July 1, 2013
Egyptian military issues ultimatum, praises protests
Egyptian Military Officers
The Egyptian military on Monday termed Sunday’s mass protests calling for President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster “glorious” and issued an ultimatum, giving the Islamist president and his opponents 48 hours to reach agreement.
The statement, announced on state TV, said that should the two sides fail to break the impasse, the armed forces “would have to announce a new road map for the future, and will enforce certain measures with the help of all factions including the youth,” the Egyptian English daily Al Ahram reported.
Army gives Cairo politicians 48 hours to meet “people’s demands” – implying option of military takeover
Egypt’s Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi Monday, July 1, gave the country’s politicians 48 hours to “meet the people’s demands” and agree on an inclusive road map, failing which it was implied the army would step in and assume power. He spoke after protesters smashed Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo and four ministers quit the Morsi cabinet. The Brotherhood responded with a statement of its intention to set up “self-defense units” to combat opposition “rebel units” – taking Egypt closer to violence and a protracted civil conflict.
Four Egyptian ministers resign from Mursi’s cabinet after protests
Egypt’s tourism, environment, communication and legal affairs ministers on Monday submitted their resignations a day after huge protests against embattled President Mohammed Mursi, according to a senior government official quoted by AFP.
Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Khaled Abdel-Aal, Communication and Information Technology Minister Atef Helmi, Minister of State for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Hatem Bagato handed their resignation letters at the same time to Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, the official said.
Muslim Brotherhood vows action after Cairo headquarters attacked
The armed men who ransacked the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo on Monday had crossed a red line of violence, the ruling movement told Reuters, adding that it was considering action to defend itself.
Gehad El-Haddad, spokesman of the Islamist movement, told Reuters in a telephone interview that Egyptians would not sit by and tolerate attacks on their institutions.
Syria: Egypt’s Brotherhood model a failure
The Muslim Brotherhood has proven a failure in Egypt, Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said on Monday, as Egyptian protesters demonstrated for a second consecutive day against Islamist President Mohammed Mursi.
“It is clear the Muslim Brotherhood is incapable…of running the state in Egypt. Their model has failed for ever,” Zohbi said at a press conference broadcast by Syrian state television.
GCC calls for urgent U.N. meeting to prevent Homs massacre
Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) called for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting to prevent a massacre from taking place in the Syrian central city of Homs.
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, along with Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, have been battling rebels – most of whom are Sunni Muslims – for the past three days in Homs, which is a strategic center point as it is on the road linking Damascus to the coast.
NGO: Homs Rebels Resist Syria Army Onslaught
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops pressed a fierce three-day assault against rebels in the central city of Homs on Monday but failed to make any new advances, a watchdog and activists said.
Fighting between rebels and regime loyalists raged on the edges of insurgent-held districts, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syria at risk of becoming ‘open-air prison’ as neighbors close borders, rights group warns
BEIRUT – Syria’s neighbors have closed or tightened restrictions at several border crossings, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded within Syria’s dangerous frontier regions, Human Rights Watch said Monday.
It said Iraq, Jordan and Turkey had all restricted the flow of people trying to flee a conflict which has killed 100,000 people and, according to the United Nations, has already driven 1.7 million more to take sanctuary outside Syria.
Report: Jordan Air Force captain joins Syria jihadists
A Jordanian air force captain has allegedly “deserted” and joined Syria’s jihadist al-Nusra Front to fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, a member of his family and a Salafist leader said on Monday.
“Ahmad Atallah Shbeib al-Majali, born in 1984, took a leave from his job last Wednesday and travelled to Turkey on Friday and from there he went to Syria to join the rebels,” the family member told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Iran’s Top Commander Warns against Sending Weapons to Syrian Rebels
“Today, Muslim scholars and the innocent people of Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya are targeted with these weapons, but this flame will also engulf the westerners,” Firouzabadi, who is the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, said on Sunday.
The Iranian commander said the West has created an organized and unstable army under the command of unknown people and must take responsibility for the chaos and bloodshed resulting from sending weapons to Northern Syria.
U.S. diplomat blasts Hezbollah over role in Syria war
BEIRUT A senior American official on Monday denounced Hezbollah for its involvement in Syria’s civil war and said the Lebanese militant group’s actions place the future of Lebanon at risk.
The comments from Deputy Secretary of State William Burns were the first by a high-ranking visiting U.S. official since Hezbollah helped propel President Bashar Assad’s troops to victory in the strategic Syrian town of Qusair near the Lebanese border last month.
U.N. in Talks with Europeans on ‘Serious’ Gap in Golan Force
The United Nations is “seriously concerned” about its shrinking peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights and is seeking to recruit troops from Europe to fill the gap, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday.
The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), based on the tense border between Syria and Israel, has seen its numbers dwindle to around 530 from 1,050 after Japan and Croatia withdrew their contingents.
Gunmen kill 8 former anti-Qaeda fighters in Iraq
Gunmen dressed in military uniforms kidnapped eight former anti-Qaeda fighters from their homes north of Baghdad and killed them execution-style on Monday, officials said.
The murders come amid a series of attacks against the Sunni Arab tribal militia in recent days, and as Iraq grapples with a protracted political deadlock and months of protests by the Sunni community.
Violence Surges in Iraq as Rows Persist
More than 2,500 people were killed in Iraq in the past three months, U.N. figures showed on Monday, a surge of violence that has fanned fears the politically-deadlocked country is slipping back into all-out bloodshed.
The toll comes as the country grapples with months of protests by the Sunni Arab minority, tensions along a swathe of disputed territory in north Iraq and a protracted political standoff that has left key pieces of legislation unresolved.
Israel Air Force holds drills in Bulgaria against advanced air defense systems
The Israel Air Force has held large-scale exercises in Bulgaria in recent weeks to practice against the threat of advanced air defense systems. The Bulgarian air force took part.
An unnamed senior air force official said recent exercises in general were bearing in mind “the axis known as Iran-Hezbollah-Syria. We’re preparing for what a multifront scenario could mean.”