The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art announced that the Sultanate of Oman had given a $1.8 million donation in support for the programs intended to celebrate the Omani and East African arts and culture. In its official press release, the museum said that it was the “largest single donation to the museum” that it ever had.
The National Museum of African art is dedicated to the collection of Africa’s traditional and contemporary artworks. The museum’s new programs will begin in 2014.
The programs will highlight the cross-cultural connections of East and Northern Africa and the two’s relation to the Middle East. The programs also highlight the evolution of Oman’s arts and cultures, focusing on the beauty of Omani arts and the connections it has with East Africa.
According to the museum’s director, Johnetta Betsch Cole, the donation from Oman marks a significant milestone for the entire museum. The unique gift, along with an extended collaboration with the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Centre in Washington, makes the entire 50th Anniversary of the museum a very special occasion.
She said that they intend to bring the Omani arts, culture and tradition into greater global awareness as it is a very special and unique culture that is not too known in the mainstream.
The Friends of Syria group, comprised of Egypt, France, Italy, Jordan, Qatar and other Arab nations will convene in London to discuss how they could resolve the Syrian crisis through a peace conference in Geneva on November. Britain Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the meeting aims to persuade the Syrian opposition to unite with a single decision in discussing peace treaties with the Syrian regime.
The Syrian Opposition had agreed to attend the talks, but still, factions in its core do not agree to meeting a negotiation halfway with the Syrian regime. The Syrian regime and President Bashar al-Assad said that the parties involved in the peace talks were people only representing their countries and not the Syrian people, which shows his perspective that the peace talks may be less fruitful than expected.
President Bashar al-Assad said that he will be running for re-election in 2014. The Syrian National Coalition had said that it will not agree to any negotiations if al-Assad remains in power.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also observed the same notion and said that Assad, who had bombed and launched a chemical attack against his people has no right to stay in power and the Syrian opposition sees that he has no legitimacy to remain in power in the future.
According to experts, banning the activities of the Egyptian political party the Muslim Brotherhood will only increase the tensions between pro and anti Mohammed Morsi supporters. Egyptian courts have banned all the activities of the political group, which might threaten the presence of Islamists in the Egyptian political system.
Experts said that this was a crucial blow to the Muslim Brotherhood and both supporters and opposition to the group might view the move with conflicting interpretations. To supporters and the political group itself, experts said that they might see it as the return of their condition during the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, who banned all the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, analysts also said that the Brotherhood also brought itself to its demise because it could have persuaded Mohammed Morsi to step down from office voluntarily, thus avoiding the great civil unrest in the country. Their hesitation to accept other social and political forces, namely in writing the Egyptian constitution that began the entire situation, had brought them to this state.
The military and state government also played a great negative role in the crisis. Ousting the president and declaring co-political party members as terrorists who threaten national security urges the people to view the Egyptian military as having their own agenda.
A coordinated advance by the Egyptian military had left several Sinai militants killed in the northern Sinai Peninsula. At least nine militants were killed. The Egyptian military lost two soldiers during the skirmish.
The assault is part of a military operation that would hunt down Sinai militants responsible for the attacks in the region since former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak’s deposition in 2011. According to military officials, some of the Sinai militants belong from an al-Qaeda group that intends to establish an Islamic region in Northern Sinai.
Increased activities from these militant groups continue as the Egyptian military deposed President Mohammed Morsi from office. Many Sinai locals said that armored trucks and vehicles with militant men have moved around the villages.
Military officials said that they aim to clear the region of militants. Army spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali confirmed the kill of nine militants. A great number of suspected militants were caught. Those who escaped fled into the mountainous areas in central Sinai.
In the last two months, the Egyptian military had destroyed many underground tunnels that served as the passageway of the militants, which they use as a smuggling network for resources, weapons and people.
However, many people said that the Egyptian military might also have a hidden agenda. Many anonymous residents admitted to local reporters that the military also attacked some civilians and pro-government locals.
Robert Mugabe has once again won the election in his country and has been quick to pick up where he left off, as he vows to press on with his policy of forcing all companies to cede economic control to black Zimbabweans.
“Indigenisation” was also one of his main campaign issues for last month’s election. Mr Mugabe duly rejected all claims by his opposition that the voting was rigged. During his speeches, Mr. Mugabe has constantly brought attention towards his view that black Zimbabweans need help as they faced discrimination during white minority rule, which ended in 1980. His controversial policy of seizing most of Zimbabwe’s white-owned farms is widely seen as having caused the country’s economic collapse from 2000-2009.
Mr Mugabe says giving black native Zimbabweans further control of the business sector is the next step in his plans for the country. He also said the election result had given him a “resounding mandate” to do so. He added that the policy was in fact the “final phase of the liberation struggle” and “final phase of total independence”. Foreign-owned companies have already been heavily pressurised to ensure they are at least 51% locally owned – again, a controversial policy which some analysts say has scared off potential investment from abroad. The main targets of Mugabe’s nationalistic policies have been local operations of foreign-owned mining companies, according to Reuters news agency, while experts say banks could be next.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which says Mr Mugabe had rigged the election, boycotted the rally to mark Defence Forces Day. Mr Mugabe lashed out at his opponents by saying that his critics could “go hang”, in his first public speech since the suspected disputed election. It was the establishment of a power-sharing government, in 2009, that stopped Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown, through which the local currency abandoned. Mr Mugabe’s allies have suggested that the Zimbabwean dollar could now be re-introduced but they have expressed their concerns that this would not happen soon.
His critics have protested that much of the land seized from white farmers, occasionally partnered with multinational firms, was either given to his cronies or to people who simply lacked the expertise or resources to use it productively. In return, Mr Mugabe retorts that Western powers are sabotaging Zimbabwe’s economy because of his anti-colonial stance. The Constitutional Court is beginning to consider Zanu-PF’s legal challenge on Wednesday, following a two-day public holiday.
On Wednesday, Japan’s air force scrambled as a Chinese 7-8 early warning aircraft flew past the airspace between Miyako Island and Okinawa in the East China Sea. Japan’s Defence Minister said that it was the first time a Chinese military plane flew over the Okinawa islands and symbolic of China’s military advances.
Itsunori Onodera, the Japanese Defence Minister, said that Chinese naval vessels have been spotted to sail through water passages in the same area. According to him, the region is strategic. Experts believe that the Y-8 plane was conducting electronic surveillance for intelligence gathering.
They also said that the Y-8’s overflight might be a provocation against the Japanese government regarding the tensions surrounding the region.
The Chinese defence ministry said that it was free to fly in international air space, which justifies that they have 12 nautical miles from a country’s coastline based on America’s argument of “freedom of navigation.
The United States plays a pivotal role in the Japanese-Chinese conflict regarding the Senkaku islands, which China claims to be its own territory. The US guaranteed the US-Japan Security treaty if war broke out over the rocky islets. Currently, Japanese soldiers are being trained in the US bases for military exercises, heavily leaning on amphibious assault exercises.
Egyptian Interim President Adly Mansour first addressed the public with his speech Thursday saying that he intends to protect Egypt from unnamed groups who aim to cause chaos in the country. He said that justice will be done for Egypt, including those who intend to cause unnecessary violence.
President Mansour gave his address to Egypt before the Muslim Brotherhood’s promise of protests on Friday could come to pass. Egypt’s military, who overtook Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy for failing to provide fairly for the Egyptians, was deeply concerned with post-coup violence in the country. They have issued a warning for groups that intend to cause unrest during the Muslim Brotherhood’s protests.
Mansour said in his speech that Egypt was going through a “transformative phase” where its political decisions will swerve it towards success or the failure intended by radical groups as they continue their violent activities in the country.
The Interim President reassured the country that he and the government were committed to ensuring security all over the country and that they will not be “shaken” by political and terrorist factions to “preserve the revolution”.
However, the Muslim Brotherhood and other pro-Morsi parties do not recognize Adly Mansour as the Interim President. Many continue to believe that the military intends to retake the government using Mansour as the representative of Egyptian Military Chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
Interim President Adly Mansour’s proposed timetable was vehemently rejected by the Muslim Brotherhood and the NSF or National Salvation Front because would set Egypt back to where it started years ago.
On Tuesday, the transitional administration placed Hazem el-Beblawi as its Prime Minister and appointed liberal opposition chief and Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed el-Baradei as vice president for foreign relations.
The Brotherhood dismissed the transition timetable because it would take Egypt back to zero; the country’s state after Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
The timetable was published after the army opened fire on people outside the elite Republican Guard’s headquarters in Cairo on Monday.
The timetable indicated holding parliamentary elections by 2014, five months to amend the current draft constitution on hold because of Egyptian President Morsy’s arrest, its ratification and then parliamentary elections. The process indicates that it would need 210 days to put up constitution and government.
The NSF complained that it was not consulted when the charter was made and in a statement, said that it also rejected the constitutional decree.
Egypt’s military also issued a warning that the interim government is the legitimate government and anybody who would “endanger the people of the country” and who disrupts the transition process would face great consequences
Egypt’s tourism minister announced his wish to resign from his position following the appointment of a former ex-militant as the governor of Luxor. Adel Khayat’s appointment as governor roused protests from Luxor citizens. He was a member of the political wing Gamaa Islamiya, who claimed responsibility for killing 58 tourists in a 1997 attack.
However, Luxor Governor Khayat denied any role in the said attack. He promised to protect Egypt’s tourists in Luxor. The city was a usual spot for tourists, but because of the political instability in the country since 2011, Egypt’s tourist numbers have dropped greatly.
Dr. Hisham Zazou appointment of Khayat, said that his nomination will have great consequences on Egypt’s tourism. Prime Minister Hisham Qandil rejected Zazou’s resignation and said that the government will continue to review the details about Khayat and Zazou is to remain as tourism minister until then.
The president’s appointment of governors all over Egypt generally enraged the public as majority of these governors were from the Muslim Brotherhood where President Mohamed Morsi also belonged. The Muslim Brotherhood now control 13 of Egypt’s 27 governorships.
Protests continue against the governors, who found it difficult to enter their offices as protesters locked the gates and attacked escorts.
The White House said that it has ‘high confidence’ that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons against the Syrian rebellion on a small scale. It has announced that it would provide unspecified “military support” against the opposition, true to its promise that the use of chemical weapons during the Syrian civil war was a “red line” for the United States.
US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said that the US has no “reliable” evidence that the opposition had used chemical weapons against the Syrian regime as well. Its announcement of declaring military aid to the opposition came as the UN reported that Syrian conflict had reached a death toll of 93,000 people, including women and children.
Senators such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham had called for providing military aid for Syria and said that provision of ammunition and heavy weaponry to the opposition may is long overdue. They also said that aside from such support, the US must also rally an international coalition to degrade the ability of the Syrian regime to sue airpower and ballistic missiles, which give them an advantage against the opposition.
The two-year conflict in Syria had formed different opposition parties in the conflict, such as the Supreme Military Council (SMC) and the Syrian Opposition Coalition. Without a unified front, the opposition effort may also lead a crumbling government amidst the ashes, according to political analysts.
Experts also speculate that the US aid was in response to the growing support provided by Iran and Hezbollah to the Syrian regime. The two countries are the closest allies of the regime and had supplied the regime with arms and men to support their campaigns.