Egyptian President Muhammed Morsi has granted the military police powers in the run-up to a referendum on the nation’s divisive constitution. After widespread protests and violence, Morsi rescinded his decree giving him extra-judicial powers but did not budge on the referendum. Liberals, who say do not give proper protections for individual rights and could lead to increased Islamist influence, and are trying to undermine the vote’s legitimacy.
In other news:
- The Los Angeles Times reports: Russia said Sunday that it has no intention of pushing for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, as international negotiators seeking a way out of the escalating Syrian crisis again failed to reach a breakthrough.
- The New York Times reports: A senior commander for Al Qaeda has been killed in an American drone strike in North Waziristan, the restive tribal area along the border with Afghanistan, Pakistani security officials said Sunday.
- Another Times report over the weekend delves into al Qaeda’s role in the Syrian conflict: The lone Syrian rebel group with an explicit stamp of approval from Al Qaeda has become one of the uprising’s most effective fighting forces, posing a stark challenge to the United States and other countries that want to support the rebels but not Islamic extremists.
- The Washington Post reports: In a fiery speech Saturday before a mammoth rally in Gaza City marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, the political leader of the militant Islamist group, pledged that it would never recognize Israel and called for an Islamic Palestinian state on the territory of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- The Post also reported this weekend: A measure granting the government expansive power to intercept electronic communications in the United States without a warrant is set to expire this month, setting up a sharp debate in the Senate over how to balance privacy against national security.