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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Assassination Attempt on Egyptian Interior Minister

Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was traveling through the Nasr City area in Cairo Thursday morning when a bomb exploded near his convoy. A local Egyptian news agency reported that 19 people were injured in the attack. At least four police officers and nine civilians were injured in the bombing and nearby cars and buildings were severely damaged. The cause of the bomb remains unknown; state media have reported that a bomb was thrown from a nearby building but other reports indicate that a car exploded. Some fear that the explosion represents a resurgence of the violence Egypt experienced in the 1990s, when attacks by Islamist militants destabilized the country and affected the tourism industry. A spokesperson with the Muslim Brotherhood has condemned the attacks.

US Senate Approves Obama’s Syria Resolution

Ten members of the US Senate voted to give President Obama limited power to strike Syria. Two Democrats and three Republicans decided to oppose the president’s proposal and one senator voted present. Members of Congress are still fiercely debating whether the US should undertake military action against Syria, after the Syrian government reportedly used chemical weapons against civilians. Many members of Obama’s party have expressed serious concerns about the resolution.  Representative Hakeem Jeffries was quoted by the New York Times as saying: “There are two major considerations to take into account…the prestige of an administration we strongly support versus an open-ended conflict in the Middle East that risks the lives of the people we represent if war were to break out. Not to mention the diversion of resources back into our communities that sorely need it.”

Palestinians Turned Away at Cairo Airport, Deported to Gaza

31 Palestinians who were attempting to enter Egypt at the Cairo airport were denied entrance to the country and deported to Gaza yesterday. In the weeks following Egyptian President Morsi’s ouster, the Egyptian media and politicians have accused Syrians, Palestinians and other foreign nationals of infiltrating pro-Morsi protests and inciting violence against civilians.  In early July, Egypt abruptly changed its admittance policy for Syrians; Egypt now requires all Syrians to obtain a visa before entering the country.

World Leaders Assemble for G20 Summit; Syria Question on Table

As world leaders arrived in Saint Petersburg today for the G20 summit, The Guardian reported that China has officially joined Russia in opposing a controversial military strike on Syria, because such action would drive up oil prices and affect the world economy. UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon, Italy’s Prime Minister, the head of the European Council, the Pope, the Arab League and other world leaders and groups are advocating for a political solution to the crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to raise the issue at the summit’s dinner. France has come out in support of President Obama’s proposal, and the French Foreign Minister was quoted as saying “We are convinced that if there is no punishment for Mr. Assad, there will be no negotiation. Punishment will allow negotiation, but obviously it will be difficult.”

Two Killed in Sinai Violence

In more troubling news from the Sinai Peninsula, armed assailants whose identity remains unknown shot and killed two more army conscripts and injured eight in the northern Al-Arish district. Since President Morsi’s ouster in early July, random violent attacks against security personnel have become somewhat commonplace in this isolated area of Egypt. 25 police officers who were traveling through the region in mid-August were also killed by unknown assailants.

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