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Monday, December 10, 2012
Excerpts: Damascus Securities Exchange extends losing streak. Arab states offer PA $100 million a month safety net. Palestinian-Israel peace talks. Egypts army granted police power. Continuing Syrian escape to Jordan. Egyptian President Morsi overreached

SOURCE: The Syria Report 10 Dec.’12: (Damascus Securities Exchange}DSE
Extends Losing Streak to 20 Sessions”

SUBJECT: Damascus Securities Exchange ‘extends losing streak’

TEXT:The Damascus Securities Exchange extended this week its losing streak
to twenty sessions in a row

+++SOURCE” Saudi Gazette 10 Dec.’12:” Arabs offer Palestinians$100 million a
month”,Reuters

SUBJECT: Arab states offer Palestinian Authority $100 m a month

QUOTE:” Arab states agreed to provide the Palestinian Authority with a $100
million monthly ‘safety net’

FULL TEXT:DOHA — Arab states agreed to provide the Palestinian Authority
with a $100 million monthly “financial safety net” to help President Mahmoud
Abbas’s government cope with an economic crisis after the United Nations
granted de facto statehood to Palestine.

Israel has responded to the Nov. 29 UN vote by ordering 3,000 Jewish settler
homes be built in the occupied West Bank and announced it would hold back
payments of customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinians to pay
an outstanding electricity bill.

In a statement after a meeting here, Arab foreign ministers called for the
“immediate implementation” of a resolution passed at an Arab summit in
Baghdad in March, which called for the provision of a $100 million monthly
safety net.

But the statement did not give details of how the money would be paid or who
would pay.

Israel and the United States opposed the UN General Assembly’s upgrade of
the Palestinians’ status to “non-member state”, saying Abbas should instead
resume peace talks that collapsed in 2010 over Israeli settlement-building.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund said in September that a
gathering crisis in the Palestinian economy will worsen unless foreign
funding increases and Israel eases long-standing curbs on development. In a
separate report, the World Bank also forecast a $1.5 billion Palestinian
budget deficit for 2012, with donor funds likely to cover only $1.14 billion
of the shortfall.

Last Thursday, the Palestinian cabinet said in Ramallah that $240 million
were needed every month to meet demands arising from the Israeli decision to
stop customs revenues transfers.

The Palestinian Authority receives most of its aid from the US, the EU and
Arab states. But over the past several years there has been a shortfall in
aid coming from Arab states resulting in the PA being unable to pay salaries
to its 153,000 civil servants on time on several occasions. The
administration has yet to pay November salaries following Israel’s decision
to withhold money transfers.

The Arab ministers also called for convening of a donors conference to
discuss ways to support the Palestinians in the West Bank and discuss
reconstruction in Gaza Strip.

Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, pledged $400 million to
help develop Gaza during a visit there in October. But recent fighting
between Hamas rulers and Israel has caused further destruction to the
territory, requiring more funds for reconstruction. — Reuters

+++SOURCE:Naharnet (Lebanon) 10 Dec.’12:”Palestinianns Weigh New Peace Talks
Bid.
SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 10 Dec.’12:”Palestinians Weigh New Peace Talks
Bid”, Aggence France Presse
SUBJECT: Palestinians-Israel peace talks

SUBJECT:”The Palestinians are looking to reactivate peace talks with Israel”

FULL TEXT:The Palestinians are looking to reactivate peace talks with Israel
with the aim of resolving all final status issues within six months, a
senior official said on Monday[10 Dec.’12.

Speaking to the official Voice of Palestine radio, negotiator Saeb Erakat
said "a new stage" had been reached after the Palestinians successfully won
non-member status at the United Nations.

"After the U.N. resolution... a new stage has certainly started," he said,
speaking a day after Arab League ministers met in Doha, Qatar.

The historic U.N. vote on November 29 had convinced the Arab world that "the
peace process, and its references and involved parties including the (Middle
East) Quartet, should be reconsidered," he said.

By the end of December, a Palestinian committee would work up action plans
after which it would travel to the five permanent U.N. Security Council
members -- Britain, France, Russia, China and the U.S. -- to see "whether
there is a chance for the peace process and on which principles it should
held".

Direct peace talks which began in September 2010 fell apart several weeks
later over a dispute over settlements, with the Palestinians calling for a
construction freeze and Israel arguing for a return to talks without such
preconditions.

Erakat outlined three principles for a return to the negotiating table with
the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The first principle is that the goal of the peace process -- according to
all previously signed agreements and international law -- is the withdrawal
of Israel to the June 4, 1967 borderline, including Jerusalem," he said.

"The second principle is related to the necessity of re-launching
negotiations from the point they were halted, which means they should not
start from scratch like Netanyahu wants them to be.

"The third principle is to set a six-month time-table for the negotiations
to reach an agreement over all final status issues," he said.

"Settlement activity should be halted during this period of time and
Palestinian prisoners should be released in accordance with previously
signed agreements and not as preconditions."

Before the start of talks in 2010, Israel observed a 10-month freeze on new
West Bank construction, but has refused repeated requests to renew it,
dismissing it as an unacceptable "precondition" for talks, although the
Palestinians say it is an "obligation" under international law

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 10 Dec.’12:”Morsi Grants Police Powers to Army
for Referendum”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Egypt’s army granted police power
QUOTE: “National Salvation Front(NSF)’We do not recognize the draft
constitution because it does not represent the Egyptian people’ “

FULL TEXT:President Mohammed Morsi has ordered Egypt's army from Monday[10
Dec.] to take on police powers -- including the right to arrest civilians --
in the run-up to a vote on a constitution that has triggered bloodshed.

The decree takes effect on the eve of mass rival protests on the referendum
that is to be staged on Saturday[15 Dec.], and follows street clashes that
have left seven people dead and hundreds injured.

It orders the military to fully cooperate with police "to preserve security
and protect vital state institutions for a temporary period, up to the
announcement of the results from the referendum," according to a copy of the
decree obtained by Agence France Presse.

Army officers "all have powers of legal arrest," it says.

The military, which ruled Egypt between former president Hosni Mubarak's
ouster in February 2011 to Morsi's election in June 2012, has sought to
remain neutral in the political crisis.

But it has warned it "will not allow" the situation to deteriorate, and
urged both sides to dialogue.

Army tanks and troops have since Thursday[6 Dec] deployed around Morsi's
presidential palace. But they have not confronted thousands of protesters
who have gathered there every night.

The opposition, made up of secular, liberal, leftwing and Christian groups,
has said it will escalate its protests to scupper the referendum.

It views the new constitution, largely drawn up by Morsi's Islamist allies,
as undermining human rights, the rights of women, religious minorities, and
curtailing the independence of the judiciary.

Morsi has defiantly pushed on with the draft charter, seeing it as necessary
to secure democratic reform in the wake of Mubarak's 30-year autocratic
rule.

Late Sunday[9 Dec.], the main opposition group, the National Salvation
Front, called for huge protests in Cairo to reject the December 15
constitutional referendum.

It said Morsi used near-absolute powers he had decreed himself last month to
railroad through the draft constitution, and his revocation of those powers
on the weekend came too late.

"We do not recognize the draft constitution because it does not represent
the Egyptian people," National Salvation Front spokesman Sameh Ashour told a
news conference.

In recent days, the protesters have hardened their slogans, going beyond
criticism of the decree and the referendum to demand Morsi's ouster.

The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, shot back that Islamist
movements would counter with their own big rallies in the capital in support
of the referendum.

"We are calling for a demonstration Tuesday, under the slogan 'Yes to
legitimacy'," the Brotherhood's spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan, told AFP.

Morsi's camp argues it is up to the people to accept or reject the draft
constitution.

A group of senior judges on Monday said pro-Morsi Islamist protesters would
have to lift a week-long sit-in on the constitutional court before they
would consider overseeing the referendum.

If the charter is rejected, Morsi has promised to have a new one drawn up by
100 officials chosen directly by the public rather than appointed by the
Islamist-dominated parliament.

But analysts said still-strong public support for Morsi and the
Brotherhood's proven ability to mobilize at grassroots level would likely
help the draft constitution be adopted.

"The Muslim Brotherhood believes that it has majority support so it can win
the constitutional referendum," said Eric Trager, analyst at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy.

If that happens, he warned, it would "set up the country for prolonged
instability".

SourceAgence France Presse

+++Source; jordan Times 10 Dec.’12:”Injured Syrians pour into Jordan amid
border battle”, by Taylor Luck
SUBJECT: Continuing Syrian escape to Jordan
QUOTE: “An estimated 10,000 displaced Syrians stranded in the border region
awaiting an opportunity to cross into the Kingdom”
FULL TEXT:AMMAN — Ten injured Syrians arrived in Jordan Sunday[9 Dec]
evening, officials said, amid intensified clashes between regime and rebel
forces over control of the border region.

According to a Jordanian security source, the injured Syrians arrived in the
Jordanian villages of Al Turra and Thneib after fleeing violence in the
border town of Tal Shihab.

Authorities transferred the Syrians, who sustained shrapnel injuries and
bullet wounds, to the nearby Ramtha Public Hospital for treatment, added the
source, who is stationed along the border region and requested anonymity
because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

As of late Sunday[9 Dec.], four of the injured Syrians were listed in
“critical condition”.

Sunday’s[9 Dec.] arrivals are the first of what officials expect to be a
flood of injured Syrians as Damascus launched a military offensive to regain
control of large swathes of land and its shared borders with Jordan.

According to Syrian activists, regime forces began heavy shelling of the
southern cities of Tal Shihab, Nasib and Daraa in what rebel forces are
calling a “definitive battle” for control of southern Syria.

“The regime is deploying tanks, jet fighters, everything it can to demolish
southern Syria,” said Abu Hani, a coordinator with the rebel Free Syrian
Army near Daraa.

“The regime knows that this is its last stand in southern Syria. God
willing, we will make it its last stand in all of Syria.”

Syrian activists claimed earlier this week that the Free Syrian Army has
gained control over as much as 80 per cent of the 370-kilometre border and
is pushing to take the regime’s last remaining strongholds, the Nasib and
Ramtha border crossings.

As of late Sunday[8 Dec.], Syrian regime forces remained in control of major
crossing points along its southern borders, Jordanian officials said.

Intensified clashes between regime and rebel forces have affected the flow
of refugees into Jordan in recent weeks, with an estimated 10,000 displaced
Syrians stranded in the border region awaiting an opportunity to cross into
the Kingdom.

Officials reported some 20 injuries among an influx of 500 Syrian refugees
late Saturday[8 Dec.] night.

In face of the intensified violence, Jordan continues to maintain an
open-border policy that has led to the entry of 250,000 Syrians since the
onset of the conflict in March, 2011

+++SOURCE:JORDAN TIMES 10 Dec.’12:”Egypt’s Morsi overplayed his hand”,
Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Egypt’s President Morsi ‘overreached’
QUOTE:” Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, overreached by giving
himself broad powers . . . analysts say”
CAIRO — Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, overreached by giving
himself broad powers and trying to ram through a new constitution without
sufficient consultation, analysts say.

His abrupt annulment on the weekend of a November decree putting himself
above judicial review — after weeks of sometimes bloody protests at his
perceived “power grab” — was reluctant recognition of that.

But even then, it came only after the army stepped in to demand negotiations
to solve the country’s dire crisis.

And Morsi’s referendum on the draft constitution is still scheduled for next
Saturday[15 Dec.], leaving open the prospect of further upheaval and
division.

Wayne White, a former senior US State Department intelligence official now a
policy expert with Washington’s Middle East Policy Council, said the
involvement of the powerful military was key to Morsi’s concession.

Perception that opposition had grown to Morsi’s rule likely pushed the
generals to “inform him that they cannot continue to keep the peace and that
he should make serious concessions to the opposition,” he said.

A demand by the army on Saturday[8 Dec.] for Morsi and the opposition to
open dialogue to avert a “disastrous” worsening of the crisis — which the
military said it “will not allow” — was a warning to both sides, observers
said.

It was addressed “as much to the Muslim Brotherhood as to the liberals [the
opposition],” Hassan Nafaa, an Egyptian political watcher and columnist,
told AFP.

Analysts agreed that Morsi, elected with a slim mandate in June, would
probably see the referendum adopt the constitution drafted mostly by his
Islamist allies, in no small part thanks to his Muslim Brotherhood.

But they warned the effects of that would be damaging.

“The Muslim Brotherhood believes that it has majority support so it can win
the constitutional referendum,” said Eric Trager, an analyst at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

If that occurred, it would “set up the country for prolonged instability,”
he warned.

Morsi, still inexperienced in power, saw himself and the Brotherhood as the
sole best defenders of Egypt’s fledgling democracy post-Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s
strongman for 30 years who was toppled early last year, according to
analysts.

“Morsi’s miscalculation... was to think that everyone understood the results
of the Egyptian elections the way the Brothers did,” Steven Cook wrote in
the Foreign Affairs magazine published by the American Council on Foreign
Relations.

“In other words, that they gave him and his party a mandate to rule with
little regard to those who might disagree.”

But Yasser El Shimy, an Egypt-based analyst for the International Crisis
Group, judged that the Brotherhood’s trench mentality stemmed from “all the
attacks against it” — both in the media and physically — against its members
and offices.

Morsi saw an initial outreach to the opposition spurned, so felt he was
right in trying to bulldoze ahead, Shimy said.

Circumstances forced the last-minute concessions, but “whether they will be
enough for hardline opposition figures remains to be seen”.

The anti-Morsi mood in Cairo’s streets in recent days has swung close to the
revolutionary zeal seen during Mubarak’s ouster in early 2011.

Bringing both camps back to a democratic forum, with its inevitable
compromises and horse-trading, requires overcoming ideological stands and a
mutual mistrust that has been hardened by the weeks of confrontation.

Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Centre said in a paper on the Brookings
Institute website that the crisis “isn’t really about Morsi and his surprise
decree” but rather about a more fundamental difference: Should Egypt become
more Islamist or maintain secular, more neutral underpinnings?”

“The [draft] constitution has a few Islamically flavoured articles, but for
the most part it is a mediocre — and somewhat boring — document, based as it
was on the similarly mediocre 1971 constitution,” Hamid said.

“’Islamists’ and ‘non-Islamists’ may hate each other, but, on substance, the
gap isn’t currently as large as it might be ... In the longer run, however,
the consensus that so many seem to be searching and hoping for may not
actually exist”

==========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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