A court in Egypt has sentenced to death seven people over links to the Islamic State terror group in northwest Egypt and over the February 2015 beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya.
The seven were accused of being members of an Islamic State cell in Marsa Matruh and of planning attacks after having received military training at jihadist camps in Libya and Syria, AFP quoted judicial officials as saying. Three of them were sentenced to death in absentia.
The newswire added that an unspecified number of those condemned were accused of having taken part in the beheadings.
The death sentence will now be reviewed by Egypt’s mufti.
Thirteen others are on trial in the same case, and rulings for them are scheduled to be delivered on Nov. 25.
An affiliate of Islamic State, which also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, in North Sinai started an insurgency after the military’s ouster in 2013 of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
IS released a video of the 2015 beheadings, titled “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross.” Despite the horrific actions of the jihadists, the minority Coptic community in Egypt has been emboldened by the example the 21 men set in the video in their refusal to deny Christ.
As International Christian Concern reported at the two-year anniversary of the beheadings in February, relatives of the men, who were kidnapped in separate incidents in Libya throughout December 2014 and January 2015, have been honoring the memories of their loved ones.
One widow said at the time that her husband “kept the faith, and was martyred in the name of Christ. His faith was very strong. I’m proud of him. He has lifted our heads up and honored us and all the Christians.”
The children of the 21 Christians have also said that they are “proud” of the courage their fathers showed the world by refusing to renounce their faith.
Numerous Coptic Christians cross over to Libya in search of work despite knowing that they will face severe persecution, including death.
The Sunday Times recently quoted a Coptic Christian as saying, “We know it is more likely we will die than live in Libya but we don’t have a choice… More and more people are going to Libya because of the economic crisis here. You can’t get work, you can’t make money in Egypt. We are aware of the dangers, particularly as Christians.”
In July, at least 22 Egyptian migrants were found dead in the Libyan wilderness. According to the Libyan Red Crescent, they died from heat and starvation.
A Libya intelligence report estimates that about 700 IS terrorists have re-grouped in the valleys and desert areas south of the city of Bani Walid, and another 3,000 terrorist fighters from different groups, including al-Qaeda, are operating in the country.
DOHA, Qatar — Take a drive in Doha, leaving behind the mirrored skyscrapers and palm-fringed avenues of this gas-rich city, and the protagonists of myriad conflicts are in easy reach.
In one western district, near the campuses hosting branches of American universities, Taliban officials and their families can be found window-shopping in the cavernous malls or ordering takeout meals from a popular Afghan eatery.
A few miles away at a vast United States military base with 9,000 American personnel, warplanes take off on missions to bomb the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — and sometimes the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Officials from Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, work from a luxury villa near the British Embassy, and recently held a news conference in a ballroom at the pyramid-shape Sheraton hotel.
The Sheraton hotel in Doha.CreditKarim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
And an elderly Egyptian cleric, a fugitive from Cairo, is a popular fixture on the city’s swank social scene, and was recently spotted at a wedding by an American diplomat who was attending the same celebration.
This is the atmosphere of intrigue and opulence for which the capital of Qatar, a dust-blown backwater until a few decades ago, has become famous as the great freewheeling hub of the Middle East.
Against a backdrop of purring limousines and dhows moored in the bay, Doha has become home to an exotic array of fighters, financiers and ideologues, a neutral city with echoes of Vienna in the Cold War, or a Persian Gulf version of the fictional pirate bar in the “Star Wars” movies.
Yet that welcome-all attitude is precisely what has recently angered Qatar’s much larger neighbors and plunged the Middle East into one of its most dramatic diplomatic showdowns. For more than a month, four Arab countries have imposed a sweeping air, sea and land blockade against Qatarthat, in a nutshell, boils down to a demand that Doha abandon its adventurist foreign policy, and that it stop giving shelter to such a broad range of agents in its capital.
So far, the blockade is not working, and the crisis looks set to worsen. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson flew back to Washington on Thursday after days of apparently fruitless shuttle diplomacy in the region. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain have also intervened, without success.
The blockading nations — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emiratesand Bahrain — insist that Qatar is using an open-door policy to destabilize its neighbors. They say that Doha, rather than the benign meeting ground described by Qataris, is a city where terrorism is bankrolled, not battled against.
Qatar’s self-identity as a center of refuge dates to the 19th century, when its desolate and semilawless territory offered sanctuary to outlaws, pirates and people fleeing persecution across the Arabian Peninsula.
“It’s always been this place where waifs and strays and unwanted people ended up,” said David Robert, the author of “Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City-State” and an assistant professor at King’s College in London. “There was no overarching power on the peninsula, so if you were wanted by a sheikh, you could escape to Qatar and nobody would bother you.”
In the 19th century, Qatar’s founding leader, Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, called it the “Kaaba of the dispossessed” — a reference to the revered black cube at the Great Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, and a figurative way of describing Qatar as a lodestar for those seeking refuge.
That national trait turned into a policy for Al Thani’s descendants, who since the mid-1990s have thrown open Qatar’s doors to dissidents and exiles of every stripe. Doha has welcomed Saddam Hussein’s family, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, the iconoclastic Indian painter M. F. Husain and the Chechen warlord Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who was assassinated in the city by Russian secret agents in 2004. (The agents were caught and later extradited to Russia.)
A QatarGas offshore drilling rig in the Persian Gulf. Qatar shares the world’s third-largest gas field with Iran.CreditUllstein Bild, via Getty Images
Qatar can afford to be generous. It shares the world’s third-largest gas field with Iran, yet has just 300,000 citizens, making it the richest country per capita. In recent decades, Doha has transformed into a gleaming metropolis of global ambition where luxury cars crowd the streets and world-renowned architects have traced its futuristic skyline. An army of imported laborers is building stadiums and subway lines for the 2022 World Cup.
But among fellow Arab states, Qatar’s image has been shaped by its contentious policy of come one, come all.
In Doha, wealthy Qataris and Western expatriates mingle with Syrian exiles, Sudanese commanders and Libyan Islamist’s, many of them funded by the Qatari state. The Qataris sometimes play peacemaker: Their diplomats brokered a peace deal in Lebanon in 2008 and negotiated the release of numerous hostages, including Peter Theo Curtis, an American journalist being held in Syria, in 2014.
But critics say that, often as not, rather than acting as a neutral peacemaker, Qatar takes sides in conflicts — helping oust Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya in 2011, or turning a blind eye to wealthy citizens who funnel cash to extremist Islamist groups in Syria.
And what infuriates the Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians and Bahrainis most of all is that Doha has also provided shelter to Islamist dissidents from their own countries — and given them a voice on the Qatar-owned television station, Al Jazeera.
The Egyptian cleric seen at a wedding recently, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is a prominent booster for the Muslim Brotherhood and once had an influential show on Al Jazeera, where he dispensed teachings on matters from suicide bombings to personal sexuality.
“We have the ‘children bomb,’ and these human bombs must continue until liberation,” he told his audience in 2002.
Even though Mr. Qaradawi is now 91 and stopped his TV show four years ago, his presence in Qatar is an irritant for Egypt, and his name is featured prominently on a list of 59 people that the blockading countries want deported from Qatar. They have also demanded the closing of Al Jazeera.
This and many of the demands from the blockading countries are seen as impossibly broad, leading to widespread pessimism that the standoff will end anytime soon.
“The Emiratis and the Saudis seem to have miscalculated their position,” said Mehran Kamrava, the author of “Qatar: Small State, Big Politics” and a professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. “They thought that if they went all-out with a blockade, the Qataris would balk. But they haven’t.”
Doha’s Taliban residents do not figure on the list of demands from the blockaders, but their presence does embody the wider debate around the merits of Qatar’s open-door approach.
Peace talks between the militants and Afghan officials, initiated by the United States in 2013, quickly collapsed. Yet a Taliban contingent stayed on, and Doha is now is home to about 100 Taliban officials and their relatives, who live comfortably at Qatari state expense, one Afghan official said.
There were further, unofficial talks in 2015 and 2016. But as the fight in Afghanistan grinds on, some experts question whether the supposed Taliban peace advocates might be quietly facilitating more war.
Michael Semple, a Taliban scholar at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, said that until the blockade, Taliban leaders in Qatar were known to frequently travel by road from Qatar, through Saudi Arabia, to the United Arab Emirates, where they have investments, and to fund-raise there among the Afghan communities in the cities of Sharjah and Dubai.
“Clearly they are using their foothold in the gulf to try and fund-raise and legitimize,” he said. “If they haven’t broached the substantive issues around peace, and the other gains are modest, then you could argue that that Qatar initiative makes things worse.”
In recent years, Doha has been home to Khaled Mishal, who stepped down this year as leader of Hamas, and the country provided the group a site for talks with the former British prime minister and Mideast peace envoy Tony Blair, in 2015.
Although former Secretary of State John F. Kerry publicly criticized the Hamas presence, American officials privately say they would prefer Hamas was based in Doha rather than in a hostile capital like Tehran.
The promenade known locally as the Doha Corniche in Doha.CreditNaseem Zeitoon/Reuters
In keeping with its open-door approach, Doha was home to an Israeli trade office from 1996 to 2008. Although relations have soured, Qatar promises that Israel will be allowed to participate in the 2022 World Cup.
In the current crisis, Qatar is leveraging the wide range of ties its foreign policy has fostered. Food supplies and a few dozen soldiers from Turkey arrived in Doha after the embargo started on June 5. Turkish news reports say the military contingent could swell to 1,000 troops, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Doha in the coming days.
Late one night last weekend, revelers were spilling from a trendy hotel nightclub in Doha as two athletic Turkish men checked in. Entering the elevator with their bags, they declared themselves glad to be in Doha, and described themselves as working in the “defense sector,” then with a smile declined to say any more.
Any time that a person or more so a military, are in or flying above another Nation without the permission of that Nations government then you are an illegal intruder and you have declared war on that Nation. Syria’s President Assad has made it very clear that he considers the U.S. and their Alliance partners to be in his Country illegally and that he does not want them there. Even though I am an American citizen I cannot condone our actions in this Syrian Civil War nor with Syria’s inner-border conflict with the terrorist group called ISIS. We were never invited to step into this conflict within Syria’s borders and we should never have gone into that country, we have no right to be there. I will try to keep this article as short as I can yet I will do my best to explain my thoughts/beliefs as to why I believe as I do, for your consideration.
As I have written a few times before on this site that history shows within the Islamic world that it appears that about the only way to not have total chaos is if a rather brutal dictator rules their country. I personally do not like anything to do with brutality or with dictators, I am merely expressing an observation. I know that Syria’s President Assad is both of these elements yet I believe that the people of Syria as a whole were far better off six years ago than they are today. In Islamic countries there has been a civil war raging for about 1,400 years now between their two main sects and this hatred of each other still shows no sign of ending, ever.
Just like in Afghanistan the U.S. is in an Islamic country with our military and we have no exit strategy, as is the case in Syria. In Afghanistan the American tax payers have spent well over a trillion dollars to help bring peace to this tribal war-torn land and we have spilled the blood of many of our soldiers, and for what? In the long game our government has been trying to get the Taliban and to sit down with the very weak Government in Kabul to form a ‘sharing’ government, so why are we there? Unless a person is totally ignorant of reality they must know that once there is a ‘sharing’ government and the U.S. pulls out of the country that the Taliban will simply murder the civilian government people and everything will go back to the Taliban like it was 15 years ago. So, all of that gold and all of that blood spilled, for what? With all of this money the American government has spent in this country it is estimated that 90% of the civilians there only have one set of clothing, our occupation time there could have been spent in more productive ways.
Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, all far away countries that in the long run where our blood and gold have really accomplished very little to nothing. There is always one ‘positive’ to these military campaigns and that is the jobs provided by the ‘war-machine’ industry and of course the billions of dollars that go to the corporations leaders and to the people who are able to afford stock in these companies. To many government leaders in to many different countries seem to believe that their infrastructure must have a very strong weapons export economic base. People in these ‘second and third’ world nations (economically) need safe housing, schools, clothing and food. They need an infrastructure, roads, bridges, hospitals and jobs. I am sure that you noticed that these items I mentioned are the same exact things that the people of the economic powers also want and need, in most respects all people need and wish for the same things. The ‘Western Powers’ have a long history of setting up ‘war lords’ to rule small countries, then sell them a lot of weapons whom they use against their own citizens and then we wonder why their people hate us so much.
Now, back to the main line of thought, the situation in Syria. The Syrian President Mr. Assad has many economic and security issues within his borders and hundreds of thousands of people have died because of this Civil War that has been raging for the past six years. Back in the first term of U.S. President Obama when he had Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State the so-called Arab Spring started. Mrs. Clinton pushed Mr. Obama into trying to ‘help’ fire up the civil war in Libya to over through their dictator, look at the total mess that Libya still is. Egypt came next where we helped to over through their dictator then we got the Muslim Brotherhood who had to be over thrown by the Egyptian Army before Egypt became another Libya. Then Hillary set her eyes on removing President Assad from power in Syria, now look at what a disaster Syria has become.
The U.S. encouraged the Syrian citizens to revolt against President Assad and we have spent several billion dollars on training and supplying weapons to ‘moderate Islamist’ whom Assad calls terrorist, if the situation were reversed would we not call them terrorist? As we all know when we decided to pull out of neighboring Iraq we opened up a vacuum along their western border which made a very weak Iraqi government even weaker. We should have stayed longer just doing border control help while the government soldiers and police tried to keep the peace in the cities and the country’s interior. Our governments failures helped open up the eastern part of Syria and the western part of Iraq (both Shiite Islamic nations) for a new Sunni military army to step in and form their own government in these two countries. ISIS is a result of our governments ignorance of reality in this part of the world. We say we are in Syria to fight against this group of mass murderers and that we are not at war with Syria itself but that is an obvious lie. If we are training and supplying groups like the ‘Free Syrian Army’ who are fighting to bring Assad’s government down then we are in an ‘undeclared’ war with the Syrian government.
The Syrian government has many allies to help them fight the different intruders trying to over through them. Russia of course is their most powerful ally but they do have several more including other Shiite countries like Iraq, Iran and basically Lebanon through their proxy Hezbollah. The ethnic people know as Kurd’s are also fighting against ISIS but their case is a bit different because several hundred thousand Kurdish people have lived within these borders for thousands of years so in a sense they are fighting against ISIS and to a degree against the Syrian government in an attempt to keep and to achieve their own Nation. The recent episodes where we have shot down a Syrian jet fighter and a couple of Iranian drones has brought the U.S. closer to direct war with Syria, Russia and Iran. These events would not be a reality if we simply weren’t there. Some will say that we have to be there to fight ISIS but this is not true. The American people have spent our own money and blood in a Nation who has not attacked us or declared war on us and whom does not want us there. If the U.S. and our ‘Alliance’ partners were not there then Syria’s allies would have and could have taken our place with their bombers and their soldiers. But the real question is why are we doing what we are doing there? My question is, is it because of the trillions of dollars in war materials our economy produces and of course the jobs this creates for our economy? Could the reason partly be because of the friends our politicians have on the Boards of these companies, or is it because of the stocks that our Senators, Congressmen and women and also this President own in these companies?
Protest against the UN to draft agreement talks headed by the Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Bernardino Leon in Benghazi, September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
Rabat – Morocco and Tunisia have announced their support to a political solution to the crisis in Libya, namely the Skhirat Agreement, which was signed in late 2015 under the auspices of the United Nations.
In a joint statement issued at the end of the 19th session of the Tunisian-Moroccan High Joint Commission in Rabat, the two countries praised efforts that are aimed at “supporting our Libyan brothers and accompanying them in the path towards a comprehensive political settlement.”
The meeting, which was co-chaired by Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine al-Othmani and his Tunisian counterpart, Youssef Chahed, stressed the two countries’ rejection of the military options.
The statement underlined the importance of reaching a political solution as the only means to overcome the current situation by preserving the country’s territorial unity.
The two sides expressed their condemnation of all forms of terrorism, highlighting the need to unify efforts to fight terrorist groups in the Maghreb region and the world.
In this regard, the two countries urged the five Maghreb states to “promote cooperation, consolidate dialogue and increase security cooperation in order to face terrorism according to an organized mechanism that aims at prioritizing common interests and rejecting all forms of introversion.
Tunisia and Morocco also called for the need to overcome all deadlocks within the Maghreb Union, as well as activating the work of institutions.
“This requires a strong political will and serious work by the five Maghreb countries in line with the noble goals which were set in the Marrakesh agreement,” the statement said.
It also called for fulfilling the aspirations of the Maghreb population with regards to growth, stability and decent living.
The two sides also condemned the violations committed by Israel and the attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque, urging the international community to force the Jewish state to abide by the international legitimacy.
The commission discussed means to boost bilateral cooperation and signed 10 agreements in various sectors, including agriculture, investment, civil aviation, vocational training, higher education, and employment.
The foreign ministers of Algeria and France on Tuesday urged Libya’s rival armed factions to seek a political solution in the North African country to help stem the spread of militant groups there and potential spillover across its borders.
Algeria has joined with North African neighbor Tunisia to seek support for an inclusive dialogue in Libya, where competing governments and armed supporters have struggled for control since a 2011 civil war ousted veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi.
France aims to play a bigger role in bringing Libya’s factions together to end the turmoil that has allowed Islamist militants to gain a foothold and migrant smugglers to flourish in the absence of a strong central government.
“The main objective remains the fight against terrorism in this area of turbulence, where the presence of terrorists is reinforced because of the chaotic situation in Libya,” Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel said after talks with France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian, according to state news agency APS.
Le Drian, on a two-day visit to Algiers, described his talks with Messahel as “thorough”.
French officials fear Islamic State militants – who were driven from the coastal city of Sirte last year – and other jihadists are trying to exploit the power vacuum in Libya to regroup after losing substantial ground in Syria and Iraq.
A U.N.-backed Libyan government of national accord has sat in Tripoli for more than a year, but it has struggled to reach agreement with eastern factions, including with powerful commander Khalifa Haftar.
Libya’s neighbors and regional powers have often differed on how to help. Egypt is closer to Haftar and his anti-Islamist militant campaign while Algeria has pushed for an inclusive approach including using the influence of Tunisia’s moderate Islamist.
Last week Le Drian last week held talks with Egypt on how to stabilize Libya and on Monday began a two-day visit to Algiers, where he said he had “thorough” talks with his Algerian counterpart Abdelkader Messahel.
Last year Islamic State was driven out of the Libyan coastal city of Sirte.
“It is this determination which leads us to wish for a political solution in Libya,” APS quoted Le Drian as saying.
Algeria and France have agreed to “combine their efforts to reach an inclusive political solution that allows the integrity of Libyan territory and a peace process”, Le Drian added.
Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt last week expressed support for dialogue in Libya and rejected foreign interference or any military options, days after Egyptian jets carried out strikes against militant camps inside Libya.
The talks between Le Drian and Messahel also included the situation in the Sahel, two years after Algeria helped mediate a peace deal in Mali between the government and Tuareg rebels, in part to help stop Islamist militants gaining ground.
Egyptian fighter jets carried out strikes on Friday directed at camps in Libya which Cairo says have been training militants who killed dozens of Christians earlier in the day.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he had ordered strikes against what he called terrorist camps, declaring in a televised address that states that sponsored terrorism would be punished.
Egyptian military sources said six strikes took place near Derna in eastern Libya at around sundown, hours after masked gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians traveling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 29 and wounding 24.
The Egyptian military said the operation was ongoing and had been undertaken once it had been ascertained that the camps had produced the gunmen behind the attack on the Coptic Christians in Minya, southern Egypt, on Friday morning.
“The terrorist incident that took place today will not pass unnoticed,” Sisi said. “We are currently targeting the camps where the terrorists are trained.”
He said Egypt would not hesitate to carry out further strikes against camps that trained people to carry out operations against Egypt, whether those camps were inside or outside the country.
Egyptian military footage of pilots being briefed and war planes taking off was shown on state television.
East Libyan forces said they participated in the air strikes, which had targeted forces linked to al-Qaeda at a number of sites, and would be followed by a ground operation.
A resident in Derna heard four powerful explosions, and told Reuters that the strikes had targeted camps used by fighters belonging to the Majlis al-Shura militant group.
Majlis al-Shura spokesman Mohamed al-Mansouri said in a video posted online that the Egyptian air strikes did not hit any of the group’s camps, but instead hit civilian areas.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the Christians, which followed a series of church bombings claimed by Islamic State in a campaign of violence against the Copts.
Islamic State supporters reposted videos from earlier this year urging violence against the Copts in Egypt.
At a nearby village, thousands later attended a funeral service that turned into an angry protest against the authorities’ failure to protect Christians.
Ambulances and medics outside Maghagha Hospital in Minya Province, Egypt in this screen grab take on May 26, 2017. REUTERS TV
“We will avenge them or die like them,” mourners said, while marching with a giant wooden cross.
GUNFIRE AND BLOOD
Eyewitnesses said masked men opened fire after stopping the Christians, who were in a bus and other vehicles on a desert road. Local TV channels showed a bus apparently raked by gunfire and smeared with blood.
Clothes and shoes could be seen lying in and around the bus, while the bodies of some of the victims lay in the sand nearby, covered with black sheets.
Eyewitnesses said three vehicles were attacked. First to be hit was a vehicle taking children to the monastery as part of a church-organized trip, and another vehicle taking families there.
The gunmen boarded the vehicles and shot all the men and took all the women’s gold jewelry. They then shot women and children in the legs.
When one of the gunmen’s vehicles got a flat tire they stopped a truck carrying Christian workers, shot them, and took the truck.
One of the gunmen recorded the attack on the Copts with a video camera, eyewitnesses said.
The attack took place on a road leading to the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Minya province, which is home to a sizeable Christian minority.
Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols on the desert road.
Police armed with assault rifles formed a security perimeter around the attack site while officials from the public prosecutor’s office gathered evidence. Heavily armed special forces arrived later wearing face masks and body armor.
The injured were taken to local hospitals and some were being transported to Cairo. The Health Ministry said that among those injured were two children aged two.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made a point of improving relations with Cairo, said his country stood with Sisi and the Egyptian people.
“This merciless slaughter of Christians in Egypt tears at our hearts and grieves our souls,” Trump said.
The Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Egypt’s 1,000-year-old center of Islamic learning, said the attack was intended to destabilize the country.
“I call on Egyptians to unite in the face of this brutal terrorism,” Ahmed al-Tayeb said. The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shawki Allam, condemned the perpetrators as traitors.
The head of the Coptic Christian church, Pope Tawadros, who spoke with Sisi after the attack, said it was “not directed at the Copts, but at Egypt and the heart of the Egyptians”.
Pope Francis, who visited Cairo a month ago, described the attack as a “senseless act of hatred”.
Coptic Christians, whose church dates back nearly 2,000 years, make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million.
They say they have long suffered from persecution, but in recent months the frequency of deadly attacks against them has increased. About 70 have been killed since December in bombings claimed by Islamic State at churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta.
An Islamic State campaign of murders in North Sinai prompted hundreds of Christians to flee in February and March.
Copts fear they will face the same fate as brethren in Iraq and Syria, where Christian communities have been decimated by wars and Islamic State persecution.
Egypt’s Copts are vocal supporters of Sisi, who has vowed to crush Islamist extremism and protect Christians. He declared a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of the church bombings in April.
But many Christians feel the state either does not take their plight seriously enough or cannot protect them against determined fanatics.
The government is fighting insurgents affiliated with Islamic State who have killed hundreds of police and soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula, while also carrying out attacks elsewhere in the country.
(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Additonal reporting by Eric Knecht, Mostafa Hashem, and Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by John Stonestreet, Lisa Shumaker and Andrew Hay)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
Cairo – Conflicts in the Arab region, most notably in Syria, Libya and Yemen, should be resolved, stressed Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry.
The minister added there is a possibility to contain terrorism through Western intelligence agencies, not just military operations.
Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, the FM said that certain known factories are providing terrorist organizations with arms and equipment, calling for serious and effective cooperation to end this.
Shoukry pointed out that the US administration shares the same vision as Egypt in countering terrorism. He also discussed the situation in the region and the importance of giving people a chance to end their struggles and solve their problems.
When asked if there were any initiatives for a solution in Yemen, Shoukry replied that they are monitoring the UN envoy and other countries’ efforts to establish a resolution according to the agreed bases, such as the outcomes of the national dialogue, the Gulf initiative and supporting the legitimacy.
On terrorism, the FM stressed that Egypt will continue to fight it, especially after the two attacks on the Tanta and Alexandria Churches earlier in April.
Shoukry stated that he believes terrorism is expanding because the international effort that has been established did not succeed in containing terrorism, except in Iraq recently.
He added that the situations in Syria and Libya are complicated and terrorist organizations are spreading in Africa. He also cited the frequent attacks in Europe and Egypt that are evidence of the continued presence of these terror organizations.
According to the minister, the international community should “credibly tackle the matter because it is impossible that these organizations receive weapons and support unbeknownst to the western intelligence.”
Shoukry said: “If there a real international will to fight terrorism, then the international community should begin with determining how these terrorist organizations receive all these advanced weapons and equipment.”
The FM said it is “impossible” that intelligence agencies are unable to trace and determine the parties and states responsible for backing terrorist organizations. He added that this is crucial for the credibility of anyone who says they are fighting terror.
Commenting on Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s recent trip to the US, Shoukry explained that it took place shortly after US President Donald Trump came to office and when the US policy was still being shaped.
He did say however certain concepts were agreed upon, like fighting terrorism.
When asked whether Egypt will continue to unite all three Libyan parties, Shoukry stressed that his country never did and never will stop trying to unite Libyan parties. He explained that there are three institutions in Libya: presidential council, the parliament and the state’s council, which will form a committee to agree on the amendments needed to the Sukhayrat agreement.
He added that this constant effort with Libyan leaderships, which have met with Egyptian officials in Cairo, will continue until they are successful.
The minister stressed that Egypt aims to have natural relations with regional countries according to certain bases, which include mutual respect for sovereignties.
Furthermore, Cairo does not interfere in internal affairs and does not support organizations that back terrorism.
The FM was in Sudan recently on a visit, which he described as having “positive outcomes”.
He stated that it was an opportunity to review bilateral relations and the outcomes of the meetings of the joint high committee. He also explained that Egypt and Sudan agreed on a mechanism for political dialogue and discussed the regional situation.
The minister stated that bilateral relations might have had some misunderstandings or misinterpretations, which drove brotherly relations off their track.
When asked if the past has been forgotten, Shoukry stressed that Cairo is committed to a strategic ties with Sudan, which goes beyond any special relationships, adding: “Egypt does not conspire against or interfere in the affairs of any state.”
On Ethiopia, Shoukry said that both Cairo and Addis Ababa requested better coordination and asked for more frequent meetings. He explained that this could make it clearer to the public that issues are being discussed frankly and openly.
When asked about the Egyptian-Ethiopian relations, Shoukry said that Ethiopian FM Workneh Gebeyehu conveyed his country’s prime minister’s message to Sisi during his recent visit to Cairo. He added that the visit was an opportunity to discuss the importance of the mutual relations which are based on respect and common interests.
The Ethiopian FM stressed publically that his country will not take any move that could harm Egyptian interests. Meanwhile, Shoukry confirmed that Egypt is concerned with the Ethiopian development efforts, expressing Egypt’s willingness to be part of it through investments.
Shoukry said that the two countries agreed on dialogue to reach an ongoing mechanism to hold meetings every two months in order to discuss any misunderstanding or misinterpretation that could lead to wrong assumptions.
I know that this is something that will never happen, so it is just a query to each of you. This post today is like almost all of the articles that I write to you, it is an attempt to get you to think out of your minds personal comfort zone, outside of ‘the box’ we wrap around ourselves. Those of you who know me know that I am a person who is anti violence, I wish that there was only kind people on this planet, but we all know that such a thing is just a unfillable dream. I believe that no one has the ‘right’ to be an aggressor toward another. But I do believe that everyone has the right and the duty to protect themselves, their families and even total strangers when they are being attacked. Attacks come in more venues than just the physical abuse they also come in the forms of psychological abuse and abuse by authorities. Also as I am rather sure of, you know that in a lot of cases aggression comes upon many of the innocent and the poor all at one time. This can come from a parent, a guardian, the police, the military or from politicians. Today’s article is about when those who have control of a government decide to make themselves ‘The Supreme Ruler/Leader’ of all the people in a country, in other words, Dictators.
Many countries have ‘Presidents’ who come to power in democratic elections but when it comes time for them to step down at the end of their term, they refuse to. There are many examples of this around the world of which most are in Africa or the Middle-East. I am also thinking of people whom have taken control of a country then have farce elections so that they can say they to the world that they are a democracy. There are examples like Mugabe, Assad, Saddam, Putin, Erdogan and whom ever Iran’s “Supreme Leader” decides whom he wants for president. This is just a small handful of the Earths wicked rulers, there are many more. What constitutes being a Dictator in your eyes? Are Kings and Queens all Dictators like they were 500 years ago? In today’s world I would have to say no. The reason for the no is because of examples like in England, Spain and Norway where the ‘Royal Family’ are more Figure Heads than Rulers.
The type of Dictators I am speaking of are ones that are also Tyrants and murderers of their own people. The reason I have thought of this article’s subject matter today is the ‘vote’ going on in the beautiful nation of Turkey. Their ‘President’ Mr. Erdogan has been taking all of the power within Turkey unto himself for a few years now but today’s election will finish giving him absolute authority within that country. Elections in countries like Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Russia have been nothing but a joke for a long time now. After today’s ‘vote’ in Turkey they will be joining this list of farces.
I have to put the ‘thought of’ a disclaimer regarding this issue though. I call it the George Bush disclaimer, one for the wisdom of Papa Bush and for the ignorance of Baby Bush. The example here is the nation of Iraq. A lot of people here in the U.S. were upset that in the first ‘Gulf War’ that we did not continue the march toward Baghdad and that we did not remove Saddam from power then. Old man Bush had the knowledge and the fore site about removing Dictators of Islamic countries. Baby Bush either didn’t learn anything from his daddy or the chance to show his dad up, that he could do what his dad couldn’t (wouldn’t) was to great a temptation for him. Then of course there is the situation in Syria that the whole world is suffering from because of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s belief that Assad should be removed in the ‘Arab Spring’. Old man Bush knew a simple fact his son nor Hillary seemed to understand. In countries with mostly Islamic populations that having a strong Dictator who can control the actions of the members of the Islamic Civil War (Sunni against Shiite) then you will have situations like we have today in Libya and Syria.
In the title I used the example of the ‘World Bank’ because it is supposed to be independent of the worlds governments thus making them a logical choice to offer multi million dollar rewards to anyone who could/wood kill the Dictators. Plus the obvious reality that it would take a person or an organization with very large bank accounts to pay out those bounties. I realize that North Korea has nothing to do with having the people vote for their Leader but the idea that if the World Bank, or someone else with that kind of money was to put a 50 million dollar reward for the head of the little fat boy with the bad hair cut it honestly wouldn’t bother me. This whole article is just conjecture, an attempt to get people to think. Is killing anyone ever a good idea? If you could go back in time and kill Stalin before he murdered the Czars whole family back in 1917, would you? If you could have killed Hitler as a baby would you? If killing one literally could save the lives of millions, would you? This article is intended for the sole purpose of giving you fodder for the brain as even our brains need food or they will die just like the body without food will die.
(CNN) A federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Donald Trump’s new travel ban on Wednesday afternoon, hours before the ban was set to go into effect.
In a 43-page ruling, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson concluded in no uncertain terms that the new executive order failed to pass legal muster at this stage and the state had established “a strong likelihood of success” on their claims of religious discrimination.
Trump decried the ruling during a rally Wednesday night in Nashville, introducing his statement as “the bad, the sad news.”
“The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first one,” Trump said, as the crowd booed the news.
“This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach,” he added, before pledging to take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.
The practical effect of the ruling — which applies nationwide — is that travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees will be able to travel to the US.
Unlike the previous executive order, the new one removed Iraq from the list of banned countries, exempted those with green cards and visas and removed a provision that arguably prioritizes certain religious minorities.
The new ban was announced earlier this month and was set to take effect Thursday. It would have banned people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days.
“The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed,” Watson wrote.
“Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries,” Watson added. “It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%.”
“It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam,” Watson added. “Certainly, it would be inappropriate to conclude, as the Government does, that it does not.”
“When considered alongside the constitutional injuries and harms … and the questionable evidence supporting the Government’s national security motivations, the balance of equities and public interests justify granting the Plaintiffs’ (request to block the new order),” Watson wrote.
The Justice Department said it will defend the new travel ban.
“The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the federal district court’s ruling, which is flawed both in reasoning and in scope. The President’s Executive Order falls squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our Nation’s security, and the Department will continue to defend this Executive Order in the courts,” DOJ said in a statement Wednesday night.
Judge points to cable news comments
After Trump initially blasted a federal judge in Seattle on Twitter for blocking the original travel ban, and several other federal courts halted its implementation last month, the White House went back to the drawing board for over a month and rewrote the ban — hoping this one would survive legal scrutiny.
Yet certain statements made by Trump’s senior advisers have come back to bite the administration in court.
In the ruling, Watson brought up specific statements made by the President and Stephen Miller, one of his top policy advisers and a reported architect of the original order, in cable news interviews.
Trump made plain his opposition to Islam in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper last year, asserting: “I think Islam hates us.”
Cooper asked then-candidate Trump in the interview to clarify if he meant Islam as a whole or just “radical Islam,” to which Trump replied, “It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.”
The judge cited this interview as an example of the “religious animus” behind the executive order and quoted Trump telling Cooper: “We can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States.”
Likewise, the decision cited an interview Miller had on Fox News following the legal struggles of the first executive order last month, which the legal opponents of the ban have emphasized repeatedly.
In a February interview, Miller downplayed any major differences the new executive order would have from the first and said it would be “responsive to the judicial ruling” holding it up and have “mostly minor technical differences.”
“Fundamentally, you’re still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country,” Miller added.
“These plainly worded statements, made in the months leading up to and contemporaneous with the signing of the Executive Order, and, in many cases, made by the Executive himself, betray the Executive Order’s stated secular purpose,” Watson wrote.
“Any reasonable, objective observer would conclude, as does the court for purposes of the instant Motion for TRO, that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, ‘secondary to a religious objective’ of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims,” he added.
Changes not enough, judge says
While Watson signaled that this temporary freeze of the travel ban may not last forever, he nevertheless concluded that the changes made between the first and second versions of the travel ban weren’t enough.
“Here, it is not the case that the Administration’s past conduct must forever taint any effort by it to address the security concerns of the nation,” he wrote. “Based upon the current record available, however, the Court cannot find the actions taken during the interval between revoked Executive Order No. 13,769 and the new Executive Order to be ‘genuine changes in constitutionally significant conditions.'”
Immigration advocates applauded the ruling immediately.
“The Constitution has once again put the brakes on President Trump’s disgraceful and discriminatory ban. We are pleased but not surprised by this latest development and will continue working to ensure the Muslim ban never takes effect,” said ACLU attorney Omar Jadwat, who argued for the case for the challengers in Maryland federal court earlier on Wednesday.
The Justice Department has yet to indicate its next legal steps, but Trump administration has argued the ban is necessary to protect the nation’s security.
“We cannot compromise our nation’s security by allowing visitors entry when their own governments are unable or unwilling to provide the information we need to vet them responsibly, or when those governments actively support terrorism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said March 6.
Federal judges in several states, including Maryland and Washington state, are also in the process of evaluating challenges to the new travel ban, but may defer ruling in light of the nationwide ruling in Hawaii.
In the U.S. Media all I had heard for at least the first 24 hours after the event was Mr. Trump being blasted for calling the President of Taiwan, Ms. Tsai Ing-wen. This afternoon it took me reading about the event in the Times of Israel News Paper that Mr. Trump hadn’t actually called the President of Taiwan, the truth is that she called him. Evidently Mr. Trump was supposed to act like Mr. Obama did and say, no thank you, China’s leaders wouldn’t like that. There are so many reasons that the politicians in Washington D.C. are perceived as being weak kneed and undependable by most Countries throughout the world. Our Allies throughout the world are and have been worried that the U.S. will not help them if they are attacked by a larger Nation. Here in the U.S. our politicians are always playing games with real life issues. Our politicians only seem interested in increasing their bank accounts and conning people out of their vote, not in handling the real world issues that we voted them in office to do. Putting it bluntly, we have a bunch of cowards in the Congress and the Senate as well as someone bought and paid for in the Oval Office. This is not an issue with just one of our ‘National’ parties, it is both.
Earlier today I read in the Shanghai Daily News and the Times of Israel how the “American Chamber Of Commerce” in Beijing was worried about China clamping down on American businesses that are in China because of their ‘displeasure’ of Mr. Trump taking that phone call from Taiwan’s President. Here in the U.S. our great and wonderful “State Department” whom we all know is always looking out for the best interest of the American people also was chastising Mr. Trump for taking the call. They were more concerned about how China would react to this (basically treason) of breaking protocol regarding the “One China Policy.” Our Media have been talking of late how Mr. Trump has been ‘flying by the seat of his pants’ in regard to his actions instead of relying on ‘the professionals.’ Today the ‘unnamed’ representative at the State Department said that Mr. Trump needed to consult with them as they are the ones that sets what is proper protocol. To this arrogance I have only one thing to say, well, actually two things. One, it is the President who sets what Protocol is and will be, not midlevel ‘managers’ at the State Department. Two, I hope that people like this person at the State Department have their U-Haul trucks reserved for late January because there are going to be a lot of folks moving out of D.C. soon.
Taiwan is one of our Allies in Southeast Asia, China is just going to have to get over that fact. China has been trying to scare the life out of every Nation in the region of the South China Sea for at least the past two years minimum. I have no problem with the people of China at all. China could be a great friend to every Nation in the region if they chose to, the issue is their Government. Communism is and has always been an enemy of all people who simply want to have some freedom in their lives. In a lot of ways I think well of their current President Mr. Xi Jinping but he has a blade at his throat if he decided to step out of line with the Ruling Communist Party Leadership. I have one thing to tell Mr. Trump that I hope he will tell the Leadership in Beijing and that is that we agree about the ‘One China Policy’. The issue is that the Country of Taiwan is not China, there is China and there is the Country of Taiwan, one China, one Taiwan, not two China’s. Communist Leaders only respect one thing in other Leaders and that is strength. If a leader of a Country is weak, China or Russia or North Korea will dominate you and take away all of your freedoms.
People of Nations that are supposed to be America’s Allies have been very scared for at least the past 8 years minimum that the U.S. would not come to their aid if they are attacked. Our current President is far more likely to issue sanctions against a Nation attacking one of our Allies than to actually physically assist them at getting the knife away from their throat. In the real world of blood, sweat and fears, both responses must be able to be counted on for people to feel any sense of safety. America’s leaders have spent at least the last 8 years cowering down to Russia and to China and the world is a much more dangerous place because of these actions. We have been trying to destroy relationships with our real Allies like Israel while showing indecision and weakness as well as ignorance in Middle East foreign policies in places like Libya and Syria. I did not vote for Mr. Trump nor did I vote for Hillary but I am old enough and wise enough to know that if the U.S. doesn’t quit acting like cowards toward Russia and China and start acting like we have a backbone and some basic intelligence, very soon, we are not going to have any Allies.
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