Monday, January 31, 2011

Military moves to take control in Egypt

The opposition leader,promised protesters through a megaphone that "change is coming in the next few days."ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 reached Cairo's central Tahrir Square,where thousands of protesters defied curfew to gather in a peaceful nighttime demonstration that culminated in the historical public protest against Mubarak. Protesters in fear that the military may cordon off Tahrir Square an area the focal point of mass demonstration. The situation was brought under control after the tanks changed course and left.Still thousands of protesters continued to occupy the city center Tahrir Square until late Sunday scores chanting anti-government slogans while army copters periodically flew overhead. Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel peace laureate and former chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, has asked embattled President Hosni Mubarak to step down, saying his response to the mass protest against his 30-year rule in Egypt was "disappointing".

Speaking to Al Jazeera TV, Elbaradei who has been placed under house arrest, said the nation will collapse if Mubarak stays.He asked 82-year-old Egyptian leader, who was reported to be in poor health, to set a framework for transition of power as the only way to end street unrests that have rocked Egypt.ElBaradei told Al Jazeera in a phone interview Saturday that Mubarak's speech on Friday, in which he said he would form a new government, was "disappointing" for Egyptians. He said Egypt needs an entirely different system of governance Sunday.

Mubarak has clung to power despite mounting pressure to quit as the situation in the world's most populous Arab nation deteriorated.The President last night named intelligence chief and his close confidante Omar Suleiman as Vice President for the first time in his 30-year rule. He also chose aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq as new prime minister, hours after sacking the Cabinet and promising democratic and economic reforms.

Shafiq, a former chief of Air Staff, has often been mooted as a potential successor to Mubarak. Late on Friday night, ElBaradei was placed under house arrest amid mounting opposition to Mubarak's despotic rule as tens of thousands of anti-government protesters clashed with police in several cities in Egypt.
ElBaradei was was confined to his residence as unprecedented countrywide protests turned violent. 68-year-old ElBaradei, one of Mubaraks fiercest critics, who returned to his homeland on Thursday to lead the protests, claimed that his regime was on its "last legs".
The violent protests against Mubarak autocratic regime, which began on Tuesday, have so far left at least 102 people dead, including 33 who were killed Saturday, the reports said. In the deadliest day of protests on Friday, 62 people were killed, including 35 in Cairo.Seven people were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday in Cairo and the canal city of Suez. Several thousand people had also been injured, amid reports that more and more army men were joining the protests against Mubarak.
Thousands of protesters defied the curfew for the second night and Cairo's central Tahrir (Liberation) Square remained filled with protesters. Protesters Saturday also tried to storm the Interior Ministry in central Cairo.
Media agencies

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egypt chaos continus toll touches 150

Egypt was in the grip of increasing lawlessness as gangs of armed men helped free thousands of prisoners and looters rampaged malls, banks and jewellery stores as many armymen doffed uniforms to join the uprising against Prez Mubarak's 30-year rule that has claimed at least 150 lives in six days.An embattled Mubarak, 82, visited the military headquarters and held hectic parleys with top commanders, a day after he showed first signs of handing over power by naming intelligence chief and his close confidant Omar Suleiman as Vice President.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera channel put the death toll at 150 and said that 4,000 people had been injured since the unprecedented mass protests against Mubarak's autocratic regime began on Tuesday, while some other reports said over 100 had been killed.
For the first time, a large number of judges also joined the mass protests threatening to destabilise the world's most populous Arab State.

Taking advantage of the fluid situation, armed gangs fired at guards in four prisons, including in Alexandria and Aswan, and helped thousands of inmates to flee.
An estimated 5,000 inmates broke free from a jail in El Fayoum, south of Cairo, killing a senior police officer, media reports said.Mobs stormed into upmarket malls, bank, jewellery and electronic stores beside government buildings and looted TV sets, furniture, electronic items and gold ornaments, defying curfew in the capital.Looting and arson continued through the night as security personnel disappeared from the trouble spots.In a desperate bid to quell the riots, Mubarak ordered more troops and armoured vehicles into the streets of Cairo.

A special Air India aircraft is flying over 300 Indians to Mumbai, Indian Ambassador R Swaminathan said.Indian Embassy in Cairo has made elaborate arrangements to airlift Indian nationals in Egypt in the wake of violent agitation against the Hosni Mubarak regime. Talking to AIR Dubai Correspondent, Ambassador of India to Egypt Mr. R. Swaminathan said that the process of airlifting the Indian nationals has already begun.The Air India regional manager told AIR that another 123 TATA employees will also leave by the same flight. He said, another flight will leave Cairo tomorrow at 11 AM for Mumbai.Indian Embassy has set up 24 hours hotline to assist Indians for help.They will reach Mumbai tomorrow morning, he said.Indian mission is making arrangements for those wishing to return home.
Pro-democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, who returned to Egypt from Vienna on Thursday, asked Mubarak to step down, saying his response to the mass protests was "disappointing".The Nobel laureate and former chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, who was put under house arrest soon after joining the protests, said the nation will collapse if Mubarak stays.In a telephonic interview to Al-Jazeera, he asked Mubarak to set a framework for transition of power and said it is the only way to end the unrest that has rocked Egypt.

Thousands of protesters defied curfew for the second night in Cairo, including in the central Tahrir (Liberation) Square area.They also tried to storm the Interior Ministry office in central Cairo and torched a police station in the Giza neighborhood of the city.Some looters managed to get into Cairo's museum of antiquities and damaged some of the exhibits.Thieves also broke into the Arab International Bank and several cafes and eateries.To protect their property from looters, residents of the city set up committees armed with guns, clubs and knives.

As Mubarak refused to quit, influential Arab cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi accused him of having turned "blind, deaf and dumb" and asked him to step down."President Mubarak ... I advise you to depart from Egypt. There is no other solution to this problem but for Mubarak to go," Qaradawi said.The widely respected Sunni Muslim cleric asked Mubarak to quit for the good of the country, as his ouster was the only solution to Egypt's crisis.Meanwhile, the official MENA news agency said that Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arabic satellite channel, has been banned in Egypt now.However, the channel was still reporting on the events from Egypt when the announcement was made.

Egypt's outgoing information minister Anas al-Fikki has "ordered the closure of all activities by Al Jazeera in the Arab republic of Egypt, and the annulment of its licences, as well as withdrawing the press cards to all its employees as of (today)," MENA said.The unrest in Egypt also affected stock markets across the Middle East, which kept on tumbling.Cairo stock exchange remained closed today despite Sunday being a full trading day in the Middle East because of the turmoil in the city.

In Washington, US President Barack Obama held key talks with his national security team to assess the situation in Egypt.He called for restraint in Egypt and favoured "concrete steps" aimed at advancing political reforms in the Arab State."He reiterated our focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights; and supporting concrete steps that advance political reform within Egypt," the White House said in a statement after the meeting.The US President was updated on the current situation in Egypt during the meeting with his national security aides that lasted for about an hour.Earlier, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who was in Davos for World Economic Forum, warned Egypt's government that "freedom of expression should be fully respected" while dealing with the protests


Viewing wikileaks.cable 06CAIRO2010,Summary -------

¶1. (C) The public profile of Gamal Mubarak, presidential son
and rising star in the ruling party, has increased in recent
months. His appearance in late March on an evening talk show
and a highly publicized visit to a Cairo slum have fueled
speculation that an effort to succeed his father is moving
full speed ahead. The possibility that Gamal might succeed
his father remains deeply unpopular on the street - a
sentiment often echoed by commentators in the independent and
opposition press. Gamal has denied that he harbors
presidential ambitions, but many believe his actions speak
louder than his words. The intra-family politics of a Gamal
succession bid are unclear. Conventional wisdom holds that
Suzanne Mubarak is her younger son's most ardent booster.
Gamal's chances are improved by the fact that there are no
other obvious contenders for the presidency waiting in the
wings. End summary.

Burning Issue

¶2. (C) The issue of presidential succession is the hottest
single issue on Egypt's domestic political scene. Unlike his
predecessors, President Mubarak has never named a Vice
President. Mubarak, who began his fifth six year term in
September 2005, will turn 78 in May. Though he is vigorous
and healthy, there is general recognition that the actuarial
tables will catch up with Mubarak sooner or later.
Speculation that Mubarak was grooming his son Gamal to
succeed him increased markedly in 2002, when the younger
Mubarak assumed a prominent leadership post in the ruling
National Democratic Party (NDP), just two years after Bashar
al-Asad succeeded his father in Syria.

Stage Setting

¶3. (C) Both Gamal and his father have repeatedly denied that
there is any plan for a "succession scenario." More
important than such words, many Egyptians tell us, are the
actions of Gamal, his father, and others, which appear to be
setting the stage for the young Mubarak's rise to power. In
the summer of 2004 and again at the end of 2005, the
President shuffled his cabinet, replacing "old guard" figures
with younger, ambitious technocrats, most with direct or
indirect links to Gamal. In early 2006, a shake-up in the
ruling NDP promoted Gamal to the post of Assistant
Secretary-General (co-equal with Zakaria Azmy, the

President's de-facto Chief of Staff, and old-guard cabinet
veteran Mufeed Shehab). The party shuffle also brought a
number of other Gamal allies into key party leadership
positions, replacing a number of old-guard rival kingmakers,
including the notorious machine politician Kamal al-Shazly.

Settling Down

¶4. (C) Gamal's February engagement to the 24 year old
socialite Khadiga el-Gammal is widely viewed as another step
on the path to the presidency. In a society where men
typically marry before their 30th birthday, Gamal's
bachelorhood has extended into his 40's. Thus Gamal's
engagement, cynics tell us, was engineered to broaden his

"Not for Any Other Purpose"

¶5. (C) On March 28, Gamal paid a visit, camera crews in tow,
to the slums of Agouza al-Qadima in Giza, just west of
Central Cairo. Gamal was there, with Housing Minister (and
ally) Ahmed al-Maghraby, to cut the ribbon on new low income
housing units prepared by his Future Generation Foundation, a
development group he founded in 1999, aimed at addressing the
needs of poor youth. Most political observers regard the
foundation as a vehicle primarly intended for Gamal's public
entree onto the political stage. "We came to help and serve
only - not for any other purpose," Gamal told accompanying
journalists in Agouza.

¶6. (C) Later that evening, Gamal made a rare appearance on a
talk show on State Channel 1, promoted all day in advance of
the broadcast and re-aired on March 29. Gamal focused his
remarks on his work to rejuvenate the NDP and promote reform
and "new thinking." He denied that he was out of touch with
the public, asserting that "one enjoys...going down into the
street and listening to the people." He also asserted that
he regularly visits the provinces, but usually keeps a low
profile lest people ascribe ulterior motives. We have
noticed an uptick of recent Gamal forays outside of Cairo.
He stood in for his father, grounded in Cairo by a dust
storm, at the ribbon cutting for an international air show in
Sharm el Sheikh. Given all the attention, he could have
easily been mistaken as the head of state himself.

Stone Throwers

¶7. (C) On his alleged presidential ambitions, Gamal told
Egyptian talk show viewers on March 28 that he had "made
clear as daylight" that he did not intend to seek the
presidency and was instead focused on his current efforts to
promote reform and serve society. These denials have been
generally disregarded. "He is repackaging himself - if he is
not interested, why is he going to all this trouble?"
prominent liberal dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim recently mused
to a western journalist. Former Nasser advisor and
influential writer Mohamed Hassanein Heikal has made
opposition to Gamal's succession a staple of his regular
newspaper columns in the independent press. The notion that
Gamal might succeed his father, Heikal has written, is an
affront to Egypt's republican principles.

¶8. (C) Abdel Halim Qandil, editor of the Nasserist weekly
Al-Araby (and a co-founder of the Kifaya protest movement),
was a pioneer of the anti-Gamal movement, authoring in 2003 a
series of scathing editorials against the alleged plot to
install Gamal and underlining the public's "universal
rejection" of the notion. These editorials, many believe,
were linked to Qandil's brief 2004 abduction and beating by
still unidentified thugs, who left him bruised and naked on
the Suez desert highway.

¶9. (C) Very publicly resigning from the NDP in early March,
leading liberal thinker Osama el-Ghazaly Harb told us of his
disillusionment with the party's reform process, which he
came to believe was merely a vehicle for Gamal to promote his
political career. Imprisoned opposition politician Ayman
Nour and his supporters have repeatedly insisted to us that
it was his threat to Gamal that led to his political
destruction. Like Gamal, Nour is 42 years old.

¶10. (C) An article that appeared March 23 in the maverick
independent paper Al-Dustour attacked Gamal from a new angle.
With dubious sourcing, the paper alleged that the Egyptian
brokerage and financial analysis firm EFG-Hermes had
manipulated the early March drop of the Cairo-Alexandria
Stock Exchange to the advantage of its partners and clients
and at the expense of small investors, adding that Gamal
Mubarak is on the firm's board. The article clearly got
Gamal's attention: He acknowledged in his talk show
appearance that he sat on EFG's board, but insisted that his
work focused on subsidiary companies not traded on the stock

An Open Field

¶11. (C) Despite the sniping of many Egyptian opinion-leaders,
and a more general public hostility (echoed by many of our
contacts) to Gamal's possible presidential succession, there
are few other obvious contenders for the post. The post of
Vice President has remained vacant, despite earlier
speculation that Mubarak might fill it after the 2005
elections were behind him. Of the 10 candidates who
contested Mubarak's presidency last fall, Ayman Nour, who
placed second, lost his parliamentary seat under very
controversial circumstances and was subsequently convicted of
forgery and sentenced to a seven year jail term. The
third-place finisher, Wafd Party candidate No'man Gomaa, was
arrested for attempted murder and other charges on April 1
(septel). The other eight candidates, marginal figures to
begin with, have faded back into nearly total obscurity.

¶12. (C) There are currently almost no other Egyptian
personalities with the national stature and political capital
needed to seriously contend for the presidency. One
exception could be Intelligence Chief Omar Soliman, who
wields enormous influence over national security policy and
is known to have the full confidence of Mubarak. Soliman is
often cited as a potential appointee to the long-vacant Vice
Presidential post and his profile has grown with his
well-publicized mediation visits to Israel and the
Palestinian territories.

¶13. (C) Another possible exception could be Arab League
Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who has a high public profile

and generally receives favorable coverage across the spectrum
of Egyptian media outlets. Consequently, he enjoys
considerable street crediblity as a champion of Arab causes.
However, Moussa has never expressed or even hinted at any
presidential ambitions and has no Egyptian institutional
platform from which to spring. Moussa's assumption of
another five year term as Arab League SYG could be
alternately interpreted as keeping him "otherwise occupied"
or "still in the game," with respect to future political
positions, but he has never offered any hint that he intends
to wade into Egypt's domestic political scene.

All in the Family

¶14. (C) The intra-family politics of a Gamal succession bid
are unclear. Elder son Alaa', well-known to have extensive
business interests (many of which are privately criticized as
corrupt and exploitative) keeps a low public profile and has
never shown any inclination to wade into the political arena.
(A rare sighting of Alaa' on national TV took place during
the final game of the Africa Cup championship in late
February, when he was photographed in the stadium's VIP
section with Gamal, cheering on Egypt to its 2-1 victory over
Ivory Coast.)

¶15. (C) The President has been careful not to indicate any
overt support for Gamal, is rarely photographed with him, and
has on several occasions angrily denied to the media that
there is any plan for his younger son to succeed him. While
some have speculated that the President is ambivalent about
Gamal's political future, he has not stood in the way of the
rise of his son and his allies through the ranks of the
ruling NDP, or obstructed his increased public profile.
Moreover, the President has twice in the past two years
shuffled his cabinet and replaced "old guard" elements with
younger technocrats linked to Gamal. While there is little
public evidence, commonly accepted wisdom in Cairo is that
First Lady Suzanne Mubarak is Gamal's most ardent political
patron. Unlike the President, the First Lady is often
photographed at public events with Gamal, frequently in
connection with social issues. Her power and influence, many
argue, are keys to Gamal's viability. Sources tell us that
she has kept Mubarak pere from naming a Vice President.

Legal Framework Wired

¶16. (C) The legal/electoral stage, rearranged in 2005 with
the amendment of Article 76 of the constitution, currently
guarantees that the ruling NDP, increasingly dominated by
Gamal and his allies, will retain their lock on the
presidency. Of all 20 of Egypt's legally recognized parties,
only the NDP currently meets the conditions as defined in the
amendment to field a presidential candidate. (The rules set
forth in the amendment state that only parties holding five
percent or more of the seats in each of the People's Assembly
and the Shura Council. The bar is set higher for
independents, who must obtain endorsements from 65 PA
members, 25 Shura Council members, and 10 local council
members from each of at least 14 of the 26 provinces.) While
voters will have opportunities to change the current makeup
of the Shura Council in 2007 and 2009, and the People's
Assembly in 2010, should a presidential transition become
necessary sooner, there would be no legal or procedural
hurdles for any NDP candidate to the presidency.

A Military Stumbling Block?

¶17. (C) A key stumbling block for any effort to bring Gamal
Mubarak to the presidency could be the military. Each of
Egypt's three presidents since the republic was established
in 1952 were drawn from the military's officer corps, and the
military has historically been the ultimate guarantor of the
president's rule. Gamal Mubarak did not serve as a military
officer (and it is not clear whether he ever completed, even
"on paper," his national military service) and unlike his
father, can not take the military's support for granted.
This factor is often cited by our contacts, who believe that
Soliman, the intelligence chief with a military background,
would have to figure in any succession scenario for Gamal, if
only as a transitional figure. Another theory is that some
other military officer could emerge from obscurity as a
presidential contender. (Defense Minister Tantawi is
acknowledged to be frail and without any political ambition.)


¶18. (C) Gamal Mubarak's rise in the ruling NDP, his attempts
to position himself as a "friend of the people," and as the
national champion of reform and "new thinking," are all
compelling evidence that his political ambitions are real -
denials notwithstanding. Despite palpable public hostility
to his succession, and potential stumbling blocks, the way
forward for Gamal currently appears open. Gamal and his
ambitious allies, such as MP and NDP figure Ahmed Ezz and
economic reform ministers such as Rachid Rachid and Youssef
Boutrous Ghali, are apparently banking that structural
improvements to the economy will deliver tangible benefits to
the masses, and build a support base that extends beyond
affluent business circles.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Germany to showcase its sci-tech progress

Germany will celebrate the 60th anniversary of commencement of its diplomatic relations with India by showcasing scientific, technological and industrial progress made by it to the people of India.A year-long 'Germany in India' project has been launched to showcase the scientific, technological and industrial progress made by Germany to the people of India, German ambassador to India Thomas Matussek said while speaking to Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan at Raj Bhavan here today.
Mentioning that German companies have their largest presence in Maharashtra, the ambassador told the Governor that an exhibition pavilion to showcase Germany will therefore be launched in Mumbai in November this year.

The pavilion will then travel to Kolkata, New Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Bangalore, and Hyderabad, he added.The pavilion will stay put for two weeks in each of the seven cities, he said, adding colourful cultural programmes have also been planned alongside the exhibition."Through the exhibition, we want to show Germany as a partner of India in diverse areas," he said.

German companies in India such as Siemens, Allianz and BASF are supporting the project, he added.Asserting that this is not a one sided affair, the Ambassador told the governor that India will also be organising a yearlong show 'India in Germany' in 2012.Corporate India has already made inroads in Germany with Tata Steel, Reliance and Bharat Forge having already established their base in Germany, he said.

India's investment in Germany has increased four times during the last five years, he added.The ambassador sought help from the Government of Maharashtra and the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai in putting up the Germany pavilion in Mumbai.Thanking the German Ambassador for selecting Mumbai for the launch of project 'Germany in India', the governor assured him of fullest cooperation and support from the State Government and Municipal Corporation.

Egypt in chaos cabinet dismissed

President Hosni Mubarak speaking on the role of Egypt’s security forces in suppressing anti-government protests and also dismissed his government and said a new cabinet would be announced on Saturday.“I have asked the government to present its resignation today,” Mr Mubarak said, adding that he would appoint a new government on Saturday.He also said he acknowledged that the demands of the protesters were legitimate, but accused them of resorting to violence to destabilise Egypt and understood the protesters’ grievances but that a thin line divided liberty from chaos and he would not allow Egypt to be destabilised.

There is no showing signs of quitting, embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday sacked his government as thousands of protesters defied curfew demanding an end to his 30-year-old autocratic rule. In a late night televised speech, 82-year-old Mubarak defended the actions of police, who had tried to clamp down the protesters by firing tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons at them.Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for three decades, asked his cabinet to resign and promised reforms."I have asked the government to present its resignation and tomorrow there will be a new government," he said on Saturday."We will not backtrack on reforms. We will continue with new steps which will ensure the independence of the judiciary and its rulings, and more freedom for citizens," he said.Even as he made the announcement, thousands of protesters continued to defy curfew in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez on Friday night and poured on the streets with many of them asking patrolling soldiers to join them.
There were reports of looting in several parts of Cairo including in offices related to the government.At least 50 people have been killed in the clashes and over hundreds injured.Around 1,000 protesters have been arrested across the country since the protests broke out four days ago.

In unprecedented scenes on Friday, protesters had set ablaze the headquarters of Mubarak's National Democratic Party in Cairo and two police stations and smashed security vehicles.Protesters had also tried to storm the Foreign Ministry office.
Mubarak had clamped night curfew from 6 pm to 7 am in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez cities.Later, the curfew was extended nationwide. The president had on Friday asked the "armed forces, in cooperation with the police, to implement the decision, and maintain security and secure public establishments and private property".
Reports said that pro-democracy leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who had joined the wave of protests, was placed under house arrest.Authorities had on Friday cut Internet and cell-phone data services across the country in a bid to hamper protesters from organising mass rallies.The protests for Mubarak's ouster came against the backdrop of widespread resentment over rising unemployment, food prices and corruption.The unrest comes close on the heels of an uprising in Tunisia in which Zine al Abidine Ben Ali was ousted after ruling the country for 23 years.The demonstrations are backed by both the country's biggest opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood and ElBaradei, galvanising the protests."It is a critical time in the life of Egypt. I have come to participate with the Egyptian people," ElBaradei had said before leaving Cairo airport after his arrival from Vienna."We're still reaching out to the regime to work with them for the process of change. Every Egyptian doesn't want to see the country going into violence," he had said, adding "Our hand is outstretched."
"I wish that we didn't have to go to the streets to impress on the regime that they need to change," ElBaradei said.

Obama calls on Mubarak, asks to halt crackdown on protestors
US President Barack Obama Saturday called on his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak to halt the crackdown on protestors, saying Washington would continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work along with their government to ensure a better future.Obama, who spoke to Mubarak for 30 minutes, asked the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors."The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere," Obama said in his statement to the press.
Obama spoke with Mubarak after the latter addressed the nation, in which he ordered the resignation of his entire Cabinet.The US President also called on the Egyptian government to restore services of Internet and cellphone, which was earlier suspended following the protests."At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek," he said in his remarks addressed to the protestors.

"Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise. The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we've cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region. But we've also been clear that there must be reform -- political, social and economic reforms that meet aspirations of the Egyptian people," he said.Noting that grievances have built up over time in the absence of these reforms, Obama said Mubarak pledged for a better democracy and greater economic opportunity when he addressed the Egyptian people.

"I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise," Obama said.Violence, he argued, would not address the grievances of the Egyptian people."And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What's needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people: a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people."

Observing that ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people, Obama said that they want the same things like every one -- a better life for themselves and their children, and a government that is fair, just and responsive.

"Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization."Expressing America's commitment to work with all the sections in Egypt to achieve a better future, Obama said, "Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens. That's true here in the US; that's true in Asia; it is true in Europe; it is true in Africa; and it's certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard," he said.Protesters are returning to the streets of Egypt, following violent overnight demonstrations across the country staged in defiance of a curfew.

Protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Saturday morning, shouting "Go away, go away!", so is scene of crowds collecting in the cities of Alexandria and Suez, Al Jazeera's correspondents reported. Alexandria, dozens of marchers were calling on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to step down.
"They are calling for regime change, not cabinet change," Report said.
In Suez, Al Jazeera's Jamal ElShayyal reported that 1,000-2,000 protesters had gathered, and that the military was not confronting them.ElShayyal quoted a military officer as saying that troops would "not fire a single bullet on Egyptians", regardless of where the orders to do so come from.The officer also said the only solution to the current unrest was "for Mubarak to leave".
Today's protests reflected popular discontent with Mubarak's midnight address, where he announced that he was dismissing his government but remaining in power.
The several hundred protesters in Tahrir Square demonstrated in full view of the army, which had been deployed in the city to quell the popular unrest sweeping the Middle East's most populous Muslim country since January 25.They repeatedly shouted that their intentions were peaceful.

The police "fired shots" on the protesters in Cairo news need to be confirmed of that is awaited.Road leading from Tahrir Square to the parliament and cabinet buildings has been blocked by the military, the Associated Press news agency reported.Cities looked like a warzone early on Saturday morning.Tanks have been patrolling the streets of the capital since early in the morning, and a statement from the Egyptian armed forces asked citizens to respect the curfew and to avoid congregating in large groups.Reports of Rising death toll created cities across Egypt witnessed unprecedented protests on Friday, with tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets after noon prayers calling for an end to Mubarak's 30-year rule.The number of people killed in protests is reported to be in the scores, with at least 23 deaths confirmed in Alexandria, and at least 15 confirmed in Suez, with a further 15 deaths in Cairo.

Media News reports in Alexandria said that the bodies of 23 protesters had been received at the local morgue and in Suez confirmed 15 bodies were received at the morgue in Suez, in Cairo, confirmed that 15 bodies were present at a morgue.

Estimated more 1,000 were also wounded in Friday's violent protests, which occurred in Cairo and Suez, in addition to Alexandria.Protests continued throughout the night, with demonstrators defying a nighttime curfew Dutton, in Cairo, said the number of the people on the streets "increased after president Hosni Mubarak's speech shortly after midnight".

The ruling National Democratic Party's headquarters in the capital is still ablaze, more than 12 hours after it was set alight by protesters.

The Egyptian army says that it has been able to secure the neighbouring museum of antiquities from the threat of fire and looting, averting the possible loss of thousands of priceless artefacts.Armoured personnel carriers remain stationed around the British and US embassies, as well as at the state television station.Some mobile phone networks resumed service in the capital on Saturday, after being shut down by authorities on Friday. Internet services remain cut, and landline usage limited.
Authorities had blocked internet, mobile phone and SMS services in order to disrupt planned demonstrations.Friday's demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people were the biggest and bloodiest in four consecutive days of protests against Mubarak's government.Tens of thousands of Egyptians defied the nighttime curfew to take to the streets.Buildings were set alight, and violent clashes continued into the night after a day of unprecedented anger.Shots were heard near parliament earlier in the day as the headquarters of the ruling party was in flames.Dozens of protesters climbed on the military vehicles in Suez. They talked to soldiers who attempted to wave them off.Protesters often quickly dispersed and regrouped.As clashes intensified, police waded into the crowds with batons and fired volleys of tear gas.Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog and an opposition leader in Egypt, was briefly detained by police after he prayed at a mosque in the Giza area but he later took part in a march with supporters. The unrest in Egypt was triggered by the overthrow two weeks ago of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in an uprising that has also inspired anti-government protests in Jordan, Yemen and elsewhere.The government in Egypt had vowed to crack down on demonstrations and arrest those participating in them.
Media Agencies

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Anibal Cavaco Silva re-elected President of Portugal

Portuguese voters have re-elected President Anibal Cavaco Silva to another five-year term, as the incumbent beat six other contenders to avoid a runoff election. According to state-run media outlets, Silva got 53 per cent of the vote - getting support from an all-important majority, making another election unnecessary. He far outpaced his nearest competitor, Manuel Alegre, who was chosen on just under 20 per cent of ballots.

Roughly 53 per cent of Portugal's registered voters took part in Sundays' election, despite inclement weather in parts of the southwestern European nation. Silva has been president since March 9, 2006.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crisis escalates in Albania

A political crisis escalated in Albania as the government and the opposition traded blame for the deaths of three protests during a violent demonstration against an administration accused of deeply rooted corruption.The Arrest warrants had been issued for six officers of the National Guard, army troops under Interior Ministry command who guard government institutions and senior officials. The Prosecutor General’s office said on Saturday and tensions have been mounting for months between Albania’s conservative government and the main opposition Socialist Party.

They rose sharply last week when Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta resigned after a private TV station aired a video that it said showed him asking a colleague to influence the awarding of a contract to build a power station.On Friday night, protesters overturned and burned police vehicles on Friday night and clashed with officers who fought them off with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.Two men were fatally shot in the chest and another died of a wound to the head.

The U.S. and the European Union have both appealed for calm.The men had been killed by “bandits” within the protesters and accused the leader of the main opposition Socialist Party of attempting a coup, Prime Minister Sali Berisha said at a news conference.“I am here today to tell that you were the one who organized the anti-constitutional putsch ... for which you will have to face the consequences of the law,” Mr. Berisha said.He charged that the demonstrators included “gangs of criminals, bandits, traffickers and terrorists” trying to overthrow the government with a “Tunisian-style” demonstration - referring to the rioting that drove out Tunisia’s president this month.

Socialist Party leader Edi Rama accused Mr. Berisha of being the “political orchestrator” of the deaths and he called for the arrest of Interior Minister Lulzim Basha.In addition to fuelling outrage over corruption, the Socialists have accused Mr. Berisha’s Democratic Party of rigging Albania’s 2009 election, in which it was declared the winner by a narrow margin.The next election is scheduled in 2013, but the opposition has been calling for months for new polls to be held sooner.

U.S. Ambassador in Tirana Alexander Arvizu said he had told Albanian politicians on both sides that the violence "was not necessary. Nor was it inevitable. It could have been avoided. It must be prevented from happening again, for the sake of all Albanians.”“What Albania desperately needs at this moment is political leadership. We have repeatedly urged Albania’s political leaders to search for compromise,” he said at a news conference.“It’s time to take a deep breath, repair the damage and begin the process of recovery.”
Mr. Arvizu, together with EU Ambassador Ettore Sequi and British Ambassador Fiona McIlwham, met with Albanian President Bamir Topi to stress that the “return of dialogue, respect of institutions, maturity and equilibrium is of a vital importance.”

The demonstration in the centre of Albania’s capital, Tirana, began with about 20,000 people, but organizers claimed it swelled to up to 300,000.Police did not give any figures. The protest quickly turned violent, with people pelting police with banners, umbrellas, eggs and stones.Police said 113 people were arrested on charges of violence against police and for destroying their vehicles.

The Socialists vowed to continue the anti-government protests, but said they would not hold any demonstrations on Saturday, when the three people killed were to be buried.Scores of people led by Socialist leaders laid flowers and lit candles where two people were killed.Mr. Berisha invited Albanians to come next Wednesday to a peaceful rally against violence.The government also awarded a month’s salary to all National Guard officers and four months’ salary to those injured in Friday’s violence.Albania is one of Europe’s poorest countries.For nearly 50 years, the mountainous country of 3.2 million people was ruled by xenophobic Communists who banned contact with the outside world.

The nation descended into chaos seven years later following the collapse of popular investment schemes, requiring an international military mission to restore order.Albania is now a NATO member and seeks to join the 27-nation EU, but corruption is widespread and unemployment is high.

Spanish Artists & Sagar:India Art Summit 2011

DIE GALERIE:Frankfurt Germany:India Art Summit 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pak-Afghan ties improved

Pak-Afghan ties have been warming at a time when sharp differences have emerged between Pakistan and the US on the endgame in the war-torn country and on launching a military operation against militant strongholds in North Waziristan, a media report said Wednesday.The improved relations between Islamabad and Kabul could be "signalling a new strategic alignment" and greater cooperation between the two sides in the run-up to the withdrawal of US and foreign forces from Afghanistan, the Dawn quoted unnamed sources as saying.Pakistan recently "revisited its Afghan policy and committed itself to non-interference and a hands-off policy," the sources were quoted as saying.

Pakistan and Afghanistan had also agreed to undertake "practical and pragmatic steps for peace and reconciliation." Progress on the proposed joint peace council for united efforts for the peace process in Afghanistan is also expected, the report said.These developments come at a time when Washington has stepped up pressure on Islamabad to speedily move troops into North Waziristan tribal agency, and Pakistan has increased efforts to ensure a key role for itself in deciding the future of Afghanistan after the US troop withdrawal.In recent interactions with Afghan and American functionaries, Pakistani leaders have highlighted the need for a strategic alignment among the three countries.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir travelled to Kabul over the weekend for policy consultations and exploring ways to strengthen bilateral ties. His visit was preceded by a trip of an Afghan High Peace Council delegation to Islamabad for discussions on the reconciliation process.Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul is expected to visit Pakistan soon to take forward this process, which was initiated when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani traveled to Kabul last month.

At the same time, Pakistan has repeatedly said in recent days that it will not accept any new "great game" in Afghanistan an apparent reference to foreign forces interfering in the country after the US troop pullout.This message was also conveyed to US Vice President Joseph Biden during his recent visit to Pakistan.
Media agencies

Thursday, January 13, 2011

National Unity government collapsed:Lebanon

Lebanon, the National Unity government collapsed on Wednesday evening after 11 ministers of opposition Hezbollah and its allies resigned. According to Naharnet news agency, Energy Minister Gibran Bassil said the decision was prompted by a dispute over the UN tribunal investigating former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's murder. West Asia correspondent reports that the announcement came as Rafik Hariri's son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri was meeting US President Barack Obama in Washington:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Biden in Afghanistan

KABUL: US Vice President Joe Biden arrived for a surprise visit to Afghanistan Monday, where he will meet President Hamid Karzai at the start of a year when US troops are poised to start limited withdrawals.The trip comes at a "pivot point" for the US in Afghanistan, a senior administration official told reporters, adding it would allow Biden to review progress towards handing responsibility for security to Afghan forces by 2014.US aims to begin withdrawing its troops in July.

Just after arriving in Kabul, Biden spent nearly two hours with the commander of international troops in Afghanistan, US General David Petraeus, and US ambassador Karl Eikenberry.He is due to have lunch with Karzai Tuesday as well as visiting a training facility for Afghan security forces.There are about 97,000 American troops serving in Afghanistan as part of a 140,000-strong NATO-led deployment.Limited, conditions-based withdrawals of US troops are expected to start in July ahead of the scheduled transfer of responsibility for security to Afghan forces in four years.

"The primary purpose of the trip is to assess progress toward the transition to Afghan-led security beginning in 2011, and to demonstrate our commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan," a White House official told the Reuters news agency.

"We're not here to govern Afghanistan, we're not here to nation build, we're not here to secure Afghanistan for the Afghans. Those are responsibilities that belong to the Afghans.

"The only purpose of our mission now is to help put the Afghans in a position where they can fully assume the responsibilities of governing the country and securing the country," the official said.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Portugal to seek financial help from EU & IMF

Eurogroup, of euro zone finance ministers put up pressure on Portugal from Germany, France and other eurozone countries to seek financial help from the EU and IMF to stop the bloc’s debt crisis from spreading,Finland and the Netherlands had expressed similar views. a senior eurozone source said on Sunday:

Earlier on Sunday, a Portuguese government spokesman denied a German magazine report that Lisbon was under pressure from Berlin and Paris to seek a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.Portuguese newspaper Publico joined the ranks of those who think a bailout is inevitable on Sunday.Lisbon repeatedly denied its facing pressure for a bailout in recent months there have been frequent reports that such help may become necessary.Portugal could need between 60 and 80-billion excluding banking sector need:

Fiscal assistance for Lisbon would aim to protect Spain away be next in line, but whose financing needs would stretch current euro zone aid capabilities to the limit.
“The real battle will be the battle of Spain there much higher chances of success,” the source said.

R B Zoellick :Growth in India helping global economy

World Bank has said that high level of growth in India is helping the international economy recover from the crippling impact of recent financial turmoil. World Bank President Robert B Zoellick said that India is a player on the global stage and its status as a rising economic power is closely connected with how the country manages the next phase of growth. Ahead of his 4-day visit to India beginning today, Mr. Zoellick said World Bank supports India's strategy of boosting growth, while helping the most vulnerable sections of society to seize the opportunities thrown open by an expanding economy. According to a World Bank release, the visit is aimed at strengthening cooperation between the multilateral lender and India. The release said India is accelerating growth to provide better infrastructure and efficient social services to the people. Mr. Zoellick will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia during his visit to India.

Cooperation on global issues, including preparations for the upcoming G-20 meetings will be on the agenda of his talks with India leaders.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords shot in Arizona

US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is shot in the head and six people are killed in a gun attack which President Obama called a national tragedy.Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, 40, shot at close range during a public meeting in Tucson.
She is in a critical condition, but the doctor treating her said he was "very optimistic about her recovery". The dead included a nine-year-old girl and John Roll,a federal judge. Police said total of 13 people were shot and wounded during the attack six were killed doctors said five of them including Ms Giffords were in a critical condition.Ms Giffords' political aides was also killed in the shooting.

Friday, January 7, 2011

China hiding military build-up:OZ intelligence

Australia's intelligence agencies believe China is hiding the extent of a massive military build-up that goes beyond national defence and threatens regional stability, the latest WikiLeaks cables show.
A strategic assessment by the agencies found that China's military spending for 2006 was $90 billion - double the $45 billion budget publicly announced by Beijing, Fairfax newspapers report.
"China's longer-term agenda is to develop 'comprehensive national power', including a strong military, that is in keeping with its view of itself as a great power," a copy of the secret assessment provided by Foreign Affairs officials to the US embassy in Canberra said.
The 2006 Australian intelligence assessment was contained in a US embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to Fairfax newspapers.
The assessment also warned that factors including China's rising nationalism and difficulties with Japan meant that "miscalculations and minor events could quickly escalate".

Competitiveness, climate, security Finn’s priorities Ministry of Finance release Finnish road map of EU presidency. Finland i...