Egypt Court Releases Al Jazeera Journalists Pending Retrial
An Egyptian court released Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed Thursday, after over 400 days in prison, at the start of their retrial.
An Egyptian court released Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed Thursday, after over 400 days in prison, at the start of their retrial. The court however did not dismiss the case against them, with the judge setting the next hearing for February 23. Fahmy was released on $32,765 bail, and Mohamed was released without bail. Fahmy and Mohamed were charged with spreading false news and aiding a “terrorist group,” along with Australian Peter Greste, who was freed on February 1 and deported. Fahmy, who holds Canadian citizenship, renounced his Egyptian citizenship expecting to be released and deported to Canada.
Six months into a military campaign against Islamic State militants, U.S. President Barack Obama has requested Congress formally authorize the use of military force. The proposed legislation would impose a three-year limit on U.S. military operations, but would not restrict operations to Iraq and Syria. It would allow for Special Operations and combat forces under “limited circumstances,” but would prohibit sustained “offensive ground combat operations.” The draft would repeal the 2002 authorization for former President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. However, it would leave in place the resolution passed by Congress in 2001 following the attacks on 9/11, authorizing the president to conduct military operations against al Qaeda and its affiliates. Democrats and Republicans have voiced concerns over the proposal, and months of debate are expected in Congress over the parameters of the bill. Following Obama’s move, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari stressed Iraq had not requested ground forces.
- Ansar al-Sharia fighters claim they have seized an army base in southern Yemen, following heavy clashes that killed an estimated seven people.
- Oil tankers are beginning to arrive at Libya’s port of Hariga for the first time since security guards ended a strike this week over delayed salary payments.
- Power has been gradually restored in Kuwait after a widespread blackout the Electricity and Water Ministry said was due to a technical problem in one of the main power grids.
Arguments and Analysis
‘Maqdisi in the middle: An inside account of the secret negotiations to free a Jordanian pilot’ (Joas Wagemakers, Jihadica)
“In the letter al-Maqdisi is supposed to have written to al-Baghdadi, he never seems concerned with the fate of the Jordanian pilot at all. Citing the Prophet Muhammad and the 14th-century Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir, he states that it is a Muslim’s duty to free those who are suffering (either from imprisonment or otherwise), but does not refer to the pilot when saying this. On the contrary, he states that it is imperative that al-Baghdadi works towards releasing al-Rishawi. He emphasises that she is their Muslim sister, a close associate of al-Zarqawi’s and a mujahida, a female jihad fighter, for whom al-Baghdadi is responsible. Al-Maqdisi claims that al-Zarqawi himself had wanted to free her but was killed before he was able to. It now fell on al-Baghdadi, as al-Zarqawi’s successor, to finish what the latter couldn’t and free al-Rishawi. The key to this – as al-Maqdisi states repeatedly in his letter – is in al-Baghdadi’s hands: the Jordanian pilot Mu’adh al-Kasasiba.”
‘Sisi’s Way’ (Tom Stevenson, London Review of Books)
“It’s no secret that Hosni Mubarak’s regime was repressive. Yet although in its treatment of prisoners and many other ways besides, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s is worse, statesmen around the world praise its role in Egypt’s ‘democratic transition’. When John Kerry visited Cairo last year he reported that Sisi had given him ‘a very strong sense of his commitment to human rights’. These issues, he said, were ‘very much’ on Sisi’s mind. For more than thirty years it was US policy to support autocratic government in Egypt as a route to ‘regional security’. The US backed Mubarak’s regime until its very last days; even during the mass protests of January 2011, the US hoped Mubarak could survive if he made political concessions. Mubarak is gone, but the US Defense Department’s links with the Egyptian military – long-standing and solid – have remained. Officials are steadily restoring the flow of aid and equipment that was temporarily suspended in the wake of the coup: there is no serious ‘human rights’ issue for Washington.”
— Mary Casey-Baker
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