Arab Nations Strike in Libya, Surprising U.S.

Islamist fighters in the Libya Dawn coalition guarded the main airport in Tripoli, Libya, after its capture on Sunday. Credit Mahmud Turkia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and ERIC SCHMITTAUG in The New York Times

CAIRO — Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly launched airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation of a regional power struggle set off by Arab Spring revolts.

The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied to American diplomats that their military played any role in the operation, the officials said, in what appeared a new blow to already strained relations between Washington and Cairo.

The strikes in Tripoli are another salvo in a power struggle defined by Arab autocrats battling Islamist movements seeking to overturn the old order. Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt last year, the new government and its backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have launched a campaign across the region — in the news media, in politics and diplomacy, and by arming local proxies — to roll back what they see as an existential threat to their authority posed by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Read more at The New York Times

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi Elected President of Egypt.

A man reads a local newspaper with the headline in Arabic reading, “Egypt surprises the world,” outside a polling station in Cairo, May 27, 2014. (Voice of America – public domain)

Egypt: El-Sissi Wins Election by Landslide in The New York Times (AP)

CAIRO — With nearly all the ballots counted, Egypt’s former military chief has won a crushing victory over his sole opponent with more than 92 percent of the votes, according to results announced by his campaign early Thursday.

The campaign of retired field marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he won 23.38 million votes, with left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi taking 735,285. Invalid votes were 1.07 million, or nearly 350,000 more than the number of votes for the 59-year-old Sabahi.

El-Sissi’s win was never in doubt, but the career infantry officer, also 59, had hoped for a strong turnout to bestow legitimacy on his ouster last July of Egypt’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

Read more at The New York Times

Egypt’s ‘Couch Party’ Silent on Third Day of Polls in Voice of America

By Heather Murdock

CAIRO — As voting in Egypt’s presidential elections winds down, residents say the silent majority has spoken by not showing up to the polls.

During the 2011 revolution, activists on the streets jokingly referred to Egyptians who stayed home as the ‘Hizb al-Kanaba’ or ‘The Couch Party.’ The name stuck and it applies to most Egyptians who want to live their lives, feed their families and do not care all that much who occupies the presidential palace.

Abdelrahman Hany is the opposite of the Kanaba: a human rights worker who took to the streets in 2011, later protested military rule and he joined the crowds in 2013, demanding the resignation of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s last president.

But this week, he did not vote.

He said in this election he is proud to be a Kanaba member because he does not support either candidate. Former army chief and de facto Egyptian leader Abdul Fatah el-Sissi will surely win, he said, and challenger Hamdeen Sabahi’s campaign lends legitimacy to the election.

Read more at Voice of America

Egyptians celebrate Sisi ‘victory’ ahead of final results in Al Arabiya


Supporters hold up posters of Egypt’s former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as they celebrate at Tahrir square in Cairo May 28, 2014. (Reuters)

Supporters of Egypt’s presidential frontrunner Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi held impromptu “victory” celebrations in different parts of Cairo late Wednesday, according to the Cairo-Based ONA News Agency, as partial results showed the former army chief was headed to a major election win.

One group gathered at the One Unknown Soldier Memorial group in the Nasr City district of the capital, unfurling the largest banner ever made of Sisi, who is almost certain to win the crucial election.

Read more at Al Arabiya