Tag Archive: Sharm el-Sheikh

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Wednesday brought a veritable smorgasbord of “new” information about the Russian passenger jet which fell out of the sky above the Sinai Peninsula last weekend.

First there was an audio recording from ISIS’ Egyptian affiliate reiterating that they did indeed “down” the plane. Next, the ISIS home office in Raqqa (or Langley or Hollywood) released a video of five guys sitting in the front yard congratulating their Egyptian “brothers” on the accomplishment.

Then the UK grounded air traffic from Sharm el-Sheikh noting that the plane “may well” have had an “explosive device” on board.

Finally, US media lit up with reports that according to American “intelligence” sources, ISIS was probably responsible for the crash.

Over the course of the investigation, one question that’s continually come up is whether militants could have shot the plane down. Generally speaking, the contention that ISIS (or at least IS Sinai) has the technology and/or the expertise to shoot down a passenger jet flying at 31,000 feet has been discredited by “experts” and infrared satellite imagery.

But that’s nothing the CIA can’t fix.

With the Pentagon now set to deploy US ground troops to Syria (and indeed they may already be there, operating near Latakia no less), Washington is reportedly bolstering the supply lines to “moderate” anti-regime forces at the urging of (guess who) the Saudis and Erdogan.

Incredibly, some of the weapons being passed out may be shoulder-fire man-portable air-defense systems, or Manpads, capable of hitting civilian aircraft. 



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Sherif el-Hagaty (left) coordinates the Tamarod campaign in Cairo’s Kobri el Kobba district. (Photo: Perrine Mouterde)
© Perrine Mouterde

Millions of Egyptians have signed up to the Tamarod – or rebellion – campaign, which is calling for an early presidential election to mark President Mohammed Morsi’s first anniversary in office on June 30.

By FRANCE 24 (video)
Perrine MOUTERDE reporting from Cairo (text)

A group of around 30 demonstrators line a street in the Kobri el Kobba district of Cairo, holding up posters that say “Tamarod” – or rebellion in Arabic. In the thick of Cairo’s traffic, passing motorists honk to show their support for the cause.

Walaa, a young demonstrator dressed in a flowing all-black cloak and veil noted that a year ago she voted for Mohamed Morsi in the first presidential election after the fall of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak.

Residents of Kobri el Kobba display their support for the Tamarod campaign. (Photo: Perrine Mouterde)

“Since then, nothing has changed – nothing,” says the single, unemployed young woman. “The situation is even worse, both internally and in our external relations. The Muslim Brotherhood listens to the people when they need their votes and then they forget about us. They have divided Egyptians.”

Disappointed by the government, Walaa now supports the Tamarod campaign.
Launched in early May by a group of young people – including a few members of Kefaya, one of Egypt’s oldest opposition movements – Tamarod is a signature campaign calling for an early presidential election since, the organisers claim, Morsi has lost the trust of the Egyptian people.

Over the past few weeks, the movement has spread quickly across the country.

The petition, which is available on the Internet, has been printed and photocopied by volunteers, who collect signatures at traffic intersections, markets and metro stations in Cairo and other towns and cities. Several opposition parties have also opened their premises to the campaign and have mobilised their members. Tamarod organising committees have been formed in towns and cities such as Ismailia, in eastern Egypt, and Kafr Zayat, a city 90 kilometers north of Cairo.

On the movement’s Facebook page, which at last count had nearly 400,000 fans, activists post pictures of signatories from Aswan, in southern Egypt, to Sharm El Sheikh, in the Sinai.

The organizers say they have already collected nearly 15 million signatures. That’s 2 million more than the 13 million voters who handed Morsi a slim 52% victory in the June 2012 run-off vote against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak.

‘There is no work, no security, no state’

In the Kobri el Kobba district of Cairo, Fahed Hosni, 22, fills out the Tamarod form, supplying his name, national identity card number and governorate. “Mohamed Morsi is not the right person to lead the country,” he explains. “He has not delivered on any of the demands of the revolution.”

The Tamarod petition calls for an early presidential election. (Photo: Perrine Mouterde)

Signing the petition on the hood of a car, Haifat Anwar Habib agrees. “Anyone could do better than Morsi,” he notes. “The Muslim Brotherhood is not interested in doing what is best for Egypt, but to establish their Islamist project.”

Like many Egyptians, Habib finds daily life getting harder each day. Egyptian authorities are still awaiting a $4.8 million IMF loan, which was agreed in principle two years ago.

Negotiations for the loan have run into repeated snags, with the IMF calling for more robust reforms. With economic growth down from a pre-2011 average of 7% to around 2% after the uprising, plummeting foreign reserves, rising unemployment and inflation, Egypt’s economy has been battered and is only being kept afloat by loans from Qatar and other regional states.

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Fears of a civil war growing as Egyptians prepare for day of reckoning over Mohamed Morsi

Seven die, hundreds are injured, as rivals organise massive rallies on anniversary of president’s rule

Egypt protest 2013 Mohamed Morsi supporters

Supporters of President Mohamed Morsi shout anti-opposition slogans outside the Rabia el-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo, not far from the presidential palace, on Saturday. Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP

Egypt‘s leading Islamic institution has warned of a possible civil war as clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi spread across the country on Saturday – exactly a year after his inauguration as the first democratically elected president.

Egypt’s fate feels as uncertain as at any point since the 2011 uprising, which toppled Hosni Mubarak, with repeated rumours of military intervention.

At least eight people have died and more than 600 have been injured in fighting between Morsi’s Islamist allies – who argue that his democratic legitimacy should be respected – and his often secular opponents, who say that he has not shown respect for the wider values on which a successful democracy depends.

But with at least four attacks nationwide on offices of the Muslim Brotherhood – the Islamist group from which Morsi hails – divisions are being increasingly drawn on ideological grounds. Anger is directed not just at Morsi, but at the Brotherhood, which is considered a partner in his eventual aim of restructuring the state along more religious lines. A former Brotherhood MP was killed in fighting earlier in the week.

The US has warned its citizens to defer non-essential travel to Egypt and told non-emergency diplomatic staff to leave. Cairo’s main airport was crammed on Saturday, with all international flights reportedly fully booked.

“We’re here to bring down the Murshid’s regime,” said Saad el-Aswany, a builder from Aswan attending an anti-Morsi protest in Tahrir Square. The Murshid is the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader, and members of the opposition think his office is the real power behind Morsi’s throne. “Banish the Murshid and all who are with him,” shouted thousands alongside him, many waving Egyptian flags.

Five miles away, hundreds of thousands were waving the same national flag – but with a different vision of what it represented. “Islam, Islam,” chanted those who had descended on the capital to support their president. “Islam in spite of liberalism.”

“I’m here for Islamic law first, and democracy second,” said Moustapha Sabry, a maths teacher who follows the strict Salafi form of Islam.

Cairo remained relatively calm on Saturday as tens of thousands of people, both supporters and opponents of Morsi, were engaged in relatively peaceful sit-ins. But with deaths in several provincial cities, there are mounting fears over stability — especially since Morsi’s opponents have promised to mobilise millions on Sundayto force him from office. Protest organisers said a petition calling on Morsi to quit had collected 22 million signatures, although the figure, which amounts to 40% of the electorate, could not be verified.

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Tamarod surpasses 22 million signatures

  /   June 29, 2013

The group proposes a six-month transitional road map

The Tamarod campaign announced on Saturday that they had collected over 22 million signatures in their petition campaign to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsi and hold early presidential elections in a press conference. (Photo by Aaron T. Rose)

The Tamarod campaign announced on Saturday that they had collected over 22 million signatures in their petition campaign to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsi and hold early presidential elections in a press conference.
(Photo by Aaron T. Rose)

By: Salma Abdullah

The Tamarod campaign announced on Saturday that they had collected over 22 million signatures in their petition campaign to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsi and hold early presidential elections in a press conference.

“The president lost his legitimacy when he didn’t follow the law or the constitution and when he put the interests of his group before those of the Egyptians,” said Tamarod founding member Mohamed Abdel- Aziz .

The group proposed a six-month transitional road map where they hand power to an independent prime minister who would head a technocratic government. The head of the constitutional court would be assigned the duties of the president, but with limited powers, until holding presidential elections.

The statement added that the National Defence Council would have the authority to fulfil its national security responsibility towards the country.

Tamarod spokesperson Mahmoud Badr said that they would close all Tamarod branches and their headquarters would instead be located in the squares all over the country, adding that they would release a statement everyday at 10 pm detailing what is happening around the country.

Badr said that the 30 June protests are a continuation of the 25 January revolution. “Tamarod wouldn’t be the leader, it is the Egyptian people who will lead us,” Badr added.

Badr asked people to participate in 30 June protests saying, “The petitions without the sit-ins and protests would be useless.”

The starting points of the 30 June marches include marches in Heliopolis, Shubra, Nasr City, Ein Shams and Al-Matareya that will head to the Presidential Palace, while marches from Mostafa Mahmoud mosque, Haram and Giza will head to Tahrir Square.

Badr condemned any attempts to drag people into violence and accused the Brotherhood of using violence in the past saying that, “Egyptians wouldn’t fear their terrorism.”

Nadia Henry, a former Shura member, announced the resignation of eight members from the Shura council, stating, “We have decided to be on the people’s side from the very beginning,” she said. She added that they stood against the draft judiciary law, and supported the ministry of culture sit-in from the first day.

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Nine Egyptian MPs resign ahead of anti-Morsi protests

Members of the Egyptian Shura Council attend a meeting in Cairo. (file photo)

Members of the Egyptian Shura Council attend a meeting in Cairo. (file photo)
Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:17PM GMT
Nine secular Egyptian MPs have resigned from the acting parliament ahead of Sunday’s demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi.

The MPs said on Saturday that they had resigned from the Shura Council, the upper house of Egyptian bicameral parliament, in support of the Egyptian people, Ahram Online reported.

The Shura Council took over legislative duties after parliament was dissolved in June 2012 by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the country’s then ruling military council.

According to Shura Council speaker Ahmed Fahmy, a number of other MPs also reigned but their resignations are yet to be accepted.

In a televised address on June 26, Morsi said the polarization of the country’s political life is “threatening to paralyze” Egypt.

He acknowledged that he had made some mistakes during his first year in office but called for national reconciliation, saying that he was open to cooperating with the opposition on constitutional reform.

On June 27, Egypt’s main opposition coalition — the National Salvation Front (NSF) — rejected the president’s offer and called instead for early elections.

The NSF claimed that Morsi had failed to take responsibility for the country’s deep political polarization and failed economy.

The opposition group Tamarod (Arabic for Rebellion) has called for mass demonstrations on Sunday, which marks Morsi’s first year in office, to demand his resignation and early presidential elections.

Several political groups say the government is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The opposition also accuses Morsi of deviating from the 2011 revolution that toppled the Western-backed regime of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi’s supporters, however, say the president is cleansing Egyptian institutions of corruption but he needs time to realize the ideals of the 2011 revolution.

“We gave them a chance to lead a reconciliation but they didn’t. The resignation comes to support the popular trend in Egypt,” said MP Mona Makram Ebeid, who resigned on Saturday.

Ihab al-Kharatt, the head of the human rights council at the Shura Council, said some 22 deputies had quit.

“We resigned in support of 22 million Egyptians who withdrew their confidence from Morsi,” Kharatt stated, referring to a petition launched by the opposition group Tamarod which says it has gathered 22 million signatures to demand Morsi’s ouster and a snap presidential election.



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Two missiles were reportedly fired at a Russian plane with at least 159 passengers on board that was flying over Syrian territory. Russian officials admit the jet faced danger, but are not talking of a targeted attack.

The news broke in on Monday as Interfax, citing “an informed source in Moscow,” reported that a Russian passenger plane was attacked.

Syrian [officials] informed us that on Monday morning, unidentified forces launched two ground-to-air missiles which exploded in the air very close to a civilian aircraft belonging to a Russian airline,” the source told the Russian agency.

The pilots reportedly managed to maneuver the plane in time however, “saving the lives of passengers.”

It is believed the aircraft was intentionally targeted, “but it remains unclear whether the attackers knew it was Russian or not,” the source added.

However, Russian officials, though admitting the plane might have been endangered, are not yet talking of a targeted attack.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s said on its website the plane’s crew at 4.55 PM Moscow time (12.55 GMT) “detected battle action on the ground that, according to the crew, could constitute a threat to the 159 passengers on board the plane.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry is now “taking emergency measures to clarify all the circumstances of this situation, including making contact with the Syrian authorities,” the ministry’s spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said.

The plane that was allegedly targeted belonged to Nordwind Airlines – a Russian charter air carrier – and was identified as an Airbus A320. On April 29 it was en route to the city of Kazan, in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan, from Egypt’s resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Airbus A320 specifications
Cockpit crew: 2
Seating capacity: up to 180
Length: 37.57 m
Wingspan: 34.10 m
Operating empty weight: 42,600 kg
Cruising speed: 828 km/h
Maximum speed: 871 km/h
Maximum range: 5,900 km
Service ceiling: 12,000 m

So far, there are no grounds to claim that the aircraft became a target of a missile attack, experts say.

It was flying over a mountainous area in Syria when one of the pilots noticed “flashes on the ground.” After that, to keep safe, it was decided to increase the height of the flight, Irina Tyurina, a spokeswoman for Russian Union of Tourist Industry told RIA Novosti.


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Russian Authorities Caution Against Flights Over ‘War Zones’

RIA Novosti

Situation in Syria

Situation in Syria

© AFP 2013/ Zac Baillie

04:00 30/04/2013


MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russian aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia has urged all Russian airlines to suspend until further notice the flights over countries that are currently caught in military conflicts, following a report of “hostilities” against a Russian passenger plane flying over Syria.

Rosaviatsia said that the crew of an A320 plane belonging to [Russian charter airline] NordWind Airlines “spotted signs of combat activities which, they believed, could pose a threat to the safety of the plane.”

The plane with 159 passengers onboard was flying early on Monday from Egypt’s resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to the city of Kazan, in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan, where it landed safely later in the day.

“Taking into account recommendations by the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO]…Rosaviatsia deems it necessary to recommend that the Russian airlines suspend the flights of passenger planes, including those in transit flights, over the territory of countries where combat actions are taking place,” the agency said in a statement.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has vowed to take urgent steps to investigate and clarify the report, while the Syrian authorities have denied so far any knowledge of “suspicious” activities that might indicate a targeted attack on a Russian plane.