- By Mary Casey-Baker<p> Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p>
On Sunday, an Egyptian appeals court ordered a retrial of former President Hosni Mubarak and his Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, indicted in 2011 and sentenced to life in prison for allowing the killing of about 850 protesters during the 18-day uprisings. It is unclear if the appeal, called for by the defendants, is a victory or setback for Mubarak, as the defense and prosecution have both appealed the verdict. Supporters of Mubarak are hoping for his acquittal, as the judge who issued the verdict at the time said there was no evidence to back up a conviction. Rather, he deemed Mubarak and his interior ministry responsible for the deaths of the civilian demonstrators because of their positions. Lawyers under President Mohamed Morsi could introduce new evidence from a presidential fact-finding commission. However, if convicted, Mubarak will receive a life sentence or less as under Egyptian law a defendant cannot receive a harsher sentence in a retrial. El-Adly as well as Mubarak’s sons Gamal and Alaa will also be retried along with Mubarak on corruption charges. Additionally, Egyptian prosecutors have begun a new case against Mubarak for allegedly taking over $1 million in gifts from the state news agency Al Ahram.
The Syrian government launched deadly airstrikes on Sunday and Monday as the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said the conflict is causing a "staggering humanitarian disaster." According to activists, an airstrike on Moadamiyeh, an opposition held suburb southwest of Damascus, killed at least 13 people, including five women and eight children. On Sunday, activists reported at least 45 people were killed in government airstrikes in the suburbs east of Damascus, as the Syrian regime works to push the opposition away from the capital and the presidential palace. Syria’s state news agency, SANA, said government airstrikes had killed scores of "armed terrorists" in the Damascus suburbs. Meanwhile, the New York-based, IRC released a report Monday entitled "Syria: a regional crisis" citing sexual violence as the primary reason for the flight of many Syrian refugees. Over 600,000 people have fled the country since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011 and an estimated 2 million people are believed to be internally displaced. The IRC said international aid is "drastically insufficient" and called for increased funding and planning from the international community to deal what it said is "certain to be a long-term regional crisis."
- Tunisia faces high unemployment and violence as it marks the two-year anniversary of the revolution that overthrew President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
- Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged construction of a settlement in the West Bank E1 area after police evicted Palestinians and international activists who had set up 20 tents on the site.
- Imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is set to be visited by his brother on Monday after the killing of three Kurdish activists in Paris last week threatened to disrupt peace talks with the Turkish government.