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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

Russia Announcing Delivery of S-300 Missiles to Syria in Wake of Collapsed Talks with US

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Monday’s suspension of nuclear disarmament talks with the US over the latter’s challenge of Russian involvement in Ukraine and Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that it had delivered one battery of the air defense system S-300 to Syria.

“It is true that one battery of the S-300 air defense systems has been delivered to Syria. It is to provide protection for the naval logistics facility in Tartus and the Russian Navy’s task force,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters in Moscow.

Last year, Russia moved to Syria its newest air defense system S-400, and last March Putin announced that the S-400 systems and the short-range systems Pantsir-S1, a combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system, would remain on permanent combat duty in Syria.

As the website Liberty Unyielding noted Wednesday, “nothing about the fight against the rebels in Syria requires an S-300V4-enabled, full-scale land war according to Russian doctrine. Nothing about it requires the level of air defense represented by the S-400, for that matter. The rebels don’t have anything at all that requires bringing either system to the fight.” Instead, the same website contends, “the system is being put there to mark and hold Russian territory against the US, our most advanced allies, and (potentially, someday) China.”

The White House has been watching helplessly as Putin suspended the treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium. Over the past three decades, Russia and the US have signed a series of accords to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals. All that good work is being threatened now with Putin’s decree that suspended a 2000 agreement binding the two sides to dispose of surplus plutonium intended for use in nuclear weapons.

Asked by a reporter on Monday, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest admitted the Administration was “disappointed” by Putin’s move.

“The decision by the Russians to unilaterally withdraw from this commitment is disappointing, and the reason for that is that this agreement that went into force in 2011 pledged the disposal of thousands of nuclear weapons’ worth of plutonium,” Earnest stated, adding, “And this was an agreement that was reached by the United States and Russia because we’re the two countries that have the largest amount of this material and both leaders in Russia and the United States have made nonproliferation a priority. And certainly the United States is interested in limiting proliferation and trying to reduce the risk associated with potential nuclear terrorism. And again, we know that Russia’s leadership has recognized this risk. The United States has been steadfast since 2011 in implementing our side of the bargain, and we would like to see the Russians continue to do the same thing.”

Konashenkov responded to Earnest’s statement by saying the US “is to blame for the disruption of all September 9 ceasefire agreements on Syria and for letting the militants build up reserves again.” He continued: “It is the United States that has fallen through with a crash regarding the implementation of the September 9 ceasefire agreements. It failed to separate a single group of the so-called opposition from  [Al Qaeda offshoot] Jabhat al-Nusra, thus letting the terrorists regroup themselves and replenish reserves.”

“Isn’t it the right moment for our US counterparts to recognize in public that the whole opposition in Syria they have reared all along and still keep under control are part and parcel of the same ‘umbrella brands’ Al-Qaeda and Jabhat Al-Nusra?” Konashenkov asked, and invited Earnest “to come down to earth from the sky.”

The plutonium accord is not the cornerstone of post-Cold War US-Russia disarmament, according to Reuters, which suggests that the practical implications from the suspension of the deal will be limited. It comes down, instead, to “powerful symbolism.”

This also comes down to a growing realization in the West that President Obama, in his zeal to foment the “Arab Spring,” has enlarged the political vacuum created by President GW Bush in the Middle East, and with the current White House’s policy of avoiding at all cost a “boots on the ground” military intervention in Syria or Iraq, Putin’s Russia is never going to leave, regardless of who gets elected President come November. Putin is grabbing this opportunity offered by a reluctant Obama to flank the West and guarantee naval access in the Eastern Mediterranean.

So far, Putin has planted Russian troops in Syria, forged long term relations with Iran, flirted with Egypt and with Israel — which receive about $6 billion annually in US aid, and patched up his relations with Turkey, a NATO member.

And, as Sen. Pence mentioned in Tuesday night’s debate (although he was off by a couple trillions), Putin’s Russia managed these sound regional gains with a mere $1.3 trillion GDP, compared with the US’ $17.9 trillion GDP (which is 13.7 times stronger).

It could be time for extensive language courses for Washington officials, except this time it’s the optimists who will study Mandarin, while the pessimists will take up Russian.


Muslim Brotherhood Leader Shot and Killed by Security Force in Cairo

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

A key leader of the armed wing of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood was killed by security forces in Cairo, the Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry said in a statement that Mohamed Kamal, 61, was shot and killed Monday night in his apartment together with his aide, Yasser Shehata, Reuters reported.

Kamal had been sentenced in absentia to life in prison after being convicted on charges of establishing an armed group, and detonating an explosion near a police station. Shehata was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for assault and holding a citizen against his will in the Brotherhood headquarters.

According to the report, a lawyer representing the families of the two men told Reuters they both surrendered to police when they arrived at 6 pm Monday. A group of police stayed with the men at Kamal’s apartment while others reportedly went to search Shehata’s nearby apartment. At around 11:30 pm, ‘police concluded the search and shot the men… both Kamal and Shehata were shot in the head.’

The Muslim Brotherhood alleged on its social media accounts that Kamal had disappeared Monday afternoon, hours before the announcement of his death by the Egyptian Interior Ministry.

Kamal was accused of involvement in the June 2015 assassination of Egypt’s chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, the highest-ranking Egyptian official to be murdered in 25 years. He was also accused of attempting to assassinate former Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Goma’a in Cairo this past August. He also was a member of the Brotherhood’s top-level Guidance Bureau, and headed the Supreme Administrative Committee until this past May.

The Interior Ministry said in its statement security personnel raided the apartment Monday night after learning it was being used as a base for the Muslim Brotherhood. When the forces were met with gunfire they fired back, killing the two men.

The Muslim Brotherhood had been outlawed prior to the overthrow of the Mubarak regime, during the 2011 Arab Spring. Following the overthrow of Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi by the army in July 2014, the group was declared a terrorist organization.

The subsequent military government eventually led to a subsequent presidential election won a year after the takeover by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who formerly led the army.

Hana Levi Julian

Hamas PM Haniyeh Leaves Gaza on Hajj, With Trips to Qatar, Turkey

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Hamas de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh left Gaza on Monday with thousands of others, traveling through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian holy city of Mecca.

Egypt opened its sole crossing with Gaza for a three-day period to accommodate the Gaza residents who are traveling to Mecca for the annual Hajj.

However, according to the Hamas radio station the Gaza-based head of the terrorist organization is also making a couple of side trips while he is out of the region.

Haniyeh is taking the opportunity while he is abroad to visit Qatar and Turkey. There was no information on when he was expected to return from the trip, nor were there details on his agenda while in Doha and Ankara.

Hana Levi Julian

Egyptian Soldier Shot Dead by Sniper in Rafah

Monday, September 5th, 2016

An Egyptian soldier was killed Sunday afternoon by snipers in an ambush attack near a military base at the entrance to the Egyptian part of the city of Rafah.

When Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1982, Rafah was split into a Gazan part and an Egyptian part, separated by barbed-wire barriers. The middle of the city was razed to create a large buffer zone.

Egyptian security sources said Sunday the attack killed a soldier named Mustafa Badr Hashim, 19, years of Assiut, from a gunshot wound. His body was flown to the military hospital in El-Arish.

Meanwhile, according to the Hamas government, the Egyptians have kept the Rafah border crossings open all day Sunday and will keep it open Monday, to allow passage from the Gaza Strip into Egypt and on to Saudi Arabia for the Muslim pilgrimage. So far a reported 1,243 have been allowed through, while 51 were rejected. Thousands more are expected to request passage should the Egyptian government decide to keep the crossing open.

David Israel

Israel Envoy to Egypt David Govrin Presents Credentials, Begins Work in Cairo [video]

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Four years after a rioting mob did its best to destroy the Israel Embassy in Cairo and kill its staff, Israel’s 13th Ambassador to Egypt, David Govrin, formally presented his credentials on Wednesday to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The new Israeli ambassador to Egypt has produced an introductory YouTube video so the average Egyptian could get to know him “personally,” in the privacy of their own homes, as well as become more familiar with Israel’s feelings about its relationship with their country and people. The video includes subtitles in English.

Govrin, 53, joined the ambassadors of seven other nations, standing one behind the other in line in a ceremony at the presidential palace in Cairo, including new envoys from the United Arab Emirates and Somalia (with whom Israel has no diplomatic ties) as well as Netherlands, Myanmar, Mexico, Greece and Belgium. El-Sisi greeted the new envoys and wished them success, according to presidential spokesperson Ala’a Youssef.

Also present for the ceremony was Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who visited Israel last month. Cairo has been recently involved with Moscow in an effort to advance final status talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but thus far to no avail.

Govrin arrived in Cairo earlier this summer to set up his accommodations, having replaced his predecessor of two years, Haim Koren, on July 17. He served in the Cairo embassy in the 1990s as first secretary, and was named as the new envoy to Egypt last February following Koren’s request to return to Israel “for personal reasons.” Govrin served most recently as head of the Jordan and Morocco desk at Israel’s foreign ministry.

Although much has changed in Egypt over the past four years, the situation in some respects has remained much the same: the Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers who tore apart the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and supported the rise of President Mohammed Morsi, though today outlawed, nevertheless still attempt to overthrow el-Sisi.

The same elements also do what they can to assist the terrorist groups operating in the Sinai Peninsula, including those aligned with Al Qaeda and Da’esh (ISIS), among them the group today known as “Sinai Province,” formerly called Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis. In addition, other terrorist organizations also maintain bases in Sinai such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad — all committed to Israel’s destruction.

Hana Levi Julian

Egypt Opens Rafah-Gaza Crossing for Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Cairo has opened the sole land crossing between Egypt and Gaza on its border in the town of Rafah in order to allow Palestinian Authority Arabs to make their way to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The border crossing will be open this week from Tuesday through Thursday to facilitate the holy Islamic pilgrimage, Egyptian officials said, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.

Some 2,008 Gaza residents obtained visas to fly to Mecca from the Cairo airport for the ritual.

The crossing was last opened in early July, when 3,099 residents entered Egypt via the Rafah crossing during a five-day open period for “humanitarian purposes.”

The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, and a religious obligation for all adult Muslims that must be performed at least once in a lifetime by all who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey without causing undue hardship to their families during the process.

Muslims from around the world will be traveling on pilgrimage to Mecca for the Hajj, and millions had already arrived at the Grand Mosque by early Monday morning, with many have slept outside on the smooth white marble paving outside the massive house of worship in their simple white garments as prescribed for hajj.

Saudi authorities have warned they will forcefully stop any disruptions among the faithful that might erupt over the civil war raging in Syria, according to The Telegraph.

Hana Levi Julian

Peace With Egypt? Not Really

Friday, August 26th, 2016

The outstretched hand of Israeli Olympics judo competitor Uri Sasson, left alone in mid-air by his Egyptian opponent, reminds us all of something we have been trying to forget: Israel does not really have “peace” with Egypt. Currently, the interest of the military regime in Egypt is to cooperate with Israel. That is all. Interests, as we know, change all the time.

Israel paid dearly for peace with Egypt. We destroyed a thriving Israeli city and an entire region of agricultural villages. We surrendered all of our strategic gains from the Six-Day War. We retreated from the entire Sinai Peninsula, surrendered oil (and uranium) deposits, and, to top it all off, we now have ISIS just a stone’s throw away from Eilat. This “peace” has not improved our security or geo-political situation. Just the opposite.

Without the “peace” agreement with Egypt, U.S. armaments and aid would not have flowed freely to Egypt and the last significant army in our neighborhood would have melted away (like the Syrian army) between the 50-year-old rusting tanks and Soviet jets.

Israel’s security situation on the border with Syria, with which we never signed a peace accord, is much better than the situation on Egypt’s border – where we paid a steep price in lives lost and where we continue to pay from time to time.

“Poor Begin,” said Sadat. “I got the entire Sinai and all that he got is a piece of paper…”

True peace with Israel’s enemies within our land and outside it is not a territorial issue. It goes much deeper than that. The Arabs regard us as European colonialists. As long as we do not connect to our identity, they will continue to see us as a foreign entity in the Land. Justifiably so.

Moshe Feiglin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/peace-with-egypt-not-really/2016/08/26/

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