Archive for December 4, 2012

Iran captures American drone in its airspace, U.S. denies

December 4, 2012

Iran captures American drone in its airspace, U.S. denies.

The ScanEagle drone was gathering information over Gulf waters and had entered Iranian airspace, the Fars news agency reported. (Photo courtesy The News Tribe)

The ScanEagle drone was gathering information over Gulf waters and had entered Iranian airspace, the Fars news agency reported. (Photo courtesy The News Tribe)

Iran captured a U.S. drone that was flying in the country’s airspace, its media reported on Tuesday, a claim that was quickly denied by the U.S. Navy.

No U.S. drone has been lost in the Gulf recently, a U.S. Navy spokesman said after Iran said on Tuesday it had captured a U.S. intelligence-gathering drone in its airspace in the last few days.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said a ScanEagle drone was gathering information over the Gulf and had entered Iranian airspace when it was “captured”.

“The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles (UAV) operating in the Middle East region. Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognized water and air space,” a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain said.

“We have no record that we have lost any ScanEagles recently.”

Fars agency said the drone was captured sometime “in the last few days.” It was not clear how it was captured.

“These kinds of aircraft are normally launched from large ships,” said Ali Fadavi, the IRGC’s naval commander, according to Fars.

The ScanEagle is manufactured by Boeing Co. According to the firm’s website, the drone is four feet long and has a 10-foot (three-meter) wingspan.

In November, the United States said Iranian warplanes shot at a U.S. surveillance drone flying in international airspace. Iran said the aircraft had entered its airspace, and said it would respond “decisively” to any foreign encroachments into its airspace.

Also last month, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, wrote to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to complain about repeated U.S. violations of Iranian airspace, describing them as “illegal and provocative acts.”

Khazaee claimed that U.S. craft had entered southern Iran seven times in October around Bushehr where Iran’s only nuclear power station is situated.

The United States and Iran are locked in an ongoing dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies believe Tehran is trying to develop an atomic bomb, while Iran says its program is purely peaceful.

Israel has threatened to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop its nuclear activities.

In October, Israel shot down an Iranian-made drone launched into the Jewish state by Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah.

U.S. urges restraint as supporters, opponents of President Mursi clash

December 4, 2012

U.S. urges restraint as supporters, opponents of President Mursi clash.

(  Peaceful?  Against the moslem brotherhood? Obama protects his  brothers…. – JW )

uesday, 04 December 2012

Anti-Mursi protesters barricade a road during clashes with riot police in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, December 4, 2012. (Reuters)

Anti-Mursi protesters barricade a road during clashes with riot police in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, December 4, 2012. (Reuters)

The United States on Tuesday appealed for restraint on both sides in Egypt as supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Mursi clashed during nationwide protests.

“We would simply urge that protesters express their views peacefully and that they be given the environment, if you will, to protest peacefully,” AFP reported State Department spokesman Mark Toner as saying.

Toner acknowledged that tensions were high Cairo, where thousands of people surrounded the presidential palace to denounce a decree expanding Mursi’s powers and placing him beyond judicial oversight.

Toner stressed that the Egyptian people should have the opportunity to express themselves on a new constitution that is moving toward a referendum on December 15.

“In the coming days, it’s going to be important that they have an opportunity to express their views, as I said, peacefully, and ultimately that they are able to express their views in a vote, in a peaceful and secure environment,” Toner said.

Opponents of Islamist President Mursi marched on the presidential palace on Tuesday to protest his power grab and a controversial draft charter, as the country plunged deeper into crisis.

Anti-Mursi protesters, who clashed with Egypt’s riot police, removed barricades from in front the presidential palace, Al Arabiya correspondent reported. Around 10 protesters were injured after the clashes, the correspondent added.

Thousands took to the streets waving Egyptian flags, chanting for the downfall of the regime and denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Mursi emerged, for having “sold the revolution” that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.

A November 22 decree issued by Mursi expanding his powers and enabling him to put to a December 15 referendum a draft constitution — rejected by liberals, leftists and Christians — has sparked strikes and deadly protests.

Egypt Judges Club Chairman Counselor Ahmad al-Zind told reporters in a press conference held on Tuesday that judges in the country will boycott the referendum if Mursi’s expected constitutional declaration was not canceled.

Zind defended Egypt’s judges by describing them as “transparent” and having no “personal interests” in the current crisis, which he dubbed as “imposing.”

Islamists have long suspected Egypt’s judges as not “independent” and collaborators with the former regime.

Worst political crisis

A soldier pulls barbed wire on a fence to close the road before a demonstration, in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, December 4, 2012. (Reuters)

It is Egypt’s worst political crisis since the ouster nearly two years ago of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak. The country has been divided into two camps: Mursi and his fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, as well as ultraconservative Salafi Islamists versus youth groups, liberal parties and large sectors of the public.

A large turnout would signal sustained momentum for the opposition, which brought out at least 200,000 protesters to Cairo’s Tahrir Square a week ago and a comparable number on Friday, demanding that Mursi’s decrees be rescinded. Hundreds of protesters also have camped out in Tahrir for close to two weeks.

The Islamists responded by sending hundreds of thousands of supporters into Cairo’s twin city of Giza on Saturday and across much of the country. Thousands also imposed a siege on Egypt’s highest court, the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The court had been widely expected Sunday to declare the constitutional assembly that passed the draft charter on Friday to be illegitimate and to disband parliament’s upper house, the Shura Council. Instead, the judges went on strike after they found their building under siege by protesters.

The strikes were part of a planned campaign of civil disobedience that could bring in other industries.

Already Tuesday, at least eight influential dailies, a mix of opposition party mouthpieces and independent publications, suspended publication for a day to protest against what many journalists see as the restrictions on freedom of expression in the draft constitution.

Assad’s chemical weapons units head out of Damascus toward Aleppo

December 4, 2012

Assad’s chemical weapons units head out of Damascus toward Aleppo.

Syrian chemical weapons

As NATO in Brussels gave the go-ahead Tuesday night, Dec. 4, for the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to protect Turkey against Syrian missiles, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reported that convoys of the Syrian army’s chemical weapons units headed out of Damascus under cover of dark and turned north up the road to Aleppo. Their destination is not yet known.
The convoys were ferrying self-propelled cannons for firing shells loaded with poisonous sarin gas.
Syrian President Bashar Assad had evidently decided to ignore the warnings President Barack Obama issued Monday night that there would be consequences if he or anyone in Syria resorted to chemical warfare and each would be held accountable.

Our sources report that the Syrian ruler is aparently gambling dangerously on the Americans holding back from attacking the convoys as long as they deploy unconventional weapons, and would only react when they are used.

He is also taking advantage of the heavy winds, rain and cloud over this part of the eastern Mediterranean and counting on the weather to obstruct military operations against his chemical weapons units.

By the time the weather clears some time Thursday, the units will be in place in battle formation. Meanwhile, bombing the convoys in windy weather could cause the deadly gas to spread out of control in unpredictable directions.
In Brussels, a NATO official announced that the alliance had agreed to augment Turkey’s air-defense capabilities by deploying Patriot missiles to Turkey.
debkafile’s military sources report that by the time the missiles arrive, the Syrian chemical weapons units will almost certainly have reached their pre-planned positions. Furthermore, the Patriot air defense systems are not designed to counter artillery and would therefore be unable to stop shells loaded with poison gas.

debkafile reported earlier Tuesday, Dec. 4.
US forces in the region, Israel, Turkey and Jordan were all braced  Monday night, Dec. 3 for action against Syria in case Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered his army’s chemical warfare units to go into action against rebel and civilian targets his own country. None of the Middle East capitals are talking openly about this eventuality to avoiding causing panic.
However, oblique references to the peril and preparations for action came from US officials during Monday. White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “We have an increased concern about the possibility of the regime taking the desperate act of using its chemical weapons.”  Such a move “would cross a red line for the United States.”

Without going into specifics, Carney added: “We think it is important to prepare for all scenarios. Contingency planning is the responsible thing to do.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Prague was slightly more specific: Syrian action on chemical weapons remains a “red line” for the Obama administration, she said, and “would prompt action from the United States.”

Regarding contingencies, debkafile’s military sources report that the American force in Jordan and Jordanian units, who have been training for two months in tactics against Syrian chemical warfare units, are on a high state of preparedness. So, too, are the three special US command centers set up in Turkey, Jordan and Israel for coordinating such operations.

An American official “with knowledge of the situation” told Wired Magazine that “engineers working for the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas.”

Anchored opposite the Syrian shore is the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with 2,500 Marines. Facing it is the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s naval task force which too has hundreds of marines on its decks.

debkafile’s sources quote high-ranking officers in the Israel Defense Forces’ Northern Command as saying: “The coming hours and days are extremely critical for Syria. The situation on our northern front could blow up any moment.” They did not elaborate.

Later Monday, as the United Nations regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Radhouane Nouicer announced the pullout of nonessential international staff “because of the security situation,” Secretary Clinton flew into Brussels from Prague to discuss with NATO foreign ministers the deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries at 10 points on the Turkish-Syrian border – a massive number.
NATO sources took note of the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s reply to the spreading reports. He said that the government “would not use chemical weapons, if it had them, against its own people under any circumstances.” This statement carried no promise about using such weapons against external forces, whether American, Turkish, Jordanian or Israeli.

In Istanbul, meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters at the end of his one-day visit: “What we are concerned about is Syria’s future. We don’t want the same mistakes to be repeated in the near future.” He went on to say: “We shall remember how some regimes supported the militants in Libya and how the situation ended with the killing of the American ambassador in Libya.”
This was meant by the Russian president as a warning to the US not to get involved in the Syrian crisis as it did in Libya.

Israel preparing to test new generation of Arrow anti-missile system

December 4, 2012

Israel preparing to test new generation of Arrow anti-missile system – Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper.

The new Arrow 3 system would be able to intercept unconventional Iranian missiles, says Defense Ministry project chief. Iran is estimated to possess hundreds of long-range Shahab 3 missiles.

By Gili Cohen | Dec.04, 2012 | 10:42 PM
An Arrow missile is launched during a test – Reuters - April 7, 2009.

An Arrow missile is launched during a test from an undisclosed location in Israel April 7, 2009. Photo by Reuters

The new generation of Israel’s anti-missile Arrow system will be tested “soon”, a defense ministry official said on Tuesday. The system, he stated, would be able to tackle long-range unconventional Iranian missiles.

In recent years Israel has advanced the development of the Arrow 3 project, an anti-missile defense system designed to intercept long-range missiles.

Yair Ramati, head of the Defense Ministry’s Homa ‏project, which is responsible for the development of the army’s multilayer missile defense systems, said on Tuesday that he hopes “soon we will conduct the launch tests” of the Arrow 3 interceptors.

Ramati stressed that the test will not check the missile’s intercepting capabilities, but only its launch system.

Speaking at a convention of Israel Defense Forces National Security College graduates, Ramati defined the Arrow 3 as “a defense missile against Iranian ballistic missiles carrying unconventional warheads.”

Compared with the Arrow systems currently operated by the IDF, the Arrow 3 is designed to have an improved intercepting missile. The missile is supposed to be lighter, with a higher operating range. The security establishment says that the interceptor would operate outside the Earth’s atmosphere, where it would “chase” its target.

The Arrow 3 system is estimated to be operational in three years.

Over the past year, a number of improvements were made to the Arrow 2, an anti-missile system designed to deal with the threat of medium-range ballistic missiles.

Ten days ago, a successful test-fire of another Israeli anti-missile defense system was conducted. The system, named David’s Sling, is meant to intercept mid-range missiles, mostly those held by Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Estimations in the defense establishment are that Hezbollah possess some 60 thousand of such rockets, 5,000 of them capable of reaching Tel-Aviv. Iran is estimated to have hundreds of Shahab 3 missiles with the range of thousands of kilometers.

Netanyahu: We are watching Syrian chemical weapons closely

December 4, 2012

Netanyahu: We are watching Syrian chemical… JPost – Middle East.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
12/04/2012 20:35
Among increasing reports that Assad preparing to use chemical weapons stockpile, PM says “these weapons cannot be used or transferred to terrorist organizations;” comments follow Obama, NATO warnings to Assad.

PM Netanyahu speaks to Jewish immigrants at BGU Photo: REUTERS

Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday addressed raised concerns that Syrian President Bashsar Assad could be preparing to use chemical weapons in his fight to survive against opposition forces, stating that Israel was monitoring the situation closely.

Israel has said on several occasions in the past that it would take military action if necessary to prevent Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons from falling into the hands of Hezbollah or other terror groups.

After US President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned Assad against using chemical weapons on Monday and Tuesday respectively, Netanyahu said Tuesday, “We are monitoring closely, along with the international community, the events in Syria with regard to the chemical weapons stockpiles.”

Netanyahu said that he “heard the important statement made by President Obama on this matter and I agree, these weapons cannot be used or transferred to terrorist organizations. “

The head of NATO, asked about possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, said on Tuesday that any such act would provoke an immediate international response.

“The possible use of chemical weapons would be completely unacceptable for the whole international community,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters.

“If anybody resorts to these terrible weapons, then I would expect an immediate reaction from the international community,” he said.

Rasmussen’s statement followed a similar warning by  Obama to Assad on Monday not to use chemical weapons against Syrian opposition forces, saying there would be consequences if he were to do so.

“I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching,” Obama said in a speech to a gathering of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons proliferation experts.

“The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable and if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable,” Obama said.

He did not say how the United States might respond, but White House spokesman Jay Carney said earlier that “contingency planning” was under way when asked whether the use of military force was an option.

It was unclear what has motivated US officials to think that Syria might be on the verge of using chemical weapons.

An American official said the United States is concerned that Syria may be preparing to combine the chemicals needed to make sarin gas.

As Assad’s government has shown signs of increasing strain in response to recent advances made by the rebels, Carney said the United States has grown concerned that the Syrian president might be considering the use of chemical weapons.

This would, Carney said, “cross a red line for the United States.”

The Atlantic reported Monday that Israel asked Jordan on a number of occasions for “permission” to bomb Syrian chemical weapons sites, citing intelligence sources in both countries.

According to the report, Jordan turned down requests a number of times in the past two months, saying “the time was not right.” Jordan is reportedly wary of allowing Israel to bomb the sites in Syria, fearing a military response on Jordanian territory. “A number of sites are not far from the border,” the report quoted a foreign source as saying.

Assad’s chemical weapons units head out of Damascus toward Aleppo

December 4, 2012

Assad’s chemical weapons units head out of Damascus toward Aleppo.

( This feels like a “false flag” without there even being a flag. God help us with whomever takes over from Assad.  – JW

EBKAfile Special Report December 4, 2012, 9:51 PM (GMT+02:00)

Syrian chemical weapons

As NATO in Brussels gave the go-ahead Tuesday night, Dec. 4, for the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to protect Turkey against Syrian missiles, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reported that convoys of the Syrian army’s chemical weapons units headed out of Damascus under cover of dark and turned north up the road to Aleppo. Their destination is not yet known.
The convoys were ferrying self-propelled cannons for firing shells loaded with poisonous sarin gas.
Syrian President Bashar Assad had evidently decided to ignore the warnings President Barack Obama issued Monday night that there would be consequences if he or anyone in Syria resorted to chemical warfare and each would be held accountable.

Our sources report that the Syrian ruler is aparently gambling dangerously on the Americans holding back from attacking the convoys as long as they deploy unconventional weapons, and would only react when they are used.

He is also taking advantage of the heavy winds, rain and cloud over this part of the eastern Mediterranean and counting on the weather to obstruct military operations against his chemical weapons units.

By the time the weather clears some time Thursday, the units will be in place in battle formation. Meanwhile, bombing the convoys in windy weather could cause the deadly gas to spread out of control in unpredictable directions.
In Brussels, a NATO official announced that the alliance had agreed to augment Turkey’s air-defense capabilities by deploying Patriot missiles to Turkey.
debkafile’s military sources report that by the time the missiles arrive, the Syrian chemical weapons units will almost certainly have reached their pre-planned positions. Furthermore, the Patriot air defense systems are not designed to counter artillery and would therefore be unable to stop shells loaded with poison gas.

debkafile reported earlier Tuesday, Dec. 4.
US forces in the region, Israel, Turkey and Jordan were all braced  Monday night, Dec. 3 for action against Syria in case Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered his army’s chemical warfare units to go into action against rebel and civilian targets his own country. None of the Middle East capitals are talking openly about this eventuality to avoiding causing panic.
However, oblique references to the peril and preparations for action came from US officials during Monday. White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “We have an increased concern about the possibility of the regime taking the desperate act of using its chemical weapons.”  Such a move “would cross a red line for the United States.”

Without going into specifics, Carney added: “We think it is important to prepare for all scenarios. Contingency planning is the responsible thing to do.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Prague was slightly more specific: Syrian action on chemical weapons remains a “red line” for the Obama administration, she said, and “would prompt action from the United States.”

Regarding contingencies, debkafile’s military sources report that the American force in Jordan and Jordanian units, who have been training for two months in tactics against Syrian chemical warfare units, are on a high state of preparedness. So, too, are the three special US command centers set up in Turkey, Jordan and Israel for coordinating such operations.

An American official “with knowledge of the situation” told Wired Magazine that “engineers working for the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas.”

Anchored opposite the Syrian shore is the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with 2,500 Marines. Facing it is the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s naval task force which too has hundreds of marines on its decks.

debkafile’s sources quote high-ranking officers in the Israel Defense Forces’ Northern Command as saying: “The coming hours and days are extremely critical for Syria. The situation on our northern front could blow up any moment.” They did not elaborate.

Later Monday, as the United Nations regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Radhouane Nouicer announced the pullout of nonessential international staff “because of the security situation,” Secretary Clinton flew into Brussels from Prague to discuss with NATO foreign ministers the deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries at 10 points on the Turkish-Syrian border – a massive number.
NATO sources took note of the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s reply to the spreading reports. He said that the government “would not use chemical weapons, if it had them, against its own people under any circumstances.” This statement carried no promise about using such weapons against external forces, whether American, Turkish, Jordanian or Israeli.

In Istanbul, meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters at the end of his one-day visit: “What we are concerned about is Syria’s future. We don’t want the same mistakes to be repeated in the near future.” He went on to say: “We shall remember how some regimes supported the militants in Libya and how the situation ended with the killing of the American ambassador in Libya.”
This was meant by the Russian president as a warning to the US not to get involved in the Syrian crisis as it did in Libya.

NATO gives go-ahead to send Patriot missiles to Turkey

December 4, 2012

NATO gives go-ahead to send Patriot missiles to Turkey – Israel News, Ynetnews.

( The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  For now… – JW )

North Atlantic alliance bolsters Ankara’s weapons deployment as tensions vis-à-vis Syria grow

News agencies

Published: 12.04.12, 20:36 / Israel News

NATO has approved Turkey’s request for systems to bolster its defense against Syria. The news comes after the UN announced it would withdraw nonessential staff owing to the worsening security situation.

NATO gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Turkey to protect it from any spillover of the civil war in neighboring Syria, a NATO official said.

“NATO has agreed to augment Turkey’s air-defense capabilities by deploying Patriot missiles to Turkey,” a NATO official said.

Russia, Syria and Iran have criticized Turkey’s request for the Patriots, which can be used to intercept missiles.

Turkey, which has been highly supportive of Syrian rebels, said that the Patriots would defend it against attacks from Syria, possibly with chemical weapons. NATO leaders have repeatedly said they would provide any assistance Turkey needs. Turkey is a NATO member.
סוללות פטריוט בגרמניה. הפרלמנטים בברלין ובאמסטרדם צריכים לאשר (צילום: AFP)

NATO Patriot batteries in Germany (Photo: AFP)

Turkey had requested the Patriots in November in the event that the country would need to intercept airborne attacks along its 560-mile border with Syria.

Turkey has repeatedly scrambled jets to the border and returned shelling when Syrian fire landed on the wrong side of the line.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands are expected to supply the Patriots. The latter two countries may require parliamentary approval, and it could be a few weeks before NATO deploys the weapons.

The announcement comes amid increasing fears that Syria’s government may resort to using chemical weapons to stem a stream of rebel successes.

“I am not going to telegraph any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people, but suffice to say, we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.

US President Barack Obama also added harsh words for the Syrian government. “The world is watching,” he said in remarks to a gathering of nuclear proliferation experts on Monday.

“The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable, and, if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.”

The Syrian government said on Monday that it would not use chemical weapons against its own people, also appearing to dispute the existence of such weapons in its arsenal.

NATO voted on the Patriots after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The government in Moscow has voted against three proposed UN Security Council resolutions condemning the violence in Syria, saying they were one-sided.

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi defected from President Bashar Assad’s government and left the country, a regional diplomatic source said on Monday. The news was also reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Syrian conflict began last March. Activists say more than 41,000 people have been killed.

Masses of Egyptian protesters clash with police outside presidential palace

December 4, 2012

Masses of Egyptian protesters clash with police outside presidential palace | The Times of Israel.

( These protests will be ignored and marginalized.  Until there are 100s of thousands or violent resistance, the totalitarian rule of the moslem brotherhood will get stronger. WARNING to the democratic activists in Egypt:  Win SOON or be ready to die. – JW (

Tens of thousands take to the streets in Cairo and Alexandria to protest Morsi’s power grab

December 4, 2012, 7:15 pm 1
Thousands of protesters congregate in Cairo near the presidential palace on Tuesday. (photo credit: image capture from ONTV)

Thousands of protesters congregate in Cairo near the presidential palace on Tuesday. (photo credit: image capture from ONTV)

Tens of thousands of Egyptians marched on the presidential palace on Tuesday to protest the assumption by the nation’s Islamist president of nearly unrestricted powers and a draft constitution hurriedly adopted by his allies.

Police fired tear gas at protesters who attempted to get past the barbed wire-topped barricade cordoning off Mohammed Morsi’s presidential palace, but the protesters broke through nonetheless. With that barricade bypassed, protesters moved closer to the palace’s walls, with police apparently choosing not to try and push the crowds back.

Demonstrators clanged incessantly on lampposts, waved Egyptian flags and held aloft images of Morsi clad in a turban and Nazi uniform with the word “void” written in Arabic underneath. Protesters also commandeered a police van, climbing atop the armored vehicle to wave Egypt’s red, white and black flag.

Shortly after the clashes began, Morsi reportedly left the presidential palace, according to Reuters. He left for home through a back door when the crowds “grew bigger,” according to a presidential official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The boulevard near the presidential palace where protesters massed was inundated by a seething horde of Cairenes, with numbers estimated in the tens of thousands in that one location alone. Thousands more congregated in Tahrir Square.

Egyptian riot police stand guard behind barbed wire while protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans, not pictured, during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Dec. 4 (photo credit: AP/Nasser Nasser)

The march came amid rising anger over the draft charter and decrees issued by Morsi giving himself sweeping powers. Morsi called for a nationwide referendum on the draft constitution on December 15.

In the coastal city of Alexandria, some 10,000 opponents of Morsi gathered in the center of the country’s second-largest metropolis. They chanted slogans against the Egyptian leader and his Muslim Brotherhood party.

It is Egypt’s worst political crisis since the ouster nearly two years ago of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak. The country has been divided into two camps: Morsi and his fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, as well as ultraconservative Salafi Islamists, versus youth groups, liberal parties and large sectors of the public.

“Freedom or we die,” chanted a crowd of several hundred outside a mosque in the Abbasiyah district. “Mohammed Morsi! Illegitimate! Brotherhood! Illegitimate!” they also yelled.

“This is the last warning before we lay siege to the presidential palace,” said Mahmoud Hashim, a 21-year-old student from the city of Suez on the Red Sea. “We want the presidential decrees canceled.”

Several hundred protesters also gathered outside Morsi’s residence in an upscale suburb not far from the Itihadiya. “Down with the sons of dogs. We are the power and we are the people,” they chanted.

Morsi, who narrowly won the presidency in a June election, appeared to be in no mood for compromise.

A statement by his office said the Egyptian leader met on Tuesday with his deputy, prime minister and several top cabinet members to discuss preparations for the referendum. The statement appeared also to suggest that it was business as usual at the presidential palace despite the rally.

The large turnout signaled sustained momentum for the opposition, which brought out at least 200,000 protesters to Cairo’s Tahrir Square a week ago and a comparable number on Friday, demanding that Morsi’s decrees be rescinded. Hundreds of protesters also have camped out in Tahrir, birthplace of last year’s uprising, for close to two weeks.

The Islamists responded by sending hundreds of thousands of supporters into Cairo’s twin city of Giza on Saturday and across much of the country. Thousands also imposed a siege on Egypt’s highest court, the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The opposition has yet to say whether it intends to focus its energy on rallying support for a boycott of the December 15 vote or defeating the draft with a “no” vote.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet, but I’m leaning against a boycott and toward voting ‘no,’” said Hossam al-Hamalawy of the Socialist Revolutionaries, a key group behind last year’s uprising. “We want a [new] constituent assembly that represents the people and we keep up the pressure on Morsi.”

The strikes were part of a planned campaign of civil disobedience that could bring in other industries.

On Tuesday, at least eight influential dailies, a mix of opposition party mouthpieces and independent publications, suspended publication for a day to protest against what many journalists see as the restrictions on freedom of expression in the draft constitution.

The country’s privately owned TV networks planned their own protest Wednesday, when they will blacken their screens all day.

Morsi’s November 22 decrees placed him above oversight of any kind, including the courts. The constitutional panel then rushed through a draft constitution without the participation of representatives of liberals and Christians. Only four women, all Islamists, attended the marathon, all-night session.

The charter has been criticized for not protecting the rights of women and minority groups, and many journalists see it as restricting freedom of expression. Critics also say it empowers Islamic religious clerics by giving them a say over legislation, while some articles were seen as tailored to get rid of Islamists’ enemies.

Masses of Egyptian protesters clash with police outside presidential palace

December 4, 2012

Masses of Egyptian protesters clash with police outside presidential palace | The Times of Israel.

( Do not go gentle into that good night…  Rage, rage against the dying of the light. –  JW )

December 4, 2012, 7:15 pm 1
Egyptian protesters chant anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a rally in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday. (photo credit: AP/Nasser Nasser)

Egyptian protesters chant anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a rally in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday. (photo credit: AP/Nasser Nasser)

Tens of thousands of Egyptians marched on the presidential palace on Tuesday to protest the assumption by the nation’s Islamist president of nearly unrestricted powers and a draft constitution hurriedly adopted by his allies.

Police fired tear gas at protesters who attempted to get past the guards surrounding Mohammed Morsi’s presidential palace, but the protesters broke through nonetheless. The demonstrators clanged incessantly on lampposts, waved Egyptian flags and held aloft images of Morsi clad in a turban and Nazi uniform with the word “void” written in Arabic underneath.

Shortly after the clashes began, Morsi reportedly left the presidential palace, according to Reuters.

The march came amid rising anger over the draft charter and decrees issued by Morsi giving himself sweeping powers. Morsi called for a nationwide referendum on the draft constitution on December 15.

In the coastal city of Alexandria, some 10,000 opponents of Morsi gathered in the center of the country’s second-largest metropolis. They chanted slogans against the Egyptian leader and his Muslim Brotherhood party.

It is Egypt’s worst political crisis since the ouster nearly two years ago of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak. The country has been divided into two camps: Morsi and his fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, as well as ultraconservative Salafi Islamists, versus youth groups, liberal parties and large sectors of the public.

Hundreds of riot police in black deployed around the Itihadiya palace in Cairo’s district of Heliopolis. Barbed wire was placed outside the complex, and side roads leading to it were blocked to traffic. Protesters had gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir square and several other points not far from the palace to march to the presidential complex.

“Freedom or we die,” chanted a crowd of several hundred outside a mosque in the Abbasiyah district. “Mohammed Morsi! Illegitimate! Brotherhood! Illegitimate!” they also yelled.

“This is the last warning before we lay siege to the presidential palace,” said Mahmoud Hashim, a 21-year-old student from the city of Suez on the Red Sea. “We want the presidential decrees canceled.”

Several hundred protesters also gathered outside Morsi’s residence in an upscale suburb not far from the Itihadiya. “Down with the sons of dogs. We are the power and we are the people,” they chanted.

Morsi, who narrowly won the presidency in a June election, appeared to be in no mood for compromise.

A statement by his office said the Egyptian leader met on Tuesday with his deputy, prime minister and several top cabinet members to discuss preparations for the referendum. The statement appeared also to suggest that it was business as usual at the presidential palace despite the rally.

The large turnout signaled sustained momentum for the opposition, which brought out at least 200,000 protesters to Cairo’s Tahrir Square a week ago and a comparable number on Friday, demanding that Morsi’s decrees be rescinded. Hundreds of protesters also have camped out in Tahrir, birthplace of last year’s uprising, for close to two weeks.

The Islamists responded by sending hundreds of thousands of supporters into Cairo’s twin city of Giza on Saturday and across much of the country. Thousands also imposed a siege on Egypt’s highest court, the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The opposition has yet to say whether it intends to focus its energy on rallying support for a boycott of the December 15 vote or defeating the draft with a “no” vote.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet, but I’m leaning against a boycott and toward voting ‘no,’” said Hossam al-Hamalawy of the Socialist Revolutionaries, a key group behind last year’s uprising. “We want a [new] constituent assembly that represents the people and we keep up the pressure on Morsi.”

The strikes were part of a planned campaign of civil disobedience that could bring in other industries.

On Tuesday, at least eight influential dailies, a mix of opposition party mouthpieces and independent publications, suspended publication for a day to protest against what many journalists see as the restrictions on freedom of expression in the draft constitution.

The country’s privately owned TV networks planned their own protest Wednesday, when they will blacken their screens all day.

Morsi’s November 22 decrees placed him above oversight of any kind, including the courts. The constitutional panel then rushed through a draft constitution without the participation of representatives of liberals and Christians. Only four women, all Islamists, attended the marathon, all-night session.

The charter has been criticized for not protecting the rights of women and minority groups, and many journalists see it as restricting freedom of expression. Critics also say it empowers Islamic religious clerics by giving them a say over legislation, while some articles were seen as tailored to get rid of Islamists’ enemies.

Sources: US behind European protest measures

December 4, 2012

Sources: US behind European protest measures – Israel News, Ynetnews.

( Thank you,  Joseph Finkelstein. = JW )

Israeli officials with ties to US administration say Washington gave Europe green light to summon Israeli ambassadors over settlement construction. Australia also calls ambassador to protest move

Attila Somfalvi

Published: 12.04.12, 08:58 / Israel News

The United States was behind the summoning of Israeli ambassadors by several European nations, Israeli sources with close ties to US administration officials said Monday.

“The European move is essentially an American move,” one official said. “The Brits asked the Americans how to act.”

The Foreign Ministry fears Europe will take further punitive steps against Israe over its decision to advance construction in the E1 area between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem.

Last week Israel announced the construction of an additional 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank. But it was the decision to advance the planning procedures of housing units in the segment connecting Ma’ale Adumim with Jerusalem, known as the E1 project, that truly infuriated Washington and Europe.

Meanwhile, Australia also announced it was summoning the Israeli ambassador to protest Israel’s moves.

“Australia has long opposed all settlement activity,” Foreign Minister Bob Carr said in a statement after Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem’s meeting with senior Australian officials.
"בנייה ב-E1 - סטירת לחי גרועה יותר ממה שקרה בביקור ביידן" (צילום: רויטרס)

Ma’ale Adumim. ‘Slap in the face’ (Photo: Reuters)

“Such activity threatens the viability of a two-state solution without which there will never be security in Israel.”

Carr, whose country takes up a rotating UN Security Council seat next year, said Israel’s actions had complicated the chances of fresh negotiations between the two sides. “I am extremely disappointed with these reported Israeli decisions,” he said.

“The Americans and Brits believe that building in area E1 would essentially terminate the peace process,” an Israeli official explained. Earlier this week, Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark summoned the Israeli ambassadors in their capitals to express deep disapproval of the plan to erect 3,000 more homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

“The Europeans got the green light to respond with extreme measures and the US in the meantime decided not to impose economic sanctions on the Palestinians in response to their UN bid,” the official said. “The Americans decided to bolster Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) and push for a resumption of peace talks.”

Following the wave of international criticism, the prime minister’s bureau said that Israel will continue to pursue its vital interests “even in the face of international pressure. The decision will not be changed.”

It was further stated that “if the Palestinians continue to act unilaterally – Israel will act accordingly.”

Tensions are likely to mount again next week when the Jerusalem Planning and Construction Committee will discuss a plan for the construction of an additional 1,600 housing units in the capital’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood – a plan that had been frozen after US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel in 2010.

Prime Minister Netanyahu might also encounter difficulties during his visit to Germany this week after Berlin strongly protested Israeli construction beyond the Green Line. German Chancellor Angela Merkel however did not cancel the visit.

‘Major slap in the face’

“The US regards the E1 construction plan as an even bigger slap in the face than what happened during Biden’s visit,” the Israeli official remarked.

“The Americans are at a difficult position having backed Israel at the UN against the Palestinian bid. They did not expect this from Israel. Administration officials feel that Netanyahu is humiliating them and making a fool out of them by creating such a diplomatic crisis.”

Israeli state officials estimate that Europe will take even tougher measures if additional construction is approved. The steps may include banning goods, reducing the scope of trade and placing limitations on scientific collaborations. Further construction may also result in the expansion of the de-legitimization campaign.

Nevertheless some Foreign Ministry officials believe that Europe fails to understand the Israeli public mindset. “They don’t understand public opinion. What the Americans can do, Europe can’t.”

Meanwhile, senior state officials criticized Netanyahu over his response to the Palestinians’ UN move. “The prime minister’s bureau raised the issue of the International Court of Justice and because of that the Palestinians decided to take their bid further. Abu Mazen will now seek membership in all of the UN agencies.”

One state official claimed that to anger the Europeans would be a strategic mistake at this point, in light of Europe’s support of Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense. “Europe and the US decided to teach us a lesson on the peace talks and the settlement issue. Support during Pillar of Defense has enabled Europe to start putting pressure on Israel.”

Reuters contributed to this report


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