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Archive for the ‘Revolution’ Category

Russia to Provide Regime With Fighting Helicopters

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The helicopters requested have electronic-visual system for exploring, lighting and monitoring, besides being able to perform live video recording in daylight, and thermal filming at night, as well as the ability to identify and follow targets electronically


Zaman al-Wasl continues to publish exclusive leaks from the Syrian regime, with a new set of documents, one dated on 18 February 2013, showing a request from the Ministry on Interior to buy four helicopters from a Russian arms plant via the office of army security.

The document requested helicopters for the first time since the beginning of the revolution, including two MI-171SH helicopters for the use by the Ministry of Interior.

The documents demanded the helicopters have electronic-visual system for exploring, lighting and monitoring, besides being able to perform live video recording in daylight, and thermal filming at night, as well as the ability to identify and follow targets electronically.

The document reveal the need for enhanced navigation systems and for the requested helicopters to be able to discover and display navigation and avian information at the control and loading cabins. Moreover, the document demanded the two helicopters have at least 10-kilometer laser distance measuring systems and to be able to immediately record and transfer the outcomes of operations to the land control base at a distance up to 200 kilometers.

The Ministry requested another two KA-226-T brand helicopters or similar. MI-171-SH is a smart helicopter as it is able to disturb rockets directed to it from shoulder-held canons. It was manufactured to perform fighting operations in civil conflict in particular, and can be used for soldiers’ transport as well. It can work in difficult climate conditions.

(Source / 22.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 22, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Official: Yarmouk residents to protest against militant groups

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A handout picture released by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on February 2, 2014 and taken the previous day shows residents of Syria’s besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp being assisted by Syrian Red Crescent workers

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Residents of Syria’s Yarmouk refugee camp plan to organize peaceful rallies to pressure armed groups to leave the area, a Fatah official said Tuesday.

Muhammad Abu al-Qasim, a foreign relations official of the Fatah movement, told Ma’an Tuesday that “a large number of people will march toward the bases of armed groups to force them to leave the camp.”

Palestinian factions in Yarmouk have made extended efforts to end the humanitarian crisis in the Damascus-based camp, but have had no success, al-Qasim said.

He said thousands of Palestinian refugees were waiting for food parcels, which have not been regularly delivered due to fighting in the camp.

After rebels seized control of the Palestinian refugee camp in December 2012, the camp became embroiled in the armed fighting taking place across Syria and came under heavy regime assault.

Regime forces eventually encircled the camp and in July imposed a siege on the camp, leading to a rapid deterioration of living conditions.

Fatah leader Abbas Zaki told Ma’an in mid-October that Yarmouk’s population of 250,000 had dwindled to 18,000 after two and a half years of conflict in Syria.

All non-Palestinian militant factions agreed to leave Yarmouk on Feb. 11 in a deal to allow humanitarian aid to the camp, whose residents were dying of hunger and disease. Within weeks, however, various militant groups re-positioned themselves in the camp.

The UN Agency for Palestine refugees has managed to deliver sporadic shipments of humanitarian aid to Yarmouk since January, in between periods of fighting in the camp.

The Syrian conflict, which began as peaceful protests in March 2011 but developed into a civil war, has killed more than 150,000 people and prompted millions to flee their homes.

More than 760,000 Palestinians — estimated today to number 4.8 million with their descendants — were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes in the conflict surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

(Source / 22.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Abdullah leads Afghan elections with 49.75% of votes counted

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Afghan presidential candidate Abudullah Abdullah
Afghan presidential candidate Abudullah Abdullah
Presidential hopeful Abdullah Abdullah has taken the lead in Afghanistan’s polls so far with 49.75 percent of the country’s votes counted, announced election commission chairman Mohammad Yusuf Nuristani at a press conference in Kabul on Sunday.

Nuristani said Abdullah, the former foreign minister, is leading with 44.4 percent of the vote, followed by Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai with 33.2 percent. Zalmai Rassoul is in third place with 10.4 percent.

The initial results were based on a 49.75 percent vote count from 34 provinces. A candidate must secure more than 50 percent of the vote to win an outright victory. A run-off is widely expected to take place between the top two candidates.

Nuristani also said the results announced Sunday were partial results, and that the election commission would do its best to announce the preliminary results of the elections next Thursday. He also said that the results could change.

Meanwhile, votes from 1,488 poll stations are currently being audited, but this will not affect the schedule for announcing the results, said Noor Mohammad Noor, spokesman of the electoral body.

On April 5, more than 7 million Afghans out of 12 million eligible voters cast their votes to elect the country’s new president.

Final results of the presidential elections are scheduled to be announced on May 14.

(Source / 21.04.2014)


Written by altahrir

April 21, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Lebanon’s Syrian Refugees: ‘An entire Generation Is Growing Up With PTSD’

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Refugees are a daily fact of life in Lebanon. They are middle class people with nowhere else to go. There is nothing they can do but wait.

Syrian refugee women

BEIRUT — Refugees are everywhere on the streets of downtown Beirut.

Women and children in filthy clothes beg for money on nearly every street corner. Countless young boys tote shoeshine kits, persistently following foreigners and wealthy Lebanese who pass by. “Min Sooriya” they say, meaning “from Syria.”

As if there was any doubt.

Refugees are a daily fact of life in Lebanon. They are middle class people with nowhere else to go. There is nothing they can do but wait.

The Lebanese understand this all too well; during the country’s 15-year civil war many took refuge in Syria.

They were welcomed into the homes of the Syrians who are now refugees themselves. So they are accepting, even welcoming, to a degree. But the futility of the situation breeds an atmosphere of despair. Give a little money to one person and it does nothing. There are literally a million more in need. Any note of optimism in Lebanon is tempered by this reality.

The official number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon  just topped one million, according to the United Nations, but most believe the real number is significantly higher.

The Lebanese government, itself only a semi-functioning institution, has been unable to secure its eastern border with Syria. As a result not only have refugees entered the country but weapons and drugs now flow in both directions, as well.

This facilitates a regional war economy that extends beyond Lebanon or Syria. Indeed, today it may be possible to drive straight through Syria from Beirut to Eastern Iraq without ever encountering border guards.

Officially, the Lebanese government stresses its friendly policy toward refugees, but it may be more accurate to say there is no policy at all, for no official Syrian refugee camps exist in Lebanon.

With approximately 455,000 Palestinian refugees in 12 camps already, officials are reluctant to lend any sense of permanence to another million plus refugees.

Today, most Syrians in Lebanon live in makeshift camps with aid administered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a range of Islamic relief agencies. Both bypass Lebanese authorities and do not cooperate to distribute aid. At night, UN officials and just-out-of-college Western aid-workers can be found partying in Beirut nightclubs.

Yet, an international aid arrangement provides subsistence to millions of refugees with impressive efficiency, even though it fails to effectively address the underlying problems worsening the refugee crisis.

The dual infrastructure through which international aid is being delivered misses an opportunity to provide badly needed local economic stimulation. Moreover, there is a critical need for education and mental health services.

An entire generation is growing up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Unless something is done now to provide an outlet and a future for the millions of children growing up without a home or education, the world will be dealing with the millions of angry, traumatized adults they inevitably will become.

The predominant narrative that Syria can be contained is already showing cracks. The World Food Program recently announced cuts to food deliveries due to a shortfall in funding.

recent riot at Za’atari camp, the largest refugee camp in Jordan, and the international focal point of UNHCR’s Syria response, resulted in the death of one refugee and injured 29 Jordanian police officers.

The region cannot sustain an endless war in Syria.

More drastic action is required that addresses the underlying issues. From an aid standpoint in particular, the status quo falls far short of what is necessary. If there is no will to act in a more effective way to end the fighting, then there is at the least an obligation to provide more than subsistence to those that have been so tragically affected.

(Source / 21.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 21, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Revolution Lebanon

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Syrian Coalition Warns of an Imminent Massacre in Tufail near Lebanon

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A delegation of the Syrian Coalition headed by Ahmed Jarba started an official visit to Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi senior officials. Badr Jamous, Secretary General of the Syrian Coalition, said that “the visit comes as part of a series of diplomatic meetings aimed at consolidating the relation between the Syrian Coalition and Arab and Western countries to serve the interests of the Syrian people. Among the most important files that were we are going to discuss is ensuring greater support for the FSA, relief aid and improving the educational process, as Syrian schools have been systematically targeted by regime forces, while some were converted to barracks to house the foreign mercenaries imported by the Assad regime. Concerning the Syrian Coalition’s recent visit to China, Jamous said that “we need to reach out to all active players to clarify our vision and to bring about a political solution that curbs Assad’s killing machine.” Moreover, Jamous stated that “we called upon China to intervene to lift the siege of the Syrian cities and towns and to help stop the massacres committed by the Assad regime and pressure it to release all detainees. We also set up an office for the Syrian Coalition in China in order to keep in contact with the Chinese officials.” Jamous also thanked the Lebanese government for sheltering the Syrian refugees, pointing out that “such attitudes emphasizes the unity of the two peoples, and the generosity of the brotherly Lebanese people.” However, he warned the Lebanese government of preparations carried out by Assad’s and some sectarian militias to commit a new massacre in the border town of Tufail against Syrians fleeing Qalamoun under the pretext of fighting terrorism, a term that the Assad regime uses to dub political dissidents.”
(Source: Syrian Coalition / 21.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 21, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Egypt detains Palestinian and Syrian refugees

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Egyptian and Palestinian flag

Palestinian and Syrian refugees have experienced difficulties in Egypt since the coup last year which overthrew elected President Mohamed Morsi. Many were sacked from schools and universities while hundreds were arrested and deported. Three refugees were killed by the Egyptian navy last year when a group tried to sail to Europe.

The Egyptian authorities have arrested 144 Palestinian and Syrian refugees who were, it is believed, trying to migrate to Europe, the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria has said. Forty women and 35 children are among the refugees arrested by the Egyptian navy. All were arrested for “illegal migration”.

An eyewitness told the Action Group that all of the refugees who were arrested hold permits to stay in Egypt legally and they have refugee cards issued by the UN High Commission for Refugees, the so-called yellow cards.

Palestinian and Syrian refugees have experienced difficulties in Egypt since the coup last year which overthrew elected President Mohamed Morsi. Many were sacked from schools and universities while hundreds were arrested and deported. Three refugees were killed by the Egyptian navy last year when a group tried to sail to Europe.

Officials at the London-based Action Group called upon the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and human rights organisations to ask Egypt to release all of the refugees who have been imprisoned.

(Source / 21.04.2014)


Written by altahrir

April 21, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Revolution Egypt

Al-Qaida militants killed in second Yemen airstrike in two days

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• Sources say 30 killed and report drone activity
• Ten militants and three civilians died on Saturday

Yemen airstrike
People inspect the wreckage of a car hit by an air strike in the central Yemeni province of al-Bayda on Saturday. 

Airstrikes in southern Yemen killed about 30 suspected al-Qaida members on Sunday, local tribal sources said, in the second operation of its kind within two days.

On Saturday an air strike killed 10 al-Qaida militants and three civilians in central Yemen, a country that neighbours top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and is home to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the group’s most lethal wings.

The defence ministry said Sunday’s strikes targeted a remote mountainous region of the south. Its website quoted an official source on the high security committee as saying that they were based on information that “terrorist elements were planning to target vital civilian and military installations”.

Similar wording was used to justify Saturday’s strike, in which three nearby civilians were also killed.

The defence ministry did not specify the nature of the strikes, but in both cases local sources said unmanned drone aircraft had been circulating the target areas beforehand.

The US acknowledges using drone strikes to target AQAP in Yemen, but it does not comment on the practice.

Local tribal sources said about 25 bodies had been transferred from the sites of Sunday’s attacks to nearby towns. They said at least three separate strikes had taken place after dawn prayers, all targeting al-Qaida camps.

One official said the militants targeted were among the “leading and dangerous” elements of al-Qaida and were of different nationalities. Eyewitnesses said they had seen al-Qaida militants dragging dead bodies and some wounded people out of the area.

US drone attacks have killed several suspected AQAP figures, including Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Islamist cleric accused of links to plots to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and US cargo planes in 2010.

Saudi Arabia also watches AQAP with concern, since the branch was founded by citizens of both countries and has sworn to bring down its ruling al-Saud family.

An online video has been circulating with AQAP leader Nasser al-Wuhaishi addressing a large gathering of fighters in an undisclosed mountainous region of Yemen and vowing to attack the US.

Yemen has been fighting AQAP but the group, which has attacked military targets, tourists and diplomats in the country and taken over territory for long periods, is proving hard to beat so far.

(Source / 21.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 21, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Posted in Revolution Yemen

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Egypt to lift natural gas prices for homes, businesses

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Energy prices in Egypt are among the lowest in the world, and the cash-strapped government spends more than a fifth of its budget on keeping them down. 

Egypt plans to double the price of natural gas piped into some homes and businesses from next month, but the move will trim its huge fuel subsidy bill only slightly because few premises are connected to the gas network.

Energy prices in Egypt are among the lowest in the world, and the cash-strapped government spends more than a fifth of its budget on keeping them down. Although successive governments have called for reform, none have dared push through big price rises for fear of stoking public unrest.

According to a government decree issued late on Sunday, residential and commercial users of less than 25 cubic metres of gas per month will pay 0.40 Egyptian pounds ($0.06) per cubic metre from May.

The Oil Ministry’s website shows the current price of gas for households at 0.20 Egyptian pounds ($0.03) per cubic metre, or about $0.80 per million British thermal units (mmbtu).

State newspaper Al-Ahram reported that the current price is 0.10 Egyptian pounds ($0.01) per cubic metre for consumers that use less than 30 cubic metres a month.

No officials from the ministry could be reached on Monday, a public holiday in Egypt, to confirm the current price.
The price hike, announced in the country’s official gazette, does not apply to the electricity generation sector, which is the largest consumer of gas in Egypt.

State news agency MENA quoted an unidentified Oil Ministry source as saying that the move would increase state revenues by 800 million to 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($114.5-$143.1 million), “which will be used to finance projects that deliver natural gas to homes and expansion (of the grid)”.

The decree also says that bakeries, which produce the staple food of most Egyptians, will not have to pay any higher price.

The price hike therefore only affects a small number of citizens whose homes have been connected to the gas network. Most poor Egyptians use cylinders of butane for cooking.

Egypt raised the price of the cylinders last year for the first time in two decades ahead of talks with the International Monetary Fund on a $4.8 billion loan.
Talks later broke down, and some analysts said the price hikes were regressive, as they cut fuel subsidies for poorer Egyptians.

The government last year began a World Bank-backed plan to link 800,000 households a year to the gas grid in a bid to get consumers to use less state-subsidised butane.

Artificially low prices for electricity, for butane and for transport fuel at filling stations provide little incentive for Egyptians to curb consumption, despite a fuel supply crisis that frequently causes blackouts.

Under the new pricing structure, those who consume 25 to 50 cubic metres per month will pay 1 Egyptian pound ($0.14) per cubic metre over 25. Those consuming over 50 cubic metres will pay a top rate of 1.5 Egyptian pounds ($0.21), or around $6 per mmbtu for each cubic metre over 50.

By contrast, U.S. householders paid an average of $0.36 per cubic metre of gas, or around $9.60/mmbtu, last year, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

Government officials and industry experts says the wasteful subsidy system is at the root of a range of problems in Egypt’s chaotic energy sector.

Egypt, facing the worst energy crunch in years, is scrambling to secure adequate fuel supplies for the summer to avoid popular anger over power cuts.

Officials privately admit that campaigns to urge Egyptians to curb their consumption will have no effect while energy prices remain low.

(Source / 21.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 21, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Posted in Revolution Egypt

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Syria calls June 3 presidential election

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A Syrian girl collects her belongings from rubble on April 21, 2014 after her building was reportedly destroyed in an air strike by government forces in the northern city of Aleppo

DAMASCUS (AFP) — Syria announced on Monday it will hold a June 3 presidential election, which is expected to return Bashar Assad to office despite a civil war that has cost tens of thousands of lives.

Underlining the persistent violence, mortar fire killed two people near the parliament building shortly before the election date was announced.

Syria’s first presidential election — after constitutional amendments scrapped a referendum system — is to go ahead despite violence which has killed 150,000 people since March 2011.

Speaker Mohammad al-Lahham announced the date in parliament, saying Syrians living outside the country would vote on May 28 and candidates would be able to register from Tuesday until May 1.

Voting would be “free and fair … and under full judicial supervision,” he said.

He urged Syrians “to give voice to their will through the ballot box and participate in the democratic process by electing whoever they think is most able to lead Syria to victory.”

Assad, who became president after his father Hafez died in 2000 and whose current term ends on July 17, is widely expected to run and win another seven-year mandate despite the conflict.

New election rules require candidates to have lived in Syria for the past decade, effectively preventing key opposition figures in exile from standing for office.

The opposition, which insists Assad step down and play no role in Syria’s future, rejected the election as nothing more than a “farce.”

“The Assad regime’s announcement today that a ‘presidential election’ would be held in June should be treated as a farce and be rejected by the international community,” said the office of opposition National Coalition leader Ahmad Jarba.

“With vast parts of Syria completely destroyed by Assad’s air force, army and militias over the last three years, and with a third of Syria’s population displaced internally or in refugee camps in the region, there is no electorate in Syria in a condition to exercise its right to vote.”

Much of the international community has also warned Syria against holding the vote, with UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi saying it could close the door to any peace negotiations.

Britain on Monday said holding the election during a time of war meant the result “will have no value or credibility.”

It remains unclear how Syria’s government will organize a vote under the current circumstances, with swathes of the country out of its control.

Syria’s conflict began with peaceful protests demanding democratic reform but soon escalated into a civil war after the government launched a massive crackdown on dissent.

‘What about democracy?’

Violence continues in many parts of the country, even reaching into the heart of the capital, which has regularly come under mortar fire from opposition fighters on the outskirts.

A security official said mortar fire in Damascus was expected to increase during the electoral period.

“They (rebels) will increase the fire this month to try to undermine the election,” he said.

Syria specialist Fabrice Balanche said the government could only stage the election on 40 percent of the country’s territory.

“The election can only be held in the government-held areas, a band of territory stretching from the Jordan border, through Damascus, Hama, and Homs,” as well as Idlib city, Jisr al-Shughur, half of Aleppo and half of Deir Ezzor, he said.

An activist in Daraya, near Damascus, described the announcement as a new sign of military escalation in the conflict.

“Things are going towards escalation,” Amjad Abbar told AFP via the Internet.

On the ground, regime forces were on the offensive on Monday in the central city of Homs, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes were continuing in the Bab Hud and Juret al-Shiyah districts.

Both rebel-held neighborhoods have been under government siege for nearly two years.

In the northern city of Aleppo, meanwhile, activists said government aircraft dropped barrel bombs on several districts, a day after 52 civilians were killed in air raids in the province.

North of Damascus, a car bomb killed two soldiers at a checkpoint in Mashru Dummar.

(Source / 21.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 21, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Senior Hamas official arrives in Gaza for reconciliation talks

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GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq arrived in Gaza via the Rafah crossing on Monday, where he was welcomed by a delegation of Hamas and Fatah officials.

The senior official, who is based in Egypt, arrived in the besieged territory for reconciliation talks with a delegation of PLO officials.

Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad, secretary general of the Palestinian People’s Party, Bassam al-Salhi, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, Mustafa al-Barghouthi, secretary general of the Palestinian Arab Front, Jamil Shehada, and businessman Munib al-Masri are due to arrive in Gaza over the next 48 hours.

Abu Marzouq will join other Hamas officials at the home of Gaza PM Ismail Haniyeh for pre-meeting discussions.

The division between Fatah and Hamas began in 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, clashes erupted between the two factions, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.

The factions have made failed attempts at national reconciliation for years, most recently in 2012, when they signed two agreements — one in Cairo and a subsequent one in Doha — which have as of yet been entirely unimplemented.

(Source / 21.04.2014)

Written by altahrir

April 21, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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