The Middle East Channel

Protests Erupt After Egyptian Court Drops Charges Against Mubarak

Protests erupted at Egyptian universities and demonstrators attempted to enter Cairo’s Tahrir Square after an Egyptian court decided Saturday to drop criminal charges against ousted President Hosni Mubarak over the killing of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising. Security forces used tear gas, water cannon, and birdshot to disperse between 1,000 and 2,000 protesters ...

MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images
MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images

Protests erupted at Egyptian universities and demonstrators attempted to enter Cairo's Tahrir Square after an Egyptian court decided Saturday to drop criminal charges against ousted President Hosni Mubarak over the killing of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising. Security forces used tear gas, water cannon, and birdshot to disperse between 1,000 and 2,000 protesters outside Tahrir Square, killing two people and wounding nine others. The court acquitted Mubarak's top security officials, including former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, of culpability in the killings, and cleared Mubarak and his sons, Alaa and Gamal, of separate corruption charges. The decision raises the possibility that Mubarak could soon be released from prison, though prosecutors have vowed to appeal.

Syria

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 30 U.S.-led airstrikes targeted Islamic State militants in the northern province of Raqqa Saturday. The Observatory said the strikes hit the outskirts of Raqqa city as well as the 17th Division army base, which Islamic State militants captured in July. The Observatory also reported Syrian government warplanes hit the southern Daraa province town of Jasim killing an estimated 19 people. Meanwhile, fighting has intensified between Islamic State militants and Kurdish forces in Kobani, or Ayn al-Arab, near Syria's border with Turkey. Islamic State fighters conducted four suicide attacks sparking heavy clashes, which have killed an estimated 62 people since Saturday, according to the Observatory.

Protests erupted at Egyptian universities and demonstrators attempted to enter Cairo’s Tahrir Square after an Egyptian court decided Saturday to drop criminal charges against ousted President Hosni Mubarak over the killing of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising. Security forces used tear gas, water cannon, and birdshot to disperse between 1,000 and 2,000 protesters outside Tahrir Square, killing two people and wounding nine others. The court acquitted Mubarak’s top security officials, including former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, of culpability in the killings, and cleared Mubarak and his sons, Alaa and Gamal, of separate corruption charges. The decision raises the possibility that Mubarak could soon be released from prison, though prosecutors have vowed to appeal.

Syria

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 30 U.S.-led airstrikes targeted Islamic State militants in the northern province of Raqqa Saturday. The Observatory said the strikes hit the outskirts of Raqqa city as well as the 17th Division army base, which Islamic State militants captured in July. The Observatory also reported Syrian government warplanes hit the southern Daraa province town of Jasim killing an estimated 19 people. Meanwhile, fighting has intensified between Islamic State militants and Kurdish forces in Kobani, or Ayn al-Arab, near Syria’s border with Turkey. Islamic State fighters conducted four suicide attacks sparking heavy clashes, which have killed an estimated 62 people since Saturday, according to the Observatory.

Headlines

Arguments and Analysis

Q&A: The Mubarak trial verdict – What just happened?‘ (Hossam Bahgat, Mada Masr)

"The fact that Mubarak was only added as a defendant two months after the case had been referred to trial is the technicality the judge used today to dismiss the charge against him. By not indicting Mubarak from the beginning, the judge reasoned, the prosecution had made ‘an implied decision that there were no grounds for criminal proceedings’ against him. This ‘no-grounds’ decision can be formally reversed by the public prosecutor within a window of three months. Mubarak’s defense lawyers argued, and today the court agreed, that the prosecution reversed the implied no-grounds designation of Mubarak without following proper procedures. For that technical error, the judge ruled the charge against Mubarak for the killing of protesters as inadmissible and dismissed that charge without considering it or ruling on its merits."

Rage in Jerusalem‘ (Nathan Thrall, London Review of Books)

"All Jerusalemites pay taxes, but the proportion of the municipal budget allocated to the roughly 300,000 Palestinian residents of a city with a population of 815,000 doesn’t exceed 10 per cent. Service provision is grossly unequal. In the East, there are five benefit offices compared to the West’s 18; four health centres for mothers and babies compared to the West’s 25; and 11 mail carriers compared to the West’s 133. Roads are mostly in disrepair and often too narrow to accommodate garbage trucks, forcing Palestinians to burn rubbish outside their homes. A shortage of sewage pipes means that Palestinian residents have to use septic tanks which often overflow. Students are stuffed into overcrowded schools or converted apartments; 2200 additional classrooms are needed. More than three-quarters of the city’s Palestinians live below the poverty line."

The Shared History of Saudi Arabia and ISIS‘ (Madawi Al-Rasheed, Hurst)

"The Saudi regime has imprisoned its moderate Islamists and allowed its radicals to cause mayhem in the Levant. It is uncertain whether those radicals are indirectly or directly sponsored by the Saudi regime. But it is certain that the regime shares their hatred of Shia Muslims, the Assad and Maliki regimes, Lebanon‘s Hezbollah and Iran. While the Saudi regime cannot realistically bomb its rivals, jihadis are performing the role with precision.

A recent report argues that ISIS or the ‘Islamic State‘ is largely a self-funded movement, drawing on a wide range of sources. The Saudi regime is not one of them. The report debunks ex-Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s accusations that his country faces the threat of terrorists funded directly by Saudi Arabia. Yet the prominence of Saudis in its rank and file is yet to be explained. Notwithstanding the Saudi offensive to absolve itself from any connection with Islamic State, these groups have demonstrated a certain affinity not only with the Saudi religious tradition but also its political history."

Mary Casey-Baker

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