MENA Mashup: Egypt, Davos, Geneva II, House of Saud, and Israel
It’s been a bloody couple of days in Egypt…
At least 29 people were killed and 167 others injured on Saturday during clashes between supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and security forces in different parts of the country, the health ministry’s media spokesman said in a statement.
“The victims were killed in the governorates of Cairo, Giza, Alexandria and Menia,” Ahmed Kamel said in the statement, noting the injured were from the said governorates in addition to Fayoum, Ismailia, Assiut and Beni Sweif.
Meanwhile, two blasts targeting police premises hit Cairo and Suez governorate on Saturday, killing a little child and injuring nine people.
Amid tight security measures, thousands of Egyptians took to streets across the country on Saturday to mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Meanwhile, the police fired tear gas and birdshots to disperse several pro-Morsi marches led by the Muslim Brotherhood, currently blacklisted by the interim government as a “terrorist group.”
Earlier in the day, several Brotherhood supporters were injured and dozens others were arrested.
On Friday, a string of explosions rocked Cairo, killing six people and wounding about 100 others, while some 15 people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters nationwide.
Moving along to Davos and Geneva II…
Talk about your righteous hypocrisy…
Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former intelligence chief and an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s administration since it started secret nuclear talks with Iran, said the world was disappointed with the “sense of no direction” in U.S. foreign policy.
“I want the Americans to go to the Security Council and get a resolution that forces should be deployed to stop the fighting in Syria,” he told the World Economic Forum in Davos. “If that is not available, then at least a humanitarian corridor to allow people not to starve.”
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have backed the main Sunni Muslim opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army with weapons, training, money and military intelligence in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Iran has been one of Assad’s biggest supporters in a conflict that has killed more than 130,000 Syrians and forced more than 2 million to flee.
Western countries have so far held back from providing rebels with heavy arms such as anti-tank weapons and missile launchers for fear they could fall into the wrong hands.
Prince Turki said Iraqi militia and Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah fighters outnumbered radical Sunni militants fighting in Syria.
“I’m not saying Sunnis should go fight,” he said. “You have to get these (Shi’ite) people out. The only way to do it is by a concerted international effort led by the United States and supported by the U.S. allies to force these people to stop the fighting.”
Rupert’s rag, the WSJ, had this to add…
All Foreign Fighters Should Exit Syria, They Say at Panel in Davos
…The panel at the World Economic Forum was sponsored and moderated by al-Arabiya, a news channel known for it’s pro-Saudi stance, which is owned and controlled by a prominent Saudi businessman.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have a long rivalry for regional dominance as each is viewed as the custodian of Islam’s two main sects, with Saudi Arabia predominantly Sunni, and Iran predominantly Shiite.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif denied that his country was meddling in Syria and sending fighters to sustain President Bashar al-Assad. He said even without Iran’s help, Mr. Assad would stay in power.
He reiterated Iran’s position that the conflict in Syria must end with a political resolution and said both Sunni and Shiite fighters must leave the country and let Syrians determine their own fate.
“I can ask all foreign forces to withdraw…to allow the Syrian people to decide their own future,” Mr. Zarif said.
The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed the Syrian regime for creating the civil war. He said the uprising against the government started with peaceful protests and Mr. Assad’s regime was the first to use brutal force.
“Turkey wants all non-Syrians to leave Syria today. There should not be experts from other states, no assistance to the regime that has become a killing machine,” said Mr. Davutoglu.
Iran’s influence and Syria’s war dominated the talk with the moderator, a reporter for al-Arabiya, who appeared to steer the discussion to Arab-Iranian and Sunni-Shiite tensions.
For example, the moderator repeatedly highlighted the role of Shiite Hezbollah fighters in Syria and Iran supporting Mr. Assad’s regime with money and weapons. Turkey was also put on the spot for allowing foreign Islamist fighters to cross the border into Syria. Iraqi Kurdistan was questioned about its role in transfer of arms to opposition forces.
But the moderator didn’t mention the central role that Sunni Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, have played in funding and arming Syrian opposition forces including the extremists linked with al Qaeda.
Now, lest you forgot about our own perfidy, from b at MOA…
US Senator John McCain and Alexei Pushkov, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Committee for International Affairs have clashed over policy towards Syria during a live TV debate.
Watching the short clip at the BBC site one can hear McCain say the following (at 1:48):
We all know what happened in Syria. We were winning and then, of course, 5,000 Hizbollah came in …
Interestingly, I did find a ray of hope for the beleaguered Syrians out of Switzerland…Swiss Spring for Syrian Refugees Passes
Moving along to Israel, I’m absolutely positive this will be a big hit with all Muslims…
From the ever-deluded, Bibi…
In an interview during the 44th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland (January 22-25, 2014), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned that the current Arab regimes share the same concerns as Israel regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the spread of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Referring to current Arab governments, Netanyahu said “They don’t see Israel as their enemy. But in many ways – if not allies – as their partners in holding back these two threats.”
“This is a shift. This is a point in time where we could get more Arab support for a reasoned solution between Israel and the Palestinians than we had before, principally because they really want to have a partnership with all the countries in the middle east against these real threats,” Netanyahu added.
Funny how even Bibi’s constituents aren’t buying it…!
The Palestinians certainly aren’t…
Palestinian Arabs on Saturday held demonstrations in opposition to peace negotiations with Israel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework proposal that will serve as the basis for future negotiations.
The Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported that the demonstrations were organized by leftist groups in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and were held in Hevron and Shechem.
The demonstrations claimed Kerry’s proposals were intended to “liquidate the question of Palestine and prolong the Israeli occupation.”
Kerry is expected to announce a framework proposal to guide ongoing negotiations between Israel and the PA within the coming days.
In wrapping up, Gareth Porter wrote a great article… U.S. “Dismantling” Rhetoric Ignores Iran’s Nuclear Proposals
Here’s a great overview… Terrorism, nationalism and neoliberalism
And one last tidbit… Afghan president says U.S. should start talks with Taliban or leave