Greater Middle East
Police in Egypt on Nov. 28 arrested prominent activist and blogger Alaa Abdul Fattah who had taken part in a rally outside the upper house of parliament two days earlier, where protesters were calling for repeal of a new law that bans unauthorized demonstrations. Abdel-Fattah was arrested at his home, according to a statement by supporters. "They [the police] had no search warrant and when his wife, Manal, demanded to see it they were both beaten," read the statement, adding that the couples' computers and phones were confiscated in the raid. "Their two-year-old son, Khaled, was asleep in the next room," the statement said.
Bahraini authorities on Nov. 23 arrested and charged two former Guantánamo Bay detainees for plotting an attack in Bahrain. Reports indicate authorities caught the former detainees as they attempted to cross into Bahrain from Saudi Arabia on the King Fahad Causeway using forged passports. Bahrain's Interior Ministry has yet to identify the arrestees but noted that both were found to be carrying large amounts of money. The ministry also noted that the arrest comes just days before Bahrain hosts the 32nd meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an organization of six Gulf states seeking to effect "coordination, integration and inter-connection" between member states "in all fields." There is, however, no express indication that the former detainees plotted to attack the GCC meeting.
At least 12 Egyptian soldiers were killed and dozens injured in a car bomb Nov. 20 near the Sinai city of El-Arish, security officials told Ma'an News Agency. A car laden with explosives hit two buses carrying around 100 Egyptian soldiers, the officials said. Egyptian security sources told Ma'an that a Hyundai Verna was parked on the right-hand side of the main road between Rafah and El-Arish, and had signaled that it had broken down. The car was then remotely detonated as four unarmored personnel carriers passed by. Egyptian officials said the militants who detonated the car bomb were being updated by others about the movement of the vehicles, which were loaded at a site in Rafah.
Egypt's Middle East News Agency (MENA) announced on Nov. 11 that Judge Hisham Genina and two journalists will be prosecuted for allegedly insulting other judges. Genina gave an interview to Moammed el-Sanhouri, a reporter for Al-Masry Al-Youm daily in 2012, in which the judge accused the head of the Egyptian Judges' Club, a social club for jurists, of corruption. Both the judge and the reporter are now being charged with libel, along with the news publication's Chief Editor Magdi el-Galad.
A team of disarmament experts from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Oct. 6 began overseeing the destruction by the Syrian government, and will verify that the process is correctly handled. The disarmament team will destroy the chemical weapons arsenal, its storage sites and the facilities which manufacture them in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2118 (PDF8), which adopts and orders the Syrian government to comply with the Sept. 27 decision of the OPCW Executive Council. The decision requires Syria to identify the types, quantities and locations of all chemical weapons in its stockpile, as well as all chemical weapon storage facilities, production facilities, and research and development facilities, and provides a deadline of mid-2014 to complete their destruction.
Deadly clashes erupted in Cairo Oct. 6 as pro-Morsi marches protesting the military converged on Tahrir Square, where thousands were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1973 war against Israel in a display of support for the army. In the ineivtable melee, police intervened with tear-gas and armored vehicles. Confrontations also ocurred in Giza, Minya and elsewhere outside the capital, with the death toll reaching 51 and some 500 detained. The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a coalition of Islamist forces supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsi, claimed that at least 11 protesters were killed in Cairo. The anti-Morsi movement Tamarod began gathering at Tahrir Square the previous evening, chanting pro-military slogans. Interim President Adly Mansour in a televised speech pledged to "defeat much-hated terrorism and blind violence with the rule of law that will protect the freedom of citizens." (Al Ahram, Al Arabiya, Oct. 6; Middle East Online, Oct. 6)
Tens of thousands who peacefully demonstrated against President Bashar Assad are languishing in Syrian prisons, subjected to a policy of torture, according to a new Human Rights Watch report, "Lost in Syria's Black Hole." Citing testimony from former prisoners, HRW found that detainees have been raped and abused, including with electric shocks to the genitals, and beaten with batons, cables, metal rods, and wires. HRW stated: "The systematic use of torture by the government is strong evidence of state policy which would constitute crimes against humanity. Concerned governments need to make clear that the Syrian government and those responsible for the abuse will ultimately face justice for their actions." HRW also called on the Syrian government drop charges against political detainees who are currently before the military field courts or special counterterrorism courts.