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Saturday, December 1, 2012
Excerpts: Egypts division on President Morsi continues. President Morsi under attack. Syria pro-opposition progress expected. Friends of Syria 30 Nov. Tokyo meeting. New mysterious virus December 01, 2012

Excerpts: Egypt's division on President Morsi continues. President Morsi
under attack. Syria pro-opposition progress expected. 'Friends of Syria' 30
Nov. Tokyo meeting. New mysterious virus December 01, 2012

+++SOURCE: Egyptian Gazette 1 Dec.’12:”Islamists rally behind Mursi as
Egypt's rifts widen”, Reuters

SUBJECT: Egypt’s division on President Morsi continues

FULL TEXT:CAIRO - Tens of thousands of Islamists demonstrated in Cairo on
Saturday[1 Dec.] in support of President Mohamed Mursi, who is racing
through a constitution to try to defuse opposition fury over his newly
expanded powers.

"The people want the implementation of God's law," chanted at least 50,000
flag-waving demonstrators, many of them bussed in from the countryside to
pack streets near Cairo University.
Mursi was expected later in the day to set a date for a referendum on the
constitution hastily approved by an Islamist-dominated drafting assembly on
Friday after a 19-hour session.
"We will certainly present the constitution to the president tonight,"
Mohamed al-Beltagy, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and a member of the
constituent assembly, told Reuters.
Mursi plunged Egypt into a new crisis last week when he gave himself
extensive powers and put his decisions beyond judicial challenge, saying
this was a temporary measure to speed Egypt's democratic transition until
the new constitution is in place.
His assertion of authority in a decree issued on Nov. 22, a day after he won
world praise for brokering a Gaza truce between Israel and the Palestinian
Islamist Hamas movement, dismayed his opponents and widened divisions among
Egypt's 83 million people.
Two people have been killed and hundreds wounded in protests by disparate
opposition forces drawn together and re-energised by a decree they see as a
dictatorial power grab.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians had protested against Mursi on Friday[30
Nov.]. "The people want to bring down the regime," they chanted in Cairo's
Tahrir Square, echoing the trademark slogan of the revolts against Hosni
Mubarak and Arab leaders elsewhere.
Rival demonstrators threw stones after dark in the northern city of
Alexandria and a town in the Nile Delta. Similar clashes erupted again
briefly in Alexandria on Saturday[1 Dec.], state TV said.
Mohamed Noshi, 23, a pharmacist from Mansoura, north of Cairo, said he had
joined the rally in Cairo to support Mursi and his decree. "Those in Tahrir
don't represent everyone. Most people support Mursi and aren't against the
decree," he said.
Mohamed Ibrahim, a hardline Salafi Islamist scholar and a member of the
constituent assembly, said secular-minded Egyptians had been in a losing
battle from the start.
"They will be sure of complete popular defeat today in a mass Egyptian
protest that says 'no to the conspiratorial minority, no to destructive
directions and yes for stability and sharia (Islamic law)'," he told
Reuters.
Mursi has alienated many of the judges who must supervise the referendum.
His decree nullified the ability of the courts, many of them staffed by
Mubarak-era appointees, to strike down his measures, although says he
respects judicial independence.
A source at the presidency said Mursi might rely on the minority of judges
who support him to supervise the vote.

+++SOURCE: NBC World News via Egypt Daily News 1 Dec.’12:”Egyptians fear
decades of Muslim Brotherhood rule, warn Morsi is no friend to US”

SUBJECT: President Morsi under attack

QUOTE:”They (TahrirSquare portestors say) Morsi knows exactly what he’s
doing. Washington be warned”

TAHRIR SQUARE, CAIRO -- This was the place where the revolution began: the
roundish square where Egyptians celebrated Mubarak's fall.This is where they
are shouting on bullhorns again, outraged because they say the Muslim
Brotherhood has stolen the revolution and is railroading though a
constitution that could lock in Muslim Brotherhood rule for 50 years,
bringing more Islamic law. They cry -- not against Islam -- but that an
extremist interpretation is being forced down their throats by a president
who critics say is acting every part the tyrant.

This is also a warning, they claim, of what may happen across the Middle
East. The era of the Muslim Brotherhood appears to have arrived. President
Obama has hailed the Brotherhood's President Mohammed Morsi as a pragmatist
who helped end the Gaza crisis. Egyptians here think the Brotherhood has
conned Washington, just like it conned them.

Christians, liberals left out as Islamists back Egypt's draft constitution

"President Obama is supporting a terrorist," a man told me amid chants of
"Leave! Leave!" in Tahrir Square and "Down, down with the rule of the Muslim
Brotherhood's spiritual leader." Before, it was "Down, down with Mubarak."

Morsi's decree divides Egypt

Egypt was torn in half just over a week ago when Morsi made himself more
powerful than Mubarak ever was, and the kings before him. Morsi declared
himself above judicial oversight, his decisions final and unassailable. He
made himself, according to critics, a new pharaoh on the Nile. Imagine if,
after five months in office, an American president announced that he could
pass any law he pleased regardless of Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court.
Imagine if he said his decisions were final and inspired by God.

After issuing a decree making himself more powerful than the courts,
Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has sparked a wave of anger – some of which
is directed toward the United States. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

Morsi last night apologized for the power grab and said he didn't want the
extra authorities, but that they were necessary for the good of the people
and to safeguard the revolution. Dictators always say stuff like that. Burn
down the village to save it.

At first Egyptians were shocked that Morsi would make such an obvious and,
according to Egyptian judges, blatantly illegal move. It's clear now, as
some analysts have long feared, that the brotherhood is making sure it
doesn't lose power again by taking control of Egypt's constitution. The
Brotherhood wants to write the rules of the game. Now they've done that too.

Protected by the president's new-found supreme and unquestionable powers,
Morsi ordered his Islamist allies to finish writing the constitution and get
it on his desk by the end of this week. They did it, even though many
independent legal experts, Christians and opposition politicians boycotted
the drafting process. The Brotherhood called the new constitution "a jewel."
Many Egyptians say it leaves too much room for the implementation of Shariah
law.

The constitution also empowers the people and government with a duty to
uphold moral values, a vague clause that could pave the way for vigilante
morality police. The constitution barely mentions protecting women's rights.
According to women who were originally involved in the drafting process, and
who subsequently left because they felt they were being ignored, clauses
specifically demanding that women be protected from violence and sex
trafficking were dropped because Islamists feared it would conflict with
their desire to allow child brides.. . …………..

Egypt's Morsi, top judges compromise to defuse soaring tensions over decree

The protests continued to grow. Labor unions went on strike. The military
enacted a coup against Mubarak. President Obama withdrew his support for
Washington's long-time Arab friend. And Mubarak the president was no more. .
. .Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square Friday[30 Nov.]
to denounce Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi and the draft constitution his
Islamic allies approved earlier in the day.

The Brotherhood went to work. It organized its considerable finances. It
built a big new headquarters with far bigger signs on the doors. It sent its
representatives around the world, especially to Washington, on a charm
offensive. We've been oppressed, they claimed. We were slandered by a
tyrant. We're not what you've heard. We can unite the Sunni world against
Iran. We can help bring Israeli-Palestinian peace. There were many promises
of a great future.

Even then, the Brotherhood's focus on the constitution was clear. The
Brotherhood insisted the constitution be drafted only after a new president
was elected. The military was overseeing a transition back then. The
Brotherhood argued that the military couldn't be trusted to oversee the
creation of such an important document. Many Egyptians agreed -- a decision
some sorely regret today.

NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin discusses the current unrest in Egypt:

Morsi won the election by a narrow margin and then five months into his
term, made himself a dictator and ordered his Islamist friends to quickly
finish the constitution. Morsi has said he'll drop his extraordinary powers
as soon as the constitution is approved in a referendum in December.
Islamists are convinced they'll be able to use their grassroots network of
activists to win the referendum like they won the elections. Western
diplomats tend to agree.

Yet the United States has remained mostly silent on all this, urging both
sides to stay calm and work it out. Washington's policy seems to be that
what's going on is simply democracy in progress as Egyptians learn to use
their new rights.

But in Tahrir Square people seem convinced the Brotherhood isn't testing its
fledgling wings. They say Morsi knows exactly what he's doing, Washington be
warned.

+++SOURCE:Jordan Times 1 Dec.’12:”Syrian opposition coalition overcomes row,
gov’t nears US shift on Syria ‘imminent’ as fighting closes airport road”,
by Agencies

SUBJECT: Syria pro-opposition progress expexted

QUOTE: “(Friends of Syria)conference of more than 70 nations in Morocco on
December 32 . . . U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is planning to
attend”

EXCERPTS: Syriya opposition leaders overcame a row over membership of their
new coalition on Thursday[29 Nov.], but obstacles remain to forming a
transitional government that could encourage greater Western backing for the
revolt against President Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, US officials have been quoted as saying that Washington would
soon recognise the coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people

.. . .

US close to shift on Syrian opposition

The Obama administration is preparing to recognise Syria’s new opposition
council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in the coming
weeks, paving the way for greater US support for groups seeking to oust
President Bashar Assad’s regime, officials said Thursday[29 Nov.], as quoted
by the Associated Press.

Announcement of the move — which has already been taken by several US
allies — is planned on or around a conference of more than 70 nations in
Morocco on December 12. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is planning to
attend the latest so-called Friends of Syria gathering.

The new status is expected to be accompanied by pledges of additional
humanitarian and nonlethal logistical support for the opposition, but it is
unlikely to result in US military assistance, at least in the short term.
Providing arms remains a matter of intense debate inside the administration,
the officials said. . . .

Speaking at a conference focused on Syria in Washington, the US ambassador
to Syria, Robert Ford, suggested that the administration was getting closer
to upgrading its recognition of Syria’s opposition council.

“They are a legitimate representative of the Syrian people’s aspirations,”
Ford said. “And we will work with them. We will cooperate with them. They
have a vision of Syria. It’s a vision that we strongly support of a country
that would be democratic, that would respect human rights, and that would be
a force for stability in the region.”

“They are making real progress, and I expect that our position will evolve
as they themselves develop,” he added.

Damascus clashes close airport road, later ‘secured’

Syrian troops mounted an assault on rebels near Damascus on Thursday[29
Nov.], closing off the road to the airport before later securing it,
authorities said, amid a widespread telecommunications outage.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army attacked rebel
bastions in a string of towns along the highway and near the international
airport, with state media saying the road was eventually secured.

. . .

The fighting around the capital, which came after Internet links went down
across Syria, caused EgyptAir and Emirates to announce the cancellation of
flights to Damascus.

The heaviest clashes erupted between troops and rebels in the towns of
Babila and Hujaira southeast of the capital and in Harran Al Awamid, near
the airport, the observatory said, adding that army reinforcements were sent
to the area. . .

.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday[29 Nov.]that Syrian rebels have
obtained up to 40 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, citing Western and
Middle Eastern intelligence officials.

Some of the missiles were supplied in the past weeks by Qatar, it said

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 1 Dec,’12:” ‘Friends of Syria’ meet in Tokyo to
pressurize Assad”, Agence France Presse

SUBJECT:’friends of Syria’ 30 Nov. Tokyo meeting

QUOTE:”international community had to act together where the divided United
Nations Security Council had failed”

FULL TEXT:TOKYO – Delegates from more than 60 countries gathered in Tokyo
Friday[30 Nov.], seeking to ramp up pressure on Bashar Al-Assad’s regime as
the US moved toward recognizing the newly-unified opposition as true leaders
of Syria.

Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, told the “Friends of Syria” group
the international community had to act together where the divided United
Nations Security Council had failed.

“The violence has continued for more than 20 months and the number of
casualties in Syria has surpassed 40,000 and counting today, causing a
humanitarian crisis,” he told representatives from 67 countries.

“We are gravely concerned about the spillover of the crisis to the entire
region.

“While the United Nations Security Council has been unable to assume its
primary responsibility, it’s increasingly important for the international
community to act as one in order to deal with” the continuing violence.

The Friends of Syria group has previously organized four such meetings – in
Paris in April, Washington in June, Doha in July and The Hague in September.

The fifth “sanctions working group” meeting in Tokyo saw the first
participation from four countries – Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Indonesia and
Bangladesh, a foreign ministry official said.

On Thursday US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington was
weighing what further help it could give the Syrian opposition rebels.

“We are going to carefully consider what more we can do,” Clinton told a
Washington forum, saying the United States was constantly evaluating the
situation and adding: “I’m sure we will do more in the weeks ahead.”

But she stopped short of saying whether the United States would recognise
the newly-formed Syrian National Coalition, which is seeking to oust Assad,
as the sole representative of the Syrian people, as several European
countries have done.

Privately, US officials have said the Obama administration will likely go
ahead and recognise the group at some point.

“We hope the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition
Forces... will play a further role as an entity that represents a wider
range of the Syrian society, with a common objective of having all the
Syrians enjoy peace and prosperity in the new Syria,” Gemba said on Friday.

Along with sanctions on the Assad regime, “providing assistance to refugees
and internally displaced people” is essential, said Gemba, adding the world
also had to “look ahead to a post-Assad” Syria.

The Syrian opposition coalition hopes for more international pressure on the
Assad regime, Walid al-Bunni, a spokesman for the coalition, said in an
interview with Japanese public broadcaster NHK ahead of the Tokyo meeting.

With “Russia and Iran still supporting them, sanctions (are) not enough. We
need more than that,” he said, citing the possibility of NATO establishing a
no-fly zone. – AFP

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 1 Dec.’12: 2 more Cases of New Virus in
Jordan”, Associated Press
SUBJECT: New mysterious respiratory virus

QUOTE:” World Health Organization recommends that countries test any persons
with unnexplained pneumonia”

FULL TEXT:International health officials have confirmed two more fatal cases
of a mysterious respiratory virus in the Middle East.

The virus has so far sickened nine people and killed five of them. The new
disease is a coronavirus related to SARS, which killed some 800 people in a
global epidemic in 2003, and belongs to a family of viruses that most often
causes the common cold.

The two cases date back to April and are part of a cluster of a dozen
people, mostly health workers, who fell sick in an intensive care unit at a
hospital in Zarqa, Jordan. Officials are investigating whether the 10 other
people who grew sick in Zarqa also were infected and how the virus might
have spread.

"It's too early to say whether human-to-human transmission occurred or not,
but we certainly can't rule it out," said WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl.

One of the Jordanian cases was a 40-year-old female. All of the other
patients to date have been men. The new virus has so far been identified in
patients from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Scientists haven't found any links between the sporadic cases of the
coronavirus so far, first detected in September. "We don't know how the
virus gets around and there are more questions than answers right now,"
Hartl said.

Several of the patients sickened by the new coronavirus have had rapid
kidney failure and others have suffered severe pneumonia and respiratory
illnesses. The virus is most closely related to a bat virus and scientists
are also considering whether bats or animals like camels or goats are a
possible source of infection.

Scientists are also considering whether fruit contaminated by animal
droppings may have spread the virus.

Still, not all of the cases had contact with animals and WHO said it was
possible the virus was spread between humans in the Jordan hospital and in a
cluster of cases in Saudi Arabia, where four members of the same family fell
ill and two died.

WHO says the virus is probably more widespread than just the Middle East and
recommended that countries test any people with unexplained pneumonia.
==========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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