, before being killed in open gunshot exchange, in an assault claimed by the IS group.

- August 5: Soldiers at the Eiffel Tower in Paris arrest a knife-wielding man, a former psychiatric patient, after he leaps a security barrier shouting "Allahu Akbar."

- August 9: A car drives into soldiers on patrol outside a military barracks in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, injuring six people, two seriously wounded.
-October 1: Two women were stabbed to death and their assailant shot dead by soldiers at the main train station in the southern port city of Marseille on Sunday in an attack claimed by IS.

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Image of Al-Naba’ Magazine

IS released an audio recording of its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi on Thursday, the first communication from the elusive jihadist leader in almost year, during which the group has lost much of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria.

The date of the 46-minute recording, released via the Al-Furqan news organization, which is linked to the jihadist group, was not clear. But Baghdadi makes reference to North Korean threats against Japan and United States.

The audio release, much of which is dedicated to religious scriptures, comes amid growing speculation over the fate of the Baghdadi, whose last recorded speech was issued in early November 2016, two weeks after the start of the battle for Mosul, when he urged his followers to fight the "unbelievers" and "make their blood flow as rivers.”

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have since defeated IS in Mosul, where Baghdadi declared a self-styled caliphate 3 years ago. Militants blew up Mosul's El Nuri mosque, where Baghdadi made his 2014 declaration after IS captured the city.

Officials have said they believed it could take years to capture or kill Baghdadi as he is thought to be hiding in thousands of square miles of sparsely-populated desert between Mosul and Raqqa, where drones are easy to spot.

Russia's Defense Ministry said earlier this year it may have killed Baghdadi when one of its air strikes hit a gathering of senior IS commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian City of Raqqa, but Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials were skeptical.

On August 8, IS-affiliated Al-Hayat media production released a video message inciting IS supporters to attack civilians in European countries if they could not “join the IS in its caliphate states,” according to the video.

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The propaganda mechanisms adopted by IS are diverse and not simply limited to social media.

The online magazines – Dabiq and Rumiyah – serve to promote the religious values of the IS, promote its atrocities, and provide harrowing guidelines for how to commit “favorable” atrocities.

The jihadist group has added a new level of brutality to the phenomenon of radical Islam, having become notorious for its beheadings, abductions and mass killings in the name of religion. ]]>
11/10/2017 3:48:38 PM
<![CDATA[Russian parliament may back law restricting foreign media next week]]>
TASS cited Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, as saying lawmakers were likely to approve the new restrictions in a first reading. ]]>
11/10/2017 3:10:29 PM
<![CDATA[Int'l Support Group says fully backs Lebanon's Aoun]]>
Following their meeting with Aoun on Friday, the group’s ambassadors asserted the importance of maintaining Lebanon’s stability.

Hariri declared his resignation on Saturday from Saudi Arabia.

The international group brings together the United Nations and the governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Britain and the United States, together with the European Union and the Arab League.

It was launched in September 2013 by the UN Secretary-General with President Michel Suleiman to help mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon’s stability, sovereignty and state institutions and to specifically encourage assistance for the Lebanese Army.]]>
11/10/2017 2:29:13 PM
<![CDATA[ Int’l committee formed to pursue violations against workers]]>
About, 800,000 migrant workers in Qatar are involved in construction projects, representing 40 percent of the migrant workers there, according to a HRW report.

The formation of the said committee was announced at the meeting of the seventh session of the seven states members of the United Nations Convention against corruption, which started last Monday and ends Friday, in the Austrian Capital Vienna.

The organizations involved are the families of victims of the inhumane work conditions they have gone through during their work at the Sports Facilities of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the African Organization for Heritage and Human Rights, the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Europe and Britain, the Arab Network of National Human Rights Institutions and the Gulf League for Rights and Freedoms.

In a statement launched by the founding organizations, they confirmed that the new-formed committee will be entitled with pursuing the violations of the human rights of the workers in Qatar and publicly disseminate the findings of their investigations and studies.

"Foreign workers have been living in Qatar and are still living a miserable life, working long hours in a sweltering heat, getting ill-paid, living in dilapidated mansions and being forced to not to leave the country unless they get an exit visa," the statement said.

More than 1,500 workers have died so far in Qatar and authorities there are only afraid of the information getting brought out, the statement said, adding that they have arrested a BBC media team who were on task of reporting the harsh work conditions of the workers and how they are being sent off to their families in Nepal and India in coffins.

The statement also called on the participants to condemn Qatar of practicing and spreading corruption, contending that several European newspapers said they obtained large amount of documents, including emails and letters that prove that Qatari Mohammed bin Hammam, who have been previously dismissed from the International Federation of Football (FIFA), paid $55 million for officials, in return for supporting Qatar's bid to host the World Cup 2022.]]>
11/10/2017 2:24:34 PM
<![CDATA[Deal on divorce bill vital for next future ties talks]]>
"It is absolutely vital if we are to achieve sufficient progress in December," Barnier told a joint news conference with Britain's Brexit minister David Davis after a round of talks.

"It is just a matter of settling accounts, as in any separation," Barnier said, adding the progress in talks about money would have to be achieved by early December for it to be part of the Dec 14-15 EU leaders' summit. ]]>
11/10/2017 2:10:27 PM
<![CDATA[Iran’s aspirations contradict with Arab interests: expert ]]>
Abu Taleb told Egypt Today that any upcoming war would definitely causes a great mess in the region entirely because of the Iranian expanding influence.

“President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi asserted that the region does not bear more chaos and suffering, but this does not mean Egypt agrees with the Iranian policies,” Abu Taleb added.

He stressed that the Egyptian foreign policy adopts the strategy of political settlements and dialogue to solve all crises with respect to other countries’ domestic affairs and the neighbors’ rights.

Abu Taleb manifested that Egypt realizes the Iranian’s regional aspirations which contradict the Arab interests, adding that “Sisi was clear when he confirmed the security of the Gulf States is attached to the security of the Egyptian territory.”

Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad al-Hariri, unexpectedly declared his resignation in a pre-recorded message on November 4, during his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Hariri said in the televised speech that he feared for his life and accused Iran and its proxies of destabilizing his country and the region. Hariri served as Prime Minister from 2009 to 2011 and took office again in 2016.

Responding to one of the reporters' questions, during his meeting with media representatives on the sidelines of the World Youth Forum (WYF) Wednesday regarding the possibility of targeting Tehran with military strikes, he affirmed that he is against the option of war.

“We should be careful while dealing with any diplomatic problem within the region including Iran and Hezbollah. We do not need more troubles in the Middle East region; what has already happened is enough,” Sisi said.

Sisi also noted that Egypt’s security and stability are linked to those of the Gulf. “We stand with our brotherly countries in the Gulf,” he added.

Iran’s relations with several countries in the Middle East including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE are severely tense. Tehran has been described by several governments as the major player regarding financing and supporting terrorism, aiming to destabilize the whole region especially that it has nuclear ambitions.

One of the main demands in the reconciliation list issued by the Arab Quartet to Qatar’s government was to cut all of its relations with Tehran.

During his interview with France 24 in October, President Sisi said that Egypt’s relations with Iran have been cut for nearly 40 years; however “we are keen on easing the current tension in the region,” Sisi added.]]>
11/10/2017 12:50:43 PM
<![CDATA[Kurdish Parl't bureau in Kirkuk suspends work]]>
In a statement, the parliament's office said that the decision came on the back of attacking and looting the office.

The statement said files and equipment have been stolen.

Furthermore, the office is not allowed to raise the flag of Kurdistan, the statement added.

Last year, the Kurdistan Parliament opened an office in Kirkuk to communicate with Kirkuk people and work on solving their problems.]]>
11/10/2017 11:36:49 AM
<![CDATA[Kremlin says prospects for Putin-Trump meeting at APEC are unclear]]>
"We don't fully understand yet. But we are patiently continuing to work in order to come to an understanding. Both presidents are in town. One way or another they will cross paths," Peskov told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.]]>
11/10/2017 11:36:00 AM
<![CDATA[Candidacy for Egypt’s Presidential election to be announced early 2018]]>
“The National Commission for Elections will announce the beginning of the candidacy for the presidential election before February 2,” the source said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

The source manifested that the elections’ procedures and schedule are clearly set in accordance with the Egyptian Constitution.

The NCC launched Thursday an official website for both the parliamentary and presidential elections. The new website aims to publish all the resolutions and recommendations pertaining to the elections; in addition to the voting guides for Egyptians inside and outside Egypt.

The Marathon of the Egyptian presidential elections will take place from February till May 2018.

Former presidential candidate and human rights lawyer, Khaled Ali, announced on Monday that he will run for the upcoming presidential elections against the incumbent Egyptian president who has been bulked up by a currently-running supporting campaign titled "To Build It," which was launched back in October and has already garnered over three million signatures.

Many political parties have started their campaigns supporting President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi for a second four-year term in office.

To Build It (Alashan Tbneeha ) campaign has announced organizing new supportive conferences to support President Sisi after the World Youth Forum, which is being held in Sharm El-Sheikh city of South Sinai, the campaign member Mohamed Shabaan told Egypt Today on Friday.

“Alashan Tbneeha” (To Build It), is a public campaign that kicked off in September to demand President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to run for a second term as President of Egypt.
“As founders, we ascertained President Sisi’s loyalty and his keenness regarding fixing the state’s real problems, including the economic situation of the country,” the campaign stated in September.

The statement added that the Egyptian leader didn’t let the possibility of losing part of his popularity among Egyptians stand in his way when he announced the economic reform program.

“He risked everything and stood strong while taking several historical, fateful decisions, trusting that Egyptians will understand the reasons behind them,” the statement added.
Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is the sixth president of Egypt. He came to office on June 2014 after the revolution of June 30, which toppled former President Mohamed Morsi, who is affiliated with the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s National Electoral Commission launched an official website for both the parliamentary and presidential elections. The new website aims to publish all the resolutions and recommendations pertaining to the elections; in addition to the voting guides for Egyptians inside and outside Egypt.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi previously issued a presidential decree to start the formation of the National Electoral Commission as a national independent authority, entitled to supervise the integrity of the electoral process.

Chaired by Chancellor Lashin Ibrahim Mohammed, who also serves as vice-president of the Court of Cassation, the NEC‘s board of directors consists of nine judges from diverse judicial bodies.
]]>
11/10/2017 11:01:05 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi witnesses closing ceremony of WYF in Sharm el-Sheikh]]>
At the beginning of the ceremony, the president was briefed on the most important activities conducted during the forum, which lasted for five days under the theme ‘We Need to Talk.’ The first round of the conference was held with the participation of 222 speakers and 3,200 youths from 113 different nationalities.

The forum discussed many key issues related to youth such as counter-terrorism, refugees, illegal immigration, sustainable development, technology and entrepreneurship, the role of arts and culture in the face of conflicts and wars, and youth rehabilitation. The forum also held a Security Council simulation model.

The organizational committee screened a documentary about the experiences of a number of young people from Egypt and around the world, representing successful models in various fields, some of whom were honored by Sisi.

Sisi pointed out that the forum meetings show the world that youth have the ability to debate and exchange visions about many topics of common interest.

“It was a great opportunity to see this rich cultural diversity, that showed – with no doubt – that civilizations can be integrated and coalesced for the sake of mankind,” said Sisi.
The president paid tribute to the organizational committee of the forum for its remarkable efforts coordinating the event.

“This world, full of conflicts and wars, faces enormous political, economic, social and environmental challenges that cannot be solved except through relying on young people… They can make their own way for a world without violence, ignorance, disease, or poverty. It is a crucial step, not a luxury.”

Sisi tasked the organizational committee of the first and biggest international youth conference in the Middle East to take necessary measures to establish an international center on Arab-African youth dialogue.

He also ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to coordinate with all relevant world bodies and the United Nations to adopt the outcomes of the Security Council simulation model conducted during the conference.

The president called on the organizational committee to coordinate with associated state agencies to turn WYF into an annual conference.

On the other hand, the first edition of WYF recommended the establishment of a center for cultural communication between Egyptian and global youth in coordination with the ministries of culture, tourism, education and planning.

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Furthermore, the forum’s organizational committee will establish an African Youth Center to bring African youth together and benefit from their ambitious ideas.

The president called on the National Youth Academy for Training and Empowerment, established in Egypt in 2016, to put a plan for cultural exchange with similar centers all over the world to provide scholarships for youth.

The main outcome of the forum was to develop a strategy to confront extremism, terrorism and illiteracy by the beginning of 2018. During the inauguration speech on Sunday, Sisi stressed the importance of counter-terrorism, adding that Egypt spares no efforts in fighting extremism.

“Terrorism violates and destroys our human nature. The fight against terrorism is a right to humanity,” Sisi said.

In addition, the National Academy for Youth will hold workshops and activate the mechanisms of acquaintance and dialogue among global youth.

Sisi called on the organizing committee to form a committee of experts from different countries to develop an international strategy to address illegal immigration, extremism and illiteracy issues. This strategy will be discussed during the upcoming forum in 2018.
Finally, the president mandated the cabinet expanding the financing of small and micro enterprises to support Egyptian youth seeking to launch their own projects.

The WYF brought together 3,000 young people, represented by 60 international delegations, in an effort to explore key issues facing youth and determine their role in implementing global development goals and combating terrorism.]]>
11/10/2017 9:58:25 AM
<![CDATA[Benefits Egypt gained from World Youth Forum]]>
MP Tarek el-Kholy said the forum achieved several benefits on the political level. “The forum hailed the dialogue method in counter terrorism,” Kholy said. He also added that it promoted tourism in Egypt and showed the whole world that Egypt is a safe tourism destination, not to mention its capability to hold such a well-organized forum that welcomed 113 delegations from all over the world.

“The forum resulted in inking several investment deals, which will provide lots of job opportunities for Egyptians,” Kholy added.

MP Fayez Barakat, member of House of Representative’s education committee, said the forum proved that Egypt has intellectual youth, who are totally aware of society’s problems, with a clear vision to reform the education system in Egypt.

“Youths’ demand to establish a fund to help inventors and creators improve education makes us believe in their ability to make a change,” Barakat told Egypt Today, adding that the real challenge is in applying those ideas on reality.

In the same context, MP Samir el-Batikhy, member of parliament’s youth and sports committee, said that the WYF is a chance for Egyptian youth to get along with their foreign peers, who have all come from all around the world to take part in the biggest event Egypt has held in the city of peace, Sharm El Sheikh. Whilst, according to Batikhy, foreign youth will transfer the civilized image of Egypt to their nationals.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said at the end of the Model United Nations (MUN) closing session at the World Youth Forum (WYF), which took place Thursday, that the convention on terrorism passed by participants would be reviewed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be presented to the United Nations.

The president described some recommendations in the convention as “dreamy” but asserted that “the symbolism of presenting that convention on terrorism by world youth is quite great.” He added that the existence of international bodies contributed to decreasing the bullying by superpowers of other states.

The convention passed by general consent included recommendations on combating terrorism by fighting poverty, promoting education, and terminating its funding channels. In addition, participants emphasized eliminating illegal arms trafficking as well as reinforcing counter-terrorism tools and systems in different states.

The World Youth Forum is being held in Sharm El-Sheikh from November 4 to 10, with the participation of more than 3,000 young men and women from all over the world, to share their ideas and visions with officials and President Sisi.]]>
11/9/2017 7:58:30 PM
<![CDATA[Profiles of top Egyptian expat participants at World Youth Forum]]>
Hoda al-Maraghy

Hoda_El_Maraghy_1
Hoda al-Maraghy

She is the first female in Canadian history to earn a doctoral degree in engineering and to become dean of engineering. She was a professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering at McMaster University where she obtained her Ph.D. She was a founding director of the university's Flexible Manufacturing Centre; until she joined the University of Windsor in 1994 as the dean of engineering, becoming the first female dean of engineering at a Canadian university.

In the same year, Maraghy founded the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) Centre at the University of Windsor where she became director. She and Waguih al-Maraghy, Ph.D., set up the first truly Reconfigurable and Changeable Assembly System (iFactory) - a “Factory-in-a-Lab” – in North America, which provides unique experiential learning opportunities and a test bed for advanced research in manufacturing.

Maraghy, who has held a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Manufacturing Systems since 2002, was among the 25 individuals appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2016.

Maraghy received an Honorary Doctorate from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden in 2013. She is an expert in productivity, automation, globalization, competitiveness and sustainability.

Her research interests include manufacturing systems paradigms – flexibility, reconfiguration and changeability and managing product variety. She is also the pioneer of research on the co-evolution and co-development of products and their manufacturing systems, inspired by the natural evolution of species.

Soumaya Yacout

Soumaya_Yacout
Soumaya Yacout

Yacout is a professor of mathematics and industrial engineering at the École Polytechnique of Montreal University. Yacout is the first woman dean of engineering of a francophone university in Canada, second woman dean of engineering for all the Canadian universities, and first woman vice rector of engineering in Canada. She has three important inventions, among which is the Computer-Based Management (CBM) software, anticipating potential damages in aircrafts and trains.

Hany Sewilam

Hany_Sewilam
Hany Sewilam


He is a sustainable development and water resources management professor who has set Egypt’s water and energy management strategy, enabling Egypt to produce food depending on its limited water resources.

Sewilam coordinated the capacity development activities of the United Nations Water between 2010 and 2011. Sewilam works at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany as the academic director of the Department of Engineering Hydrology, and he is also the executive director of the UNESCO Chair in Hydrological Changes and Water Resources Management.

From 2002 to 2010, Sewilam worked as the deputy director for the Department of Engineering Hydrology at the RWTH Aachen University. He managed international research and capacity building projects in 21 countries. He is the founding director of both the Center for Sustainable Development and the MSc in sustainable development at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

In 2017, Sewilam founded the MSc in sustainable management – water and energy at the RWTH Aachen University. In 2008, he established the North African Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE Cairo), which is acknowledged by the United Nations University. Sewilam worked for the Egyptian National Water Research Center as a researcher and coordinator for developing projects with several UN organizations.

Hesham al-Askary

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Hesham Al-Askary

He is a professor of global and environmental change and computational science programs at Chapman University. Askary was a reviewer of IEEE transactions, geosciences and remote sensing of the environment among others.

He is a member of the Honor Society of International Scholars (Phi Beta Delta), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Egyptian nonprofit organization "Friends of the Environment," the Sensors Committee through NARSS for research and development, and associate member of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).

Amira al-Nokaly

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Amira Elnokaly


A principal lecturer at the Lincoln School of Architecture and Design, the University of Lincoln, Nokaly is also a fellow of the higher education academy, a board member of the RIBA East Midlands Regional Council, a board member of the IBPSA-England (International Building Performance Simulation Association) and a member of the IAPS (International Association for People Environment).

She conducted research projects pertinent to sustainable architecture and environmental design of buildings, the application of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in building design, renewable energy technology, curriculum development, architecture design studio teaching and sustainable urban regeneration.

Hisham Ashour

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Hisham Ashour


Hisham Ashour is the Medical Director of Bethanien Hospital, Germany and chairman of the Breast Cancer center of Märkischer Kreis. His main focus is clinical work in gyne-oncology surgery, breast cancer surgery, pelvic reconstructive surgery, special obstetrics and prenatal medicine. He is in charge of the authorization of postgraduate studies in Obstetrics and gynecology in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen; he is also the health system adviser of the Social Democratic Party of the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen.

Mohamed Mahmoud Ibrahim

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Mohamed Mahmoud Ibrahim


Ibrahim completed his Ph.D. at the Kyushu Institute of Technology, as part of the Program on Nano Satellite Technologies, known as the PNST, at Kyutech, Japan. He was part of the team conducting studies for the Japanese satellite Horyou-5, and the first to design a multiprocessor system on the field-programmed gateway matrix and test it with a nuclear reactor in Japan. ]]>
11/9/2017 4:44:09 PM