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Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Excerpts:Egypts no-win situation. Turkey crackdown on radical group. Jordans King -Russias Putin Moscow meeting . EU offers Syria rebels more aid. Canada support to Jordan re Syria crisis 19 February 2013

Excerpts:Egypt's 'no-win situation. Turkey crackdown on radical
group.Jordan's King -Russia's Putin Moscow meeting .EU offers Syria rebels
more aid.Canada support to Jordan re Syria crisis 19 February 2013

+++SOURCE: The Syria Report 18 Feb.’113:”Rebel Successes in the East Risk
Straining Further Supplies in Large Urban Centres”
SUBJECT: Successes by rebels strain supplies in urban centers

TEXT:The recent string of successes by rebels in Syria’s northeast threatens
to strain further the supply of key commodities in the country’s urban
centres.

+++SOURCE: The Syria Report 18 Feb.’13:”Government Lifts Penalties on Tax
Payments Arrears in Bid to Collect Cash”

SUBJECT:No tax penalties for arrears, bid for needed cash

TEXT”The Syrian President has issued a decree lifting penalties on tax
payments arrears in a bid to collect much needed cash for the government

+++SOURCE: Egyptian Gazette 19 Feb.’13:”Locked in a no-win situation”, By
Ramadan A. Kader
SUBJECT: Egypt’s ‘no-win situation’

QUOTE:” Egypt’s economy bears the brunt of the political turmoil”

FULL TEXT:Both the ruling Islamists and the opposition are apparently
playing for time as their dispute drags on unresolved. However, the two
disputants seem oblivious to the risks involved, as Egypt's economy bears
the brunt of the political turmoil.

Critical phase: The polls will test the popularity of the opposition, mainly
the National Salivation Front, that has been in the forefront of Morsi’s
critics in the past three months.

Months after the crisis first erupted over the Islamist President Mohammed
Morsi’s decree granting himself sweeping powers, neither he nor the
secular-minded opposition has given any signal of compromise.

For Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, the opposition will be soon
overwhelmed by the parliamentary elections, expected to be held in April.

The polls will put to the test the popularity of the opposition, mainly the
National Salvation Front (NSF) that has been in the forefront of Morsi’s
critics in the past three months.

The Brotherhood have always displayed organisational skills and the ability
to mobilise a wide grassroots support base at election time, even when the
group were outlawed under the Mubarak reign.

The Brotherhood aim to gain an outright majority in the coming vote in order
to form the Government without having to ally themselves with other
Islamists. This aim will be hard to come by this time, however.

The Brotherhood’s popularity has recently suffered due to their failure to
keep their promises to improve the living conditions for ordinary Egyptians.
Even a landslide win for the Brotherhood is unlikely to end the crisis with
their critics, who accuse them of seeking to monopolise power.

The opposition has yet to say clearly whether it will compete in the
elections.

Leaders of the NSF have recently conditioned their participation in the
polls on getting certain guarantees, including replacing the incumbent
Islamist-backed Government with a non-partisan cabinet, to ensure fair and
free elections.

Morsi’s backers dismiss this suggestion as impractical, saying that the
balloting is just round the corner.

The opposition, blamed by Islamists for a recent wave of street violence,
appears to pin hopes on the time factor too.

The opposition believes that, as time goes by, more and more people will get
angry with Morsi, as his administration fails to revitalise a battered
economy and deal with a security breakdown.

The possibility of Egypt securing a $4.8 billion loan from the International
Monetary Fund is becoming remote, as Morsi appears unwilling to implement a
package of austerity measures. The loan is necessary for Egypt to prop up
its finances and curb a bloated budget deficit.

Reducing the State subsidies on basic commodities and hiking up taxes top
the austerity measures. Yet enforcing these measures in the next few months
jeopardises the gains, which the Brotherhood eye in the coming elections.

The nation's foreign reserves have plummeted to $13.6 billion from $36
billion in the final days of Mubarak's rule.

The opposition assumes that the time factor is working against Morsi, who
will eventually have to make concessions if the political and economic
situation is to stabilise.

In fact, the calculations of both sides are taking Egypt nowhere. The
protracted wrangling is bleeding the country heavily and jeopardising its
democratic transition.

The scale of street violence is growing, amid increasing reports about
activists disappearing, spiralling crime rates and instances of mob justice.

A severe fuel shortage is another cause for concern and resentment. The
moral and street authority of the State institutions is glaringly being
eroded.

A recent warning by the Defence Minister, that political squabbling is
threatening the State with collapse, should prompt the ruling Islamists and
the opposition to realise that everyone in this country stands to lose. Time
is running out for them to pull back from the brink.

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 19 Feb.’113:”Nationwide Crackdown on Radical
Group after U.S. Mission Attack in Ankara, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Turkey crackdown on radical group

QUOTE:” Turkish police launched a massive nationwide crackdown Tuesday (19
Feb.] against radical Marxist group which claimed a suicide bomb attack
against the U.S. embassy this month”

FULL TEXT:Turkish police launched a massive nationwide crackdown Tuesday[19
Feb.] against a radical Marxist group which claimed a suicide bomb attack
against the U.S. embassy this month, the state-run Anatolia news agency
reported.

Police issued arrest warrants for 167 people in 28 cities as part of the
operation against the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front (DHKP-C),
which is classified as a terrorist organisation by the United States,
Anatolia said.

A Turkish guard at the U.S. embassy in Ankara was killed in the February 1
attack and three other people including a journalist were wounded.

The outlawed DHKP-C has waged a string of attacks over the past few decades
that have left dozens of people dead, including prominent political and
military figures.

The fiercely anti-U.S. group has threatened further attacks on other U.S.
diplomatic facilities in Turkey

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 19 Feb.’13:”King to visit Moscow for talks with
Putin”
SUBJECT: Jordan’s King and Russia’s Putin Moscow meeting 19 Feb.
QUOTE: “Putin dubbed Jordan a ‘key partner’ of Russia”
AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah will visit Moscow on Tuesday\19 Feb.] for
talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on bilateral relations and
regional issues, a Royal Court statement said.

During his visit to the Kingdom in June, Putin dubbed Jordan a “key partner”
of Russia, and commended Jordan’s proactive role in the region.

Meanwhile, His Majesty received US Senator Marco Rubio on Monday[18 Feb.],
who is currently visiting the Kingdom.

During the meeting, the King and the US lawmaker discussed means to enhance
bilateral relations and the latest developments in the Middle East.

The King returned to Jordan on Sunday[17 Feb.] after a four-day private
visit.

The King also received a delegation of senior officers from the US National
Defence University, chaired by Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, USMC (Ret).

Currently in the Kingdom as part of a regional tour, the delegates were
briefed on regional peace efforts and the latest developments in Syria.

The Monarch also highlighted several current regional and international
issues.

Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh and US Ambassador to Jordan Stewart Jones
attended the meeting.

Also on Monday[18 Feb.], Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh met with Rubio and
discussed bilateral ties and the latest regional developments.

Judeh briefed the US lawmaker about Jordan’s reform process, pointing to the
consultations the Royal Court is holding with deputies to form Jordan’s
first parliamentary government.

For his part, Rubio described the Kingdom’s reform process as a “success
story” that is highly appreciated worldwide.

The two sides also underlined the need to push the peace process in the
Middle East forward and exert all possible efforts to resume peace
negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, reviewing Jordan’s
efforts in this regard.

Judeh highlighted the key role Washington can play in pushing the peace
process forward, pointing out that all final status issues, including
Jerusalem, borders, water and refugees are top priorities for Jordan.

The two sides also reviewed the developments in Syria, calling for a
peaceful solution to end the bloodshed there.

In this context, Judeh briefed Rubio about the humanitarian aid Jordan
offers to Syrian refugees, calling on the international community to help
the Kingdom in this mission.

Rubio voiced his country’s appreciation of Jordan’s efforts to achieve peace
and stability in the region and its humanitarian assistance to the Syrian
refugees

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 19 Feb.’13:”EU will not lift Syria arms embargo, but
offers rebels more aid”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT:EU offers Syria rebels more aid
QUOTE:”European Union agreed to allow ‘non-lethal’ aid and ‘technical
assistance’ to flow to the opposition”
FULL TEXT:BRUSSELS — European Union foreign ministers on Monday[18 Feb.]
stopped short of meeting Britain’s demand to lift an arms embargo on Syria
but agreed to allow “non-lethal” aid and “technical assistance” to flow to
the opposition.

“We would’ve gone further, some were against. This is a compromise,” said
British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the close of talks with his 26 EU
counterparts. “We will return to it in three months.”

After weeks of “divisive” talk on whether to arm Syria’s rebels, the
ministers in a lengthy session agreed to renew sanctions against President
Bashar Assad until the end of May that notably bar the supply of any lethal
weaponry to the country — regime or rebel.

But this was while “amending them so as to provide greater non-lethal
support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians”, an EU
statement said.

The ministers would again “assess and review, if necessary, the sanctions
regime” after three months, it added.

Hague said details on goods or expertise — such as trainers, helmets or
protective clothing — likely to flow to Syria would be issued in the coming
days, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said legal experts would
ensure the change was in line with common policy.

“It’s not about military support,” said Ashton. “It’s about how to make sure
to give the best possible support to the protection of civilians.”

Hague, however, said the agreement to amend the arms embargo “establishes an
extremely important precedent”.

The bloc’s wide-ranging measures against Syria, including the arms ban but
also targeting scores of Assad cronies and regime-friendly firms, as well as
oil, trade and finance, expire at the end of the month.

Their renewal requires unanimity.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, whose country along with Italy
offered London some backing, said Monday’s decision showed “extra support”
for the Syrian National Coalition fighting the Assad regime and a response
to a request for aid from SNC leader Mouaz Al Khatib.

“The decision’s in line with France’s position. So I’m very pleased,” he
said.

Hague on arrival had called for changes to the existing arms ban “so that we
can provide a broader range of support to the SNC”.

“We give them strong political and diplomatic support. We also give them
assistance in terms of equipment at the moment to help them try to save
people’s lives,” he added. “I think there is a broader range of equipment
that we could give to them.”

But Britain found little support with only days left before the deadline to
renew the sanctions expired.

“I don’t see any need to amend the embargo, I don’t think it would make
sense to send more weapons to Syria,” said Austria’s Michael Spindelegger,
echoing counterparts from Cyprus, Sweden and Spain.

Even Ashton, a British baroness who represents London on the European
Commission, appeared opposed.

“Delivering arms might bring about a new military balance on the ground,”
said an internal paper on the matter drafted for the member states by her
service.

“But it could also fuel further militarisation of the conflict, increase
risks of dissemination among extremist groups and of arms proliferation in a
post-Assad Syria,” said the paper, which was obtained by AFP.

“Broadly speaking any EU decision allowing arms transfer to the opposition
should take into account obligations under international law as well as EU
treaty and principles,” the paper added.

Sweden’s Carl Bildt had underlined the ill timing of any such move, saying
the EU should “concentrate the maximum support” on current efforts to push a
political settlement.”

UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was supposed to attend Monday’s[18
Feb.] talks but had to pull out as efforts mount to make good an offer from
Khatib to negotiate with some regime figures

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 19 Ffeb.’13:”Canada to support Jordan in hosting
Syrian refugees”, Petra

SUBJECT: Canada support to Jordan re Syria crisis

FULL TEXT: AMMAN — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Awad
Khleifat on Monday[18 Feb.] met with Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic
Toews and discussed the latest regional developments, particularly the
Syrian crisis.

Khleifat briefed Toews on the humanitarian services Jordan provides for
Syrian refugees, highlighting the economic burden they impose on the Kingdom’s
resources.

For his part, Toews said he will present his government with a special
report on the situation of Syrian refugees in Jordan in order to provide the
Kingdom with urgent cash and in-kind assistance as soon as possible

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

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