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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Excerpts: Egypt military chief calls for national dialogue. Denmark Jews warned not to wear religious symbols. U.S. to retain strong Mideast presence December 12, 2012

Excerpts: Egypt military chief calls for 'national dialogue'. Denmark Jews
warned not to wear religious symbols. U.S. to 'retain' strong Mideast
presence December 12, 2012

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 12 Dec.’12:”Egypt military chief calls for national
dialogue today[12 Dec.], Agence France Presse

SUBJECT: Egypt military chief calls for ‘national dialogue’

QUOTE:”not enough judges to oversee the referendum”

FULL TEXT:CAIRO – The head of the Egyptian military called for a “national
dialogue” to be held Wednesday[12 Dec.] in an attempt to resolve the
political crisis gripping the Arab world’s most populous country, a military
source said.

“Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is calling for all sections of the
people to convene a national dialogue at the Olympic Village tomorrow [12
Dec.],” the military source said.

Another source said Sisi, who is also the army chief, and President Mohamed
Morsi would attend the talks at 1430 GMT.

Meanwhile, the head of Egypt’s key association of judges says 90 percent of
its members have voted not to oversee Saturday’s[15 Dec.] nationwide
referendum on the country’s contentious draft constitution.

Ahmed El-Zind, the chairman of the Judges’ Club, announced the decision
Tuesday[11 Dec..

The move is unlikely to stop the referendum from taking place, but it casts
further doubt on the legitimacy of the constitutional drafting process.

Morsi’s deputy has said that if there are not enough judges to oversee the
referendum, the vote can be staggered over several days.

A faction of judges loyal to Morsi has said it would not boycott the vote.

Egypt is sharply divided and polarized over the draft constitution, which
was hurriedly approved by an Islamist-dominated constituent assembly despite
an opposition boycott.

Earlier Tuesday[12 Dec., masked gunmen attacked opposition protesters camped
out at Cairo’s Tahrir Square, firing birdshot at them and wounding nine
people, security officials said.

The attack stoked tensions as several hundred protesters breached a concrete
and metal barricade outside the presidential palace, forcing back the
soldiers manning it.

Rival mass rallies were held in the Egyptian capital by supporters and
opponents of the country’s Islamist president over a disputed draft
constitution.

The charter has vastly polarized the nation and triggered some of the worst
violence since Mohamed Morsi took office in June as Egypt’s first freely
elected president.

It was unclear who was behind the pre-dawn attack on the protesters who have
been staging a sit-in at Tahrir for nearly three weeks, said the officials.

As protesters advanced hundreds of soldiers who had erected the barrier at
the weekend to block access roads following deadly clashes in the area last
week fell back closer to the palace. Six tanks were stationed close to the
walled compound.

A counter-demonstration by Morsi supporters was taking place a few
kilometers away, raising fears of further clashes. – Agencies

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 12 Dec.’12:”Jews warned not to Wear Religious
Symbols in Copenhagen”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT :Denmark Jews warned not to wear religious symbols
QUOTE: The warnings come a few weeks after an attack on the Israeli Embassy
in Copenhagen”
Israeli and Jewish officials in Denmark on Wednesday[12 Dec.] warned Jews to
avoid openly wearing religious symbols and dress when moving about
Copenhagen amid rising anti-Israeli sentiment.

[IMRA: Whatever has happened to “Wonderful, Wonderful Copehagen ?]

"We advise Israelis who come to Denmark and want to go to the synagogue to
wait to don their skull caps until they enter the building and not to wear
them in the street, irrespective of whether the areas they are visiting are
seen as being safe," Israel's ambassador to Denmark, Arthur Avnon, told AFP.

Avnon added that visitors were also advised not to "speak Hebrew loudly" or
demonstrably wear Star of David jewelery.

Denmark's national Jewish Religious Community organization has also advised
its members, and those at the private Jewish school in Copenhagen, to
exercise caution.

Caroline Jewish School headmaster Jan Hansen told daily Jyllands-Posten: "It
is not something that we do officially, but if the issue comes up we would
say (to our pupils) they should think twice before walking into certain
areas of Copenhagen with a skull cap or Star of David."

The warnings come a few weeks after an attack on the Israeli embassy in
Copenhagen in the wake of increasing cross-border tensions between Israel
and Hamas in Gaza, and Israeli plans to expand settlements.

Some 20 demonstrators lobbed stones and fireworks at the embassy building on
November 19. Graffiti with the word "childkillers" was painted on the
embassy entrance wall.

No one was hurt in the incident and one person has since been charged in the
attack.

Avnon said that after the attack, a lower-ranking officer from Denmark's
foreign ministry had called the embassy offering to pay for some of the
damage to the building, but that otherwise official Denmark had not reacted
to the incident.

According to figures from the Jewish Belief Center (Mosaisk Trossamfund),
the organization has received 37 reports of anti-Jewish incidents this year,
predominantly in the heavily immigrant Noerrebro neighborhood and around the
Jewish synagogue in central Copenhagen.

Denmark's Jewish community is estimated at between 6,000 and 8,000 people

+++SOURCE: Jorfan Times 12 Dec.’12:”US military to keep ‘strong’ role in
Mideast –Panetta”, Agence France Presse

SUBJECT: U.S.to ‘retain’ strong Mideast presence

QUOTE:”Panetta: The US military will retain a ‘strong presence’ in the
Middle East despite a strategic shift to Asia”

FULL TEXT:KUWAIT CITY — The US military will retain a “strong presence” in
the Middle East despite a strategic shift to Asia, Defence Secretary Leon
Panetta said Tuesday[11 Dec.] during a visit to Kuwait.

The United States plans to deploy a majority of its naval fleet to the
Asia-Pacific along with other advanced weaponry but Panetta insisted that a
robust American force would remain in place in the Middle East.

Panetta spoke to reporters aboard his plane travelling to Kuwait City on a
two-day visit to discuss bolstering security ties amid tumult in the region
and tensions with Iran.

“Let me assure you that the United States is strong enough that we can
maintain a strong presence in the Middle East as well as in the Pacific,” he
said.

He acknowledged that the United States had to be “flexible” in managing its
forces in a more austere era and that it would have only one aircraft
carrier in the Middle East for about two months to allow for maintenance
work on another carrier, the USS Nimitz.

The American military still had nearly 50,000 troops and warships positioned
across the region, he said.

“But in the end, I am very confident that we’re going to be able to maintain
the ships and forces we need in order to respond to any contingency.”

The United States has deployed more ships and aircraft in the strategic Gulf
over the past year after Iran threatened to close the strategic Strait of
Hormuz if Western countries boycotted Iranian oil exports.

Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, held talks at his residence
with Panetta in the presence of the crown prince, the prime minister,
defence minister and senior officials, the state-run KUNA news agency
reported.

KUNA provided no details about the talks.

During the visit, which ends on Wednesday[12 Dec.]]], Panetta also plans to
meet some of the 13,500 US troops stationed in the Gulf state to thank them
for their service ahead of the Christmas holidays.

His visit is the first to the emirate by a Pentagon chief in five years.

“We share a history of cooperation that goes back to the first Gulf War,” in
1991 that ousted Iraqi occupation forces, Panetta said of Kuwait, calling
the country an “important partner”.

“I look forward to discussing with the government of Kuwait how can we
enhance that cooperation in the face of regional security challenges in the
area,” he said.

“Our presence in Kuwait and throughout the Gulf helps enhance the
capabilities of partner nations, deters aggression and helps ensure that we’re
better able to respond to crises in the region.”

Panetta’s visit coincides with a wave of protests in the oil-rich Gulf
state, with thousands of opposition demonstrators demanding fresh elections
due to a bitter dispute over amendments to the country’s electoral law.

Kuwaiti activists have called for protesters to camp outside parliament next
Saturday[15 Dec.] on the eve of its opening session.

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

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