Egyptian Aak 2015 – Week 48 (Nov 21- 27)

5 Stars Read This First Whether or Not Your Part of the World is Burning Yet It WillUnless You Read This FIRST Dr Nevana Mahmoud the Only Expert That Matters Read Egyptian Aak First


Top Headlines

  • IS militants claim hotel attack that killed seven in Sinai. (Tuesday)
  • Egypt to buy advanced weapons from Moscow. (Wednesday)
  • Pope Tawadros II breaks with predecessor’s ban, flies to Jerusalem for bishop’s funeral. (Thursday)
  • Egypt cancels reservations on the African Charter of Child’s rights. (Friday)
  • IS affiliate in Egypt claims responsibility for killing 4 policemen in Giza. (Saturday)
  • Sisi inaugurate new Suez Canal industrial zone. (Sunday)

Main Headlines



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Jailed journalists’ letter to Angela Merkel

Dear Mrs. Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel,We are journalists who are convinced that Turkey is part of the European family and will therefore gain a more distant future, not the status of EU full membership.

We write these lines from the Silivri Prison in Turkey.
The freedom of speech is an essential value of our common civilization history.

We were arrested because we have taken our right to freedom of expression in claim and because we defend the freedom of information to the public. That is why we have already taken during our ongoing legal proceedings in detention.
On weekends you will meet together with the Turkish Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and the government whose policy and everyday practice are known, unfortunately, let each esteem and all respect for the freedom of speech is missing.
However, negotiations with Turkey to a solution to the refugee crisis, which has reached heartbreaking proportions.
We also hope for the best possible solution for all parties.
But we also hope that the best possible solution for the refugee crisis will not prevent to continue to hold the western values ​​such as civil rights, freedom of speech up and defend them.
Our common Values, however, are only to defend, if we all stand together and act in solidarity.
In this sense, we would ask you right now very insistent about your solidarity.
On behalf of all journalists imprisoned in Turkey
Can Dundar
Erdem Gul


Sehr geehrte Frau Bundeskanzlerin Dr. Angela Merkel,

Wir sind Journalisten, die der festen Überzeugung sind, dass die Türkei ein Teil der europäischen Familie ist und deshalb eines nicht mehr fernen Tages den Status der EU Vollmitgliedschaft erlangen wird.

Wir schreiben Ihnen diese Zeilen aus dem Silivri-Gefängnis in der Türkei.
Die Meinungs- und Redefreiheit sind ein unverzichtbarer Wert unserer gemeinsamen Zivilisationsgeschichte.

Wir sind verhaftet worden, weil wir unser Recht auf Meinungsfreiheit in Anspruch genommen haben und weil wir die Informationsfreiheit der Öffentlichkeit verteidigen. Deshalb wurden wir bereits während unseres laufenden Gerichtsverfahrens in Haft genommen.
Am Wochenende treffen Sie mit dem türkischen Ministerpräsidenten zusammen.  Der Ministerpräsident und die Regierung, dessen Politik und alltägliche Praxis bekannt sind, lassen leider jede Achtung und jeden Respekt für die Meinungs- und Pressefreiheit vermissen.
Sie jedoch verhandeln mit der Türkei um eine Lösung für die Flüchtlingskrise, die herzzerreißende Ausmaße erreicht hat.
Auch wir hoffen auf die bestmögliche Lösung für alle Beteiligten.
Wir hoffen aber auch, dass die bestmögliche Lösung für die…

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The world’s failed war on terrorism – Opinion – Ahram Online


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Source: The world’s failed war on terrorism – Opinion – Ahram Online


Sinai, Beirut, Paris, Bamako, and Tunis: the latest terror attacks across three continents are a rude reminder to our global community that vicious anti-modernity bullies continue to foment hatred and violence.

By slaughtering innocents, regressive radicals attempt to force brutal barbarism onto the world as a new norm. Are we ready to fight such ruthless evil? Judging by the array of responses to the recent terror attacks, the answer is undoubtedly ‘no.’

The global community is not united against terrorism. While we may be united in condemnation, we differ on everything else.

Whenever there is a major terrorist attack in a Western city, an updated version of Godwin’s law (as a discussion gets longer, inevitably someone will compare the situation to Hitler or Nazism) usually applies, in which the subject is Islam instead of Nazism.

In contemporary terror events, after the initial shock, a futile and mushrooming dialogue emerges, comprised of clashes, conflicting opinions, bitterness, victimhood, and finger pointing that eventually leads to Islam.

Two camps typically emerge. One defends Islam and is composed mainly of Muslims and leftist, liberal Westerners. A second cluster ruthlessly bashes and demonizes Muslims.

The overall result is a pointless zero-sum outcome that does not effectively confront terrorism or minimize the growing Islamophobia in various Western societies.

Our collective failure to fight terror effectively stems from our own inability to focus on the task. Instead, we engage in nonsensical bickering over semantics. Is it Islam or not? Is it politics or religion?

The futile judging of “Islam”

Unlike what many Muslims and the liberal western elite emphasize, contemporary terrorism undoubtedly has a religious element to it. It is frankly disingenuous to deny this reality. It is also futile, however, to judge Islam. Islam is not an entity, a specific institution, or a state.

Like other religions, Islam is not what is written in texts, but what people opt to apply in their life.

Radicals have simply resurrected older interpretations of Islamic texts and twisted such concepts in cynical farcical ways to validate their gruesome actions. Their behavior is actually a reflection of the broader cultural suicide of the Muslim world, and not on the Muslim faith per se.

It is about time to admit that we have failed to establish a modern Islamic culture that engages our youth and prevents them from drifting toward radicalism. Our Islam struggles to survive because various actors politicize Islam and become agents of death who sell the afterlife as the ultimate alternative.

Our current cultural bankruptcy has led even mainstream religious institutions to glamorize the past. Our text books have whitewashed the past–Andalucía, the Ottoman Empire, the Abbasid Caliphate, Salahdin, and many more–of all negative aspects.

Instead they offer fairytales to our youth. This results in a rise of escapism as an antidote to modern challenges. Our Islamic past has become an opiate for many Muslims aspiring to a better life. It is no wonder that ISIS and Co. attract many disenchanted youth, including losers like Salah Abdesalam, the mastermind of the Paris attacks, and his gang.

Some argue rightly, that Islamic teaching needs reform with more liberal interpretations. This is indeed true. Nonetheless, radicalism is not just about what is written in text, but also about one’s susceptibility toward accepting religious regression.

Without confronting our escapism to the past and glamorization of past figures, some youth will dismiss liberal interpretations and only dig deeper in search for past heroes.

Our Muslim communities urgently need a dose of realism about Islamic history. None of our Islamic heroes was an angel.

Islam teaches us that no human is perfect, so why do our scholars insist that our past leaders were perfect? Our youth need a clear mirror that highlights how our past included colonialism and imperialism that were neither fair nor just.

Our past wars were as savage as the current war in Syria—and even worse. Our ancestors were not perfect. Only with a clearer historical periscope can our youth reject the backwardness and medievalism promoted by the Islamic State and other radicals.

Abusing the war against terrorism for political reasons

With respect, I doubt that the right and left in the political sphere are giving the current terror attacks the seriousness they deserve. Decades after WWII, it seems we have lost our ability to appreciate global threats and instead constantly frame them within our narrow political interests.

In America for example, Obama is now more concerned about his own legacy than the impact of his timid foreign polices. In comparison, Republicans are demonizing Syrian refugees to look tough on terrorism.

The situation in Europe is not better. It was painful to read in July how Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, argued that the Iran agreement is a disaster for ISIS.

Events this November have proven how this opinion was merely wishful thinking. Many in the West are falling into the Islamists’ narrative that Muslims are one nation.

Sadly, we are not. A deal with Shia Iran only helped Sunni, Jihadi groups like ISIS. Such groups consider Shia as apostates and flourish among disfranchised Sunnis. These conflicting views have accelerated the on-going cold war in the Middle East between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Another argument links political oppression against Islamists with the rise of radical Jihadists. Advocates of this argument conveniently ignore the repeated terror attacks in Tunisia, and claim that Islamist youth turn violent only because democratic channels are closed in their faces.

This argument may sound logical as the oppression of any group is counter-productive, but this perspective is problematic. It essentializes political Islam as an ideology that considers violence as its reflexive plan B to any conflict, and indirectly sanctions uncontrollable anger as the normal reaction to injustices. Both are wrong in Islam.

Islamic teaching asks Muslims to be patient and resist anger. Saber “patience” is a basic Islamic tenant. After his mistreatment in Mecca, the Prophet did not embark in a campaign of beheadings of his opponents and killing of innocents in Mecca. In fact, the prophet never adopted anger as his prime reaction. Ironically, Islamists and their Western supporters conveniently ignore this simple fact.

Moreover, some liberal and leftist pundits, and human rights advocates on both sides of the Atlantic, ignore the main task of how to fight ISIS and instead focus on judging how their political opponents will fight ISIS.

Our intellectual elite are comfortable to play the arbiters of the war on terror but are not willing to step down from their idealism to confront and handle the practicalities of a painful reality.

The Arab and Muslim world continue to send the West mixed signals. Syria is a glaring example. We denounce the West for not solving the mess (which is fundamentally ours, by the way), and then we curse foreign interventions citing the doomed Iraq war against Saddam Hussein. What, exactly, do we want? “The Perfect Intervention” may be an ideal computer game, but that is not real life.

Meanwhile, our quest for the perfect solution is paralyzing our thinking process even as we watch as our lives and freedom are hijacked by terrorists.

It’s about time to update our strategic software and start to triage a clear approach to the complex challenge of terrorism. Both the Muslim world and the Western world have to unite to face the challenge of terrorism. Currently, we are not fighting the terrorists; we are only fighting each other.

The writer is a doctor, commentator and writer on Middle East issues.

Big Money for Africa’s Biggest Challenge: #ClimateChange ? | The Diplomat Artist



Source: Big Money for Africa’s Biggest Challenge: #ClimateChange ? | The Diplomat Artist



many of Africa’s problems emanate from or at least are compounded by climate change. Migration, environmental degradation, battle for resources, genocide and even terrorism are perhaps the most visible symptoms but the cause(s) largely remain unaddressed with rhetoric and stereotyping frequently offered as relief. Now the World Bank is committing $16 billion in funding to address climate change. We can be skeptical as to whether the funding will make THE difference but it is time to put money behind words and give Africa another opportunity to salvage the globe’s future as well as save its own long lost potential.

“Africa Climate Business Plan: Blueprint for Fast-Tracking Climate Resilience”

At Diplomat-Artist we have now more frequently published on environmental concerns and the potential for social entrepreneurship to overcome and perhaps even profit in addressing the challenges: (Read more at “Social Responsibility Entrepreneurship“. ) The World Bank has now provided more concrete ideas and funding to give reality to efforts of so many of us, the “Environmental Ambassadors“.  The World Bank initiative is timed to complement the diplomatic/political debate ahead of the “UN’s Paris Conference on Climate Change”  or COP 21.  (See: “Green Climate Fund- Investments ahead of Paris #ClimateChange Conference.)

World Bank Initiative Focus & Link

“Noting that climate drives most of the shocks that keep or bring African households into poverty, Accelerating Climate-Resilient and Low-Carbon Development: The Africa Climate Business Plan aims to both bring attention to and accelerate resource mobilization for priority climate-resilient and low-carbon initiatives in the region.
“The consequences of climate change for Africa are devastating and threaten to push millions of people into extreme poverty by 2030, largely due to lower crop yields and higher food prices, and negative health impacts” says Benoit Bosquet, World Bank Practice Manager in the Environment & Natural Resources Global Practice.  “In light of the huge financing gap and the need for urgent action, the World Bank prepared the Africa Climate Business Plan as an important step in mobilizing climate finance to fast-track Africa’s climate adaptation needs in the context of development priorities.”


According to the plan, climate-related factors will make harder for African countries to tackle extreme poverty in the future for three reasons:

Warming is unavoidable as a result of past emissions of greenhouse gases, which will cause the loss of cropland, a decline in crop production, worsening undernourishment, higher drought risks and a decline in fish catches;

Further warming may materialize, which will have disastrous consequences for the region in the form of heat extremes, increased risk of severe drought, crop failures every two years, a 20% reduction in major food crop yields, and, by the end of the century, up to 18 million people affected by floods every year;

Considerable uncertainty on what the warming impact will be on local weather patterns and hydrological cycles, which pose formidable challenges for development planning, and for the design of projects related to water management such as irrigation and hydropower, and more generally climate-sensitive infrastructure such as roads or bridges.

To tackle the climate challenge in collaboration with African governments and a variety of regional and international partners, the plan focuses on increasing adaptation through a dozen priority areas grouped into three clusters:
Strengthening resilience, which includes initiatives aimed at boosting the continent’s natural capital (landscapes, forests and oceans), physical capital (cities and transport infrastructure), and human and social capital, including improving social protection for the more vulnerable against climate shocks and addressing the climate-related drivers of migration;

Powering resilience, which includes opportunities to increase low-carbon energy sources as societies with inadequate energy sources are more vulnerable to climate shocks, and;

Enabling resilience by providing essential data, information and decision-making tools for promoting climate-resilient development across sectors through strengthening hydro-met systems at the regional and country level, and through building the capacity to plan and design climate-resilient investments.

Current levels of funding for adaptation are about $3 billion per year, which is insufficient to finance current needs, and is not increasing at the necessary rate to meet future needs. The plan estimates that the near to medium term implementation will cost about $16.1 billion to be raised by 2020,  $5.7 billion of which is expected to come from the International Development Association (IDA), and the rest from a variety of sources, including bilateral and multilateral sources, dedicated climate finance sources, and the private sector. The plan also notes that further results could be achieved by 2025 at a cost of about $21 billion.

More at World Bank – “The Africa Business Plan: A Blueprint for Fast-Tracking Climate Resilience

Report documents widespread human rights abuses in Gambia


A Human Rights Watch report documents widespread human rights abuses in Gambia, which include the persecution of LGBT people.



Source: Report documents widespread human rights abuses in

a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.” Human Rights Watch points out the new statute “had an immediate negative impact.”

The report notes that police and officials with the Gambian National Intelligence Agency “promptly rounded up dozens of men and women on suspicion of their sexual orientation.” It indicates that three men, one woman and a 17-year-old boy were held incommunicado for several weeks at the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency where they were beaten.

The report notes “law enforcement harassment of gay men and lesbians turned into a ‘witch hunt’ after Jammeh signed the “aggravated homosexuality” law.

A lesbian woman told Human Rights Watch that she was detained twice last November at the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency. She said she provided a list of names the authorities used to “track down and arrest supposed gay and lesbian Gambians” after two men from the Jungulers — a paramilitary force whose members are largely from Yammeh’s presidential guard — beat her.

“They wanted me to say that I am a lesbian and to tell them the names of the lesbians I knew,” said the woman, according to the Human Rights Watch report. “They said they would kill me; they took me behind the NIA (National Intelligence Agency) building and beat me with a fan belt. They forced me to say that I was a lesbian.”

A man told Human Rights Watch that he saw National Intelligence Agency agents detain a man they “suspected of homosexuality” last November. He said the man was held for eight days and was “subjected to regular abuse” before his transfer to a prison outside the Gambian capital of Banjul.

A Gambian court in July acquitted three men who had been charged under the country’s “aggravated homosexuality law.”

Human Rights Watch said more than 20 LGBT Gambians have fled the country since Jammeh signed the “aggravated homosexuality” law. The report indicates others have sought refuge in “remote areas within the country.”

Jammeh threatens to slit throats of gay men

Gambia is among the more than 70 countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

The report notes Jammeh has “a long history of virulent anti-gay hate speech” that includes a threat he made during a May rally that he would slit the throats of gay men who live in his country. Human Rights Watch also indicates that LGBT Gambians faced arbitrary arrests, employment discrimination and other abuses before their country’s president signed the “aggravated homosexuality law.”

A gay man who said he was arrested during a 2012 birthday party with 17 other men told Human Rights Watch that police took them out of their cell and told “everyone we are homosexual.” He said a court later acquitted them of committing “unnatural acts,” but they faced continued harassment and discrimination.

U.S. urged to impose travel ban on Gambian officials

A man who asked the Washington Blade not to publish his name said Gambian authorities in late 2012 detained him for allegedly passing information from the government to foreign journalists.

The man, who had worked in Jammeh’s office before his arrest, said he was unable to communicate with his wife for the first six months of his detention. He also noted to the Blade on Wednesday during a telephone interview that he had no access to legal representation, medical care or food.

“I was treated very badly,” he said, noting he was denied access to a shower for several weeks at a time. “I was treated worse than the devil.”

The Obama administration has repeatedly criticized Gambia over its human rights record.

The White House last December announced the country is no longer eligible to take part in a duty-free trade program that allows sub-Saharan African countries to access American markets because of “the lack of progress with respect to human rights, rule of law” and other issues.

Among the recommendations in the Human Rights Watch report is for the U.S. and other countries and international bodies, such as the European Union, to impose travel bans or “other targeted sanctions” against Gambian officials responsible for human rights abuses in their country. A State Department spokesperson in July declined to tell the Blade whether Washington has any plans to implement such measures.

The man who once worked for Jammeh’s office was able to flee to a country he asked the Blade not to identify. He said the Obama administration “has done little or nothing” in response to Gambia’s human rights record.


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Egyptian Aak 2015 – Week 47 (Nov 16 -22)

***** 5 Stars for Dr NervanaMahmoud’s weekly review of stories vital to understanding Egypt & MENA


Top Headlines

Two Egyptians confirmed dead in the Paris terrorist attacks. (Monday)
• Russia confirmed that a bomb brought down Russian jet in Egypt. (Tuesday)
• Second phase of parliamentary elections launched in Egypt. (Sunday)

Week 47 C

Egyptians vote in the second-round pf parliamentary elections-

 via Ahram

Main Headlines



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