Cairo Now Looks Like Damascus One Year Ago—National Emergency Declared

Egypt declares national emergency

Egypt forces assault protest camp, many scores shot dead

Reuters

The BBC’s Hugh Sykes in Cairo witnessed a protester trying to stop a tank in its tracks “like Tiananmen Square”

Egypt has declared a month-long state of emergency after scores of people were killed when security forces stormed protest camps in Cairo.

 

The camps had been occupied by supporters of former president Mohammed Morsi, who was deposed in early July.

 

State media say the security forces are now in control of the two main camps.

 

The health ministry says 149 people were killed – but the Muslim Brotherhood, which was behind the protests, says more than 2,000 died.

 

The state of emergency is scheduled to last for a month. It imposes a curfew in Cairo and several other provinces between 19:00 local time (17:00 GMT) and 06:00.

 

 

The measure was taken because the “security and order of the nation face danger due to deliberate sabotage, and attacks on public and private buildings and the loss of life by extremist groups,” the presidency said in a statement.

 

Vice-President Mohammed El Baradei has announced his resignation from the interim government in the wake of the violence.

 

“I cannot continue in shouldering the responsibility for decisions I do not agree with and I fear their consequences. I cannot shoulder the responsibility for a single drop of blood,” he said in a statement.

Bloodshed

Armoured bulldozers moved deep into the main protest camp outside Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque shortly after dawn on Wednesday morning.

 

Officials say another protest camp, at Nahda Square, has been cleared and a mopping-up operation in the surrounding streets was under way.

 

Reporters described wounded protesters being treated next to the dead in makeshift field hospitals.

 

The 17-year-old daughter of leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed el-Beltagy was among the dead, reports say. Asmaa el-Beltagy was shot in the back and chest, her brother said.

 

A cameraman working for Sky News, Mick Deane, has also been killed – as has a reporter for Gulf News, Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz.

 

At the scene

Shortly before seven in the morning, from a street corner near the Rabaa mosque encampment, I watched the raid begin.

An armoured military bulldozer drove down towards the barricades on the edges of the encampment. The bulldozer pushed its way through rows of bricks and sandbags. Pro-Morsi protesters responded by throwing stones and burning tyres.

At the same time, riot police in armoured personnel carriers advanced through nearby streets. For more than two hours I heard the crack of live ammunition. The sharp bangs were accompanied by the deeper thud of tear gas explosions.

For a while, it was hard to breathe without a gas mask. Some local residents held handkerchiefs to their faces – and watched the police deployment from their balconies.

 

The White House condemned the bloodshed, saying it “runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation”.

 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged “all Egyptians to concentrate their efforts on promoting genuinely inclusive reconciliation”, his spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

 

There are also reports of unrest elsewhere in Egypt.

 

  • About 35 people have died in clashes in the province of Fayoum, south of Cairo, Reuters news agency says.
  • At least five people have been killed in the province of Suez, according to the health ministry.
  • Clashes have also been reported in the northern provinces of Alexandria and Beheira, and the central provinces of Assiut and Menya
  • Hundreds are said to have gathered outside the governor’s office in Aswan in the south
  • State news agency Mena says three churches were attacked, one in the city of Sohag with a large number of Coptic Christian residents

 

It is still unclear how many casualties were caught up in the two Cairo operations. Figures differ widely and have been impossible to verify independently.

 

BBC Arabic’s Khaled Ezzelarab says he counted at least 50 bodies at the makeshift hospitals around Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. He said the injured were too numerous to count.

 

The health ministry has issued an official death toll of 95.

 

The interior ministry earlier denied any deaths were caused by its forces firing live ammunition.

 

“Security forces used only tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters though it was heavily fired at by armed elements from inside the two protest camps, causing the death of an officer and a conscript and the injury of four policemen and two conscripts,” the ministry said in a statement.

 

The government had congratulated the security forces on their operation.

 

In a televised statement, a government spokesman praised their “self-restraint” and spoke of the “smaller number” of injuries among protesters.

 

The government would decisively confront attempts to attack state buildings and police stations, he said.

 

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Syrian PYD Kurdish Leader Returns for Second Round of Talks with Turkish Intelligence

[SEE:  (Turkish Intelligence) MIK + PKK = PYD (Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria)]

Syrian Kurd leader back in Turkey

hurriyet

 

ANKARA

 

 

Clashes continue between PYD and al-Nusra fighters along Turkey’s Syrian border. AFP Photo

Clashes continue between PYD and al-Nusra fighters along Turkey’s Syrian border. AFP Photo

The leader of the main Kurdish group in northern Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), has reportedly returned to Turkey for talks with Turkish officials, in his second visit in less than a month.
The Turkish government had expressed strong concerns about the imposition of a de facto autonomous region in northern Syria after the PYD, which is affiliated to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), increased its control in the area.

While underlining that there was no problem in Ankara in holding talks with PYD leader Salih Muslim, Turkish officials declined to specify an exact date for the imminent arrival of the Kurdish politician. However, Fırat news agency, which is known to have close links to the PKK, reported that Muslim has arrived in Turkey.

“There is no date requested from us by the PYD for holding the next meeting. Still, they may convey this request right after this conversation; it may be too imminent as there is no problem for us in holding talks with the PYD leader. When and if he comes to Turkey, he will be holding talks with officials from the Foreign Ministry and MİT [the National Intelligence Organization],” a Turkish diplomatic source told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Noting that it would be better to elaborate on the agenda and the content of the meeting with Muslim only after the meeting occurs, the same diplomatic source said nobody should look for a specific item on the agenda of the meeting.

“Nobody should behave as if the PYD is the only Kurdish group in Syria that the Turkish government has been talking to. Our contacts with several Syrian Kurdish groups and parties have been going on at different levels,” the source said, while admitting that the traffic between Ankara and the PYD had become more visible in recent weeks given the clashes between Kurds and al-Qaeda-linked fighters.

The People’s Defense Units (YPG), PYD’s armed wing, has been engaged in a violent fight with the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front since mid-July, gaining control of the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn, across from the Turkish town of Ceylanpınar.

Muslim said the possible discussion topics would include humanitarian aid to northern Syria, the opening of border gates and other issues concerning the region. “We are already in dialogue with Turkey. We discussed some topics and they are still on the agenda. We will surely touch on these,” Muslim told Anadolu Agency. “Talking with the leader of the PYD is a major change in our point of view.

Parties that have interests in Syria have reviewed their policies,” he said, adding that they had no secret agenda.

Ankara has three expectations from the PYD: take a clear stance against the Syrian regime, against the PKK, and not imposing conditions, such as autonomous rule, for the future of Syria already at this stage.

Mumbai dock horror: Sailors die after explosion sinks Indian Navy submarine

Mumbai dock horror: Sailors die after explosion sinks Indian Navy submarine

Sub had similar incident in 2010, returned from upgrade in Russia earlier this year

Eighteen Indian sailors were trapped and some were killed after an explosion and fire on a diesel-powered submarine berthed at a base in Mumbai on Wednesday, souring a week of naval milestones, including the launch of a locally built aircraft carrier.

INS Sindhurakshak returned to India’s Navy after undergoing repairs and modernization at a shipyard in Russia. (YouTube)

Defence Minister A.K. Antony said crew members inside the Russian-built INS Sindhurakshak had died. He gave no details.

The explosion just after midnight was likely an accident ,but an investigation was under way to establish the cause, the navy said.

“There are some people who are trapped on board, we are in the process of trying to rescue them,” said navy spokesman PVS Satish. “We will not give up until we get to them.”

(Reuters)

Photos distributed by social media users appeared to show a large fireball over the navy dock where the kilo-class diesel-electric submarine was berthed.

The incident, the worst ever for the navy’s sub-surface arm, raised memories of the explosion on the Russian nuclear attack submarine Kursk which sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea in2000, killing all 118 crew members.

(Video screengrab)

The Indian vessel, which returned from an upgrade in Russia earlier this year, had suffered a similar accident in 2010 in which one sailor was killed while it was docked in the southern port of Visakhapatnam.

Typically, such a submarine is fitted with torpedoes and missiles. Torpedoes are launched underwater to attack other submarines while missiles are used for long ranges above water.

There was no immediate word on the status of the weapons onboard the Sindhurakshak.

(Twitter)

“Lot of things are in very close proximity, there is fuel, there is hydrogen, there is oxygen, there are weapons with high explosives on board,” said retired Indian navy chief Arun Prakash.

“So a slightest mistake or slightest accident can trigger off a huge accident. The question of sabotage – I mean, all possibilities have to be considered – but sabotage is probably the last possibility.”

 

 

AGEING FLEET

 

India’s navy has had far fewer accidents than the air force, dogged for years by crashes of Russian-made MiG-21 fighters.

However, the country’s fleet of 14 submarines is in urgent need of modernisation and has been hampered by delays in government decisions as it battles corruption allegations.

The Indian Navy’s Sindhurakshak submarine is docked in Visakhapatnam in this February 13, 2006 file photo. (Reuters)

Efforts to build a domestic arms industry to supply the military have made slow progress, with the country still the world’s largest importer.

Earlier this week a locally built aircraft carrier slipped into the sea, though it is not due for completion until 2017.

The navy also announced that the reactor on its first indigenous nuclear submarine was now operational as part of a plan to build a powerful navy to counter China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean.

The Indian Navy’s Sindhurakshak submarine is docked in Visakhapatnam in this February 13, 2006 file photo. (Reuters)

INS Sindhurakshak completed a 2-1/2 year upgrade at a Russian shipyard a few months ago.

The vessel, which was fully operational with weapons onboard, was half-submerged after the fire. A team of navy divers was mobilised to search for survivors and 16 fire tenders were brought in to put out the blaze, local media said.

“There was a loud explosion post-midnight and I woke up,”said Dharmendra Jaiswal, who manages a public toilet opposite the naval dockyard. “I could see the skyline was bright and I could make out that some fire or blast had occurred inside.”

Three people who were near the submarine at the time of the explosion were injured and being treated in hospital, spokesman Satish said.

Karzai Promotes Saudi Puppet As Successor—Pleasing US, He Commits Afghans To Anti-Iranian Struggle

Sayyaf and Massoud
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Ahmed Shah Massoud

[Abdul Rasul Sayyaf has always been a Saudi tool.  Sayyaf was educated in Saudi Arabia, sponsored in Afghanistan by the Saudis, where he maintained two terrorist training camps, as well as a “Jehad university” in Islamabad.  He is virulently anti-Shia (Hazara).  “Before the Afshar massacre of Shia civilians in 1993, jihadi leader Abdul Rasool Sayyaf told his officers,Don’t leave anyone alive — kill all of them.'”

Karzai Floats Islamist With bin Laden Ties

24allnews
Wall St. Journal

By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV KABUL—President Hamid Karzai has suggested that the man who brought Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan could become the country’s next leader, say peopleFor President, Karzai Floats Islamist With bin Laden Ties. Read more … » familiar with discussions ahead of April’s presidential vote. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, right, has floated Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf, left, as a possible successor.

 

    By

  • YAROSLAV TROFIMOV

KABUL—President Hamid Karzai has suggested that the man who brought Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan could become the country’s next leader, say people familiar with discussions ahead of April’s presidential vote.

WO AO979 SAYAF D 20130813185043 Karzai Floats Islamist With bin Laden Ties

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, right, has floated Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf, left, as a possible successor.

Former Islamist warlord Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf has emerged as an unlikely—and, to Western diplomats, unsettling—favorite in recent gatherings that aim to select a consensus candidate.

At an hourslong meeting with power brokers last week, President Karzai tried to persuade Atta Mohammad Noor, the main authority in northern Afghanistan and a potential kingmaker, to support a Sayyaf presidential candidacy, according to people with knowledge of the meeting.

Mr. Atta, the governor of the northern Balkh province and a former Tajik warlord, made no commitments to Mr. Karzai during the meeting—which these people said was also attended by Mr. Sayyaf, Vice President Mohammed Qassim Fahim and former warlord Ismail Khan. The details of the meeting haven’t previously been reported.

It is by no means certain that come April, Mr. Sayyaf, an Egyptian-educated religious scholar, would end up as the preferred candidate of Afghanistan’s government bureaucracy. But the fact that he is seriously considered by Mr. Karzai and other powerful Afghan politicians highlights the degree to which Western influence has declined in Kabul ahead of the U.S. troop withdrawal next year.

Western diplomats say that a position of power, let alone the presidency, for someone like Mr. Sayyaf would imperil the billions of dollars in international commitments to the country. “This would be a disaster,” one senior diplomat said.

Mr. Sayyaf declined to be interviewed. Mr. Atta’s spokesman confirmed that the Balkh governor met with Mr. Karzai in Kabul as part of discussions about the election, and said Mr. Atta hadn’t yet decided whom to support in April. A spokeswoman for Mr. Karzai, Adela Raz, said she had no comment on the matter.

Mr. Sayyaf’s name looms large in the history of militant Islam. Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist movement in the Philippines, is named after him. In the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Sayyaf’s Saudi-backed movement ran training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan that were initially set up for anti-Soviet mujahedeen fighters, according to witnesses and the U.S. government’s 9/11 commission report. These camps eventually attracted thousands of Arab and international jihadis, including many whom fought in Bosnia and Chechnya.

Al Qaeda’s founder came to Mr. Sayyaf’s camps when he joined the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s and returned to Afghanistan with Mr. Sayyaf’s help in 1996. Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, also trained in Mr. Sayyaf’s camps.

The 9/11 commission report described Mr. Sayyaf as the “mentor” of Khalid Shaikh Muhammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks who is currently incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bin Laden and al Qaeda ultimately found shelter under Afghanistan’s Taliban. Despite his conservative Islamist views, Mr. Sayyaf, an ethnic Pashtun from the Kabul province, before 2001 had joined with many other Afghan warlords in the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. After the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, he found himself a U.S. ally.

Despite his checkered record, Mr. Sayyaf enjoys a degree of support in Afghanistan, both because of his Islamic credentials and his past as a leading commander in the war against the Soviets. These factors also appear to give him a higher name recognition among ordinary Afghans than others inside the presidential establishment whose names have been mentioned as possible Karzai successors.

“Sayyaf is head and shoulders the most controversial candidate among foreigners,” said Graeme Smith, a Kabul-based analyst at the International Crisis Group think ank. “But among Afghans, this does not look that crazy at all.”

Since 2001, Mr. Sayyaf has stayed mostly out of the limelight, but he has been an important member of the political establishment—serving in parliament and maintaining close ties with Mr. Karzai. With a fluent command of Arabic, Mr. Sayyaf has been instrumental in providing a degree of Islamic legitimacy for Mr. Karzai’s government following the Taliban regime’s 2001 ouster, a pivotal role in the government’s public-relations battle against the Islamist insurgents.

“He has religious influence inside and outside Afghanistan—and we cannot say that he has links with al Qaeda anymore,” said the Afghan parliament’s deputy speaker Mirwais Yasini, who also ran for president in 2009.

One Western-leaning politician characterized Mr. Sayyaf as a flexible pragmatist.

“I am not saying he would be as flexible as to be able to change the image that he has left with the people and the world,” said former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who challenged Mr. Karzai in previous elections and plans to run again in April. “But what is it that he is going to oppose? What did he stand against in these past 13 years?”

Following parliamentary elections in 2010, Mr. Sayyaf—with Mr. Karzai’s support—tried to run for the parliament speaker’s job but didn’t gather enough votes. Since then, he attended parliament sessions only a handful of times, fearing for his safety, according to Mr. Yasini.

Presidential hopefuls must file their nomination papers between Sept. 16 and Oct. 6.

Support from Mr. Karzai’s administration, with its sway over local officials, is seen as crucial for any candidate hoping to win the vote. The president’s meeting with Mr. Atta and his suggestion to back Mr. Sayyaf was part of a round of consultations aiming to find a consensus candidate and didn’t represent a final endorsement, say people familiar with his thinking.

Other likely candidates who may benefit from Mr. Karzai’s support are his brother Qayum and his current foreign minister, Zalmai Rassoul, these people say.

Mr. Rassoul is a distinguished diplomat respected by the international community but with little power base of his own—precisely the reason why he could be backed by Mr. Karzai and other power brokers.

Mr. Karzai has repeatedly said he is committed to stepping down next year when his second term, the maximum allowed under the Afghan constitution, expires. But some of his close allies and relatives, especially in the Karzai family’s home province of Kandahar, have called for postponing the vote and allowing the president to extend his term because of the deteriorating security situation in the country. Such a scenario is likely to cause a major crisis with Afghanistan’s Western backers.

—Ehsanullah Amiri contributed to this article.

Write to Yaroslav Trofimov at yaroslav.trofimov@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared August 14, 2013, on page A7 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Karzai’s Successor Pick Has Links to bin Laden.

6916dcb882185043.jpg 150x99 Karzai Floats Islamist With bin Laden Ties

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Karzai Floats Islamist With bin Laden Ties