US and Egypt say they are steadfast in fight against Daesh

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, Egypt February 12, 2018. (AP)
Updated 12 February 2018
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US and Egypt say they are steadfast in fight against Daesh

CAIRO: The United States and Egypt on Monday reaffirmed their commitment to battle militants in the Middle East as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo at the start of his week-long trip to the region.
Tillerson and his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, cited productive discussions on regional security and the struggle against the Daesh group, whose Egyptian affiliate, based in the Sinai Peninsula, has struck military and civilian targets across the Arab world’s most populous country.
At a joint news conference with Shoukry, Tillerson said Egypt was an important part of the anti-Daesh coalition and that Washington was “committed to strengthening this partnership in the years to come.”
“We agreed that we would continue our close cooperation on counterterrorism measures, including our joint commitment to the defeat of Daesh,” Tillerson said.
“We highly value the support the US gives us in this war,” Shoukry said.
The visit comes as Egypt is undertaking a major military operation in Sinai, where militants have been leading an insurgency for years, and in remote areas of the mainland where extremists have attacked security forces and civilians.
The campaign also comes ahead of March elections in which President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi faces no serious competitors, after authorities sidelined his opponents using a variety of charges and disqualifications, leaving only a little-known supporter to run against him. El-Sisi, who will hold talks with Tillerson later in the day, says he is the only one who can bring stability to the country. Militant attacks, however, have surged under his leadership.
Washington, which gives Egypt some $1.3 billion in annual military assistance and hundreds of millions more in civilian aid, withheld some of the funding last summer, ostensibly over new Egyptian legislation that blocks much foreign funding of non-governmental organizations, especially those involved in human rights research.
Asked about his country’s view of the upcoming vote, Tillerson said the US always advocates for free and fair elections and would continue to do so. He did not specifically mention el-Sisi’s virtually uncontested election, or the aid being withheld.
“We have always advocated for free and fair elections, transparent elections, not just for Egypt but any country,” Tillerson said.
After his talks with el-Sisi, Tillerson is traveling on to Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where he will meet local officails as well as Saudi, Emirati, Iraqi and Syrian delegations.


Fresh protests in Iraq as medics raise death toll to 11

Updated 22 July 2018
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Fresh protests in Iraq as medics raise death toll to 11

  • Security forces remained deployed around the capital Baghdad
  • Overall medical sources put the death toll in the unrest at 11 people

BAGHDAD: Fresh protests hit southern Iraq Sunday as medical sources put at 11 the number of demonstrators killed in two weeks of unrest sparked by ire over corruption and lack of public services.
Security forces remained deployed around the capital Baghdad after struggling Friday to disperse crowds of angry protesters who took to the streets.
Demonstrations have roiled swathes of southern and central Iraq since erupting in the oil-rich port city of Basra on July 8, when security forces opened fire killing one person.
Overall medical sources put the death toll in the unrest at 11 people, three in each of the cities Basra, Samawah and Najaf, and one in both the cities of Diwaniyah and Karbala.
Most of them were killed by gunfire from unidentified assailants, while one person suffocated to death on tear gas used to disperse the demonstrators.
Protesters on Sunday took to the streets in the cities of Samawah and Nasiriyah, chanting “no to corruption,” a scourge Iraqis say has long blighted their country.
Since the start of the demonstrations those involved have focused their anger on the political establishment, with government buildings and party offices being sacked or set ablaze.
The Iraqi authorities have scrambled to halt the unrest and have blocked social media sites online to try to prevent the spread of protests.
Iraq is in a state of political limbo with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi overseeing a caretaker government as wrangling to form a new government drags on after elections in May.
A coalition headed by populist cleric Moqtada Sadr topped the polls, campaigning on an anti-graft ticket to claim the most seats in parliament.