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Clashes outside Egypt presidential palace in Cairo

Police have fired tear gas in clashes with tens of thousands of protesters gathered near the presidential palace in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Some of the protesters cut through barbed wire around the palace,according to BBC.

Crowds have been gathering to protest against what they say is the rushed drafting of a new constitution and the decision by President Mohammed Morsi to extend his powers.

Morsi was in the palace but left as the crowds grew, sources there said.

Many of those gathered outside chanted slogans similar to those directed against the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak during protests in February 2011.

Tear gas was fired after protesters managed to breach a barbed wire cordon surrounding the palace, correspondents say.

But the police quickly retreated, allowing protesters to get closer to the palace walls.

Eighteen people were injured in the brief burst of violence but none seriously, the official Mena news agency reported.

In a statement read out on television, Egyptian security forces called for calm among the protesters.

As well as the protest outside the presidential palace in the suburb of Heliopolis, thousands of demonstrators have gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

A sizeable crowd has also turned out in Egypt's second city Alexandria.

Several newspapers refused to go to press on Tuesday in protest at what they say is the lack of press freedom in the constitution.

Morsi adopted sweeping new powers in a decree on 22 November, and stripped the judiciary of any power to challenge his decisions.

He has also called a nationwide referendum for 15 December on a new constitution, which opponents say has been rushed through and fails to protect the rights of minorities, particularly women.

Morsi, who narrowly won Egypt's first free presidential election in June, says he will give up his new powers once a new constitution is ratified.

His actions have brought out thousands, both his supporters and his opponents, in recent days.


MP Saqr admits authenticity of audio recordings

LONDON, (ST) _After many days of silence,the member of the Lebanon's Future Bloc, Oqab Saqer, confirmed authenticity of a recent audio recordings that reveals his involvement in shedding the Syrian blood and destroying Syria.

“Yes. This is my voice and those are my words. I am not in the habit of denying my words or voice and I am not ashamed of what I have done and am doing,” Saqr told the Saudi Ash-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.

He sees that he is serving the interest of his country in the first place. But he didn't clarify what is the interest in destroying a neighboring country and shedding the blood of a brotherly people.

Saqer said that he is personally responsible for all his deeds contradicting his previous remark to OTV channel in which he stressed that he was acting at the behest of Saad Hariri, the head of the Future Bloc.

Terrorists' Relation with Lebanon's  Future Bloc

Following the confession of Saqer, terrorist Louay al-Mikdak, the coordinator of the higher military council of the so-called Free Army, confirmed that the voice recordings are authentic, affirming that there's a joint operations room between the Free Army and the Future Bloc and Saad al-Hariri.

In a televised interview, al-Mikdak confessed that the Future Bloc and Saad al-Hariri personally are committed to backing them by all means, and that the person in charge of this task has become known, in a reference to Saqer.

"Saqer will present documents about the nature of the joint operations room and his role in it," blatantly said al-Mikdak, downplaying the significance of the lawsuits filed against him and Saqer for smuggling weapons into Syria.

Anticipated step

In this context, the Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper noted that Saqer is trying to anticipate what might be unveiled later about his involvement in other issues related to Lebanon besides his other roles in providing the armed terrorist groups with arms to commit massacres against the Syrian citizens.

"Saqr,who requested to lift his immunity and expressed his readiness o face any potential legal measures in the case, will take the position of attack instead of defending himself," a close source to Saqer told the paper.

Wanted by Interpol

According to the Lebanese "al-Diyar" paper, Saqr plus other five retired officers from the Lebanese army are on the list of people wanted by the Interpol.

The paper said: "The Huge has arraigned Saqr for investigation over this case."

Tens of Lebanese Gunmen Entered Syria

On the other hand, the Lebanese "al-Akhbar"newspaper reported that the Lebanese gunmen recently killed in Talkalakh in Syria were one of dozen of gunmen entered Syria from Lebanon.

The paper said that these gunmen funded by a Lebanese MP are called "Jihad Migrations".

In a news report published on Monday, al-Akhbar noted that the majority of the hundreds of gunmen in the so-called "al-Wadi Battalion" headed by Adbul-Salam H, a Syrian with good connections with a Lebanese MP, are Lebanese.

"Groups of Lebanese gunmen,who are periodically entering Syria for 'Jihad', contain persons escaped from Romyyeh prison in Lebanon in May,"said  the paper.

It underlined that the Lebanese gunmen killed in Talkalakh went to Syria upon invitation by "KH. M.", a leader in Fath al-Islam organization, who called them to come to establish an Islamic Emirate in an area near Homs.


Iran's FM meets Chairman of the Syrian opposition commission


TEHRAN,(ST)_ Political solution is the only logical way to restore calm to Syria, Iran's Foreign Minister said in a meeting with chairman of the Syrian Opposition Coordination Commission Haitham Manna in Tehran on Monday.

Ali Akbar Salehi asserted necessity to hold Syrian-Syrian negotiations to put an end to the existing problems in Syria, noting efforts being exerted by Iran at regional and international levels to restore stability and security to Syria.

FNA quoted the Iranian FM as saying that ill-wishers stir political and religious rifts among Syrians through their foreign meddling in a bid to achieve their political objectives.

Salehi said that the Syrian National Conference recently convened in Tehran reflects Iran's vision towards Syrian-Syrian solution to end violence and alleviate the Syrian people's suffering as well as to have a suitable base to apply democracy process in Syria.




Egypt’s judges on strike over new constitution

Egypt’s top court began an open-ended strike protesting a controversial new constitution drafted by the Islamist-dominated legislators and transferred to President Mohammed Morsi for signing.

The draft is to be discussed at the referendum on Dec 15.

The move is opposed by top judges and the National Liberation Front which urged a strike in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Tuesday,according to ,Russia Today,Itar Tass and Reuters.

Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council has agreed to oversee the referendum on the draft constitution, a legal adviser to President Mohamed Morsi said on Monday.

Some judges had said they would refuse to oversee the referendum after Morsi ignited a crisis last month by decreeing a temporary expansion of his powers, setting off nationwide protests.

"The Supreme Judicial Council has met and agreed to delegate judges to oversee the constitutional referendum," said Mohamed Gadallah, the legal adviser to Morsi.

About 10,000 judges are needed to monitor the vote, he said.

There was no immediate comment from the judicial council.

Two weeks after being passed by a special commission, the new draft Egyptian constitution is to go to a popular referendum on Saturday December 15.

Next weekend, Egyptian diplomatic offices in foreign countries will open stations for early voting.

Egyptian opposition’s National Salvation Front has called for anti-constitution protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Tuesday as President Mohammed Morsi is preparing to put the draft of the country’s fundamental law to referendum on December 15.

"The National Salvation Front condemns the irresponsible act by the president of the republic in calling a referendum on an illegitimate constitution that is rejected by a large section of his people," the opposition’s statement said Monday.

Opposition has accused Morsi of breaking his promise not to hold a referendum on the draft constitution before gaining wide national support.

On Sunday, Egypt’s Constitutional Court suspended its work indefinitely, saying it was under “psychological and physical pressure” of pro-Morsi protesters who rallied outside the court.

Mass demonstrations against the measures have been held throughout the country.


Political solution only way to save Syria out of crisis: says Jalili

Tehran(ST)-Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili has stated that political solution is the only way to save Syria out of crisis.

Jalili made the comment during a meeting with Haytham Manna, the vice chairman of Syria’s National Coordination Committee opposition group on Sunday,according to Press T.V.
He said countries, which cause problems for Syria to achieve democracy, are part of the problem themselves.

He reiterated that the Islamic Republic of Iran is against any violence.

Earlier in the day, Manna met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who said the second round of the Syria National Dialogue meeting is planned to be held in Tehran.

“The second round of the meeting of Syrian groups, and national and popular figures will be held with the participation of representatives from the Syrian government,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

Amir-Abdollahian condemned the foreign-backed terrorists groups in operations in Syria. saying the continued militancy has only inflicted destruction and damage on the country’s infrastructure, while increasing human casualties.

For his part, Manaa said that Iran's efforts regarding Syria are valuable and that they come within the framework of supporting the recomendaitons of the UN Envoy, the quartet and the recent national dialogue meetings held in Tehran.

Manaa also talked about the National Coordination Committee's viewpoints regarding solving problems in Syria on various levels.