Archive for October 21, 2012

Sun Oct 2, 2011

The youth movement in Yemen has called for the trial of the country’s dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

On Saturday, the youth movement issued a letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, saying that “at least 861 people have been killed and about 25,000 others wounded since January,” AFP reported.

“We call on the UN to refer Saleh, his sons and his gang to the International Criminal Court for their crimes against peaceful protesters,” the letter read.

The Yemeni movement also called on the international community to freeze the bank accounts and assets of “Saleh, his family, and their supporters in the regime.”

On Sunday, several Yemeni anti-government protesters were injured during clashes between the supporters of Saleh and his opponents near Change Square in the capital Sana’a.

Saleh said on Friday that he will not stand down if his opponents are allowed to compete in future elections and stay in influential positions.

“If we transfer power and they are there, this will mean that we have given in to a coup,” he said.

Saleh returned to the country from Saudi Arabia on September 23, where he was receiving treatment for injuries sustained in a June 3 rocket attack on the presidential palace.

The 69-year-old has repeatedly refused to sign a power transfer deal brokered by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, according to which he would hand over power in return for immunity from prosecution.

According to local reports, hundreds of Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the popular uprising against the US-backed Saleh regime in late January.

Source: PressTV.


Mon Oct 3, 2011

Thousands of people have demonstrated in Turkey to protest against the planned deployment of a NATO missile system in the eastern province of Malatya.

About 5,000 residents of the city of Kurecik, which is located 700 kilometers from Iran’s border and where the missiles will be stationed, took to the streets to condemn the plan on Monday, Turkish NTV news channel reported.

Ankara announced in September that it had agreed on the deployment of the X-Band radar on its territory.

Protesters said on Monday that the system threatens the region’s security and economy.

They also criticized the Turkish government, saying that the decision had been made under pressure from the United States.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have called on the government to reject the planned deployment which is aimed at protecting Israel.

The Republican People’s Party, headed by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said that the plan is aimed at protecting Israel from the threat of Iranian missiles.

The leader of the People’s Voice Party, Numan Kurtulmus, was also among the critics of the plan, saying that the government opposes Israel on the one hand while agreeing to a plan that is chiefly intended to defend Israel on the other.

Source: PressTV.


Mon Oct 3, 2011

Security forces have clashed in Saudi Arabia with pro-reform protesters in the Qatif Governorate in the Eastern Province of the country, Press TV reports.

The Saudis had gathered in an anti-government demonstration in the province’s Awamiyah village, a Press TV correspondent reported. They chanted slogans against the province’s Governor, Prince Mohammed bin Fahd, — the son of the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.

Reports say the forces arrested a 70-year-old man, whose son had participated in the protests, demanding the son to surrender himself in exchange for his father’s release.

A larger demonstration is scheduled for Monday in the city of Qatif, where protesters often take to the streets despite a heavy security presence to condemn Riyadh’s role in the brutal crackdown on anti-regime protesters in Bahrain.

The Saudi demonstrators call for respect for human rights, implementation of further reforms, freedom of expression, and the release of political prisoners, some of whom have been held without trial for more than 16 years.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, known for its intolerance of dissent. Earlier in the year, the Saudi Interior Ministry imposed a ban on all kinds of demonstrations and public gatherings.

Human Rights Watch says hundreds of dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government’s suppression of anti-government protests.

According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees were subjected to physical and mental torture.

Source: PressTV.


Mon Oct 3, 2011

A group of students has held an anti-US rally in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, calling for the release of a teacher detained by US-led troops, Press TV reports.

Shouting anti-US slogans, the students blocked a road in the provincial capital city of Jalalabad on Monday.

The students staged the demonstration after foreign troops stormed the house of the teacher of Najmeddin Akhundzadeh religious school Sunday night and detained him.

NATO did not comment on reasons behind the reported arrest.

The protesters vow to continue their protest rally until the release of their teacher.

Mohammad Masoom Hashemi, the deputy Nangarhar police chief, told reporters that the demonstration was peaceful and the demand of protesters was conveyed to high-ranking officials.

Source: PressTV.


October 03, 2011

ISTANBUL/BEIRUT: Syrian opposition movements announced the formation of a “historic” united front against President Bashar Assad’s government at a meeting in Turkey Sunday.

At home, meanwhile, a son of Syria’s grand mufti was killed when his car came under attack from gunmen, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.

Meanwhile, rights activists said that Syrian troops have taken control of the central city of Rastan after sending in 250 tanks to quell clashes between the army and deserters.

The announcement of the Syrian National Council at a news conference in Istanbul appeared to be the most serious step yet to unify a deeply fragmented opposition. It follows five days of intense battles between the Syrian military and army defectors in the country’s central region that raised the specter of all-out armed conflict.

Prominent Syrian opposition figure Bourhan Ghalioun, who read out the founding statement of the SNC at a news conference in Istanbul, accused the Syria of fomenting sectarian strife to maintain its grip on power.

“I think that this [Assad] regime has completely lost the world’s trust,” he said. “The world is waiting for a united Syrian [opposition] that can provide the alternative to this regime, so that they can recognize it,” he added.

“The council denounces the [regime’s] policy of sectarian incitement … which threatens national unity and is pushing the country to the brink of civil war,” he said.

Syria’s volatile sectarian divide means that an armed conflict could rapidly escalate in scale and brutality. The Baath Party leadership is dominated by the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, but the country is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim.

The opposition movement has until now focused on peaceful demonstrations, although recently some protesters have been reported to have taken up arms to defend themselves against military attacks. Army defectors have also been fighting government troops.

In forming a national council, the Syrians are following in the footsteps of Libyan rebels, who formed a National Transitional Council during the uprising that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The Syrian opposition consists of a variety of groups with differing ideologies, including Islamists and secularists, and there have been many meetings of dissidents claiming to represent Syria’s popular uprising since it erupted seven months ago. But the new council is the broadest umbrella movement of revolutionary forces formed so far.

A group of Syrian activists had declared the preliminary formation of the council last month, but its structure, goals and a founding statement signed by major opposition factions, had not been announced until this conference.

The SNC announced in Istanbul appears to have received the recognition of the largest Syrian opposition factions.

Members said it includes representatives from the Damascus Declaration grouping, a pro-democracy network based in the capital, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political party banned in the country, various Kurdish factions, and the grassroots Local Coordination Committees which have led protests across the country, as well as other independent and tribal figures.\

Conference spokesman Ghalioun said a key benefit of the council to the opposition would be to provide a single body with which other countries could coordinate. He urged Syrians everywhere to support it and said it would be a vehicle for democratic change.

The council’s statement said it categorically rejects any foreign intervention or military operations to bring down Assad’s government but called on the international community to “protect the Syrian people” from “the declared war and massacres being committed against them by the regime.”

It said that protesters should continue to use “peaceful means” to topple the Syrian leader.

The organizers have not named a leader for the national council, but appeared to give a leading role to Ghalioun, a popular opposition figure who is also a scholar of contemporary oriental studies at the Sorbonne in Paris.

In ground developments Sunday, the government said it retook control of the rebellious central town of Rastan after hunting down “armed terrorists” holed up inside. The fighting there highlighted the increasingly militarized nature of an uprising started months ago by peaceful protesters.

Syrian activists say the fighting in Rastan had pitted the Syrian military against hundreds of army defectors who sided with anti-Assad protesters. It was among the worst clashes in the 6-month-old uprising against Assad.

In a separate incident, the 21-year-old son of Syria’s top Sunni Muslim cleric was wounded by gunmen, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

Pro-government Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun’s son Saria was attacked in the Saraqeb region of the restive northern Idlib province as he left the university where he studies, the agency reported. He suffered wounds to his chest and kidney and was being operated upon.

Mufti Hassoun is considered to be a close supporter of President Bashar Assad’s government, and has echoed its claims that the unrest in Syria is the result of a foreign conspiracy.

SANA said Hassoun had died of wounds sustained during an ambush on his car, while traveling between Idlib and Aleppo.

Source: The Daily Star.


ALGIERS (BNO NEWS) — At least nine people have been found dead after heavy rainfall caused serious flooding in parts of northern Algeria during the weekend, the government said on late Sunday evening. Several others remain missing.

The worst of the flooding began on Saturday as a result of heavy rainfall throughout the country, mainly in El Bayadh Province where all the fatalities were reported. Hundreds of homes were severely damaged, leaving many families homeless.

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry’s Civil Protection agency said nine bodies had been recovered as of Sunday evening. Among those killed were at least three children between the ages of 3 and 17. Two others were reported missing by their relatives.

In addition to residential homes, local authorities said a number of bridges had collapsed as a result of the heavy rains and strong winds which began on Friday. The African country often experiences flooding in October.

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.



The Nobel Prize season open Monday and a young Tunisian blogger is among the favorites  AFP reported on Saturday (October 1st). Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” could inspire a Nobel Peace Prize award for Lina Ben Mhenni, who chronicled the revolution in her French, Arabic and English blog, “A Tunisian Girl”.

“Although I was ferociously hunted, I was committed to showing the world – through social networks like Twitter and Facebook – the real image of the practices of the old regime in Tunisia,” Ben Mhenni told TAP last Wednesday.

In April, German broadcaster Deutche Welle honored the 27-year-old with its “BOB” award for best international blogger. The German international broadcaster noted that the University of Tunis assistant professor had “blogged about repression and censorship in her country since 2007 – long before a popular uprising unseated former president Ben Ali”. During the protests, “she traveled to places including Sidi Bouzid and Kasrine to document the repression and killings occurring there”, the “BOB” award committee said.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner will be announced in Stockholm on October 7th.

Source: Magharebia.



Delegations from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya are participating in the 6th World Amazigh Congress (CMA), which opened Friday (September 30th) on the Tunisian island of Djerba, Tout sur l’Algerie reported. Representatives of the Touareg community and the Amazigh diaspora in Europe and North America are also attending the three-day event, which focuses on the Amazigh movement in the aftermath of the Arab spring.

For Tunisia to serve as host country for the event would have been “unthinkable” under the rule of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, TSA editorialized  Even though the Amazigh population is between 5 and 10 per cent in Tunisia, “no place was given to the culture or language during the reign” of Ben Ali, the Algerian online daily added.

It is in Morocco, however, that “the winds of change in the region have paid off the most” for the Amazighi population, TSA remarked, pointing to the recent formalization of the Tamazight language, a measure that was introduced as part of the country’s constitutional reforms.

Source: Magharebia.



Campaigns for Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly elections kicked off on Saturday (October 1st), TAP reported. On October 23rd, Tunisians will elect a 218-member constituent assembly, which will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections. More than 80 political parties are competing in the polls, with nearly 11,000 candidates due to contest the elections in 27 districts.

Source: Magharebia.


October 21, 2012

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese protesters erected flaming roadblocks and gunmen roamed the streets on Saturday in a city on edge after the assassination of a top security official in a powerful car bomb the prime minister linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria.

The crisis raised a terrifying specter for Lebanese who fear their country could easily plunge back into cycles of violence and reprisal that have haunted it for decades. Friday’s blast in the heart of Beirut’s Christian area killed eight people, including the country’s intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan. It was the deadliest bombing in Beirut in four years, shattering the country’s uneasy calm.

The government declared a national day of mourning for the victims Saturday, but protesters burned tires and set up roadblocks in anger. Sharbal Abdo, who lives in the neighborhood where the bomb went off, brought his 6-year-old son, Chris, and 12-year-old daughter, Jane, to see the destruction Saturday.

“They were very afraid yesterday,” he said. “They need to face this situation. It may be their future.” Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Saturday linked the bombing to al-Hassan’s high-profile investigation this summer that uncovered what authorities called a plot by Syria to provoke chaos in Lebanon with bombings and assassinations.

“I don’t want to prejudge the investigation, but in fact we cannot separate yesterday’s crime from the revelation of the explosions that could have happened,” Mikati said at a news conference following an emergency Cabinet meeting.

Mikati, who opponents believe is too close to Syria and the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, offered to resign after the bombing, but was asked by President Michel Suleiman to stay. Al-Hassan’s probe led to the arrest of former Information Minister Michel Samaha, one of Assad’s most loyal allies in Lebanon. Samaha, who is in custody, is accused of plotting a wave of attacks in Lebanon at Syria’s behest. Indicted in absentia in the August sweep was Syrian Brig. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, one of Assad’s highest aides.

Samaha’s arrest was an embarrassing blow to Syria, which has long acted with impunity in Lebanon. Syria has powerful allies here, including the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which now dominates the government.

For much of the past 30 years, Lebanese have lived under Syrian military and political domination. Damascus’ hold on Lebanon began to slip in 2005, when former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in truck bomb along Beirut’s Mediterranean waterfront. Syria denied having any role. But broad public outrage in Lebanon forced Syria to withdraw its troops from the country.

The killings of anti-Syrian figures continued for years, however, and Assad has managed to maintain his influence in Lebanon through Hezbollah and other allies. Now, as the Syrian civil war rages just across the border, Lebanon increasingly is getting sucked in.

Mikati said Saturday he had offered to resign after Friday’s car bomb, but said Suleiman asked him not to plunge the country into more uncertainty. The bombing raised fears that the crisis could unleash Lebanon’s sectarian tensions, a dire scenario for a country that endured a devastating civil war of its own from 1975-1990.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke Saturday with Suleiman and stressed the importance of “dissociating the country from regional events” and in Lebanon’s sovereignty, a U.N. spokesman said. The Syrian unrest has already enflamed tensions here. Many of Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims have backed Syria’s mainly Sunni rebels, while Shiite Muslims have tended to back Assad. Al-Hassan was a Sunni whose stances were widely seen to oppose Syria and Hezbollah.

Hundreds of Sunni protesters marched in force through downtown Beirut Saturday, placing the blame squarely on Syria and Hezbollah for al-Hassan’s killing. “Hezbollah is a terrorist group!” they shouted.

Police were trying to identify the bombers and find out how they managed to target al-Hassan, an important security figure who traveled under great protection and who likely took more precautions following Samaha’s arrest.

“We don’t expect to reveal the crime within few hours,” police commander Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi told Future TV. “The investigation is like a puzzle. You collect the pieces and put them together in a logical way.”

Al-Hassan had many potential enemies. Besides his investigation of Samaha, al-Hassan helped investigate the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a powerful Sunni figure. An international tribunal indicted four members of Hezbollah for Hariri’s killing, although the group denies involvement.

His department also had a role in breaking up several Israeli spy rings inside Lebanon in recent years, Lebanese officials said. Al-Hassan, 47, who was married with two children, is expected to be buried Sunday next to Hariri’s tomb in downtown Beirut. His family arrived in Lebanon on Saturday on a private plane from Paris, where they live.

Lebanon’s top Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, condemned the assassination, calling it a “criminal explosion that targets Lebanon and its people.” He also called for self-restraint, saying “the criminal will get his punishment sooner or later.”

But many Lebanese were seething with anger. In the eastern town of Marj, protesters tried to storm an office of the pro-Syrian Itihad group. Lebanese soldiers pushed them away, wounding five protesters, security officials said. Dozens of people who marched in protest in the border town of Moqueibleh came under fire from the Syrian side of the border, forcing them to disperse, the officials said.

The highway linking central Beirut with the city’s international airport was closed, as well as the highway that links the capital with Syria, the officials said. In the predominantly Sunni northern city of Tripoli, gunmen were roaming the streets on motorcycles and opening fire in the air.

The army issued a statement urging Lebanese to overcome the crisis and coordinate among themselves in order to give a chance to the “the criminal killers who tried through the crime to incite strife and split the country.”

Associated Press writer Barbara Surk contributed to this report.