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    Egypt Tag

    It looks like Ferguson isn't the only place experiencing violent protests in the wake of a controversial legal decision. In Cairo, crowds erupted when Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak was cleared of murder charges.
    Egyptian police have used tear gas to disperse protesters angry that charges against ex-President Hosni Mubarak over killings during the uprising three years ago have been dropped. About 2,000 people massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the 2011 revolution. At least one person was reported killed in the clashes. Mubarak was originally sentenced to life in jail then cleared in a retrial. In a TV interview after the ruling, Mubarak said he did "nothing wrong". The former president, 86, is serving a separate three-year sentence for embezzlement of public funds.
    A video report shows the scale of the demonstrations, and indicates Mubarak may be released early, after serving two-thirds of his corruption sentence. Egypt's current leader is trying to calm the storm.
    Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed on Sunday that "the new Egypt, born after the January 25 and the June 30 revolutions … cannot move backwards," in a statement issued in reaction to the acquittal of former President Hosni Mubarak.

    Update: Looks like the fighting is on again after Hamas and/or other Gaza groups started firing rockets into Israel even before the prior truce was over. The question is, how much will it escalate? More updates and coverage in live video and Twitter feeds at bottom of post:

    Live Video and Twitter feed at bottom of post Breaking reports out of Egypt indicate that the various "Palestinian factions" have agreed to a 72-hour unconditional truce. This was the original Egyptian proposal which was rejected by Hamas more than two weeks and over 1000 lives ago. Israel reportedly will agree, as it has multiple times before. Let's see if Hamas again uses the truce as an opportunity to launch more surprise attacks.

    Prof. Jacobson posted yesterday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted an Egyptian ceasefire proposal. This morning Israel's security cabinet accepted the Egyptian proposal. The New York Times reports:
    Israel has accepted Egypt’s proposal for a cessation of hostilities with Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, the prime minister’s office announced at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the appointed hour for the start of the cease-fire in the proposal made by Cairo on Monday night. “In accordance with the government directives, the I.D.F. now holds fire,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said in a statement nearly two hours later, using the abbreviation for the Israel Defense Forces. “We remain alert and preserve high preparedness levels, both defensive and offensive. If the Hamas terror organization will fire at Israel, we shall respond.”
    Hamas, as The Washington Post reported, rejected the Egyptian proposal.
    A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, called the proposal “unacceptable” and complained that Egyptians have not spoken with the Gaza leadership. The group’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigade, wrote on its Web site that the initiative was “not worth the ink it was written with” and “the resistance will continue until all the demands of our people are met.”
    Arutz-7 reports that according to the IDF approximately 35 rockets have been fired into Israel since the ceasefire. One hit a house in Ashdod but there were no injuries:

    Egypt has offered a cease fire proposal, as reported by Haaretz at its live blog (times are Israel time):
    10:29 P.M. Sources in the Egyptian Foreign Ministry say Egypt has proposed a cease-fire outline to Israel and Gaza: The cease-fire will start at 9 A.M., meaning Israel will stop aerial, naval and ground operations against the Gaza Strip and promise not to engage in a ground offensive or harm civilians. At the same time, all the Palestinian factions will hold their fire. Crossings between Gaza and Israel will be reopened, and restrictions on the passage of commodities and people will be eased, in return for a halt to hostilities. Within 48 hours after the cease-fire, Israeli and Palestinian delegations will arrive in Cairo for continued indirect talks to discuss the details of the truce and its implementation. Egypt will receive guaranties from both sides, and promises to implement the outline. (Jack Khoury) 11:14 P.M. Israel's security cabinet will meet Tuesday morning to discuss the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. A senior minister in the cabinet said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts the Egyptian offer and will bring it to a vote in the meeting that will take place on Tuesday at 7 A.M. "This is a basic proposal that can be accepted as a starting point and after that further discussions on the specifics can be held," the minister said. (Barak Ravid)
    This presents an obvious problem for Hamas.

    While America's attention has been focused on Iraq, it is easy to forget the month before we were concerned about Russian interventions in the Ukraine and Crimea. On another one of his #SmartPower/vacation tours, President Obama in early June went to Poland to promise that he would send aidto address tensions in the region.
    U.S. President Barack Obama promised beef up military support for eastern European members of the NATO alliance who fear they could be next in the firing line after the Kremlin's intervention in Ukraine. Under attack from critics at home who say his leadership on the world stage has not been muscular enough, Obama unveiled plans to spend up to $1 billion in supporting and training the armed forces of NATO states on Russia's borders. The White House also said it would review permanent troop deployments in Europe in the light of the Ukraine crisis -- though that fell short of a firm commitment to put troops on the ground that Poland and some of its neighbors had sought.
    This is in addition to the U.S. Army paratroopers who were sent to Poland in April for a series of military exercises in four countries across Eastern Europe to counter the crisis in Ukraine. However, it seems that in some quarters of that country, Polish opinion of our assistance is on par with the substantially decreased popularity of our Commander-in-Chief. A Polish news magazine provided excerpts of a secretly recorded conversation with Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, during which he called his country's ties with the US "worthless".
    According to a transcript of excerpts of the conversation that was published by Wprost on its Internet site, Sikorski told Rostowski: "You know that the Polish-US alliance isn't worth anything." "It is downright harmful, because it creates a false sense of security ... Complete bullshit. We'll get in conflict with the Germans, Russians and we'll think that everything is super, because we gave the Americans a blow job. Losers. Complete losers."

    In Egypt, it looks like they have opted to go BIG:
    A judge in Egypt on Monday sentenced to death 683 alleged supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president in the latest mass trial that included the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, defense lawyers said. But in a surprise reversal, the same judge also reduced most of the death sentences handed to 529 defendants in a similar case in March, commuting the majority of them on Monday to life imprisonment. The judge, Said Youssef, said he was referring his ruling on the 683 death sentences for violence and the killing of policemen to the Grand Mufti, the top Islamic official -- a requirement under Egyptian law, but one that is considered a formality. Both mass trials are linked to deadly riots that erupted in Minya and elsewhere in Egypt after security forces violently disbanded sit-ins held by Brotherhood supporters in Cairo last August.
    General Sisi apparently has decided not to win the "hearts and minds" of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, he may be winning the support of his people, who have suffered with enormous civil unrest since "Arab Spring" sprung in 2011.

    Throwing reporters in jail is worrisome, even if they are from Al-Jazeera.  Did they commit actual crimes, or is it simply an attempt to silence reporting? Egypt to put 20 journalists on trial on terrorism-related charges
    Egypt said 20 Al-Jazeera journalists, including both Egyptians and foreigners, will face trial on terrorism-related charges. Among them are three journalists employed by Al-Jazeera English, the Qatari-based international news channel. Award-winning Australian correspondent Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian producer Mohammed Fadel Fahmy, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed were arrested on Dec. 29 in a raid on a Cairo hotel room, which the network was using as a temporary bureau. The Egyptian government alleges that 12 of the Al-Jazeera journalists remain at large, while eight are in state custody, including Greste, Fahmy and Baher. Authorities have not set a date for the trial or released the full list of the defendants' names. However, in a statement released by the General Prosecutor's office, the Egyptian defendants have been charged with “crimes of belonging to terrorist organizations violating the law, calling for disrupting the law and preventing state institutions from conducting their affairs, assault on personal liberties of citizens and damaging national unity and social peace.”
    The report went on to say: Egypt has become among the most dangerous and difficult places to work for journalists. This cannot be news...especially to CBS reporter Lara Logan. Since the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi, Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has become extremely popular among his countrymen for his aggressive handling of the Muslim Brotherhood. A video report from CCTV Africa offers some intriguing background:

    Egypt can be a place of miracles. As we have just celebrated Christmas, I am reminded of the flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. More recently, snow hit the streets of Cairo in more than a century. Now, Egypt begins its recovery after a brief visit with political insanity.
    Egypt's security authorities launched a sweep of arrests of Muslim Brotherhood members on Thursday and warned that holding a leadership post in the group could now be grounds for the death penalty after it was officially declared a terrorist organization, stepping up the government's confrontation with its top political nemesis. The announcement came as a bomb exploded in a busy intersection in Cairo Thursday morning, hitting a bus and wounding five people. Though small, the blast raised fears that a campaign of violence by Islamic militants that for months has targeted police and the military could turn to civilians in retaliation for the stepped up crackdown. The terrorist labeling of the Brotherhood — an unprecedented step even during past decades when the group was banned — takes to a new level the government's moves to crush the group, which rode on elections to dominate Egypt's politics the past three years until the military removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July after massive protests against him.
    The move was made shortly after officials blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for a suicide bombing at a police headquarters north of Cairo that killed 16 people, as well as a series of other events highlighting increasing political tensions ahead of a key Jan. 14-15 referendum on a revised constitution.

    I have been following the disturbing news from Egypt closely; while it was hoped that a new president and a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood might stem more violence against its Coptic Christians, it looks like that is not to be:
    The wedding party stood outside the church, eagerly awaiting the ceremonious arrival of the bride. Instead, drive-by shooters killed four, including two children and the groom's mother, and injured 18. Beyond its poignancy, the attack in Cairo's industrial neighborhood of Warraq was significant for being one of the first to target Egypt's Christians specifically, versus the now-common attacks on their church buildings. "Since the revolution, this is the first instance Coptic people were targeted randomly in a church, with weapons," said Mina Magdy, general coordinator for the Maspero Youth Union, a mostly Coptic revolutionary group formed in response to church burnings in 2011 after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.
    Interestingly, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul spoke about the issue of Muslim violence against Christians at a Value Voters summit earlier this month:
    “Christians are being attacked around the world, but you won’t hear much about it on the evening news because the answer’s not convenient,” Paul continued. “It doesn’t fit the narrative we have been told about radical Islam. The president tries to gloss over who’s attacking and killing Christians. The media describes the killings as sectarian. But the truth is, a worldwide war on Christians is being waged by a fanatical element of Islam....”

    I have always held out hope that the Egyptians would recall their proud, pharaonic roots and quell the growing Islamo-extremism within their country. Today, I caught the first positive news I have read about the region in a long time: An Egyptian court has banned the...

    Professor Jacobson is right: With the acquittal of Egypt's supposedly evil dictator Hosni Mubarak, we’re almost back to square one. Square one minus many national treasures of unsurpassed beauty and historical importance, that is. I have been following the nearly unreported news of the plundering of Egypt's...

    He was acquitted of corruption charges. Somehow I doubt that would have happened but for the non-coup coup. The most recent reports are that he will be released within 48 hours. Remember, Obama told Mubarak to leave "yesterday" rather than allow the 9 month transition Mubarak was suggesting. It was an error we criticized at the time because the only political party at the time with the organization to win an election was the Muslim Brotherhood. The more secular and civil elements of society did not have time to make up for lost ground, and the rest is history. The anti-democratic MB won the elections and proceeded to act like everyone predicted. Now we're almost back to square one. Updates to follow. The Sinai continues to spin out of control, with 24 Egyptian policemen killed in an ambush near the Gaza border, which Egypt has now closed. There are reports they were executed: Don't be surprised if Egypt ends up attacking Gaza, which the MB now uses as a safe haven and also is the home to even more extremist Islamist groups.

    NOTE - This post will be updated throughout the day, with "breaking" news at the top, other updates below, and the live streams at the bottom: After several hundred people were killed yesterday, the Muslim Brotherhood has called for "Friday of Anger" protests across the country.

    NOTE - This post will be updated throughout the day, with "breaking" news at the top, other updates below, and the live streams at the bottom: BREAKING - OBAMA STATEMENT - Condemns violence, cancels joint military exercise, but no aid cutoff:

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    --------------- The death toll from yesterday's violence has risen to over 500, including numerous policemen. It's also becoming clear that the Muslim Brotherhood fired weapons on police who sought to evict the protester's encampment, which likely contributed to the high death toll as police responded with live fire (video via WaPo): Attacks on Christian churches by Islamists also have spread (list here).
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