Thursday, March 10, 2011

News from the Middle East

This first article may be the biggest news in a couple of weeks:

Egypt's ElBaradei says he will run for president

Egypt's reformist Mohamed ElBaradei announced on Wednesday that he planned to run for president in an election expected to be held this year.

It was the first time that ElBaradei, who won the Nobel peace prize in 2005, has explicitly announced he would run for president after President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by an 18-day popular uprising last month.

ElBaradei, 68, also said that he would vote against constitutional amendments in a referendum set for March 19, adding that a new constitution must be drawn instead.

Many have criticised the army's plan to transfer power to civilian rule by holding a parliamentary vote within six months to be followed by a presidential election.

"If we go ahead with these amendments this means we would have parliamentary election within two months where 80 percent of Egyptians, the silent majority, would not have a chance to participate in a real parliamentary process," said ElBaradei.

"It would only be a parliament of the remnants of the National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood".

And we know that is exactly where this is headed; power is almost guaranteed to fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel to surrender control of strategic land?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon unveil a plan that would give the Palestinian Authority full security control of more areas of the strategic West Bank, according to diplomatic officials with specific knowledge of the proposal who spoke to WND.

Separately, sources in the Israeli defense apparatus cited aspects of Netanyahu's upcoming plan they fear will harm the Jewish state's anti-terror capabilities.

The Israeli news media has been rife the past few days with reports Netanyahu has drafted a secret plan that will be announced within weeks. Netanyahu himself has talked about a new so-called peace initiative without being specific.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper this week reported the prime minister is considering a plan to cooperate with the Palestinians on the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, as part of an interim peace agreement with that would be implemented immediately. The newspaper did not cite any details of the plan.

The PA is ready to give Hamas full official security control of the Gaza Strip if the Islamist organization agrees to form a unity government, the official said.

In 2007, Hamas seized Gaza from the PA, and since then it has maintained a de facto government in the territory. While Hamas largely controls Gaza, the PA still has militias there that are influential in key areas.

We'll have to wait and see on this one - and apparently the wait won't be long. According to this article, as this 'plan' will be announced within weeks.

Deputy FM: Gaza smuggling on the rise amid Mideast unrest

The deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that arms smuggling from Egypt into the Gaza Strip has grown following the unrest in the Arab world.

Ayalon says explosives and terrorists are also being smuggled to the strip. Gaza militants have fired thousands of rockets at Israel in recent years.

Last month, grad rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel for the first time since the Gaza war in 2009.

Some say this is too quick for parties to organize and gives an advantage to remnants of Mubarak's National Democratic Party and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

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