The Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interview with the French TV this week almost entirely dwelt on the Syrian situation – fighting in Aleppo, in particular. Putin was frank about the US’ doublespeak – especially, its covert dealings with Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and the calculated hour-long attack by US jets on a Syrian military base two weeks ago in tandem with ground operations by Islamic State fighters. The interview is an eye-opener. (Transcript)
Given the complete breakdown of trust in Russian-American dealings on Syria at the diplomatic and political level, it is hard to see what purpose would be served in the FM-level meeting being scheduled in Lausanne on Saturday, involving Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia and the US. (Middle East Eye )
Perhaps, one ray of hope could be that the UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura’s formula that the rebel fighters, including those belonging to Nusra, be allowed safe passage to evacuate from Aleppo with their weapons so that the fighting can somehow be brought to an early end. Russia favors the idea and it seems Turkey is on board, too. Moscow has taken Tehran’s okay as well. If Mistura’s formula takes wings, there could be ceasefire in Aleppo.
But the broad thrust of the Russian-Iranian-Syrian campaign cannot conceivably be anything short of taking control of Aleppo. The one factor that goes in favour of some positive tiding coming out of Saturday’s meeting is that the Obama administration has run out of options on Syria and Washington is under compulsion to be seen as ‘proactive’ on Syria. (Times )
The control of the Syrian air space by Russia means that any military intervention may risk confrontation with Russia. Besides, US-Turkey relations too are on a roller coaster and without Turkey’s cooperation, Americans can’t go very far on Syria. On Wednesday, President Recep Erdogan warned Washington that Turkey will “resort to very serious steps” if the Obama administration drags its feet on the extradition of the Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen. (Sputnik )
The following excerpts of an Iranian commentary (Fars news agency) bring out the US’ predicament:
- US officials are terrified to see eastern Aleppo fall into the hands of Syrian armed forces. They are furious about the allied forces of Iran, Syria, Russia and Hezbollah hitting its so-called “moderate rebels,” who are heavily armed and backed by the Pentagon… who have long been working with Al-Nusra and ISIL, shared their western arms supplies with these two groups and staged joint military operations with them everywhere in Aleppo, and every day you see one of them declares formal allegiance to either Al-Nusra or ISIL; the last one was Jund Al-Aqsa half of whom joined Al-Nusra on Sunday and the rest arrived in Raqqa on Wednesday to join the ISIL. The only way to stop the crushing defeat of its terrorists at the hands of the Syrian army and its allies is for Washington to establish a no-fly zone, which they cannot.
Clearly, the threats by US Secretary of State John Kerry to put Russia and Syria on trial for ‘war crimes’ and to impose fresh sanctions against Moscow over the Aleppo fighting, etc. – and, least of all, the veiled threat that US may have a ‘Plan B’ – are turning out to be bluster. With Russia’s decision to establish a full-fledged naval base at Tartus and a “permanent deployment” of Russian air force in the Hmeimin air base, it becomes a high-risk venture for the US to challenge Russian supremacy in Syria. Moscow’s politico-military objective in the 2-3 months that lie ahead will be to forestall even an interventionist US president such as Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, the realignments in regional politics also strengthen Russia’s position. Egypt’s decision to join hands with China and Venezuela to support the Russian resolution on Aleppo at the UN Security Council in the weekend – and, more important, to oppose the French resolution demanding end to air attacks on Aleppo (which Moscow vetoed) – has strained Egypt-Saudi Arabia relations. Since the vote, the Aramco, government-owned Saudi oil company, suspended oil aid to Egypt. The Saudi ambassador to Egypt left Cairo on Wednesday for consultations in Riyadh, prompting speculation about chill in Saudi-Egyptian ties. Russia is due to hold its first-ever military exercise on Egyptian territory next week.
“I’m going to give you credit for the ‘peaceful’ protests” wrote Huma Abedin to Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the collapse of the Mubarak regime in Egypt as evidence mounts that the United States manufactured the overthrow of an ally.
New documents first analyzed by Breitbart News show that the US State Department under Hillary Clinton developed and forged a program first started in the last months of the Bush presidency focused on training radical groups, including the controversial Muslim Brotherhood, on how to effectively use social media and other communication outlets to cause disruption and even topple governments.
The program known as Alliance of Youth Movements Summit was co-founded by a close adviser to Clinton, Jared Cohen, during his tenure with the State Department at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, which enabled anti-Mubarak activists to organize and plot the eventual overthrow of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.
The program was forged on November 18, 2008, only two weeks after Barack Obama was elected US President but during the “lame-duck” portion of the Bush administration with the first summit held at Columbia Law School in New York.
The seminar focused on using social media outlets including Facebook and MySpace to engage in a tactic called “smart mobbing” in which mobile devices are used to quickly assemble and coordinate mass rallies and protests before authorities are able to fully respond according to Cohen.
The controversy surrounds a particular attendant of the event, a Muslim Brotherhood activist, who was allowed to attend the summit, speak before the audience, network and was introduced to US government officials despite expressing his interest in removing Mubarak from power. Government documents show that officials were aware that the activist had intentions to use social media with acute precision, including systematically alternating sim cards to avoid government detection and avoidance, to forge a movement capable of overthrowing the Mubarak regime.
One of the US government dispatches regarding the individual was even titled “Washington Meetings and April 6 Ideas for Regime Change” and detailed that the activist had met with a “variety” of congressional staffers, two US Senate staffers, and several think tanks and was even invited to speak at a US Congress hearing on House Resolution 1303 on political and religious rights in Egypt.
The US State Department under Hillary Clinton took bold steps to execute the vision initially laid out by Cohen partnering with Google, Facebook and other tech companies to sponsor the 2009 Alliance of Youth Movements in Mexico City on October 16, 2009 in Mexico City addressing that summit for “citizen activists” interested in creating change in their countries via video message.
The Alliance of Youth Movements later spawned into Movements.org in 2011 which has been credited with playing a key role in enabling Egyptian activists to organize rapidly beyond the stretch of government surveillance and before the country’s officials could orchestrate an appropriate response.
The reality that the protesters behind the Arab Spring movement received Western training in how to effectively organize and coordinate using social media hardly comes as a surprise given the unprecedented level of sophistication employed by the activists, but the fact that the US State Department knew and accepted that the training may be employed to overthrow the government of an ally does represent a shocking and untoward revelation.
A columnist for a state-run newspaper in Egypt has suggested the US invented Isis and set up the 9/11 attacks to justify its military interventions in the Middle East.
“Is it possible to believe the official version, from the US government, of the events of 11 September 2001?” wrote journalist Noha Al-Sharnoubi in Al-Ahram, a major national Egyptian newspaper owned by the government.
Ms Al-Sharnoubi said the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks could have been premeditated to “justify the war on terror” in her column, published on 23 August.
She also cast doubt over the veracity of the actions of the so-called Islamic State, alleging the extremist group could have been made up to “trick” the world and validate US foreign policy.
Ms Al-Sharnoubi does not appear to shy away from controversial subjects. Her weekly column has recently discussed issues such as burkini bans, French military involvement in Libya and whether it is acceptable to sacrifice chickens, duck and geese.
According to an English translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) [admittedly unreliable – Aletho News ], Ms Al-Sharnoubi wrote: “Is it a coincidence that the commanders of the September 11 attack trained at American flight schools?”
“Is it conceivable that four hijacked planes flew around so freely, penetrated US airspace and hit the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon one by one, with an interval of 15 minutes and 30 minutes between the attacks,” she added.
“All this took place without the Americans targeting the planes and downing them, despite all their intelligence, satellites and radars?
“Or was the whole thing planned [in advance] in order to justify the war on terror, the [first] episode of which [later] began in Iraq?”
Ms Al-Sharnoubi also questioned the contents of ISIS propaganda videos, suggesting the militant group could be “another story that was prepared in advance [by the West] to justify the devastation, partitioning and occupation” of Middle Eastern countries.
“Does it make sense that most ISIS members are foreigners [i.e., Western nationals], unless ISIS is another story that was prepared in advance [by the West] to justify the devastation, partitioning and occupation [of countries] that is taking place and will continue to take place in the Middle East?” she wrote, according to Memri.
“Those who are murdered and [then] accused of perpetrating terror attacks in the West – are they the real culprits?
“[Perhaps Western] intelligence elements are behind the attacks and the bombings, and later Muslim citizens are arrested and killed and simply accused of perpetrating [the attacks] in order to justify what is happening in the Arab countries in the name of the war on terror, and in order to justify the plan to persecute the Muslims in the U.S. and Europe and expel them? Have we really been deceived, and continue to be deceived, to such an extent?!”
Egypt is listed as number 159 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.
According to the report, “journalists are obliged on national security grounds to report only the official version of ‘terrorist’ attacks” under an anti-terrorism law passed in 2015.
Thanks to American taxpayers, Israel has been receiving $3.1 billion in direct military aid each year, and under a new agreement signed this week that amount is set to rise to $3.8 annually. This is a hefty package and major news, but The New York Times has been oddly reticent about it, running a story on page 6 of the print edition and without fanfare online.
This is not a new phenomenon at the Times. Over the past year, as the United States and Israel have negotiated a new 10-year memorandum of understanding concerning military aid, readers have seen few references to the topic, and even with the signing of a new agreement this week, the newspaper maintains its minimalist approach.
The article by Peter Baker and Julie Hirschfeld Davis gives few details of the deal, instead proving a great deal of space to the state of U.S.-Israeli relations. The story reports that the present aid package (signed in 2007 and due to expire next year) amounts to “about $3 billion a year” with additional funds of up to $500 million a year authorized by Congress for missile defense.
We also learn that Israel made some concessions in negotiations, that this week’s deal is “the largest of its kind” and that Israel receives more U.S. money than any other country. But much is missing.
In fact, Israel gets more than half of all U.S. military aid ($3.1 billion out of a total of $5.9 billion), and Israel together with Egypt receives 75 percent of American foreign military assistance. Since the large allotment for Egypt is aimed at maintaining a non-threatening neighbor on Israel’s border, this could also be counted as indirect aid to Israel.
In fact Israel has been receiving well over $3.1 billion. By a conservative estimate, the United States has been giving the country $3.7 billion in direct aid annually with funds for immigrants to Israel, grants for American hospitals and schools, “joint defense projects” with the Department of Defense, and an early disbursement of aid.
The last item on that list refers to a special arrangement: In contrast to other recipients, Israel receives all its funds from the United States in one lump sum within the first month of the fiscal year. The money is then transferred to a Federal Reserve Bank interest-bearing account, allowing Israel to accrue some $15 million annually in interest.
Then there are other perks, such as loan guarantees, “cash flow financing,” and the right to purchase arms directly from companies rather than going through a Department of Defense review.
In addition, donations sent by Jewish and Christian groups to support settlements are tax-exempt. So every dollar donated to support the colonization of Palestinian land means the loss of at least 20 cents that should go into the U.S. treasury. This is an indirect subsidy to Israel that has cost American taxpayers an incalculable amount, at least some tens of millions of dollars.
The Times, however, has shown no interest in revealing the full extent of aid or of pursuing the arguments against pouring so much money into Israel. This week’s story mentions criticism of the aid agreement not until about three quarters into the text, and then it is reduced to three bland paragraphs with quotes from the representative of an anti-occupation organization.
In fact, the opposition goes well beyond such groups. A member of Congress, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), has asked the State Department to investigate Israeli military units for possible violations of the Leahy Act, which prohibits the dispersal of U.S. funds to groups that violate human rights with impunity.
In 2012, 15 leaders of major religious organizations wrote to Congress asking that military aid be made contingent on compliance with American law. Other groups have sponsored billboards in various areas of the country highlighting the incredible largesse the United States provides for Israel.
Moreover, a poll of Americans taken in 2014 revealed that 60 percent believed the United States gives too much aid to Israel, and of that group 34 percent said it received “much too much.” The percentage claiming that our aid package was excessive was even higher (65 percent) among Americans under 34.
Other commentators have noted that Israel is a wealthy country, with universal health care, and is less in need of help than American citizens who struggle to fund their schools, pay for prescription drugs and meet medical fees.
None of this debate appears in the Times, which seems determined to keep the subject well below the radar. Thus we find a lightweight story on the inside pages of the print edition, well behind a more prominent one about Syrian and Israeli skirmishes in the Golan Heights, and an uninformative one-minute video of the signing ceremony on the Middle East page.
Times readers are to remain ignorant of the full, unsavory story about U.S. aid to Israel. If the facts were fully reported, this might inspire unwelcome questions and pushback. Better to say as little as possible and allow Israel to keep collecting its yearly billions from American taxpayers.
Follow @TimesWarp on Twitter.
Odeh Bisharat, one of Haaretz’s few Israeli-Palestinian columnists (Sayeh Kashua is another), published an incisive article on what he calls “the end of the road” for Zionism. But the first paragraph, which comprised a quotation from David Ben Gurion (the full archival passage in Hebrew is here), really opened my eyes. At the first meeting of the Haganah military command after statehood was declared on May 15, 1948, he told the assembled leadership his strategic goals for the coming war. This grandiose vision dispels a long-standing claim by proponents of the Israel-as-victim view, who argue that Israel’s enemies have commenced all the wars against it and that the “Jewish state” has only acted in self-defense:
“We must immediately destroy Ramle and Lod. … We must organize Eliyahu’s brigade to direct it against Jenin in preparation for [conquering] the Jordan Valley. … Maklef needs to receive reinforcements and his role is the conquest of southern Lebanon, through bombing-support against Tyre, Sidon and Beirut. … Yigal Allon must strike Syria from the east and from the north. … We must establish a Christian state whose southern border will be the Litani [River]. We will forge an alliance with it. When we break the strength of the [Jordanian] Legion and bomb Amman we will eliminate Transjordan too, and then Syria falls. And if Egypt still dares to fight, we will bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo.
… That is how we will end the war – and make a reckoning on our forefathers behalf with Egypt, Assyria and Aramea.”
Pro-Israel advocates will chalk this up to the braggadocio of a national leader preparing the troops for battle. He offers them a vision full of victories and maximalist territorial gain. It cheers them for the difficult battle ahead. Defenders may argue that Ben Gurion had to have been realistic enough to know that the new state had little chance of achieving such objectives.
But in my reading of Ben Gurion, there are two separate personalities: one of the pragmatist who accepts half a loaf instead of the whole; the other the ambitious politico-military strategist harboring imperial visions of Israel’s future (including the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian inhabitants of the new state). But even the pragmatist is only pragmatic in the moment. Ben Gurion makes clear that his pragmatism is only temporary until Israel is in a position to realize its maximalist goals.
The irony here is that it is Israeli advocates who continually claim that conspiring Palestinian militants only accept Israel on an interim basis until they are powerful enough to eradicate it. Therefore, Israel may never trust such enemies and never make peace with them; because a knife in the back is the only future Israel can expect from them. We can see that it is Israel that the Arab states had reason to distrust.
Another bitter irony is the claim by Israel and anti-Iran forces in the U.S. and elsewhere, that Iran has a nefarious plan to spread Shia hegemony throughout the Middle East to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gulf region. In truth, Ben Gurion shows that Iran is a piker by comparison. He envisioned a Greater Israel not just from the river (Jordan) to the sea (Mediterranean), but a Davidic imperium spreading its influence from Syria to Egypt. Even those Arab states Israel permitted to remain would be little more than vassals of this new regional Goliath.
Just think how Ben Gurion’s successors implemented most of the strategic vision he proclaimed that day: a Christian state in southern Lebanon; the fall of Syria; Israeli bombardment of Arab capitals in Beirut, Damascus and elsewhere. The only elements of his plan that were unrealized (conquest of Jordan and the pacification of Egypt) weren’t necessary because both states sued for peace.
Today’s radical settlers, with their considerably ‘pared-down’ vision of a pure, racialist Judean state, rid of Palestinians, from the Jordan to the sea are inheritors of Ben Gurion’s legacy.
Bisharat quotes another telling statement from a pre-State Zionist leader who could be describing current Israeli strategy of sabotaging peace negotiations with the Palestinians. This was written in 1937:
“It turns out that we have put out our hand for peace, but took it back right away, when the other side expressed its interest in accepting it. This dangerous game did not help to raise our honor in their eyes as honest people, and the accusation that they blame us for, that we are conducting two-faced politics: On one hand we pretend as if we are asking for an agreement, and on the other hand we only want to gain time – is not baseless.”
This clearly explains Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech of 2009 in which he pretends to embrace a two-state solution (under severe pressure from the Bush administration to do so). The few times since when the Israeli leader has trotted out his affirmation of a two-state solution were times when he was under great duress and had to throw a sop to foreign interlocutors like the Obama administration. Clearly, Bibi’s heart is not in it, nor does he believe it.
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.”