The lawyers for two of three Al Jazeera journalists being tried in Egypt on charges of fomenting violence have quit accusing the Qatar-based news agency of a "vendetta." The lead defense lawyer, Farag Fathy said "Al Jazeera is using my clients" and that the network was "fabricating quotes" attributed to him. Additionally, the court has demanded defense lawyers pay $170,000 to view footage prosecutors say shows the journalists fabricated news reports to incite unrest. The trial has been adjourned until May 22, and the journalists have again been denied bail. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Abdullah Elshamy, who has been held without charges since August 2013, has been transferred to solitary confinement after smuggling a video out of Tora prison highlighting his deteriorating health. Elshamy has been on hunger strike for 107 days protesting his detention.
A car bombing killed at least 43 people in the Syrian province of Aleppo near the Bab al-Salam border crossing into Turkey. The area is the main route used by Syrians refugee fleeing into Turkey. The region has been controlled by the Islamic Front's Tawhid Brigade, which has been engaged in fierce fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since January. Iran has reportedly been recruiting thousands of Afghan refugees to fight alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Syria. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been offering $500 a month as well as Iranian residency and has been training Afghan fighters. Meanwhile, growing frustrated with the inability of the United Nations to deliver humanitarian aid to Syrians, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is exploring other options for providing aid, including circumventing the Syrian government. Additionally, Kerry stated he has seen evidence suggesting that Assad's forces have used chlorine gas in attacks on rebel fighters and civilians in recent months, which would be against the weapons convention signed by the Syrian government.
- The operator of Turkey's Soma coal mine, Soma Holding, denied negligence saying it was still unclear what caused the accident in which authorities have said 18 people remain missing.
- The United States has expressed concern over lack of progress in nuclear talks with Iran meanwhile a U.N. report on Iranian ballistic missile development poses another challenge to negotiations.
- Israeli forces killed two Palestinians at clashes during Nakba Day demonstrations.
Arguments and Analysis
'Fathers of the Revolution' (Wendy Pearlman, Guernica)
"Statistics tell us that violence in Syria has left at least 150,000 dead, 9 million forced from their homes, and 9.3 million in need of humanitarian aid. But by the time numbers are published they are already out of date. In the West, the Syrian conflict connotes sectarian war, humanitarian crisis, Islamic extremism, and chemical weapons. It is easy to forget that, for many, this nightmare began with a dream.
I have interviewed more than 150 Syrian refugees, and they describe the start of protests in the spring of 2011 as their break through a barrier of fear. They raised their voices against a system that denied them voice. Though initial demands were only for reform, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad responded ferociously."
'The General's New Suit' (Mona Oraby, Jadaliyya)
"Among the many tragedies of Egyptian politics today, and especially over the last ten months, is that many have uncritically accepted Sisi's visual transformation forgetting that he has already shown us what he stands for. As the youngest member of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) that has ruled Egypt on and off starting in February 2011, Sisi was among those who advocated for virginity tests to be performed on women protesting in Tahrir. He remains unapologetic for the October 2011 deaths of dozens of unarmed Coptic Christians during the Maspero massacre in what SCAF defended as the protection of state institutions. If Egyptians have forgotten the horrid images of military tanks crushing people to death, what else has escaped public memory? Plenty, it turns out. It is not uncommon for people to say that the deaths at Rab'a al-Adawiyya and Nahda Square never happened. And if they did, the Brothers were given fair warning of what was coming and, well, terrorists do not have rights anyway."
-- Mary Casey
MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images