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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Obama Cautiously Supports Syria Arms Solution

With an off-the-cuff comment, US Secretary of State John Kerry has opened another avenue to prevent a potential US military strike on Syria. In a press conference yesterday, Kerry said that Syria should hand over all of its chemical weapons as a way to prevent a military strike. Russian diplomats seized upon this idea and put forth a proposal to Syria, encouraging them to hand over their weapons to international monitors. In a CNN interview, Obama said that the proposal could work, “if it’s real.” So far, Obama has failed to garner widespread support in Congress for his military strike plan. Prominent lawmakers like Diane Feinstein, Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed early support for the Russian proposal.

Rights Groups Discuss Egypt at UN

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights will make the case to the UN that Egypt’s current government committed human rights abuses. While condemning recent state-sponsored violence, CIHR also condemned violence against protesters perpetrated by former President Morsi’s government, saying in a prepared statement that “truth and justice are the most prominent victims of more than 30 months of political violence in Egypt.” Last month, several Egypt-based human rights groups condemned the Egyptian interim government’s random arrests and violent attacks against protesters after security forces dispersed several large protest encampments. Rights groups also spoke out against military trials of civilians last week in Suez; at least one person received a life sentence.

Constitutional Committee Clashes

As Egypt’s 50-member constitutional committee forged ahead on day two of their month-long drafting session, delegates got off to a bad start, disagreeing over whether to draft a new constitution entirely or merely amend the controversial 2012 constitution conceived under former President Morsi’s oversight. While Amr Moussa, the committee head, and others have stated that they plan to draft a new “revolutionary” constitution, the presidential mandate only allows for changes to the current document. The current constitution is currently suspended as the country remains under a state of emergency law.

Military Action Ramps Up in Sinai

Egypt’s interim government, when not battling protesters in the streets, is facing down a pervasive security threat in the isolated Sinai peninsula region. Military forces have killed at least 20 people and detained 20 others in the Sinai over the last four days. The escalation is in response to random shootings, attacks and robberies over the past few weeks by unknown armed assailants, and also in response to an assasination attempt on the Egyptian Interior Minister last week. An Islamist group based in the Sinai claimed responsibility for the attack. Meanwhile, in an apparently unrelated political attack, gunmen attacked the leader of the Tamarod party, Mohammed Badr, yesterday and stole his car. Egyptian authorities have arrested 15 people in connection with the attack.

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