Syria: The Syrian Foreign Ministry has condemned US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments stating President Bashar al-Assad lost his legitimacy after a group of pro-Assad loyalists attacked the American and French embassies in Damascus. The ministry stated that Clinton's remarks are provocative and constitute an interference in Syrian affairs. Damascus demanded that Washington and its envoys abide by the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs and refrain from any acts that might provoke the Syrian people.
Libya: After three months of costly military operations, several NATO member countries are seeking an exit to the crisis. Norway announced that it will recall its six F-16 fighter jets on August 1 and Italy said that it will withdraw its carrier Garibaldi. The UN special envoy to Libya called on Gaddafi’s regime and the Transitional Council to begin direct negotiations to settle the conflict.
Egypt: Thousands of Egyptians staged a rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square despite a warning by military rulers. The anti-government activists called for a million-man march in Egyptian cities, including Alexandria and Suez. Protestors camped out in the square, demanding the immediate trial of Mubarak and the officers accused of killing protestors during the January 25 revolution. In a statement, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces stressed that it will not give up its role in running Egypt's affairs.
Secretary-general of the al-Haq opposition party in Yemen, Hassan Zaid, said President Ali Abdullah Saleh was offered a proposition in which he would resign within one month in exchange for immunity. Saleh would hand over power to his vice president, who would serve as acting president for two months, after which a new president would be elected. Al-Alam reports that Saleh has rejected the proposition and says he will hold on to power until the end of his presidential term in 2013, despite ongoing popular protests throughout the country.
During a press conference in Washington D.C., U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton demanded the release of all American citizens detained in Libya, including two journalists. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against a Western ground operation in Libya, saying it would be an "extremely risky move with unpredictable consequences.” The BBC reports that the Libyan government has proposed a cease-fire, followed by a six month transitional period. A general election would then be held under the auspices of the U.N. The opposition rejected the offer, saying that they will “eventually have the upper hand in the battle for Libya.”
Massive demonstrations throughout Syria have been organized on social networking websites for what is being called “the Great Friday.” These calls come despite President Bashar al-Assad approval to lift the state of emergency and abolish the state security court. Protestors believe that these reforms have come too late and do not pave the way for a “transition to real democracy.”
Baghdad TV reports from Iraq, where people are taking to the streets in protest of rising unemployment, the decline of living conditions, and the widespread corruption in government. Iraqis say they are living with no electricity, no guaranteed source of food, and no steady income and affirm that they will keep protesting until their demands are met.
France 24 reports on a U.N. conference held in Vienna last month to discuss the issue of Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli prisons. The conference focused on the condition of the over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners as well as the legality of their detention. The outcome was a statement calling on Israel to guarantee that minors’ rights as well as prisoner visitation rights were respected. The council also urged Israel to take measures to expedite the peace process as well as recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967-borders.
Dubai TV reports that rival protests have split Yemen on a day called the “Friday of Persistence” by the opposition, and the “Friday of dialogue” by the regime's loyalists. A group of prominent religious and tribal leaders have declared their support for the protest movement, including the chief of the Hashed Tribe of which Saleh is a member. The opposition has rejected the Gulf’s new proposal to attend mediation talks in Riyadh, because it omitted the article which called for the ouster of President Saleh. Instead, the new initiative calls for Saleh to transfer power to his deputy.
The “Syrian Revolution” Facebook page called on Syrians to take to the streets today in a demonstration that is also called the “Friday of Persistence.” The BBC reports that protests took place in Damascus, Deraa, Banias, Deir ez-Zor, Homs, al-Qamish, and Latakia. This comes a day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced the formation of a new government and the release of hundreds of detainees. Human Rights Watch has accused Syrian security and intelligence institutions of torturing hundreds of protestors detained during demonstrations throughout the country.
A doctor in the western Libyan city of Misurata said that eight civilians, including children, were killed this morning in a missile attack by Gaddafi’s battalions. Residents say that about 120 missiles hit the besieged city. Al-Jazeera reports that Gaddafi’s forces are using Grad Rockets, which is a kind of rocket that lacks accuracy and causes wide-range destruction. While these kinds of rockets are usually only used in battlefields where there are no civilians, Gaddafi’s forces have been targeting densely populated areas like Misurata, turning the city into a “large graveyard,” where the death toll continues to rise.
Al Alam reports that Bahrainis in Manama are still trying to break through the intense checkpoints around Sulaimaniya Hospital in Manama to allow access to injured people. Meanwhile, Zainab al-Khawaja, the daughter of the detained Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, has been on a hunger strike for days and said the authorities are not allowing the families of the detained to contact them. She added that she has sent a letter to US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, holding them responsible for the blatant human rights violations in Bahrain.
Tonight, al-Iraqiya features a report on the 1988 massacre in Halabja. What is known as the al-Anfal Campaign was a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish people in northern Iraq led by Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath regime. Al-Iraqiya’s report commemorates the anniversary of the massacre in which over 182,000 Kurds were killed and over 4,000 Iraqi villages were destroyed.