Syrian Kurds say Russia has promised they can attend Sochi talks

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (L) speaks with Russia's chief negotiator for Syria, Aleksandr Lavrentyev (R), during the session of Syria peace talks in Astana on Dec. 22, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 27 December 2017
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Syrian Kurds say Russia has promised they can attend Sochi talks

BEIRUT: Russia has promised that the autonomous region controlled by Kurds in northern Syria will be represented at peace talks it is hosting next month, the commander of the main Syrian Kurdish militia was cited as saying on Wednesday.
Moscow has said 155 representatives of the autonomous region will participate, Sipan Hemo, the commander of the YPG, was quoted as saying by official Syrian Kurdish social media channels on Wednesday.
Kurdish groups have not taken part in any round of Syrian peace talks so far despite their control of more than a quarter of Syria. Turkey opposes their involvement in talks.
Moscow backs Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria’s six-year-old civil war while Turkey opposes him.
But Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist group affiliated to the Kurdish PKK, which has waged an insurgency in Turkey for decades.
Russia, Iran and Turkey announced the Jan. 29-30 dates for the talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi date after a round of peace talks in Kazakhstan last week, but did not say who would participate.
About 40 Syrian rebel groups, including factions that have taken part in other rounds of peace talks, said on Monday they would refuse to attend the Sochi Congress.
Russia is the most powerful supporter of Assad. Its jets have helped him bring the rebellion against his rule near to an end.
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has said that the success of the congress should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the UN-led Geneva talks on ending the war.


Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi
Updated 1 min 23 sec ago
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Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

CAIRO: Here are key events in eight years of turmoil and transition in Egypt, leading up to a national referendum on constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to remain in power until 2030.

● Feb. 11, 2011: Autocrat Hosni Mubarak steps down after 18 days of nationwide protests against his nearly 30-year rule. The military takes over, dissolving Parliament and suspending the constitution after the uprising leaves hundreds of protesters dead in clashes with security forces.

● Nov. 28, 2011-Feb. 15, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood wins nearly half the seats in multi-stage elections for the first post-Mubarak Parliament.

● June 30, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Muhammad Mursi takes office as Egypt’s first freely elected president.

● Aug. 12, 2012: Mursi removes the defense minister and military chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and replaces him with El-Sisi.

● Nov. 22, 2012: Mursi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, a move that sparks days of protests.

● Dec. 15-22, 2012: Egyptians approve a constitution drafted and hastily passed by Parliament amid protests and walkouts by other groups.

● June 30, 2013: On Mursi’s anniversary in office, millions of Egyptians begin days of demonstrations demanding his resignation. The military gives him 48 hours to reach an agreement with his opponents, but he vows to remain in office.

● July 3, 2013: El-Sisi announces Mursi’s removal.

● Aug. 14, 2013: More than 600 people, mostly Mursi supporters, are killed when police clear two pro-Mursi sit-ins in Cairo. Mursi supporters retaliate by torching government buildings, churches and police stations. Hundreds more die in subsequent violence.

● Dec. 25, 2013: The government designates the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

● May 26-28, 2014: Egyptians vote in a presidential election. El-Sisi wins with 96.9 percent of the vote.

● May 16, 2015: Mursi and more than 100 others are sentenced
to death over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising.

● Oct. 2015: Egypt holds parliamentary elections, leading to an assembly packed with El-Sisi supporters.

● April 2, 2018: El-Sisi wins a second, four-year term in office, with more than 97 percent of the vote.
● Feb. 2019: Lawmakers submit proposed amendments to the constitution that allow El-Sisi to remain in power beyond
his current second four-year term.

● April 10: President Donald Trump welcomes El-Sisi to the White House for a second official visit.

● April 17: The Parliament, packed with El-Sisi’s supporters, overwhelmingly passes the proposed amendments.

● April 18: Egypt’s National Election Authority schedules three days of voting in a nationwide referendum on the amendments. The vote takes place Saturday through Monday.