US-backed forces announce 3-day curfew in Raqqa city

Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces walk along a road after Raqqa was liberated from the Daesh group, in Raqqa, Syria October 17, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 June 2018
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US-backed forces announce 3-day curfew in Raqqa city

  • Local security forces in Syria’s northern city of Raqqa announced a two-day curfew starting Sunday in response to intelligence on potential attacks by the Daesh group
  • Daesh was kicked out of its former bastion Raqqa in October by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which then stood up police units to hold the city

AMMAN: US-backed forces in control of Syria’s Raqqa city imposed a three-day curfew on Sunday and declared a state of emergency saying Daesh militants had infiltrated the city and planned a bombing campaign.
Witnesses say internal security forces affiliated to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who had announced late last night the surprise curfew from dawn in the former Daesh stronghold until Tuesday, set up checkpoints across the devastated city.
A statement said the state of emergency in the city were “protective measures.”
“Our intelligence apparatus has received information of the entry of terrorist groups tied to Daesh that are about to wage attacks to undermine secuity in the city,” the statement read.
The curfew prevents anyone from leaving or entering the city that was retaken by US-backed militias last October, after a four-month battle that left thousands of civilians dead and most of its neighborhoods flattened in devastating US led aerial strikes.
Daesh in 2014 had declared Raqqa the capital of its self-proclaimed state. Two residents said the city has seen in recent weeks growing tensions between the majority Arab residents and SDF forces dominated by Kurdish personnel that spilled into sporadic protests last month. The protests, quelled by force, called for the SDF’s eviction from the city.
They said many of its over 100,000 residents are angered by a policy of obligatory military conscription of youths and resentful of perceived discriminatory practices against the majority Arab population by senior Kurdish officials who effectively run the city.
The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, denies these accusations and says its local councils are run by the city’s residents and says it seeks to redress decades of ethnic discrimination against Kurds by the Syria’s ruling Baath party
Another resident in touch with local officials said the security operation aimed at arresting the leader of a disaffected Arab rebel group Thwar Al-Raqqa, affiliated with the SDF. A previous attempt last month to arrest him provoked violent demonstrations by his supporters.


Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

Updated 22 September 2018
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Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

  • Saturday’s ruling by the Court of Cessation dashed any hope that Gamal Mubarak could run for public office.
  • Mubarak’s two sons are currently on trial for insider trading.

CAIRO: Egypt's highest appeals court on Saturday rejected a motion by former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to overturn their conviction on corruption charges.
The ruling by the Court of Cessation, Egypt's final recourse for appeals in criminal cases, dashed any hope that Gamal, Mubarak's younger son and one-time heir apparent, could run for public office. A senior newspaper editor and confidant of Egypt's current president had recently suggested that banker-turned-politician Gamal may have been contemplating the move.
The Mubarak trio was sentenced to three years each for embezzling funds meant for maintenance of presidential palaces but which they spent on upgrading or building private residences. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while their father was freed last year. They repaid the funds, a total of 125 million pounds (about $7 million).
Mubarak's sons are currently on trial for insider trading. They are free on bail after a judge on Thursday overturned a surprise Sept. 15 ruling to detain them. The case's next hearing is on Oct. 20.
The rejection of their appeal Saturday and Gamal Mubarak's subsequent ineligibility to run for office came in the wake of recent comments by the chief editor of state-run Al-Akhbar publications, Yasser Rizq, who suggested that frequent public appearances by the younger Mubarak could be a prelude to a future presidential run.
Rizq first warned Gamal Mubarak against harboring presidential ambitions in an article published in May. He repeated the warning in a television interview aired earlier this week.
"His real crime is insulting the dignity of the Egyptian people," Rizq said, alluding to Gamal's one-time intention to succeed his father. It violated the constitution and amounted to the toppling of republican rule, he explained. He said it was not improbable that he would strike a political deal with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to secure the group's return to politics in exchange for its support in a presidential bid in 2022, when President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi's second term ends.
Preventing Gamal from succeeding his father was among the main drivers of a 2011 uprising that ended Mubarak's 29-year rule, as well as the military's support for it. The years that followed saw Mubarak regime heavyweights tried on corruption or abuse of power charges. Most have since walked free, while second-string regime loyalists found their way back to public life under El-Sissi.