The political crisis between Egypt's judges and President Mohamed Morsi worsens as the Judge's Club said on Sunday it will not supervise a December 15 referendum on a constitution draft passed by the Islamist dominated Constituent Assembly on Thursday. The decision, however, is not binding for individual judges. Additionally, the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) said it will suspend its work indefinitely after about 2,000 pro-Morsi protesters blocked judges from reaching the SCC's building this weekend. The SCC was set to vote on the legality of the Egyptian parliament's upper house as well as the Constituent Assembly, after having dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood controlled lower house of parliament in June and the previous constitution drafting assembly. Meanwhile, at least 200,000 Morsi supporters rallied at Cairo University on Saturday, in efforts to counter protests in Tahrir Square against Morsi's November 22 presidential decree expanding executive powers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Monday to discuss the escalating crisis in Syria as violence flares on the border. Relations between Turkey and Russia have been tense over contrasting views on how to deal with the 20-month conflict in Syria, particularly stoked in October when Turkey forced down a Syrian aircraft en route from Damascus to Russia on suspicions it carried military cargo. Additionally, Russia, a key ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has opposed a request by Turkey to install NATO patriot missiles along its border with Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hopes NATO will agree this week to stationing the missiles. The group is scheduled to meet in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday. Just hours before Putin's landmark visit, Turkey deployed F-16 fighter jets after two Syrian jet strikes along the border. Syrian warplanes have repeatedly bombarded the Syria town of Ras al-Ain, across the border from the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar. Meanwhile, the Syrian military has recently moved some of its chemical weapons stores prompting repeated warnings from the United States and several allies against their use. Clinton warned that the United States is planning to take action in the event the Syria regime uses chemical weapons. Syria's foreign ministry responded saying, "Syria has stressed repeatedly that it will not use these types of weapons, if they were available, under any circumstances against its people." Fighting has continued between Syrian forces and opposition fighters in the suburbs surrounding Damascus, and on the road linking the capital to its international airport.
Arguments and Analysis
An intolerable status quo in Bahrain (Elisa Massimino, Washington Post)
"During my 25 years as a lawyer and human rights advocate, I've been in many courtrooms in many places. But I've never seen anything quite like what I recently witnessed in Bahrain. I sat in on one of the hearings for the 28 medics being prosecuted after treating injured protesters during the democratic uprising last year.
In the chaotic courtroom, the judge dismissed arguments by defense lawyers that their clients had been tortured. That's when Nabeel Tammam, one of Bahrain's leading ear, nose and throat specialists, raised his hand and asked for permission to speak. Seemingly mistaking him for one of the defense lawyers, the judge acknowledged Tammam, who spoke the words he had not been allowed to say publicly before any Bahraini judicial authority since his detention in 2011: "My name is Nabeel Tammam. I am one of the medics, and I was tortured." Tammam described what he suffered at the hands of government officials; the judge quickly ended the hearing. "
Lights, Camera, Jihad: Al-Shabaab's Western Media Strategy (Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, Shiraz Maher, James Sheehan, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and START)
"Al-Shabaab employs a sophisticated and diverse communications strategy aimed at influencing Muslims living in the West. This strategy is infused with culturally relevant material that resonates with members of the Somalia diaspora while also employing rhetoric from the global jihadist narrative, positioning Somalia as one front in a greater struggle between Islam and the West.
Omar Hammami's messaging in particular speaks directly to Western Muslims beyond the diaspora, and emphasises the global nature of the struggle. Through this messaging, Hammami highlights the seemingly irreconcilable conflict between being a Muslim and living in the West. To this end, he presents his audience with an ultimatum whereby in order to be a good Muslim they must choose a side - become a member of the ummah and make hijrah to the land of jihad, or risk falling into disbelief and going to hell. Moreover, Hammami's vision is expansive, looking beyond the local towards the globally inspired movements affiliated with al-Qaeda. The endgame is the establishment of a Caliphate. This is a significant development in the strategy and rhetoric of al-Shabaab."
--By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey
The Middle East Channel offers unique analysis and insights on this diverse and vital region of more than 400 million.