World View: Russian Military Advisers Enter the Fray in Syria

This morning's key headlines from

  • Morsi's landslide referendum victory divides Egypt
  • Russian military advisers enter the fray in Syria
  • Assad's air strikes target bakeries to deprive Syrians of bread

Morsi's landslide referendum victory divides Egypt

Mohamed Morsi
Mohamed Morsi

The overwhelming 64% "YES" vote on the referendum to approve the draft constitution has divided Egypt has thrilled the supporters of Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi, and frightened his opponents. The new constitution, which was drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood and conservative Salafists, incorporates Islamic Sharia law, which opponents claim deprives most citizens, especially women, of the hard-won rights that they fought for in last year's Egyptian revolution, violating many promises by Morsi. It now turns out that the Muslim Brotherhood was training over 7,000 activists to get out the vote on the referendum, whiles opposition leaders squabbled among themselves. Opposition leaders are hoping to overturn referendum results, pointing out that only 33% of eligible voters even bothered to vote, but it's hard to see how they can overcome the 64% majority of those who did vote. One of the opposition's examples of alleged lies by Morsi was his claim, prior to the vote, that Article 198 of the new constitution prohibits military trials of civilians. However, they point out that the actual article states:

"Civilians shall not stand trial before military courts except for crimes that harm the Armed Forces. The law shall define such crimes and determine the other competencies of Military Judiciary."

The opposition points out that this article allows the army to try any civilian in military court, since the army decides which crimes are to be tried. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Jerusalem Post

Russian military advisers enter the fray in Syria

The statements by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that we reported yesterday that Syria's chemical weapons were "under control," with the aid of "Russian military advisers training Syria's military," is causing rapid strategic changes in the West's plans. Up until three days ago, it was feared that the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad would use his chemical and biological weapons against the opposition, and this would trigger a forced response by the West to take control of these weapons, using ground forces and air power. However, new reports indicate that Russia has upgraded Syria's defensive forces with advanced surface to air missiles, manned by Russian forces, making any U.S.-led intervention extremely dangerous, protracted and costly.

However, Debka puts an entirely different spin on this story, saying that Israel, the U.S. and Russia are actually cooperating to make sure that the opposition, especially al-Qaeda linked jihadists, do gain control of the weapons. Guardian (London) and Debka

Assad's air strikes target bakeries to deprive Syrians of bread

At least 90 people were killed an hundreds injured on Sunday by an air strike by the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on a baker where over 1,000 people were queuing for bread. The attack occurred in the town of Halfaya, where the rebels had driven out regime forces. The regime has particularly targeted bakeries in order to kill civilians and to deprive civilians of bread. Al-Jazeera

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