Iran has rejected as “ludicrous and baseless” recent reports by Israeli media that Iranian weapons have ended up in the hands of Takfiri Daesh terrorists operating in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula.
An informed source in the Iranian Foreign Ministry dismissed the claims as “insignificant” on Wednesday, saying “such awkward and unfounded news fabrication will never change the realities.”
“Iran’s unchanging and permanent policy on terrorist-Zionist groups like Daesh is quite evident,” said the official.
The source went on to say that the Islamic Republic will “spare no effort” in fighting terrorist groups such as Daesh and will continue encouraging the world to counter their “inhumane activities.”
The entire world has come to realize the link between “the evil triangle of the Zionist regime, Saudi Arabia and Takfiri terrorists who are hell-bent on creating and perpetuating chaos and insecurity in the region and the world,” the official added.
The Sinai Peninsula has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, following a deadly terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 33 soldiers.
In recent years, militants have been carrying out anti-government activities and deadly attacks in the region, taking advantage of the turmoil caused after democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military in July 2013.
Militants from the Takfiri Velayat Sinai group, Daesh’s offshoot in northeastern Egypt, have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, mainly targeting the army and police.
Previously known as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, the terrorist outfit has pledged allegiance to Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
Takfiri groups, such as Daesh, are a sworn enemy of Iran and regard Iranians a regular target of their terrorist attacks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says projects by the Israeli and Saudi Arabian regimes to portray Iran as a threat to the world have been falling flat over the past years.
Speaking to a group of Iranian expatriates in the Ghanaian capital city of Accra on Monday evening, Zarif said Tel Aviv and Riyadh, “two like-minded regimes,” are investing heavily in Iranophobia to draw attention away from their crimes and their collaborations.
“It is obvious that the cooperation of the Zionist regime (Israel) and the Saudi regime, which are two like-minded and congruent regimes, has today become known and can no more be concealed,” Zarif said.
He said the two regimes are concerned about their collaboration having become publicly known and are thus “investing further in Iranophobia” as a means of distraction.
He said, however, that, “The world has today waken up to the fact that the danger of Wahhabism is the real threat.”
Wahhabism is an extreme ideological strand openly preached by Saudi Arabian clerics, who have the blessing of ruling Saudi authorities. It is the main ideological feature of Takfiri terrorist groups — particularly Daesh — which declare people of other faiths and beliefs as “infidels” and, based on “decrees” from clerics, rule that they should be killed.
Most Arab governments have no diplomatic relations with Israel. Egypt and Qatar are the only two Arab states to have open diplomatic ties with Israel.
Some Arab governments, however, while posing as Israel’s traditional adversaries, have been revealed to have secret ties with the Tel Aviv regime. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are two such countries.
Last week, a retired general in the Saudi military traveled to Israel at the head of a delegation, meeting with Israel’s foreign ministry director general Dore Gold Yoav Mordechai and a number of Knesset members.
Both Riyadh and Tel Aviv were and continue to be fiercely opposed to a nuclear deal between Iran and a group of six world powers.
In his Monday remarks, Foreign Minister Zarif said the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), succeeded in proving to the world the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.
The JCPOA was struck between Iran and the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany on July 14, 2015.
Zarif is in Ghana on the second leg of a four-nation African tour. He was in Nigeria before arriving in Ghana and will be traveling to Guinea-Conakry and Mali on the third and fourth legs of his tour.
Nader Bakkar, the deputy chairman of Egypt’s Salafist Nour Party
A report has revealed an April meeting in the United States between Nader Bakkar, a senior Salafist from Egypt, and former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Reporting on Tuesday, The Middle East Eye said Bakkar, who was the deputy chairman of Egypt’s Salafist Nour Party, met Livni at Harvard University at the former’s request.
It cited Egyptian paper Youm7 as reporting, “Nader Bakkar’s meeting with Tzipi Livini lasted around 40 minutes, in which Bakkar talked about the strength of the Nour Party and its popularity.”
The Nour Party has been unashamedly supportive of the Egyptian government’s 2013 military coup that overthrew democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi. It has remained committed to the coup’s leader and current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi despite a deadly government crackdown on dissent.
The party has also been cited as an instrumental force behind the anti-government protests that preceded the putsch.
Nour Party had had its candidate, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, disqualified in the 2012 presidential election that brought Morsi to power.
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
Salafism is often equated with Wahhabism, the ideology of the Takfiri terror groups that kill people from other religions, accusing them of being “infidels.”
Israel has been supportive of the Takfiri terrorists fighting the Syrian government. In December 2015, Britain’s Daily Mail said Israel has saved the lives of over 2,000 Takfiri militants at the cost of about USD 13 million by treating them at its hospitals since 2013.
Relations between Egypt and the Israeli regime have been growing since Sisi took power in the Arab country in 2014.
Egypt sent an ambassador to Tel Aviv in January. Hazem Khairat was the first residing Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv since Morsi recalled Cairo’s previous ambassador to Israel in November 2012. The Israeli regime also opened its embassy in Cairo in September 2015 after a four-year closure.
Earlier, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry traveled to Israel and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The letter outlined US military counterrorism operations across the globe in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Somalia, Yemen, Djibouti, Libya, Cuba, Niger, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Egypt, Jordan, and Kosovo. All nations have US combat-equipped personnel deployed for a specific counterterrorism mission.
Obama indicated that that there is no timeline for the war on terrorism, and he will direct “additional measures to protect US citizens and interests” if necessary.
“It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of US Armed Forces necessary to counter terrorist threats to the United States,” Obama said.
Under the 2001 authorization for use of military force, the US president must update Congress every six months on the military operations against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces.
The British government is providing military training to the majority of nations it has blacklisted for human rights violations, a new report reveals.
In a report published on Sunday, the Independent revealed that 16 of the 30 countries on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s “human rights priority” watchlist are receiving military support from the UK despite being accused by London itself of issues ranging from internal repression to the use of sexual violence in armed conflicts.
According to the UK Ministry of Defense, since 2014, British armed forces have provided “either security or armed forces personnel” to the military forces of Saudi Arabia , Bahrain, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Burundi, China, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
Britain is a major provider of weapons and equipment such as cluster bombs and fighter jets to Saudi Arabia in its year-long military aggression against Yemen that has killed nearly 9,400 people, among them over 2,230 children.
Since the conflict began in March 2015, the British government has licensed the sale of nearly $4 billion worth of weaponry to the Saudi kingdom.
British commandos also train Bahraini soldiers in using sniper rifles, despite allegations that the Persian Gulf monarchy uses such specialist forces to suppress a years-long pro-democracy uprising in the country.
Bahraini forces visited the Infantry Battle School in Wales last week, accompanied by troops from Nigeria, the Defense Ministry said.
Nigeria’s top military generals are accused by Amnesty International of committing war crimes by causing the deaths of 8,000 people through murder, starvation, suffocation and torture during security operations against the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorists, according to the report.
Andrew Smith, with the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said Britain should not be “colluding” with countries known for being “some of the most authoritarian states in the world.”
Arms sold by the UK to Egypt have also been used to violently suppress protests against the Sisi regime
The British Embassy in Cairo has revealed that discussions have been held regarding an increase in arms exports to Egypt. The talks were led by Britain’s adviser for the Middle East at the Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant-General Tom Beckett; the aim is to strengthen Egypt’s capabilities for fighting ISIS/Daesh, Moheet.com has reported.
In a statement issued on Friday, the embassy said that Becket’s visit to Cairo was to consolidate mutual cooperation and Egypt’s military partnership with Britain. “The UK considers Egypt an important military partner in the region and in the fight against Daesh,” the senior army officer was quoted as saying.
Britain exports arms worth millions of pounds to Egypt annually, with a dramatic increase in export licences for weapons recorded in 2015.
Since 2013, Egypt has been waging what it calls a war against Daesh in Sinai. The army claims that it has killed dozens of extremists, although locals say that the war has been waged against them, with soldiers destroying houses and public facilities. Residents have also been evicted from their homes.
There have been periodic attacks on troops and their vehicles, and some have been killed. No group has claimed responsibility, which is unusual. However, the Egyptian authorities insist that Daesh — known locally as Wilayat Sinai – carries out the attacks.
4 members of Egyptian satire troupe Street Children referred to prosecution for ‘insulting the state’
Four members of Street Children (Atfal Shawaree), a satirical performance art troupe, were referred Tuesday to a Cairo prosecution on accusations of inciting protests and publishing videos that insult state institutions, a judicial source told Ahram Online.
The artists were arrested on Monday and are being held at Cairo’s Sayeda Zeinab police station prior to the referral to Heliopolis prosecution.
On Sunday, the group’s sixth and youngest member, Ezz El-Din Khaled, 19, was ordered to be released on EGP 10,000 bail pending investigation into charges of inciting protests and publishing videos that insult state institutions.
Prosecution appealed the decision to release Khaled on Monday. The appeal was rejected on Tuesday and the 19-year-old was released.
Khaled was arrested from his home on Saturday evening.
The six-member performance group gained popularity among youths for their videos in which they that mock societal norms as well as the discourse of government officials and supporters.
Street Children released their first video in January 2016. The troupe’s last video was another satirical titled “Sisi is my president.”
Egyptian authorities have referred dozens of people to trial over the last year’s assassination of the country’s top prosecutor.
Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek sent 67 people to the criminal court on Sunday, without mentioning the exact date of the trial.
Sadek said in a statement that all the defendants were members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement, who “conspired” with members of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to assassinate Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat in a bomb attack in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis in late June 2015.
In March, Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar told a news conference in Cairo that both Muslim Brotherhood and Gaza-based Hamas were involved in the assassination.
The Hamas, however, has strongly rejected the allegation, calling it as “baseless.”
“Hamas calls on all parties in Egypt not to involve Palestinian factions in their internal differences,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a press release on March 7, hours after Ghaffar’s comments.
There have been no credible claims of responsibility for the bombing that killed the 64-year-old state prosecutor just outside his house on June 29.
An Israeli journalist has called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exploit the readiness of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi to concede Egyptian land in return for money to solve the conflict with the Palestinians, Arabi21 reported yesterday.
Haggai Segal, the editor of the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, wrote: “Al-Sisi’s concession of Tiran and Sanafir islands shows that Arabs do not revere the land. Al-Sisi conceded the two islands for money.”
The journalist, who is very close to Netanyahu, added: “Two years ago, Al-Sisi showed his willingness to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in Sinai. This makes us expect reaching an agreement with Al-Sisi and the Palestinian Authority (PA) regarding this in return for a respectable sum of money.”
“We have to measure the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in Sinai based on the equation: land for shekels.”
Segal was a member of a terrorist Jewish organisation that planned to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque in the 1980s. He also carried out a number of explosions that killed and wounded scores of Palestinians, including heads of West Bank municipalities.
Two years ago, Israeli Army Radio revealed that Al-Sisi suggested the creation of a Palestinian state in Sinai in return for Palestinian concession of the West Bank.
Both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority denied the report, however many Israeli officials, including the Education Minister Naftali Bennett, confirmed the proposal had been put forward.
Meanwhile, former Israeli ambassador to Cairo Zvi Mazel said Al-Sisi recognises the size of the economic crisis his regime is currently facing and is therefore “ready to concede Egypt’s respect and dignity and ignore the constitution for financial support.”
A former CIA officer, now residing in Portugal, faces extradition to Italy after her alleged involvement in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, otherwise known as Abu Omar, in Milan 13 years ago, The Washington Post reported.
An Italian court convicted Sabrina De Sousa, 60, in absentia along with 26 other Americans, sentencing her to four years in prison. In 2009, De Sousa avoided potential imprisonment by leaving Italy before the trial started.
However, extradition talks began after De Sousa moved to Portugal last spring to be closer to her relatives.
Local police detained the former CIA agent on a European arrest warrant at the Lisbon airport in October.
A key development in the case happened this week, when Portugal’s highest court upheld the lower courts’ ruling that local authorities did not violate the constitution when detaining De Sousa. She is now scheduled to be extradited to Italy on May 4.
One of the conditions of the ruling is that De Sousa be given another trial and a chance to appeal her sentence in Italy since she was sentenced in absentia.
However, De Sousa is not sure that Italian authorities will grant her a new trial, and fears that she will simply be sent straight to jail to start serving her four-year sentence.
“It’s kind of a surreal situation,” De Sousa told The Washington Post. “I’ve spent years wanting to counter the charges against me. Right now, I want to know what happens, step by step, in Italy.”
Former CIA chief historian Benjamin Fischer described De Sousa’s case as “unprecedented,” according to the Post.
De Sousa holds dual Portuguese and American citizenship. She admitted that flying to Europe did leave her more vulnerable to arrest.
“If I was a natural-born US citizen and my entire family lived in Kansas, for example, then maybe I wouldn’t need to worry about going to Europe again,” De Sousa said.
Terror suspect Egyptian cleric Nasr was kidnapped from a Milan street in 2003. He was transported to Egypt by the CIA as part of their extraordinary rendition program, where he was allegedly tortured for seven months and eventually released.
It was only in 2005 when reports of Italian government investigating CIA agents involved in the kidnapping came to light.
Evidence discovered by Italian law enforcement reportedly embarrassed the CIA’s spy craft skills.
Meanwhile, De Sousa was unable to persuade her employer to grant her immunity and ended up resigning from the CIA in 2009.
De Sousa asserts she played only a minor role in the abduction of the cleric, translating for CIA officers in Italy in early 2002 before the kidnapping took place.
“But at that point, rendition was just a concept,” she said, adding that Nasr’s name was not even mentioned during the talks.
Egypt’s press syndicate denounced on Wednesday recent “repeated” attacks against its members while they carried out their journalistic work and called on the interior ministry to investigate the issue.
The syndicate said that attacks on journalists are carried out by “thugs” who are “protected” by security bodies in the state.
The word “thugs” is used in Egypt to describe those who violate the law. Human rights organisations have repeatedly alleged that security forces use “thugs” to disperse protests and arrest suspects. But the interior ministry denies such accusations.
The press syndicate, one of Egypt’s oldest professional syndicates, said on Wednesday in a statement that “thugs, protected by the security [apparatuses] assaulted journalists and photojournalists” outside a court building in the Cairo neighbourhood of Zeinhom on Tuesday as they covered judicial proceedings regarding 25 protesters who were arrested on Friday during the “Friday of Land” protests.
The “Friday of Land” protests were staged by activists in protest against the Egyptian government’s decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
The press syndicate says in its statement that “thugs” also chased away family members who gathered outside the court in solidarity with the detained protesters.
This attack “is not the first of its kind in recent times”, the press syndicate added in its statement.
WASHINGTON – The US government has sent Special Envoy Amos Hochstein to Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt and Israel to discuss falling oil prices after the failure of the Doha energy talks, the US Department of State announced in a media note on Monday.
“Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos J. Hochstein will be travelling to the region to meet with key interlocutors in Jerusalem, Cairo, Kuwait City and Doha,” the note stated.
As global oil prices remain near record lows, and the United States emerges as a global exporter of liquefied natural gas, Hochstein will be seeking to strengthen US relationships with partners in the region as well as discuss strategies for addressing the market realities of the energy sector, the note explained.
Hochstein will discuss energy security issues in Israel, power generation issues in Egypt and plans to investment in developing new oil fields and build additional oil refineries in Kuwait, the State Department pointed out.
In Qatar, Hochstein will give a speech emphasizing US support for liquefied natural gas development and its role in reducing global carbon emissions, the note said.