Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has authorized the military to make arrests after the revocation of a constitutional decree on Saturday failed to quell protests. Morsi participated in a national dialogue on Saturday and rescinded the decree issued on November 22, which extended executive powers, and has since sparked unrest. Morsi issued a new decree Saturday night and said that a referendum on the Islamist backed draft constitution will proceed on December 15. Opposition leaders have rejected the move and are calling for fresh protests on Tuesday. They have opposed the constitution, saying it does not represent the Egyptian people. On Sunday, Morsi ordered the Egyptian Armed Forces to maintain security and protect state institutions until the results from the constitutional referendum are announced, allowing them to use force. The army is wary of the authority saying it wants to stay out of the political struggle.
Clashes have continued in the Syrian capital of Damascus and its suburbs, with fighting breaking out less than a mile from President Bashar al-Assad’s office. For over a week, the Syrian opposition and government forces have battled over the road to Damascus’s international airport, with the opposition trying to close off the capital. The radical Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra, which the United States has been considering declaring a terrorist group, seized a regimental command center in the northern Aleppo province. Meanwhile, nine Syrian judges and prosecutors have defected, announced in a video posted on YouTube Sunday. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the judges came from the northern city of Adlib. Meanwhile, after meetings last week, the United States and Russia have committed to a political solution for Syria, according to U.N. and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. However, Russia maintained that it is not aiming for the replacement of Assad, despite speculations it is softening. Amid escalating concerns that the Syrian regime is planning to use chemical weapons, the United States and some European allies have been funding training for Syrian opposition forces on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles.
- Up to 17 people have died in days of clashes in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli between the Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods. The fighting was sparked by the Syrian conflict.
- Egyptian authorities have arrested Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, the suspected leader of the group allegedly behind the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.
Arguments & Analysis
Women’s Rights at Odds in Egypt’s Constitution Wars (Vivienne Walt, Time)
"Yet although women want equal rights, Murabit says Islam will certainly occupy a key role – especially since Islamists, who were jailed through decades of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship, have finally won political freedom. "Islam is not going anywhere, and the West needs to come to terms with the fact," Murabit says. "If everybody keeps labeling the use of Islam as wrong, people will shut down and not have a dialog." Instead, she says that Libyan women are pushing to have both an Islamic country and women’s equality when the country’s new constitution is finally debated. Until then, they will sit transfixed at the political protests just across the border, in Egypt."
Why Obama Will Ignore Israel (Peter Beinart, The Daily Beast)
"So instead of confronting Netanyahu directly, Team Obama has hit upon a different strategy: stand back and let the rest of the world do the confronting. Once America stops trying to save Israel from the consequences of its actions, the logic goes, and once Israel feels the full brunt of its mounting international isolation, its leaders will be scared into changing course. "The tide of global opinion is moving [against Israel]," notes one senior administration official. And in that environment, America’s "standing back" is actually "doing something." What America won’t do, however, unless events on the ground dramatically change, is appoint a big-name envoy (some have suggested Bill Clinton) to relaunch direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The reason: such negotiations would let Netanyahu off the hook. Senior administration officials believe the Israeli leader has no interest in the wrenching compromises necessary to birth a viable Palestinian state. Instead, they believe, he wants the façade of a peace process because it insulates him from international pressure. By refusing to make that charade possible, Obama officials believe, they are forcing Netanyahu to own his rejectionism, and letting an angry world take it from there."
— By Mary Casey and Jennifer Parker