Al-Assad's regime suffers major blow as blast kills top Syrian officials
New TV - A severe blow to security in the heart of the Syrian capital Damascus led to the death of the chairman of Syria's "crisis cell," General Hassan Turkmani, Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, and his aid Assef Shawkat, the Syrian president's brother-in-law. In addition, top military and security officials were injured. According to reports, one of the security leaders' guards was wearing an explosive belt, and he blew himself up inside the hall as a meeting of the group, also known as "Syria's Generals," was taking place. An opposition group called "Liwa al-Islam Brigades" claimed responsibility on its Facebook page. Syrian leadership hurried to avoid the consequences of these deaths by appointing Brigadier Fahad Jassim al-Freij as the new defense minister.
Russia and China veto Western-backed UN resolution on Syria for the third time
New TV - Russia and China blocked the West-backed resolution on Syria for the third time at the UN Security Council in defense of the Syrian regime. The American, French, and British ambassadors to the UN condemned the move, with US ambassador Susan Rice calling it shameful for the council not to seek a solution to Syria's crisis. In response, Syrian ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari accused the council of failing to support a political solution and of restricting the Annan plan, adding that those who "sympathized with the terrorists and gunmen" should host them in their own countries.
Early elections loom as Kadima quits Israeli ruling coalition
Dubai TV - Israel's Kadima party withdrew from the Israeli government coalition amid disagreement over a new alternative to the current draft law, a move that may lead to early parliamentary elections in Israel, most likely in February. Kadima's main goals in the coalition were to revive the peace process with the Palestinians, and to expand the draft law to include ultra-Orthodox Jews. However, experts say that the Likud party is bowing more and more to pressure from the Israeli right and far-right, and if Israel is heading towards early elections, Netanyahu has a better chance to win with their support, while Kadima head Shaul Mofaz seeks to secure a secular stance.
US navy kills fisherman after firing at boat off coast of UAE
Press TV - A US warship opened fire on a fishing boat in the Persian Gulf on Monday. US officials say the small motorboat ignored repeated warnings to halt its approach before the navy vessel opened fire, but survivors of the attack said they received no warning, and that their boat attempted to avoid any contact with the ship. India calls the killing and injuring of its nationals by the US navy "unfortunate." Indian Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna says that India is in contact with the US and the UAE regarding the incident.
International community remains silent on ethnic cleansing in Myanmar
Al Jazeera - Amnesty International has accused Myanmar's authorities and Buddhist groups in the state of Rakhine of raping, killing, and ethnically cleansing members of the Muslim Rohingya minority, classified by the United Nations as the world's most persecuted race. The Rohingyas say they account for around 5 million people, with the UN indicating that over 800,000 Muslims live in Myanmar. Many have fled nearby locations, but some countries have turned them away, notably Bangladesh, which has decided not to allow them enter the country in fear of what it called serious environmental and social problems. But even worse is that there is local and international silence on the issue. Western countries that have lifted their economic sanctions on Myanmar after it entered a "democratic transformation," leading many to view the country as an investment paradise.