Major Events in Syria and the Rest of the Middle East

People run carrying a burnt body at the site of an explosion in Damascus May 10, 2012. Dozens of people were killed or wounded in two "terrorist explosions" which struck a southern district of the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday, state television said. REUTERS/Sana/Handout


Devastating bombings hit Syrian capital as the blame game continues

 

New TV - Two terrorist bombings rocked the Qazzaz area in the southern part of the capital as workers, students and employees were heading to their schools, universities and workplaces. Syria's Interior Ministry confirmed the two bombings were carried out by two suicide bombers driving two booby-trapped vehicles carrying a large amount of explosive materials, estimated at over 1,000 kg. The preliminary outcome of this terrorist act is 55 martyrs, and 372 injured civilians and soldiers.

BBC Arabic - Tens of thousands participated in demonstrations across different parts of Syria on Friday to demand the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad's regime despite the heavy security deployment of regime forces, according to activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Meanwhile, condemnations and international reactions to Thursday's two explosions in Damascus continue.

Algeria holds parliamentary elections amid voter apathy

BBC Arabic - Voters in Algeria are headed to the ballot boxes to cast their votes in parliamentary elections described as "fateful" by the authorities. Over 21 million people are registered to vote to elect 462 candidates affiliated with 44 political parties, and a large of number of independent candidates. However, the election campaign that looked weak did not attract much attention from many people.

Al Jazeera - Algeria's interior minister, Dahu Ould Kablia, announced the results of the parliamentary elections, saying the ruling National Liberation Front won 220 of the 462 seats. The National Democratic Rally received 68 seats, and the Islamists received almost 60 seats, including 48 for the Green Algeria alliance, which came in third place.

Israeli settlers burn hundreds of olive trees in West Bank

Palestine TV - Jewish settlers burned hundreds of trees in the villages of Bureen and Jamaeen in Nablus province with the goal of seizing more land from the Palestinians. It is an expression of their deep hatred for the Palestinian land and people. Over 100 trees were burnt in this area, located three kilometers southeast of the town of Jamaeen. The area between the town and the two settlements of Ariel and Tafuh has witnessed torching operations targeting fruit trees. The two settlements have seized vast areas of Palestinian villages in this region.

Egyptian ex-pats begin voting in Egypt's first post revolution presidential elections

Press TV - Egyptian ex-pats in several countries began voting in Egypt's first post revolution presidential elections.  Ex-pats have until May 17th to cast their ballots in Egyptian embassies and consulates.  The election's front runners took part in the country's frist ever presidential debate.  Former member of the Muslim Brotherhood Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh faced former Arab League cheif Amr Moussa over issues regarding Israel and the principles of Sharia law as the main source of legislation.

 

Thousands of Mauritanians declare readiness to kick out President Aziz

Al Alam - The Mauritanian opposition organized a festival in Nouakchott to demand the departure of President Mohammad Ould Abdel Aziz’s regime. The ruling party's deputy chairman, Oumar Ould Matallah, said the people placed their trust in Ould Abdel Aziz, and the president is continuing the path of reforms and combating corruption. The opposition considered the turnout a new referendum on the legitimacy of the regime. The majority says the only way to topple the president is through the ballot box in about two and a half years. Former Mauritania president, Ely Mohamed Vall, who is one of the most prominent figures supporting this movement, described the regime as a failure and finished.

 

Image: People run carrying a burnt body at the site of an explosion in Damascus May 10, 2012. Dozens of people were killed or wounded in two "terrorist explosions" which struck a southern district of the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday, state television said. REUTERS/Sana/Handout

 
 

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This Week's Headlines 4/27/12


Jordanian protestors demand a change in policies instead of governments

BBC Arabic -
Demonstrations were held in several Jordanian governorates with a variety of slogans and chants, and diverse affiliations and demands. But they were united in their call for accelerating the reform process and combating corruption. The protestors also sharply criticized the council of ministers, and the way in which governments are formed in Jordan. In the capital Amman, the Islamic Action Front had a prominent presence in the protests and participated alongside different popular and youth movements. The protests come one day after the Awn al-Khasawneh's government resigned, and after the Jordanian king, Abdullah II, appointed Fayez al-Tarawneh to form a new government.

 

Deadly bombing rocks Syrian capital

New TV - A suicide bombing shook the neighborhood of al-Midan in the center of the Syrian capital Damascus. At least nine people were killed as a result, and dozens were injured with body parts seen scattered across two medical centers. The same site had witnessed a similar explosion in January that led to the killing of 27 people. The official news agency SANA described the blast as a terrorist operation carried out by a suicide bomber. Syrian TV raised the death toll to 11, adding that 28 civilians and members of the security forces were injured, broadcasting videos of the explosion site under al-Midan's bridge, near Zein al-Abidin Mosque.

Humanitarian crises in Sudan and Yemen

Dubai TV - The war between Khartoum and the northern command of the People's Movement, the armed confrontations between rebel movements in Darfur, and the Heglig battles are all factors that have contributed to the humanitarian crisis raging in the regions witnessing an armed conflict. According to a new UN report, nearly four million displaced people are at risk of starvation, due to a sharp shortage of food supplies and the difficulty of delivering aid to the famine-stricken because of the violence. The humanitarian situation is far worse in the region of Darfur, especially at the refugee camps scattered along both sides of the Sudanese-Chadian border.


Al Jazeera - Many Yemenis are facing a food crisis due to the high prices and food shortages, especially since the spark of the revolution more than a year ago. Yemeni children are suffering from a number of diseases due to a sharp shortage in food and poor medical care. When a child gets sick and requires hospitalization in the city, transportation is a real challenge due to the shortage of fuel. The bumpy roads and the high cost of medical care pose another challenge.

 

Egypt announces list of presidential candidates

BBC Arabic - The Presidential Electoral Committee in Egypt announced a list of candidates running in the presidential elections, which are expected to be held next month. There are now 13 candidates, the most prominent of which are Amr Moussa, the former secretary general of the Arab League and a former foreign minister, and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. The committee's surprise decision was allowing Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister during Mubarak's era, back into the presidential race after accepting his appeal. He was initially disqualified by the disenfranchisement law.

 

Today, Press TV reported that thousands of Islamists rallied in Tahrir Square against an attempt to revive the Mubarak era. They also demanded that the remnants of the former regime be banned from running for president.

Palestinians rally in solidarity with hunger strikers, clash with Israeli troops

Al Jazeera - The area near Ofer Prison, located west of Ramallah, witnessed clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli occupation forces. Israeli soldiers fired large amounts of tear gas at the protestors who organized a sit-in in solidarity with the prisoners waging a hunger strike in the occupation's prisons. Meanwhile, over 1,600 Palestinian prisoners are continuing their open-ended hunger strike for the 10th consecutive day.

 

Image: BBC Arabic

 
 

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Egyptian Presidential Poll Due by End of Year

(Euronews: 0148 PST, March 31, 2011) Egypt is set to vote for a new president by the end of the year. The announcement was made by the ruling military council which has held power since Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a mass uprising in February.

 

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said it would cede legislative powers to a new parliament once it is elected in September. The presidential poll would take place a month or two later.

 

 

 
 

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Eyewitness Reports Protester Deaths in Libya

(Al Jazeera English: 0800 PST, February 18, 2011) Mohamed el-Berqawy, an engineer in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, told Al Jazeera by phone that mourners have been shot and killed on Friday. He appealed to US president Barack Obama and Arab League chief Amr Moussa for help.

 

Human Rights Watch claims 24 people have been killed in the clashes.

 

 

 
 

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Who Do the Protesters Want to See Lead Next?

There has been much talk in recent days as to possible successors to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, if and when he steps down. American and European journalists and pundits have limited the scope of possibilities to those recognizable to Western observers. The first name brought up worldwide was Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel Laureate. A pro-democracy dissenter for many years, ElBaradei is a recognizable figure to many in the West. However, due to his many years living abroad and current home in Vienna, Austria, he is not well known in much of Egypt. Another favorite figure of the West is Amr Moussa, former Foreign Minister and head of the Arab League.

 

So which leaders do the Egyptian people actually want? Al Jazeera English posted this video in their live blog today, an interview with a young protester showing his wounds and declaring that he will not leave Tahrir Square until Mubarak steps down. The most interesting part comes halfway through, when he lists three people that he thinks would be good leaders. The Al Jazeera reporter asks the young man who he wants to lead after Mubarak, and what type of government he wants to see. The protester responds, "A government of Egyptians, with the best men here." He lists three names: Mohammed al-Baltagi, Ayman Nour, and Mustashar ("Advisor") Mahmoud al-Khodairy.

 

These are three very interesting choices, and shine light on the nature of these demonstrations. All three are familiar names in the Egyptian opposition movement, yet are very different people. Dr. Mohammed al-Baltagi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood party and a Member of Parliament. He has been a vocal supporter of judicial reform in recent years, and has spoken out against the government's decision to bar former British MP and Palestinian activist George Galloway from entering the country.

 

Ayman Nour is by far the most famous figure of the three that were mentioned. He is the leader of the El Ghad ("Tomorrow") party, a liberal opposition party with a strong focus on democracy and human rights. The Egyptian government officially recognized El Ghad in 2004. Nour, a Member of Parliament at the time, ran for President the next year. He was arrested in January 2005, and then released in March after international outcry and intervention from the European Union. After his release he mounted a presidential campaign that managed to garner seven percent of the vote despite the fact that the elections were widely recognized as being fraudulent. Mubarak then had him arrested again in December, and he served four years in prison before being released in 2009 due to health issues. He joined the protests two weeks ago and was injured when he was hit in the head by a rock on January 28th.

 

Mahmoud al-Khodairy is a judge and an attorney, a Muslim Brotherhood member who was formerly the vice president of the Egyptian Court of Appeals. Al-Khodairy, referred to here as "Mustashar" (a term of respect meaning "advisor"), was in support of the Muslim Brotherhood's decision to withdraw from the 2010 elections in protest of the ruling National Democratic Party's rigging of election results.

 

El Ghad and the Muslim Brotherhood would seem to be diametrically opposed, yet this protester would like to see both groups' ideas expressed. After he shows the camera his burns and bruises, he vows not to leave Tahrir Square until he and his peers can decide the future of their country themselves.

 

 
 

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Arab League Chief Joins Anti-Mubarak Protests

(Press TV: 0800 PST, February 4, 2011) Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who has joined anti-Mubarak protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, says he may run for president: "I'm at the disposal of my country of course. But we will see the political developments."

 

 

Click here for important background information on the unrest in Egypt.

 

 
 

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