In interview, Egyptian President Sisi expresses security concerns and lauds cooperation with Israel

In an interview with The Washington Post published Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi expressed his concern about the Islamist extremism his country faces and lauded security cooperation with Israel. With respect to recent violence in the Sinai Peninsula and on the Egypt-Libya border, Sisi blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, which he called “the parent organization of extreme ideology. They are the godfather of all terrorist organizations. They spread it all over the world.” While Sisi stated that “[w]e should give [Obama] time” to negotiate with Iran, “we have to understand the Israeli concern.” The Egyptian President said there is a great deal “of trust and confidence” between Egypt and Israel: “[T]he [peace treaty] does not allow Egyptian troops in the middle and eastern sections of the Sinai…But the Israelis said it was fine to have Egyptian troops in those areas.” Sisi went on to say that he speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a lot.”

In the latest eruption of violence in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, there was a series of attacks this week. On Tuesday, a suicide bomber targeted a police compound in the city of el-Arish in northern Sinai. Shortly after, a roadside bomb exploded near an armored vehicle. In total, the attacks on Tuesday killed two people and wounded more than 30. The jihadist group Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis before pledging loyalty to ISIS, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. On Thursday, militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at a checkpoint south of el-Arish, wounding an officer and two soldiers.

The Egyptian military has been fighting a growing insurgency in northern Sinai since the fall of Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, announcing a full-scale assault in September 2013. Militants launched major attacks against security checkpoints last October. Sinai Province reportedly planted nearly two dozen bombs in northern Sinai throughout November 2014, killing four men. Last October, the Egyptian government began a policy of systematically demolishing houses in Rafah, which straddles the border with the Gaza Strip, to crack down on the flow of weapons and terrorists in underground tunnels across the border.


Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued an unedited report (.pdf) today that "provides a picture of the prevailing situation" of human rights in Iran. This is his first report since October 2013.

One of the areas examined by Shaheed is the “Right to Life.”

At least 753 individuals were reportedly executed in 2014 (the highest total recorded in the past 12 years). This includes the execution of 25 women and 53 public executions. Nearly half of all executions — 362 — were for drug-related crimes (not including those drug related offenses that were also committed in conjunction with homicide crimes) , which do not meet the internationally accepted threshold of “most serious crimes” required for use of the death penalty. In at least four cases the families of homicide victims provided pardons only after authorities implemented the death penalty by hanging. In these instances, authorities ceased the execution and lowered individuals after a period of suspension.

The report notes that Iran’s latest penal code provides for the execution of minors (with some exceptions).

Read the full post at The Tower.


New technology and innovation hub opens in northern Arab-Israeli town to foster a unified youth movement of space-science enthusiasts. Asaf Brimer spent 25 years in the Israeli air force and aerospace sector before an idea came into his mind like a shooting star across the horizon: He would bring Israeli Arab and Jewish students together through a collaborative research center focused on outer space. Moona — a Space for Change officially opened in September last year in Majd Al-Kurum, a Muslim village 10 miles east of Acre (Akko) in the Western Galilee. So far, it has attracted about 100 high school students – roughly a 50-50 split between Jewish and Muslim teens – for weekly courses in robotics, drones, 3D printing, electronics and other technologies related to outer-space exploration. Families from the area also are welcome at Moona. “Moona” means “wish” in Arabic and sounds like “moon” in English, while in Hebrew “emoona” means “faith.” Brimer says he and his founding partner, Hussein Tarabeih, the Muslim head of Towns Association for Environmental Quality, wanted to connect Arab and Jewish citizens of the Galilee to one another and to the academic institutions and businesses of the region. “I started it because the separation in our society is the biggest challenge for Israel, and I decided that my children will be better off if society is more open,” he says. “We lose a lot of advantages because we don’t have opportunities to meet each other, and [Arab children] have few opportunities in high-tech.” In Brimer’s vision, there are no divisions between peoples. “From outer space, everyone looks the same,” he says. (via Israel21c)

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