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Once more, the Egyptian military and interim Government have backed away from an immediate dispersal of sit-in protests by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

Having declared through “security and Government sources” on Sunday that the Cairo sit-ins would be broken up on Monday, Government representatives spent yesterday rolling back the threat. First, they told international news agencies that the steps would be gradual, with the forces surrounding the rallies at Rabaa El-Adewaya Square and Nahda Square. Then they said measures had been postponed because of the fear of bloodshed.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s judiciary extended the detention of Morsi, overthrown by the military on July 3, for a further 15 days.

The former President was moved from house arrest to prison last month, with prosecutors claiming he had collobarated with the Palestinian Hamas movement. Morsi is also accused of involvement in the killing and abduction of police officers amid a prison escape during the 2011 revolution against the Mubarak regime.

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Foreign Ministry Spokesman Says UK’s Hostile Policies Must End Before Relations Can Resume

In his weekly press briefing, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi said that diplomatic ties between Iran and the UK can only be restored if Britain abandons its hostile policies towards the Islamic Republic.

Araqchi, noting London’s cautiously positive response to Hassan Rouhani’s election, added
“Considering the various signals from the British side for the resumption of the relations, we hope to begin technical negotiations on the issue in the due time.”

Muhammad Tops London Baby Name List

The biggest news this week in Britain has been yesterday’s release of the annual list of popular baby names and Iranian med, Mehr News reports that “Muhammad has become the most popular name for baby boys in London for the first time.”

It also notes that variations on spelling — Muhammad, Mohammed, Mohammad — combine to give a total of 7,032 babies given the name making it the most popular boy’s name in England and Wales for babies born in 2012.

The news is unlikely to mark the beginning of an Islamic Awakening in the UK, as the combined total of Muhmmads equalled less than 1% of the over 729,000 babies were born in 2012.

Bahrain: Government Bans Demonstrations in Capital

In advance of mass opposition, pro-democracy protests planned for tomorrow, demonstrations have been banned in the capital city of Manama.

The 77-year-old prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, warned, “The government will forcefully confront the suspicious calls to violate law and order and those who stand behind them through decisive measures.”

Al-Khalifa added “Terrorists, and those who provide them legitimacy and political cover, will be punished. Those who support such calls will also be punished.”

Opposition activists are planning to hold mass anti-government protests on 14 August, Bahrain’s independence day.

Israel and Palestine: 26 Palestinian Prisoners Moved Before Release

Twenty-six Palestinian long-term prisoners due to be released early tomorrow have been moved to a jail in central Israel, with peace talks to resume in Jerusalem hours after they return to Gaza and the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Palestinians “not to react adversely” to the Israeli announcement of a plan to build a further 1,200 settlement homes.

Kerry added that while Washington continues to see the settlements as “illegitimate” the move was “to some degree expected.”

Libya: 3 Journalists Shot in the Last 4 Days in Benghazi

Three journalists have been attacked by gunmen in four days in Benghazi, Libya’s second city.

The latest target is Khawlija al-Amami, a presenter for the al-Ahrar TV station, who was fired upon by assailants who pulled up to her car on Monday. The bullets missed, but hours later a text warned al-Amami to “stop your journalism” or be killed.

On Friday, TV presenter Izzaldin Qasaad, a critic of the rising tide of violence, was shot dead as he left a Benghazi mosque. On Saturday, another reporter was shot and wounded in Ajdabiya, south of the city.

Egypt: Islamist Group Praises Those Killed By Israel Attack on Sinai, Calls For Response

The Mujahedin Shura Council has issued a statement naming and praising the four men killed by an Israeli attack on the Sinai Peninsula last week, condemned the Egyptian military for “collusion” with Israel, and called on Egyptians to rally around those fighting the Israelis.

The four slain men were part of a team hit by an Israeli airstrike before they could launched rockets from the Egypt-Gaza border into Israel.

The MSC said, “The blaze of the fire of the Jews reached the Egyptians homeland, by killing the best of their sons the mujahidin, which makes it obligatory to prepare and be ready to confront those Jews and repel their aggression.”

The statement added, “This treacherous raid wouldn’t occur if it wasn’t by the direct coordination
and collusion from the Egyptian army,” and declared:

What happened should be a motivation for the tribes to gather around their sons the mujahidin and offer all the aid and support and assistance to them.

Egypt: Clashes Between Supporters and Opponents of Ex-President Morsi

Fighting between supporters and opponents of deposed President Mohamed Morsi broke out on Tuesday near the Ministry of Interior amid a pro-Morsi march.

A “security source” said seven Morsi supporters were wounded.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, claimed police had opened fire, injuring five demonstrators.

Journalist Tom Finn:

Iraq: Three Blasts Kill 26 Across Country on Monday

At least 26 people were killed in a series of bomb attacks across central and western Iraq yesterday.

A suicide bomb at a cafe in the northern city of Balad (80 kilometres / 60 miles north of Baghdad) killed 15 people and injured 30 others on Monday.

An eyewitness said, “A suicide bomber blew himself up yesterday, killing or wounding several people, most of them old men.”

Six people were killed and 17 wounded following an explosion at a restaurant in the city of Baqouba (60 kilometres / 35 miles northeast of Baghdad).

A third explosion killed five soldiers when a suicide car bomber hit a checkpoint near Fallujah.

Turkey: Opposition Leader Says Ergenekon Plot Case an Excuse for Trial of Anti-Government Figures

Leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has said that the Ergenekon coup plot case became an excuse to try anti-government figures.

Kılıçdaroğlu told CNNTürk last night “The people that the government wanted to settle accounts with but was unable to do so in the past were put [into the Ergenekon case].”

He also claimed that government officials have threatened him over his response to the Ergenekon case, stating “They are threatening me, saying that if you criticize the court, we’ll try you too. This proves that the court is in their hands.”

The CHP leader suggested that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan should be tried with “aiding and abetting terrorism” on the grounds that if former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ was guilty of being a member of a terrorist group, then so too was the prime minister for appointing him.

Israel and Egypt: “Iron Dome” Defence System Intercepts Rockets Fired at Eilat

The Israeli city of Eilat has come under rocket fire from militants operating in along the Egyptian border in the Sinai Peninsula.

Israeli media report that the militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for firing three rockets at the city just before 01:00 local time, in apparent retaliation for an air strike that killed four suspected militants on Friday.

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile battery is said to have intercepted two of the missiles and no casualties have been reported.

Meanwhile, the hardline Islamist militant group, Magles Shoura al-Mujahideen, also claimed to have fired a rocket at Eilat, which was intercepted by the Irone Dome.

“In a swift response to the latest crime of the Jews that killed 4 Mujahideen in the land of Sinai through a strike by a pilotless plane, the lions of Maglis Shoura al-Mujahideen … were able to strike the occupied city of Om al-Rashash “Eilat” with a rocket,” the group said in a statement published online.

“We assure that neither Eilat nor any other Israeli cities will be blessed with security, tourism or economy,” it added.

Dani Arditi, former Israeli national security adviser told Army Radio, said “It’s not the first time that a rocket has been fired at Eilat, but it is the first time the Iron Dome has intercepted one.”

Turkey: PM Erdogan to Visit Turkmenistan Amid Speculation Regarding Health

Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Turkmenistan on Thursday amid increased speculation concerning the prime minister’s health.

The prime minister’s office yesterday denied reports that Erdogan, who has not appeared in public recently, had been hospitalised due to a stomach condition during the last week.

Egypt: 15 Arrested Following Sunday’s Beni Suef Clashes

Fourteen people were arrested yesterday for their alleged involvement in Sunday’s clashes in Beni Suef between members of the conservative Islamist group, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, and Coptic Christian residents.

Fighting between the two groups left 15 people injured and several houses, shops and a church burnt.

Egypt: Wasat Party Leader’s Detention Extended

Wasat Party leader, Abu El-Ela Madi, had his detention extended for a further 15 days yesterday.

Madi is being held at Tora prison pending an investigation into charges of inciting violence during clashes at Giza’s Nahda Square and in Bein El-Sarayat between opponents and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.