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Egypt Witnesses First Presidential Elections After the Revolution and More

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Millions of Egyptians vote in historic presidential elections

Al Jazeera - After decades or even centuries of single rule, Egyptians are on the verge of a new period of their history, voting for a new president for the country on a democratic basis. After counting 90 percent of the votes the Muslim Brotherhood group said that the candidate for the Freedom and Justice Party obtained 25 percent of the votes, as opposed to candidate Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister in Mubarak’s era, who obtained 23 percent. The group said  Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh ranked third place, with 20 percent and Hamdeen Sabahy came in fourth with about 19 percent.

Iran's nuclear talks moved to Moscow after reaching a stalemate

Dubai - Amid 'significant differences' between the P5+1 group and Iran, over the latter's nuclear program, the talks were moved to Moscow. This news comes after two days of intensive negotiations in Baghdad failed to bring about a solution to the nuclear crisis. Iran has agreed in principle, to discuss the issue of uranium enrichment at 20 percent, only if the UN recognizes its right to enrich uranium. The two sides agreed to hold a new round of talks in Moscow next month.

After suicide bombing, Yemen marks National Unity Day

Al Jazeera - It was the first time that a military parade was held to mark the unification of Yemen without Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was toppled by a popular revolution. President Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi attended the parade that was held at the Institute of Aviation instead of the al-Sabeen area, which was subjected to a bombing that led to the deaths of dozens of soldiers, and injured hundreds, during the preparatory exercises for the parade. While the investigation into the al-Sabeen Street bombing continues, the head of the National Security Council confirmed that the al-Qaeda organization was behind the attack.

Bahrainis continue to protest against US arms shipment to al-Manama regime

Al Alam - Bahrain's revolutionaries called for demonstrations on the Friday of ‘rejecting the U.S. arming of the regime’, which crushed protests in numerous regions. The revolutionaries called for taking to the streets to express loyalty to political prisoners. The revolutionaries shut down some of the vital roads to protest the continuing arrest of women by the regime. The marches were soon confronted by the regime with gunfire and teargas, wounding a number of protesters and many others were arrested, mostly women. Bahraini cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, asserted that the crisis will not end until authorities submit to the people's demands. 

Israeli protesters attack African migrants in Tel-Aviv

 

Al Jazeera - Hundreds of Israelis demonstrated in central Tel Aviv, against the increasing numbers of illegal African immigrants in the country, and called for deporting them immediately. These protests came several days after the Interior Minister Eli Yishai called for arresting all African immigrants, and deporting them from Israel. Israeli sources estimate the number of Africans in Israel at 60,000 ranging from various countries. The scene was not free of aggression against Africans and local shops that employ them. The recent crimes and rapes committed by Africans instigated the Israelis to come out in protest.

 

Image: An Egyptian man folds his ballot paper before casting his vote in a school used as a polling station in Cairo May 24, 2012. Egyptians, choosing their leader freely for the first time in history, voted for a second day on Thursday in an election that is a fruit of last year's popular revolt against Hosni Mubarak. The words on the Al Ahly club jersey read, "Glory to the martyrs". REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

 
 

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Developments in Bahrain and the Rest of the Middle East

Pro-government protesters show Bahraini and Saudi flags tied together, symbol of the unity of the two countries, as they participate in a pro-government rally held in al Fateh Grand Mosque in Manama February 11, 2012. Thousands of pro-government supporters attended the rally, which was organised by The Gathering of National Unity society, holding Gulf countries flags condemning the acts by opposition groups of Bahrain. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Iranians rally to denounce Bahrain-Saudi Arabia union

BBC Arabic - Reuters agency reported that according to eyewitnesses, tens of thousands of Bahrainis protested outside of the capital al-Manama against the unity plan between the Arab Gulf countries. Also, thousands of Iranians protested in Tehran after Friday prayers against the unity plan between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which was described by the Imam of Friday prayers, Ayatollah Kazem Siddiqui, as an 'American-Zionist conspiracy'. Protesters gathered in front of Tehran University, raising the Bahraini flag and chanting condemnations of Saudi Arabia, America, and Israel.

U.N. Security Council demands Sudan pull out troops from Abyei

Al Alam - The UN Security Council has commanded Sudan to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the border region of Abyei, the disputed area with South Sudan. But Khartoum said it would only withdraw after a joint monitoring military force is formed in the region. Khartoum occupied the Abyei region in May, 2011, after an attack from South Sudan on a convoy of Sudanese army personnel. The occupation has displaced tens of thousands of civilians. These developments are taking place after armed conflicts and continual tension between the two sides in the oil-rich, border region of Heglig.

Egypt's military ruler pledges fair presidential elections

Dubai - Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Military Supreme Council, vowed to secure an ideal election, worthy of post-revolution Egypt. Tantawi's vows flowed in the direction of the judiciary's statements, which aimed to disperse the Egyptian people's fears of fraudulent elections, following the numerous violations cited in several presidential candidates' campaigns. However,the election campaigns continue with vigor, amid accusations exchanged between the candidates that play on the weaknesses of each part

Israel and Iran beat the 'drums of war' ahead of nuclear talks in Baghdad

Al Jazeera - Israeli air force commander, Ido Nehushtan, said his forces are entirely ready to carry out any military operation it may be assigned to, including striking Iran's nuclear sites. On the other hand, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, warned the super powers of making any miscalculations and issuing statements that could harm the negotiations scheduled for May 23rd, in Baghdad, regarding Tehran's nuclear program. The US-Israeli statements on the matter were issued at a critical time, only several days before resuming the P5 +1 talks with Iran concerning its nuclear issue.

Iraqis mark national day for the martyrs of the mass graves


Al Forat - May 16th was chosen to be the annual day dedicated to the martyrs of the mass graves, after the first and largest mass grave was discovered in the al-Mahawil region, of northern Babil province in 2003, after the Saddam regime collapsed. Considered the bloodiest in modern history, the barbaric massacres claimed the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children, after they were buried alive or killed execution-style.

 

Image: Pro-government protesters show Bahraini and Saudi flags tied together, symbol of the unity of the two countries, as they participate in a pro-government rally held in al Fateh Grand Mosque in Manama February 11, 2012. Thousands of pro-government supporters attended the rally, which was organised by The Gathering of National Unity society, holding Gulf countries flags condemning the acts by opposition groups of Bahrain. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

 
 

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This Week's Headlines 05/04/12

REUTERS / Asmaa Waguih
Egyptian troops and protesters clash in Cairo as thousands rally

Al Jazeera - Over 20 people were injured in confrontations between the Egyptian security forces and protesters attempting to reach the headquarters of the Defense Ministry in Cairo. Al Jazeera correspondent reported that 20 armored trucks amassed in al- Abbasiyah Square after pushing the protesters away from the surroundings of the Defense Ministry. Tahrir Square hosted a demonstration against the Military Council, and so did al-Abbasiyah Square that received even more protesters.


Syrian troops storm Aleppo University killing four and arresting hundreds

BBC Arabic - Syrian opposition activists say a number of students at Aleppo University were killed by the gunfire of Syrian security forces when they stormed the campus.The university's president announced classes will be suspended until May 13th. Following these incidents, demonstrations broke out in and around as the faculties of Aleppo University in solidarity with the targeted students. Other demonstrations erupted in various areas as well.  
             
Israeli court postpones Palestinian hunger strikers' appeals


Palestine TV - After Bilal Diab and Thaeir Halahla entered their 68th day of their open-ended hunger strike, a hearing was held today in the so-called Israeli Supreme Court, where their trial was postponed indefinitely to review the demand of their release. During the trial session, Bilal and Tha'ir's defense attorney presented the judge with his argument which condemns the so-called administrative detention, which allows the detention of the prisoners without any charges.

Blasts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Taliban claims responsibility

Dubai - US President Barack Obama visited Afghanistan for six hours and met with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. The two leaders signed a strategic partnership pact for cooperation between Washington and Kabul. Following Obama's visit, Kabul was rocked by a series of explosions that claimed the lives of 6 people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, and warned they will launch an offensive against NATO on Thursday.


Al Alam - At least 20 people were killed, and 45 others were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself at a market in Bajur, leading to the killing and injury of dozens of people. He targeted a police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan. Among the dead were a number of policemen and civilians.

 

Image: A member of security forces jumps before throwing a stone back at protesters near Egypt's Defence Ministry May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

 
 

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The Latest From the Middle East

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah



Bahraini activists demand a 'stop to bloody Formula One'

BBC Arabic - The Bahraini opposition escalated its protests, in a number of Shiite villages in and around al-Manama, on the eve of the opening of the Formula One car race. The demonstrations that started Wednesday night continued until Thursday morning. The authorities are heightening the security measures ahead of the event, but denying they expect the protests to impact the sporting event. Eyewitnesses say security forces were forced to use teargas and stun grenades to disperse protesters who threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the police in confrontations that left dozens injured.
 
Egypt rises against military rule on the 'Friday of self-determination'

Press TV reports that earlier this week, Egypt's electoral body rejected appeals filed by candidates disqualified from running for the May presidential election. Three main disqualified candidates are Egypt's former main intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, Khairat al-Shater from the Muslim Brotherhood, and the ultra-conservative Salafist, Hazem Abu Ismail.

Future TV - Under the banner of self-determination, tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square, in the center of Cairo, to demand the protection of the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak over a year ago. This Friday's protest also demanded the transfer of power, and the unification of all political and revolutionary factions. Activists called for the protest today to demand that those who worked with the former president be prevented from running in the presidential elections, the first round of which will be held next month.

 

However, the Islamists joined the demonstration under the banner "protecting the revolution." And, as an indication that protesters are intent on pushing the ruling military council to fulfill the promise of transferring power to an elected president, the stage set up by the Muslim Brotherhood in the square included a banner that read, "power-transfer on June 30th."

Sudan declares 'liberation' of Heglig as Juba pulls out

Dubai TV -  The Sudanese defense minister has announced that Heglig was "liberated" from the grips of Juba's army, confirming the region was recaptured by force, ten days after South Sudan seized control of the area. This announcement was intended to refute a South Sudanese army statement claiming that its forces voluntarily withdrew from Heglig. Meanwhile, demonstrations broke out in a number of northern cities to celebrate the North's victory in the battle. President Omar al-Bashir stressed the victory marks the beginning of a war to liberate the South from the rule of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

UN chief calls for an expanded monitoring mission in Syria

New TV - On the fourth day of the international observers' presence in Syria, Damascus signed an initial agreement with the United Nations on the terms of the team's work. And in a closed-door meeting, the Security Council discussed sending an expanded monitoring mission to Syria, consisting of 300 observers, for three months. The team will monitor and encourage the halt of armed aggression in all its forms and from all parties, and comes as part of the Annan plan. The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed this agreement comes within Syrian efforts aimed at ensuring the success of Annan's plan, and facilitating the observers' mission within the context of Syrian sovereignty and commitment to the concerned parties. The spokesman for UN envoy Kofi Annan announced that his office is holding similar negotiations with representatives from the opposition on the obligations and responsibilities of the armed opposition.

 

Hunger Striker Khader Adnan's hometown celebrates his release

Palestine TV - It was "a national wedding," "a massive popular festival," "the festival of the dawn of freedom." These were the names given to the celebration in Jenin organized in honor of freed prisoner Khader Adnan, who underwent an open-ended hunger strike that lasted 66 days in protest of his administrative detention in an Israeli jail. Thousands of citizens from all provinces and political factions, both official and popular, attended the festival to honor him.

1,200 Palestinian Prisoners begin an open-ended hunger strike in Israeli jails

Al-Alam - In occupied Palestine, events were held to mark the Prisoners' Day. 1,200 Palestinian detainees in the Israeli prisons began an open-ended hunger strike in protest of their maltreatment and continual detention. Participants in the events demanded to release the prisoners. At the Prisoners' Day festival, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council called for escalating the armed resistance to free the prisoners.

 

Image: Protesters chant slogans after police used a flashbang stun grenade during an anti-government rally in Manama April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

 
 

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Massacre in Afghanistan: An Isolated Incident or Just another Wave of Violence?

The past several months in Afghanistan have witnessed a rise in the level of violence caused by the ramification of U.S.-committed crimes in the country.

 

In January, a video of four U.S soldiers in uniform urinating on three dead bodies sparked anger and outrage around the world.Russia Today reported on this incident with a statement from authorities refuting this video saying: "While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticities of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps."

 

In February, violence broke out in Kabul over the burning of copies of the Quran at the Bagram military base.This led to protests by thousands of Afghans demanding the departure of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Demonstrators also burned the American flag and expressed rage over the ongoing desecration of Muslim sanctities; thirty Afghans were killed in the protests. 

 

Finally, on Sunday, anger reached a tipping point after a U.S. soldier killed over a dozen civilians on a late-night shooting spree.This latest massacre left 16 civilians dead, most of them children and women.

 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the shooting and demanded an explanation from the U.S., stating, "This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven."

 

While mainstream media are reporting on just one U.S. soldier, the prime suspect whose identity was just released as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, an Afghan committee investigated the crime and concluded that up to 20 people may have been involved in the massacre.The committee explained, "The villages are one and a half kilometers from the American military base. We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time", but accounts by the massacre's survivors have yet to be reported by most outlets.  

 

The number of Afghan casualties has steadily increased since 2009. The 2011 UNAMA report documents, "2,332 civilian deaths and 3,649 injuries by the Taliban for a total 5,981 civilian casualties, an increase of 10% in deaths and injuries attributed to anti-government forces compared to 2010. This accounted for 77% of all deaths whereas Nato and government forces totalled 410 civilian killings and 335 injuries."

 

These figures indicate the Afghan people are subject to regular violence from multiple forces, both local and foreign.

 

Afghan protesters shout anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration in Jalalabad province

 

Image: Afghan protesters shout anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration in Jalalabad province March 13, 2012. The shootings triggered a protest by around 2,000 students in the eastern city of Jalalabad, the first since Sunday's attack, calling for the U.S. soldier to be prosecuted by Afghan authorities in Kandahar. REUTERS/Parwiz

 
 

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