Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Middle East in flames


Today was a quiet day on Radio NZ – apart from a brief report on Egypt at the end of the programme we had a break from world news – and instead focused on 'the Hobbit'




Meanwhile, the Middle East is in flames: from Tunisia to Egypt (the countries of the 'Arab Spring'); to Syria and Palestine.


In Gaza, despite violations by the Israelis, the ceasefire remains in place - just as long as it suits the Israelis

'Leave, leave': Anti-Morsi protesters chant as police respond with teargas
Cairo police cracked down on the swelling masses on Tahrir Square with teargas as they protested President Morsi’s new powers. Over 200 thousand recently flooded Cairo’s center, calling for Morsi to veto decrees vastly expanding his power.




RT,
28 November, 2012



Watch the protests as they unfold on RT's live feed.

Officers fired on protesters near Omar Makram Mosque on Tahrir Square on Wednesday morning
.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators chanted “Leave, leave” and “Down with the regime,” wrote Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew on Twitter. 


Demonstrators run away from tear gas during clashes with Egyptian riot Police on Tahrir Square, on November 28, 2012 in Cairo. (AFP Photo / Mahmoud Khaled)
Demonstrators run away from tear gas during clashes with Egyptian riot Police on Tahrir Square, on November 28, 2012 in Cairo. (AFP Photo / Mahmoud Khaled)



A running street battle has been going on in the streets around Tahrir Square between a large group of largely young male protesters and the police,” reported RT’s Tom Barton from Cairo.

Violence continued throughout the night with protesters pelting police with their own teargas canisters, lighting fires and creating make-shift roadblocks with torn up sections of pavement, he said.

A200,000-strong rally descended upon Tahrir Square on Tuesday, demanding the country’s Islamist president recall a decree granting him new, sweeping powers. Egypt’s highest judicial body has accused Morsi of mounting an attack on it, a spokesperson has told the press.

One man was killed in the ensuing violence on Tuesday as demonstrators clashed with police. Activists say he died from over-exposure to teargas.
Elsewhere in Egypt protesters stormed President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party headquarters in the second-largest city, Alexandria.

President Mohamed Morsi has attempted to allay rising tensions and comparisons with authoritarian ex-President Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed nearly two years ago by mass uprisings. Morsi has assured that the powers he granted himself over the weekend are temporary are necessary in order to establish a new constitution and parliamentary elections.


A protester throws back a tear gas canister during clashes with Egyptian riot Police on Tahrir Square on November 28, 2012 in Cairo. (AFP Photo / Mahmoud Khaled)
A protester throws back a tear gas canister during clashes with Egyptian riot Police on Tahrir Square on November 28, 2012 in Cairo. (AFP Photo / Mahmoud Khaled)



The presidency reiterates the temporary nature of these measures, which are not intended to concentrate power,” Morsi said in a statement.

Mohammed ElBaradei, Egypt’s opposition leader said that Morsi had become the country’s “new pharaoh” and that his new powers were a violation of democratic principles.

Morsi defended his decree, saying that he was acting fully within his rights as President when it was issued. The edict that was passed on Thursday effectively makes Morsi’s decisions immune to judicial review until a new constitution has been laid down.

Morsi has also extended the deadline for Egypt’s new constitution for another two months. The Islamist-dominated constituent assembly is drafting the document at present.

The Muslim Brotherhood and hardline Salafi parties have planned counterdemonstrations across Egypt on Saturday to show their support for Morsi.

                                          
Demonstrators run away from tear gas during clashes with Egyptian riot Police on Tahrir Square, on November 28, 2012 in Cairo. (AFP Photo / Mahmoud Khaled)
Demonstrators run away from tear gas during clashes with Egyptian riot Police on Tahrir Square, on November 28, 2012 in Cairo. (AFP Photo / Mahmoud Khaled)


(Image from twitter user@kikhote)
(Image from twitter user@kikhote)

200 wounded as Tunisian security forces use tear gas, shotguns against protesters

More than 200 people were wounded as clashes between Tunisian security forces and thousands of protesters in the impoverished town of Siliana raged on for the second straight day, medical sources say. One reporter was also injured by shotgun fire. 

.A protester throws a tear gas canister back at police during clashes in Siliana November 28, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)

A protester throws a tear gas canister back at police during clashes in Siliana November 28, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)

RT,
28 November, 2012
A doctor at the hospital in Siliana told AFP on Wednesday the injured were being treated for different types of injury, with four of them transferred to Tunis.
FRANCE24’s Tunisia correspondent David Thomson was also injured by shotgun fire in the melee. While receiving treatment, Thomson tweeted from the hospital that many others had sustained far more serious injuries. His driver was also injured in the clashes.
State television had earlier reported that at least 80 people were injured.
Angry protesters incensed the regional governor had failed to tackle unemployment amassed in the town center, with the clashes kicking off by early afternoon.
The country’s National Guard deployed armored vehicles as protesters erected makeshift barricades in the streets.
Protesters pelted security forces with rocks, who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
The scene closely mirrored protests which erupted in the town on Tuesday.

A protester kicks a tear gas canister back at police during clashes in Siliana November 28, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
A protester kicks a tear gas canister back at police during clashes in Siliana November 28, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
Many protesters called for local officials to step down, citing chronic mismanagement of development funds in the poor farming region. Siliana, which lies 75 miles south of the capital Tunis on the edge of the Sahara desert, saw investment plummet by 44.5 percent from January to October on a year-over-year basis.
Following the 2010 uprising which saw the ouster of longtime President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, unemployment has skyrocketed in the country.
The interior ministry has not commented on the ongoing street clashes, though the prime minister’s office registered the concern with the unfolding events.
It also described as regrettable "the use of violence against the security forces, aggression at the headquarters of sovereignty, and attempts to damage public property," AFP reports.
The clashes were the most violent since Salafi Islamists fell on the US embassy in Tunis to protest the incendiary film Innocence of Muslims in September.
On Tuesday, the World Bank approved a $500 million loan to Tunisia to aid the country’s ailing economy, with a separate $700 million coming from other donors.

It is the second loan approved by the World Bank since the Arab Spring swept Ben Ali from power.

A Tunisian man reacts at a hospital in Tunis after he was injured in clashes with police in the town of Siliana, 120km southwest of Tunis, on November 28, 2012 (AFP Photo / Fethi Belaid)

A Tunisian woman reacts at the hospital of Tunis after her injured son lost his eye during clashes with police in the town of Siliana, 120km southwest of Tunis, on November 28, 2012 (AFP Photo / Fethi Belaid)



At least 34 people killed in twin blasts in Damascus



Syrian men inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus, on November 28, 2012. (AFP Photo)
Syrian men inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus, on November 28, 2012. (AFP Photo)


RT,
28 November, 2012




Twin “terrorist” car bomb blasts have rocked the Jaramana neighborhood in the Syrian capital, killing at least 34 people. Some believe that the bombing is part of the terror tactics exercised on the civilian population by the opposition forces.


While the Syrian Interior Ministry said at least 34 people were killed in the bombing, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights puts the death toll at 54. Over 120 others were wounded.


The blasts were felt in Jaramana, a suburb of Damascus.

According to Syrian TV, the blasts went off just after 6:40am. Eyewitnesses claim debris from neighboring buildings caused further damage.

The Jaramana bombing is not the first of its kind and is rooted in certain tactical and ethnic issues, Ammar Waqqaf, a member of the UK-based pro-government Syrian Social Club told RT.

First of all, those neighborhoods and cities that are not willing to join up with the so-called revolution are being collectively punished. There’s also the issue of ethnic cleansing,” Waqqaf said. “Jaramana is the area where a lot of minority groups live and in the al-Qaeda or Salafi intellect these people should not belong in the ‘believers’ homelands’, so to speak, so they’re trying to push them to abandon those areas and go elsewhere.”

Jaramana, a prominent Christian and Druze neighborhood in South Damascus, has often been targeted in recent weeks.

Ten people were killed by a car bomb on October 29, while a mortar attack on November 27 killed six and injured 12.

A series of blasts have rocked other Damascus suburbs over the past week, killing and injuring dozens of civilians.

The terrorists are trying to exert psychological coercion on the Syrian population, Waqqaf argues, as their tactics stem from the theory that Syrian people are afraid of the government and are willing to shift sides.

This is a civil war tactic in a sense. [Their objective is] to give the illusion, the sense or the feeling that the government is not in control in the hope that people would start losing support,” he continued.

Despite that, there are still enough people supporting the Syrian government, Waqqaf added.

Opposition fighters took over two military bases amid heavy fighting on Tuesday.
Rebels have now taken control of roughly six military bases across the country.

The Syrian army has also claimed minor victories, with an airstrike killing at least 20 people and wounding many others on Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory however has stated that rebels had lost many areas in eastern Syria and near Aleppo recently.



A general view shows the scene of a car bomb explosion in Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus, on November 28, 2012. (AFP Photo)
A general view shows the scene of a car bomb explosion in Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus, on November 28, 2012. (AFP Photo)

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on November 28, 2012, shows two injured Syrian men near the scene of a car bomb explosion in Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus. (AFP Photo)
A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on November 28, 2012, shows two injured Syrian men near the scene of a car bomb explosion in Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus. (AFP Photo)


Syrian men inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus, on November 28, 2012. (AFP Photo)
Syrian men inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus, on November 28, 2012. (AFP Photo)



Israeli troops wound 5 Palestinians, arrest 9


Palestinian youth clash with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank near Jenin city, on November 17, 2012.
Palestinian youth clash with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank near Jenin city, on November 17, 2012.

28 November, 2012

Israeli troops have shot and wounded five Palestinians and arrested nine others a week after the Israeli regime reached a cease-fire agreement with Palestinian resistance groups.


According to Palestinian medical sources, four people have been injured near the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza and a fifth person was wounded in the north of the besieged enclave.

Israel has not yet confirmed any casualties but says the troops responded to attempts by Gazans to breach a fence.

Meanwhile, Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, has reported yet another Israeli violation of the cease-fire.
"In a new violation of the cease-fire, the Zionist enemy arrested nine citizens and sunk several boats in the sea off the northern Gaza Strip," Shahwan announced in a statement.

On November 14, the Israeli regime launched a deadly offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip, which killed more than 160 Palestinians and injured some 1,200 others.

According to the Israeli military more than 1,500 targets were hit across the Palestinian territory.

In retaliation, Palestinian resistance fighters fired rockets and missiles into the Israeli cities, killing at least five Israelis.

The violence ended after the Israeli regime and the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement agreed to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire on November 21.

The recent Israeli military operation against the Gaza Strip was Tel Aviv's second deadly attack on Gaza in four years. The Israeli regime waged a 22-day war on the densely populated Palestinian enclave in 2008, which left more than 1,400 Palestinians, including at least 300 children, dead.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade since June 2007, which has resulted in mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food price hikes.

The Israeli regime has repeatedly refused to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip.




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