Middle East Monitor - Creating New Perspectives Bringing you the latest and up-to-date news from the Middle East. We go one step further, facilitating a better understanding of the issues facing the Middle East. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/component/content/frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 22:33:22 +0000 MEMO en-gb Blair calls on West to confront 'radical Islam' not Russia https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/11062-blair-calls-on-west-to-confront-radical-islam-not-russia https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/11062-blair-calls-on-west-to-confront-radical-islam-not-russia Tony BlairIn a speech to be delivered in London today, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will urge the West to forget Russian President Vladimir Putin's stance on the Ukraine and join him in the fight against "radical Islam". Blair will say in his speech that Europe and the US must cooperate with Russia in the face of a common goal "whatever our differences".

The common goal, according to Blair, is to convince Putin to support the military regime in Egypt. Blair will state that it is the Islamists, and not Russia's decision to annex the Crimea, that pose the greatest threat to world peace.

In his speech Blair, who sent British troops to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, will assert that these wars have made it difficult for any government to gain public support for any military action in the Middle East as demonstrated by current Prime Minister David Cameron's attempt to intervene in the Syrian crisis.

In his speech, extracts of which were published in The Times newspaper, Blair is to say: "The threat of this radical Islam is not abating [and] it is destabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation. In the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effectively."

Blair will defend the military coup in Egypt against the legitimate president Mohammed Morsi and will say that the Muslim Brotherhood, whose activities are being investigation in the UK, did not only fail to manage the government, but tried to control the traditional institutions of the state.

Although he will recognise the erroneous ruling by a judge on more than 500 Islamic activists who were sentenced to death in the case of the killing of a police officer, he will ask critics of the interim government appointed by the military to show "a kind of sensitivity" after the killing of "hundreds of Egyptian police and soldiers".

Blair will ask the West to support the new Egyptian leader as much as possible. This comes before the upcoming Egyptian presidential elections in which the coup leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is expected to succeed.

At a time when the dispute over Ukraine has caused polarisation between Western countries and Russia, and the tense atmosphere of the Cold War returned with the annexation of the Crimea, Blair believes that differences must be put aside and will stress the importance of building alliances, reaching out and cooperating with the East, especially China and Russia.

Blair will call upon Western politicians to overcome their reservations and reluctance and to recognise that the different opinions and divergence within Islam is the basis of the problems afflicting the region.

The newspaper quoted one of Blair's aides as saying that he is not calling for military action again in the region, but for a cohesive call from Western countries. "What is absolutely necessary is that we first liberate ourselves from our own attitude. We have to take sides. We have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us," the aide explained.

He added: "Underneath the turmoil and revolutions of the past few years is one very clear and unambiguous struggle between those with a modern view of the Middle East, one of pluralistic societies and open economies, where the attitudes and patterns of globalisation are embraced, and, on the other side, those who want to impose an ideology born out of a belief that there is one proper religion and one proper view of it, and that this view should, exclusively, determine the nature of society and the political economy."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:39:02 +0000
Saudi seeks friends in West Africa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11061-saudi-seeks-friends-in-west-africa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11061-saudi-seeks-friends-in-west-africa https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/images/article_images/people/Abdul-Aziz-Bin-Abdullah-Bin-Abdul-Aziz-with-Hmeida-Ould-Ahmed-Taleb.jpgThe Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is believed to be attempting to make new friends by improving relations with West African nations that could support and enhance the role of its allies on the continent.

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, arrived on Sunday to the Senegalese capital Dakar where he met with President Macky Sall and other officials.

In a brief statement following his meeting with the Saudi Prince, the Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye said; "the Saudi Fund for Development has allocated nearly 40 per cent of its investments in West Africa to improving social and economic developmental projects in Senegal," noting to the convergence of views between the two sides regarding international issues.

Prior to his visit to Senegal, Bin Abdul Aziz visited Mauritania and announced his government's intention to allocate $30 million to construct a building for the Faculty of Economic and Legal Sciences that will host nearly 50 per cent of the students in the University of Nouakchott.

The Mauritanian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Hmeida Ould Ahmed Taleb, said: "With the Saudi Fund, the Ministry will implement a series of educational projects, including building 35 model schools in the state's capital worth at $10 million."

He added that "the Gulf Kingdom has agreed to fund the construction of a drinking water network to be tendered by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation."

Analysts believe Saudi support in the region is to prompt authorities to escalate their oppression of the Islamic current believed to have links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia praised the Mauritanian authorities' decision in March to close Al-Mustaqbal Association headed by the vice president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars Sheikh Mohammed Hassan Ould Al-Dadou and other institutions believed to be affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

A report released by the Desert Studies Centre notes "the possibility of widening the confrontation between the two sides via launching a regional campaign of harassment and arrests against members of the Islamic movement."

Meanwhile, following the Saudi Prince's visit to Mauritania, an African delegation chaired by the Mauritanian envoy to the African Union (AU) Hamadi Meimou arrived in Cairo on Monday to meet with officials there. The Egyptian ambassador to Mauritania also met with Mauritanian ministers to discuss abolishing the AU's decision to suspend Egypt's membership in the Union following the military coup in July 2013.

Analysts believe the Saudi activities in West Africa mean to encourage countries such as Mauritania and Senegal to support the new authorities in Egypt in the AU which is scheduled to decide over the course of the coming days about Egypt's membership, the Union's position on the military coup and the scheduled presidential elections.

Source: Noon Post

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:55:37 +0000
Turkey launches polio vaccination campaign in Syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/11060-turkey-launches-polio-vaccination-campaign-in-syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/11060-turkey-launches-polio-vaccination-campaign-in-syria Syrian child receiving the polio vaccinationThe Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) has launched a polio vaccination campaign in Syria in collaboration with the International Federation of Physicians (AID) and the Turkish Waqf Youth.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian children are thought to be at risk of contracting the illness after the disease re-emerged in the country for the first time since 1999 following the civil war. It is believed to have already claimed more 150,000 lives.

The polio virus, which lives in contaminated food and water, has been found in the Syrian province of Deir Al-Zour, one of the least developed regions in Syria.

Experts warn that if preventive measures to stop the contagious virus are not taken it could spread across the country.

The three Turkish organisations launched a vaccination campaign to reduce the risk of infection along with other activities including an awareness seminar to be held in Istanbul on April 26.

Anadolu news agency Arabic News Editor Turan Kislakci is scheduled to speak at the event along with writer Hamza Turkmen and journalist Abdurrahman Dilipak.

The organisations are also planning a photo exhibition to reflect the human tragedy in Syria.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:02:51 +0000
Erdogan criticises International silence on death sentences in Egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/11059-erdogan-criticises-international-silence-on-death-sentences-in-egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/11059-erdogan-criticises-international-silence-on-death-sentences-in-egypt Tayyip ErdoganTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised the international community over its silence on the death sentences being issued against supporters of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

After only two brief sessions, an Egyptian court recently sentenced 529 Egyptians to death over the killing of one police officer. Rights groups have decried the sham hearing and ruling, but the international community has largely remained silent.

Erdogan's remarks about the case came during a parliamentary meeting of the Justice and Development Party's ruling bloc. He said: "I am addressing the world and my country, from the parliament, regarding the decision to execute 529 people [in Egypt]."

The Turkish prime minister pointed out that the international silence illustrates how there are double standards in the West regarding justice and rights, asking if: "The world stands up for Twitter, why don't you speak out about this? Is human life that cheap?"

"Within 20 minutes, the court issued a decision to execute 529 people. Although the death sentence is banned in the European Union (EU), no serious voice has been heard from the EU or other countries, such as the United States and Russia," Erdogan added.

He continued: "Why don't we hear their voices, while you are raising yours? Our hearts are breaking and our faith commits us to do so."

Source: Ankara

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:00:17 +0000
Easter Mass in Iqrit - returning in death and returning in life https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11058-easter-mass-in-iqrit-returning-in-death-and-returning-in-life https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11058-easter-mass-in-iqrit-returning-in-death-and-returning-in-life Easter Mass in Iqrit - returning in death and returning in lifeEXCLUSIVE IMAGES

As with all major religious festivals, Easter in celebrated enthusiastically in Palestine. For Palestinian Christians Easter is one of the main annual celebrations, whilst in cities such as Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem where street marches take place large numbers of Palestinian Muslims also take to the streets to share in the festivities. Ramadan and Eid and similarly enjoyed by the Christian community in a celebratory manner.

In today's Palestine, celebrating Easter presents many challenges which differ from area to area. For Palestinians living in 1967 occupied lands, Israeli-issued permits must be acquired to pass checkpoints and walls and attend celebrations in Jerusalem. Israel claims to have issued 20,000 permits this year to Christians who live in 1967 occupied lands. Although this reported figure amounts to 40% of the Christians living in these areas, several churches have reported being successful with no more than 20% of the applications they made for their parishioners. Even amongst those who did reach Jerusalem, the vast majority were prevented from entering the Holy Sepulcher church where Israel had employed myriad checkpoints and other obstacles. As widely reported in the media, UN envoy Robert Serry was amongst those people refused passage through the checkpoints and into the church.

For displaced Palestinians, which is the vast majority of all Palestinians alive today, celebrating Easter in their home villages is also impossible in the main with most unable to even visit their villages. For two villages in the Galilee however, Easter is one of the few times when the internally displaced community is actually allowed to gather in their home village, despite not being permitted to live there. The villages of Iqrit and Kufr Bir'im were both forcibly depopulated in 1948 by Zionist militias with a promise of return after two weeks. This promise was never fulfilled and in 1951, despite a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court granting the villagers' their return, the villages were systematically blown-up by Israeli forces. Only the churches was left intact whilst empty houses and schools were entirely demolished under heavy military bombardment. Since the 1970's these communities have resumed religious ceremonies in their churches whilst still living in enforced exile. The villages' cemeteries are still used to bury the dead, although the living cannot remain in the villages.

The 'internally displaced' Palestinian communities of Iqrit and Kufr Bir'im have struggled in various ways for many years to achieve their return but to no avail. In 2012, a group of youth from Iqrit took matters into their own hands by starting an ongoing action to live inside the village church. Their attempts to construct anything in the village have been met with immediate demolition by the Israeli authorities. In August 2013, Kufr Bir'im followed suit by remaining in their village following their annual summer camp and continue today to live in tents in Bir'im although they are doing so under a recently re-issued evacuation and demolition order. The two villages have now prepared a joint letter to be submitted to Pope Francis on his upcoming trip to the Middle East appealing for his support in their struggle, its sentiments are clear:

'We have been carrying the cross of exile along with millions of Palestinian refugees, including 400,000 internally displaced Palestinians within the State of Israel...
The State of Israel treats us as second-class citizens because we are not Jews. That is the main reason our return has been denied, whilst our lands are being used by Jewish settlements...
We do not want to return to our villages only in coffins, but when we are alive...'

MEMO Photographer: Rich Wiles

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:53:19 +0000
First female candidate decides to run for president in Lebanon https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11057-first-female-candidate-decides-to-run-for-president-in-lebanon https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11057-first-female-candidate-decides-to-run-for-president-in-lebanon Nadine MoussaNadine Moussa has officially become the first Lebanese woman to run for president in Lebanon, despite the fact that observers say she has little chance of winning the election or of challenging the patriarchal politics in a country governed by an entrenched, sectarian and feudal regime that is dominated by political interests.

Moussa's candidacy, which she says is motivated by "the need for radical change", sets a precedent, as it is the first time in Lebanon's history that a woman will run for president since the country gained its independence from France in 1943. She seeks to be the first female president after 12 consecutive male presidents.

Lebanese MPs will meet on Wednesday in their first public session regarding the election of a new president to succeed the current president, Michel Suleiman, whose term ends on 25 May.

Moussa is a lawyer, as well as a social and political activist, who claims to be secular and "not affiliated to any sectarian leader or any foreign country", as she introduces herself.

She officially announced her candidacy for president during a press conference in Beirut on Tuesday, saying that she is "against the rampant corruption, the existing sectarian system, the political inheritance and the country's dependence on the external world".

Moussa also explained that her electoral programme is based on "a clear vision for Lebanon" that aims to reinforce Lebanon's national sovereignty over all the Lebanese territories, as well as establish a state of law and social justice.

She added that she plans to "invest in Lebanon's natural resources, such as gas and water, in order to enrich the citizens' lives," stressing at the same time to "take pride in the cultural, religious and historical diversities in Lebanon".

It is worth mentioning that the position of president in Lebanon was introduced for the first time in 1926 under the French mandate in Lebanon, and it was formally agreed in the unwritten National Pact of 1943 that the position must always be occupied by a Maronite Christian, with the official term of office running for six years.

Source: Assabeel.net

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:48:29 +0000
Journalist claims systematic torture in Egyptian detention centres https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/11056-journalist-claims-systematic-torture-in-egyptian-detention-centres https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/11056-journalist-claims-systematic-torture-in-egyptian-detention-centres Al-Jazeera StudioKhalid Mohammed Abdul-Raouf, a student journalist jailed after the military coup in Egypt on suspicion of working for Al-Jazeera network, has confirmed to the Cairo Criminal Court that political detainees are being exposed to systematic torture in the Scorpion prison, as well as face many murder attempts by the prison authority.

Khalid, a student journalist at Cairo University, is among twenty Egyptians and foreigners charged with forming a media network to undermine Egypt's image abroad by fabricating footage and broadcasting it on CNN and Al-Jazeera.

According to Alamatonline.net, Khalid explained to the court that the prison authority is trying various means and using all pressure, including torture, to break their will. In addition, he noted that placing a large number of detainees inside a small room is inhumane.

He pointed out that the doctors witness the torture, but they cannot do anything to prevent it; even when detainees fall inside their cells, there is no response from the prison administration to their calls for medical treatment.

Khalid added that: "We are constantly exposed to sharp drops in blood pressure, as we are being treated like animals, and we have suffered numerous injuries as a result of the different attacks that we are subjected to."

Khalid's father previously described the torture to Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK, saying his son had told him that: "their hands and feet were tied and they were blindfolded as they were beaten brutally on their backs, legs and heads. Police officers would stub out their cigarettes on their bodies and pluck out their beards. The detainees were stripped naked and electrocuted to force them to sign sworn statements and agree to be photographed with seized goods that did not belong to them. And despite informing the attorney general of the torture they endured, nothing was done to alleviate their suffering and they were ordered to be remanded in custody until their referral the Criminal Court."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:37:48 +0000
Israel recruits Arab Christians to serve in the army https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11055-israel-recruits-arab-christians-to-serve-in-the-army https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11055-israel-recruits-arab-christians-to-serve-in-the-army Israeli soldeirs at the apartheid wallIsrael is to start inviting Arab Christians to enrol in the army "on a voluntary non-binding basis", the Israeli army recruitment department said yesterday.

Over the last three years the army launched an intense campaign to attract thousands of young Christians to serve in its ranks by supporting a small group led by a former priest in Nazareth. The pastor was forced out of his Greek Orthodox community and prevented from entering the church to advocate for the project.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper quoted army officials as saying that only 86 recruits, aged 18-24, volunteered to serve in the army while nearly 18,000 young men and women refused.

An army official told the paper: "In fact, we do not see long queues in front of recruitment offices."

The chairman of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, Shawki Khatib, said: "We are counting on the young Arab Christians' national and political consciousness to reject the move and fight it."

Khatib said a national conference to fight recruiting Arabs of all sects including Christians, Muslims and Druze will take place in the near future.

Arab member of the Knesset Mohammed Baraka said: "This shows the failure of the programme to recruit young Arab Christians and did not benefit the military or provide a way through which decay can be spread in society."

Baraka said the Israeli army aims to divide the Arab society into sects and tribes saying "the army has resumed the pace to recruit young Bedouin Arabs which has fallen in recent years".

Baraka said: "We are proud of the high level of national consciousness among young people of all backgrounds which reflect their real adherence to their identity. They will block this scheme and they will cause it to fail like they did before."

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:33:46 +0000
Haniyeh welcomes PA reconciliation delegation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11054-haniyeh-welcomes-pa-reconciliation-delegation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11054-haniyeh-welcomes-pa-reconciliation-delegation Azzam Al-AhmadEXCLUSIVE IMAGES

Hamas welcomes the Palestinian Authority delegation's visit to the Gaza Strip to reconcile differences and end the internal split, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said yesterday.

Haniyeh said in a brief statement following his meeting with PA delegation in Gaza that the Palestinian factions should form a united government and agree on a political agenda in order to end internal divisions.

"We are here to turn a new page in national relations and a real partnership in political decisions. The situation requires a common vision, a decisive will and sincere intentions to end the divisions. The Palestinian people look up to their leaders to save their cause," the premier said.

Haniyeh called on the need to implement the Doha and Cairo reconciliation agreements and to form an Arab safety net to protect and support the Palestinian reconciliation. He also called for elections to be held in order to proceed with the political process in a democratic manner.

Haniyeh welcomed Hamas senior official Mousa Abu Marzouk who is visiting the enclave to meet with the delegation.

The head of the Fatah delegation, Azzam Al-Ahmad, said the division is nearing its end. "We were at the final stages of announcing the formation of a government but the situation in Egypt prevented that. We aspire to have Egyptian care to end the division."

Al-Ahmad pointed out that his movement communicates with all Palestinian factions including Islamic Jihad to inform them of the progress of reconciliation.

Al-Ahmad said the Palestinian Legislative Council must be set up once a new government is formed.

Images by MEMO Photographer Mohammed Asad, and Haniyeh's photographer

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:56:56 +0000
UN: US refusal to grant visa to Iran's UN ambassador 'a unique case' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11053-un-us-refusal-to-grant-visa-to-irans-un-ambassador-a-unique-case https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11053-un-us-refusal-to-grant-visa-to-irans-un-ambassador-a-unique-case Hamid AboutalebiThe US' decision to refuse granting visa to Iran's new envoy to the United Nations is a "unique case" in the history of the international organisation, a UN spokesman said yesterday.

US President Barack Obama signed legislation last week banning Iranian Ambassador Hamid Aboutalebi from entering the US to assume the post of Iran's permanent UN representative because of his involvement in the US embassy hostage crisis in Tehran in 1979.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said: "As far as we know this is a unique case involving a permanent representative. This is an unprecedented incident in the history of the organisation."

Dujarric pointed out that "member states are free to choose their own permanent representative."

Iran warned that it will not replace Aboutalebi and described the US decision as a dangerous precedent that could harm international diplomacy. Tehran asked the UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country to discuss the matter.

Dujarric said the Committee was scheduled to discuss the issue yesterday evening with delegates and at least a member of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:42:02 +0000
Tunisian government to respect parliament's decision on Israeli tourists https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/11052-tunisian-government-to-respect-parliaments-decision-on-israeli-tourists https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/11052-tunisian-government-to-respect-parliaments-decision-on-israeli-tourists Mehdi JomaaTunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said yesterday that his government will respect the Tunisian Parliament's decision to deny Israeli Jews entry to Tunisia "even if the decision will harm tourism".

Jomaa made the remarked during a national dialogue conference to encourage economic growth. Following criticism over his government's decision to allow 61 Israeli tourists to enter the country a week ago saying that his government aimed to encourage foreign tourism.

"Tunisians face two options, either to boycott Israel and Israelis, or to encourage tourism," Jomaa said.

He pointed out that the Jews' annual visit to the island of Djerba, southern Tunisia, is considered an indication of the success of the tourism season.

Meanwhile Jomaa called on those who question his government's decisions to act "responsibly" and to avoid using "wide slogans".

The prime minister remarked on the campaign objecting to allow Israelis to visit Tunisia saying that his government "has not invented anything new and that every summer season, Tunisia receives Israeli tourists. The government follows transparent measures and avoids twists and turns."

Jomaa pointed out that he would not accept his government entering into such debates and refused to frame the visit as prelude to "normalise relations with Israel".

The Tunisian government allows Tunisian Jews to visit the Djerba synagogue as an annual Jewish ritual.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:39:46 +0000
Muslim scholars slam arbitrary arrests and torture in Egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/11051-muslim-scholars-slam-arbitrary-arrests-and-torture-in-egypt https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/11051-muslim-scholars-slam-arbitrary-arrests-and-torture-in-egypt Dr Yusuf Al-QaradawiThe International Union of Muslim Scholars condemned the indiscriminate arrests and torture in Egyptian prisons especially those against women, scholars, journalists and youth.

In a statement, the Union called on human rights advocates to support the Egyptian people in their distress and on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release all the detainees especially after many of them announced their intention to go on hunger strike.

The statement mentioned Abdullah Al-Shami, a journalist who has been detained for nearly 250 days and went on hunger strike 84 days ago, and Mohammed Salah Sultan who has been detained for eight months and went on hunger strike 60 days ago. Sultan is said to have suffered from serious health conditions and weighs 40 kilogrammes. The Union called on the Egyptian people to unite and continue peaceful resistance until the fall of the coup and the return of legitimacy.

The Union's statement:

"The International Union for Muslim Scholars is deeply concerned about the deteriorating level of public freedoms and human rights in Egypt in light of the arbitrary arrests against all categories of the Egyptian people, even women and minors as well as scholars, journalists and students and others and what they have been exposed to of inhumane torture and denial of their fundamental rights established by the norms and laws and international conventions.

The Union condemns the arrests and demands the immediate release of all detainees and calls for the following:

  1. Stop all forms of arbitrary arrest against the Egyptian citizens who peacefully express their legitimate right to object to the military coup in Egypt.
  2. Calls on human rights organisations, international bodies and the free world to stand with the Egyptian people to reserve their dignity and their legitimate rights which are denied by the military coup without any legal justification.
  3. The Union denounces the detention of women, journalists, minors and scholars and demands their immediate release, especially after several detainees announced their intention to go on hunger strike, endangering their health in protest of their unanswered just demands. These include journalist Abdullah Al-Shami, detained for nearly 250 days he has been on hunger strike for 84 days, and Mohammed Salah Sultan, detained for eight month ago and has been on hunger strike for more than 60 days. Sultan suffers from serious health conditions and weighs 40 kilogrammes; this forced his father to crying out to the free world to save his dying son and thousands of others.
  4. The Union calls on the Egyptian people to unite and continue peaceful resistance until the fall of the coup and the return of the legitimacy.

Dr Ali Al-Qara Daghi and Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Secretary-General and President of the Union

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:35:44 +0000
LIVE BLOG: International Palestinian Conference for Media and Communications https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/event-review/11050-live-blog-international-palestinian-conference-for-media-and-communications https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/media-review/event-review/11050-live-blog-international-palestinian-conference-for-media-and-communications

International Palestinian Conference for Media and Communications

The International Palestinian Conference for Media and Communications is a co-ordinative group connecting various media organisations that are supportive approach of national Palestinian rights and works towards supporting the Palestinian cause through the media.

We will be live blogging throughout the 2 day conference, live from Istanbul, Turkey.

This live blog will begin from 7am GMT on April 23, 2014

If the stream is not loading, please click here

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:03:18 +0000
ICC confirms Egypt complaint still under consideration https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/11049-icc-confirms-egypt-complaint-still-under-consideration https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/11049-icc-confirms-egypt-complaint-still-under-consideration ITN SolicitorsThe International Criminal Court (ICC) has confirmed that the complaint filed by the Freedom & Justice Party last year on behalf of the constitutional Government of Egypt is still under consideration by the Chief Prosecutor Mrs Fatou Bensouda despite untrue press reports to the contrary.

Following the coup d'état in July 2013 the Freedom & Justice Party submitted a formal complaint to the ICC along with an Article 12 (3) declaration bringing Egypt within the Court's jurisdiction. The complaint asks the ICC Prosecutor to investigate allegations of international crimes alleged to have been committed in Egypt since the coup.

The complaint submitted to the ICC contained evidence that showed that the post coup military regime had presided over widespread and systematic crimes which amounted to crimes against humanity. Since submitting the complaint a number of news organisations have incorrectly announced that the complaint had been rejected.

Lawyers acting for the constitutional Government, who are in contact with the ICC Prosecutor's office, have confirmed that the Prosecutor is still considering the complaint and supporting documentation and had not rejected it or come to a final decision about the status of the complaint.

Tayab Ali, partner of leading London law firm ITN solicitors, said 'The Interim Authority in Egypt is not able to hide from principles of international law. President Morsi's constitutional Government has the legal power to bind Egypt to international treaties and agreements. Accordingly, the ICC has no option but to act under the rule of law and hold perpetrators of International Crimes committed in Egypt accountable for what they have done to enforce their coup'.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 22 Apr 2014 15:50:17 +0000
The Greatest Sin: The use of a just cause to justify injustice https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/11048-the-greatest-sin-the-use-of-a-just-cause-to-justify-injustice https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/11048-the-greatest-sin-the-use-of-a-just-cause-to-justify-injustice Azmi BisharaOne of the worst things for a just cause is for it to be exposed to a situation where it becomes impossible for justice to be achieved. As a result of this, this same cause becomes a scapegoat used by political symbols or simply a symbol itself. In a case such as this one, injustice becomes normalised as people are paid to play the role of the victim, pushing the real victim out of context, as the alleged victims are believed to be the true victims.

This type of circumstance is not necessarily caused by an intentional or conscious act but is born as a result of a difficult time in which problems become mundane and situations are linked with so-called objective factors or subjective reasons, according to a man who has read one or two Marxist books and now considers himself an expert in philosophy.

The manner in which just causes are manifested has a great deal to do with how they are manufactured and, in turn, live. Moreover, there is often a rising class of political figures who fight for said cause and occupy themselves with representing it. As a result of the creation of symbols, they create a parallel world in which the miserable can thrive. These individuals create symbols and amplify this parallel reality. In addition to the fighters, this reality, by its very nature, gives way to a slew of frauds and liars who magnify the suffering of others so that they may benefit from these experiences.

Accomplishments have been achieved in the international awards arena where people have begun to sanctify suffering and compete to see who has suffered the most (as if the on-going tragedy was not enough). They consider the victim's location a standard provision while celebrating assumed victories. In the real world, many have fought to create a balance of power between the occupying power and the distorted reality of the occupation but the result is that this has contributed to the perpetuation of the occupation's imbalance. This process is self-nourishing; it feeds on itself and cannot be solved by a superficial solution since it requires changes in ways of thinking. Yet, changing the way in which people think about such situations is becoming impossible with generational changes and the closure of existing strategies, not to mention that everyone has now accepted and come to terms with these impossibilities.

I will not go into details by describing how damaging these factors are to a just cause as it would require a long time to explain how political personalities are built, the political culture behind the cause, societal behaviour and the other obstacles behind freeing the oppressed.

Among the ways that a just cause is manifested is its use as anaesthesia or for psychotherapy or as a way to please narcissisms in all forms. Our individualistic societies often serve as hotbeds for narcissism. This reality constitutes a naïve or non-naïve use of a just cause to create and alleviate political symbols as part of the prevailing political culture. Consequently, the people find themselves involved in this reality both emotionally and in terms of their interests. Thus, people who are often involved in this political culture in an effort to protect their political interests have a hard time taking themselves seriously. Moreover, those who are involved in the political reality due to their emotions find themselves stuck in this situation despite their personal embarrassment. The biggest disaster to come out of this arises when an individual is emotionally involved in his or her interests or when it becomes an interest to guard one's emotions.

The real sin lies in the fact that the emotions and factors mentioned above are often used as a justification for the use and abuse of a just cause.

The real sin here lies in the use of a just cause to justify or normalise injustices, which bear no relevance to the original cause. Fatal damage can occur if those who are still fighting for a cause are exposed to real harm as they can find themselves caught up in the binds of an artificial clash caused by the pursuit of another people's justice. This artificial clash is unnatural and it is created in an unjust power's attempt to hijack a just cause in an attempt to justify injustice, to kill more people, throw them into prisons, fire canons at them or to deprive them of their political and human rights. All of this is done in the name of a just cause.

There is absolutely no connection between these two things (a just cause and injustice). In fact, the only connection is a contradiction. Anyone who uses a just case to justify oppressing his people not only affects the fairness of the cause, alienates people from the cause and reduces the number of people who are willing to align themselves with the cause, but also destroys the foundations of the cause and its potential to be victorious. The problem here lies in the fact that the practice of injustice is linked to the culture that arises from its manifestation, which often leaves the people sensitive and vulnerable to blackmail from political figures and symbols.

What is even more important is that the true victim is removed from the equation entirely. A just cause is used as a scapegoat to justify injustice and marginalises communities who are considered a nuisance to the regime in its quest to monopolise power. What is required is to bring an end to torture and arrests without just reason or cause and finally to reject all forms of corruption. The people are required to stand up to the unjust regimes that claim to be serving the cause when, in actuality, they are only serving the interests of their political motivations and aspirations.

Moreover, the tyrants who use just causes for their purposes can turn the tables and condemn the oppressed for allegedly refusing to stand against injustice in another place. The tyrant has a monopoly on the victim's role and can use this to kill and oppress the true victim under the false pretext of protecting the cause. We now live in a time where it becomes nationalistic to stand with a foreign cause in another place. He who has spent his youth and life fighting for a cause in his own country can now be considered a traitor if he stands against a government which claims to be fighting for a just cause. Thus, the unjust becomes good and justice becomes evil. The problem is that this reversal will give unjust regimes the support to solidify this belief that standing for injustice is a good thing because it is no longer a contradiction, ultimately rendering the just cause a symbol.

This article is a translation of an article that appeared on Al Araby on April 21, 2014

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Azmi Bishara) frontpage Tue, 22 Apr 2014 15:33:36 +0000
Spring time in Tulkarem as farms fight Israeli chemical factories https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/11047-spring-time-in-tulkarem-as-farms-fight-israeli-chemical-factories https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/11047-spring-time-in-tulkarem-as-farms-fight-israeli-chemical-factories Israeli chemical factorygIt is spring on the Tanib farm and the eskadenias or loquats - small sweet orange fruits - and the strawberries are perfectly ripe. Workers and volunteers who have travelled far and wide to take part in a two week campus on the farm grounds are busy harvesting. The volunteers are helping with turning the farm organic. Tea drank in the breaks of a hard days labour is made on a bio gas cooker and dried fruits served as snacks have been made in a solar powered drier.

The fresh produce grown on the farm tastes beautifully sweet, but the dust that covers their skin is a bitter reminder of a situation that is far from organic. The farm lies in Tulkarem, a northern West Bank governorate that is home to 12 Israeli chemical factories. The land of the Tanib family lies directly behind one of these factories which reportedly manufactures 22 different, unknown chemicals, and is also hemmed in on the other side by the separation wall, which has annexed over half of the farm's original land.

The owner, Faiz Tanib, has had his land flattened by Israeli bulldozers three times, has been prevented from accessing his land for over 18 months and also survived an attempt to shoot him by the chemical factory's security guards, explained that turning organic is a form of resistance. "This governorate used to be the agricultural land of the West Bank. But now the land is polluted and our health is at risk," he said.

During the interview, held on the farm in the shade of an apple tree, Faiz coughs constantly. "This is the effect of the chemical factories; here we call them 'death factories'." Since their arrival in the 80's the citizens of Tulkarem have increasingly suffered from poor health and cancer and leukaemia rates have rocketed. In the small village where Faiz lives, home to 2,000 people, there are currently around 31 people suffering from cancer.

"We have people come in everyday suffering from chronic respiratory diseases, chronic bronchitis, skin allergies and carcinomas," said Dr Abed Darak of the Tulkarem governorate's Ministry of Health. He claims that Tulkarem has the highest cancer and leukaemia rate in the West Bank, with 20 per cent of all cases coming from the area, despite it being home to only five per cent of the total West Bank population.

According to a comparative study on Nablus and Tulkarem conducted by the Ministry, the prevalence of malignant tumours and blood dyscrasia diseases such as leukaemia, lymphoma and lung cancer was five cases in Tulkarem to one in Nablus. The results of a study completed in 2013 showed that in a sample of 100 families living in close proximity to the factories, the prevalence of chronic respiratory diseases was a four times higher than in those in other areas in the governorate.

It appears that Israel is fully aware of the dangers the factories pose to public health and, as a result, has moved many of its polluting industries from Israel to the Occupied Territories.

Geshuri Industries, a manufacturer of pesticides and fertilisers was originally located in Kfar Saba in Israel. It was closed down by an Israeli court order in 1982 for pollution violations. In 1987, it relocated to Tulkarem. The Dixon industrial gas factory, formerly located in Netanya inside Israel, has also moved into the same area. Meanwhile the factories in Tulkarem have stop working orders when the wind changes to ensure fumes do not blow in the direction of the nearby settlements, according to residents and Palestinian workers.

"These factories are illegal, it is against the human rights of our people and is destroying their heath and the environment," said Darak. "It is time to come together and help remove these threats to our health."

When I returned home after three days on the farm, my eyes were watering and swollen, I had a sore throat and my body felt generally exhausted. As the annual Earth Day is upon us, the Tanib farm will celebrate by developing an aquaponic system, a farming production system involving fish. Under the hot sun they are rallying to finish the project and, under the chemical dust of the Israeli factories, they continue to resist.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Jessica Purkiss) frontpage Tue, 22 Apr 2014 15:22:41 +0000
Latin American support for Palestine thwarts Zionist ambitions to dominate the region https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/lifestyle/11046-latin-american-support-for-palestine-thwarts-zionist-ambitions-to-dominate-the-region https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/lifestyle/11046-latin-american-support-for-palestine-thwarts-zionist-ambitions-to-dominate-the-region Jorge RodríguezA recent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post glorifying the international influence of Israel with particular reference to Guatemala has once again sparked the conviction that the settler-colonial state should turn to Latin America for political support. The op-ed, a mixture of misplaced patriotism and an exaltation of Israel's humanitarian and military aid to the country, attempts to depict Latin America as a possible ally for Israel.

Drawing upon the historical support of Guatemala for Israel, being one of the first countries in the region to recognise the settler-colonial state, the op-ed urges Israel to "constantly revive our political and economic relationship with Guatemala, before Islamic extremists fill the peaceful vacuum with their hateful and violent messages."

Israel may indeed derive support from nations aligned to imperial interests and others which, despite the ramifications of neoliberal violence, have traded revolutionary zeal for the rhetoric of convenience. Beneath the glorification of similarities between Israel and Guatemala, including a ludicrous comparison to the destruction wrought by natural disasters to the Zionist propaganda alleging fear of imminent annihilation, it is the submission to imperial interests and the endorsement of violence that entices commentators to muse about the benefits of Israel investing in the region.

The ties maintained between Israel and countries in the region such as Guatemala, Colombia and also Chile, exhibit reliance upon Israeli drone technology in the name of security. In April 2013, Israel was awarded a $3 million contract to provide the Chilean army with surveillance drones. Drones are reported to have been deployed in the Araucania region to perfect the oppression of the indigenous people of Chile, the Mapuche, who are resisting colonial usurpation of land exacerbated by the laws set in place during Pinochet's dictatorship that negated the existence of the indigenous population.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Latin American countries such as Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia have consistently imparted support for Palestine. The integrity and respect for resistance was strongly evidenced during the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine that took place in Quito, Ecuador, last month.

Chilean news outlet El Ciudadano published a detained report specifically dealing with the Cuban and Ecuadorean reiterations of support for Palestine uttered during the summit. Ecuadorean Deputy Foreign Minister Leonardo Arízaga described the question of Palestine as "a permanent concern for Ecuador", denouncing the various forms of aggression committed by Israel against Palestinians. In January 2014, the Palestinian embassy was opened in Quito and the gesture will soon be reciprocated by the establishment of a diplomatic mission in Palestine.

The Cuban Ambassador in Ecuador, Jorge Rodríguez, reiterated his country's stance supporting Palestinian self-determination and renewing the insistence that Cuba will not renounce its support for Palestine to become a full member state in the UN. Rodríguez also referred to Fidel Castro's speech at the 6th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in which the Cuban leader and revolutionary imparted his internationalist stance by declaring that the just cause of Palestine should derive support from nations across the world.

Such statements have not been relegated to isolated occurrences. Drawing attention to the oblivion enforced upon colonised nations, Castro's speeches throughout the years emphasised the necessity of internationalism to combat colonial and imperialist oppression. In recent years, the Cuban representative at the UN has been constant in specifically denouncing Israel's settler-colonial expansion and avoiding surrendering to mainstream rhetoric which mellows the magnitude of atrocities into the detached "military occupation".

Far from remaining confined to a Cuban expression of support, the internationalism inspired by Castro was emulated by other Latin American countries, in particular Venezuela and Bolivia, which followed the Cuban example and severed ties with the Zionist settler-colonial state. As opposed to the asserted "imagination" comprising the op-ed, Latin American internationalist support for Palestine, as well as opposition to Israel, remain tangible deterrents against Zionist infiltration in the region.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ramona Wadi) frontpage Tue, 22 Apr 2014 15:17:43 +0000
UN officials condemn plan to hold presidential election in Syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/11045-un-officials-condemn-plan-to-hold-presidential-election-in-syria https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/11045-un-officials-condemn-plan-to-hold-presidential-election-in-syria Lakhdar BrahimiUN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi have condemned the announcement that a presidential election will soon take place in Syria, in light of the current deteriorating situation.

The Syrian regime announced on Monday that it plans to hold a presidential election on 3 June despite the country being in the midst of a civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people and displaced around one third of its population.

Spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon Stephane Dujarric asserted that both officials are opposed to any such measure by the Syrian regime.

Dujarric said they have both "repeatedly warned that the holding of elections in the current circumstances, amid the ongoing conflict and massive displacement, will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for a political solution that the country so urgently needs."

He continued: "Such elections are incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Geneva Communique." However, he added that the UN would "nonetheless continue to search and build upon any opening for a solution to the tragedy in Syria."

The Geneva Communique is an action plan that was adopted in June 2012 during the first international conference to end the Syrian conflict, calling for a political transition, parliamentarian elections and Constitutional amendments in the country.

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 22 Apr 2014 12:30:43 +0000
Rapprochement in the Gulf: who blinked first? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/11044-rapprochement-in-the-gulf-who-blinked-first https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/11044-rapprochement-in-the-gulf-who-blinked-first David HearstSo who won the diplomatic war of words that threatened to fragment the Gulf Cooperation Council, and make a nonsense of its name? Did the Saudis step back from the brink, or did Qatar back down? Who blinked first?

In language which was creatively vague, the GCC agreed to adopt "mechanisms to guarantee a collective framework and to ensure that the policies of any of the GCC countries would not affect the interests, security and stability of the countries, nor undermine their sovereignty." That could mean almost anything.

Two issues lay at the basis of the row which accompanied the withdrawal of ambassadors from Doha, and the threat to blockade the Gulf state by land and sea : Qatar's hosting of leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its opposition to the military coup in Egypt. Disagreements over what was happening to the armed groups each Gulf nation were funding, in Syria and Libya, were a sideshow in comparison to Egypt, and Qatari backing of an Islamic movement deemed to be an existential threat to the conservative Gulf monarchies.

The main demands of the foreign minister Saud al Faisal, - the expulsion of the brotherhood from Qatar, the closure of al Jazeera Egypt, and leading US think tanks like Brookings - had Egypt at its core. So what has become of them?

The Saudis can claim that they got from Qatar a commitment not to offer sanctuary to individuals deemed to be a threat to the security of a fellow GCC member. That would have been relatively easy for Qatar to sign, because the same self denying ordinance applies to the presence of Mohammed Dahlan, Mahmoud Jibril and Ahmad Shafiq in Abu Dhabi.

On the ground, though, little has changed. Sheikh Youssef al Qaradawi, the intellectual leader of the Brotherhood is rooted to the spot in Doha. Today, the Egyptian-born cleric who has berated Saudi Arabia and the Emiratis in his sermons, said he "loved" both countries in a carefully staged message of reconciliation. Al Jazeera Egypt is still on air. And Brookings is still functioning... so far.

The other thing missing from the communique is any mention of Egypt itself. Remember that Al Faisal had demanded nothing less than a complete change in foreign policy from a neighbouring sovereign state. Qatari foreign policy has not changed and yet its all smiles back at the GCC. Someone must have moved and on the available evidence , it does not appear to have been Qatar.

A source close to the GCC talks said the new GCC statement was evidence of a Saudi "reappraisal" of their policies. There have been other signs of it too. The withdrawal of the ambassadors did not stop the Qatari emir and prime minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani from meeting top Saudi officials, and the two sides agreed on the necessity to end the tension between the two countries. Which is exactly what happened at the GCC meeting.

The other sign of a shift in Saudi policy came in more literary form - a poem published in Bedouin Gulf dialect by the Emir of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The Emir of Dubai has long been at odds with his hawkish neighbour, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi , and the de facto ruler of the Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed. The poem entitled "The Pledges" celebrates the unity of the Gulf peoples and was the Sheikh's way of rejecting the severance of ties with Qatar.

If indeed the Saudis are changing their stance and a rapprochement is taking place between Riyadh and Doha, two people risk isolation. They are Bin Zayed, and Egyptian president in waiting ,the army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Bin Zayed lost his best ally, when Prince Bandar, the Saudi intelligence chief was sacrificed by King Abdullah as the price of getting his son Prince Meteb lined up in the succession stakes. This was the King's primary motivation for making his half brother Prince Muqrin second in line to the throne.

Bandar was always an outsider, but the new dispensation paradoxically gives the losers in the succession battle - the current Crown Prince Salman and the interior minister Mohammed bin Nayef - more influence over how the kingdom manages its security and foreign policies. And these voices are notably more pragmatic and less gung ho than the former fighter pilot Bandar had been. It would not be a surprise to learn in the coming days that Saud al Faisal had been removed as foreign minister.

It is long since time for the powerful Gulf states to come to some sort of working agreement with each other. It is absurd for them to be playing out their rivalry in proxy conflicts throughout the Arab world, and yet that is what has been happening across the Arab world starting in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and ending in Syria Their's is not a Great Game. It is a small and largely self defeating one.

Follow David Hearst on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidahearst

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (David Hearst) frontpage Tue, 22 Apr 2014 12:27:51 +0000
Amnesty International: Israel uses 'excessive force' against Palestinians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11042-amnesty-international-israel-uses-excessive-force-against-palestinians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11042-amnesty-international-israel-uses-excessive-force-against-palestinians Amnesty Logo"Illegal use of excessive and lethal force by Israel raises dangerous concerns," a letter sent by Amnesty International to the Palestinian Authority (PA) said.

Deputy Director of the organisation in the Middle East and North Africa Said Bou Madouha sent the letter to the PA Ministry of Information.

The PA has previously called for human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, to take more effective measures to protect the Palestinian people from the increasing Israeli crimes.

Bou Madouha said his organisation has issued a report entitled "Trigger-happy: Israel's use of excessive force in the West Bank", which details Israeli aggressions against Palestinians.

The report describes increased bloodshed and human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories as a result of the Israeli forces' use of "unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force" against Palestinians since January 2011.

Deputy PA Information Minister Mahmoud Khalifa called upon the Palestinian institutions to supply data and proofs about Israeli practices against the Palestinians.

Note: This page was updated at 15.05 GMT+1 on April 22, 2014 to correct the position for Said Bou Madouha - "Deputy Director" not "Acting Executive Director".

noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Tue, 22 Apr 2014 12:23:00 +0000