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Sudan (not really middle-east but eh)
More than 200 dead in south Sudan "massacre": officials
Attacks by a renegade militia in south Sudan's Jonglei oil state left at least 211 people dead, a southern minister said on Tuesday, doubling earlier estimates of the death count.
U.S. official meets Jordan's Abdullah in wake of Egypt unrest (Haaretz)
Scared for Abdullah 2?
"Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood plans to set up party'(Reuters)
Didn't they say that they had no intentions to be part of the government?
Report: Kurdish protesters clash with police in Turkey (AP)
Turkey diplomat says country sees no point in reforms if EU membership is already doomed (Reuters)
Turkey demands Israeli apology over flotilla raid, regardless of result of UN report (Reuters)
U.S. ambassador worried over press freedom in Turkey (DPA)
Pakistan is holding an American diplomat (despite diplomatic immunity that forbids such actions) and accusing him of murder. The diplomat, Raymond Davis, was attacked by two Pakistanis, and he shot the men dead. Another Pakistani was killed by an American embassy car rushing to rescue Davis. It is believed that the two dead men were Pakistani intelligence agents keeping an eye on Davis, who was working on intelligence issues for the embassy. Davis had spent years in the U.S. Army Special Forces, and was typical of the American intelligence operatives working in Pakistan under diplomatic cover (an ancient technique). Diplomats are, after all, primarily spies, who can do their work openly.
The rabidly anti-American Pakistani mass media got hold of the story and has forced the government to violate international law and hold Davis. The Taliban jumped in and demanded that the diplomat be prosecuted. The United States threatened to cut aid to Pakistan if Davis was not released. The problem here is that Pakistan may be underestimating how angry Americans are about attacks on their diplomats (especially after what happened in Iran in 1979.) Pakistan has lost American aid before because of bad (by U.S. standards) behavior, and it can happen again. Many Pakistanis believe that China will offer to replace lost American aid, although China has been vague about exactly what it would do, and Pakistanis tend to play down growing American anger at Pakistani double-dealing, lies and bad behavior in general.
Obama: Pakistan must release detained U.S. diplomat at once (AP)
Turkey and Syria continue to forge closer military links. For example, it was recently announced that the Turkish Army, a regional superpower and one of the most competent militaries in the region, will be assisting in the training and development of Syrian ground forces.
On a technical level, the help is sorely needed. Syria can barely afford to put its own soldiers through basic training. Turkey has a reputation for maintaining a powerful, professional military and an agreement like this would help them bolster sorely-needed combat skills.
While extra training is certainly helpful, Syria has a long way to go before it can become a regional power again.
An attempt by Syrians to emulate and replicate the massive popular uprising in Egypt has failed. Not only that, it is has failed miserably. While the long-reigning Egyptian government was toppled, the attempts to duplicate the revolt in Syria had little chance of success. There are many reasons for this and they explain some of the fundamental differences between the governments and issues facing the two countries.
Therefore, like Egypt, Syria has multiple intelligence and security agencies dedicated to spying on the public and crushing dissent. But this alone is not enough to account for the Syrian regime's continued survival. Most dictatorships in the region rely on such agencies, but in Syria, unlike in Egypt, the regular armed forces have shown little hesitation in helping to put down internal uprisings in the country when the security services are not enough to do the job.
Syria has snubbed a request by UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano for prompt access to a suspect nuclear site and a number of other locations, diplomats said on Tuesday.
A number of countries could start even pushing for a possible resolution against Damascus or perhaps table the idea of a so-called "special inspection", a rarely-used tool that allows UN inspectors to request more intrusive access to sites, the diplomats told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
And if Syria were to block that request, it could face possible referral to the UN Security Council.
But some diplomats here caution against using such a tool at this stage.
The last time the IAEA resorted to such a measure was in North Korea in 1993. Pyongyang defied the request and subsequently went on to develop a nuclear weapon capacity.
The country is still under a "state of emergency" (a form of martial law) that has been in force since 1992 (the start of the war with Islamic radicals that largely ended a decade ago). The government says it will end the state of emergency this week, as a way to quiet people down. While Tunisia and Egypt had large demonstrations recently that drove their dictators out of power, this is not working in Algeria, at least not yet. Algeria has been having smaller demonstrations for years, which have been too small to shake the government. The complaints are the same ones (unemployment and corruption) that caused unrest in Tunisia and Egypt. But the protestors have not been able to form the large crowds that police could not contain. Algeria has had more smaller demonstrations for a longer period, and the government has learned how to contain these. The government has also managed to keep the main opposition groups divided over the issue of large demonstrations. The main trade unions and legal Islamic groups have refused, so far, to back large demonstrations or strikes.
The government has an advantage over the recently deposed dictators in Tunisia and Egypt; Algeria has more oil money and larger, well paid, and battle tested security forces. These advantages have, so far, enabled the government to prevent the popular dissatisfaction with the government from reaching a critical mass on the streets.
February 14, 2011: Democracy demonstrations took place in the capital and several smaller cities and towns. But none were so large that the security forces could not handle them.
Next door in Tunisia, the formation of a new government leads many to believe that the same old crew of crooks will remain in charge. An increasing number of Tunisians are trying to migrate (illegally) to Europe.
Dozens of inmates escape from Tunisian prison amid unrest in country (Reuters)
Telegraph: Ashkenazi retirement video implies Iran virus an Israeli achievement (Army Radio)
Tribal divisions and adroit use of bribes and gifts have prevented enough dissatisfied groups from joining together and taking down the government (as happened recently in Egypt and Yemen). Another major factor is the widespread addiction to Khat (a mildly narcotic leaf that is addictive and has to be chewed fresh), that leaves about half the adult male population dazed and idle in the afternoon and evening. Foreign reporters have noted how crowds of demonstrators tend to thin out in the afternoon.
Yemen protesters clash, police unable to regain calm (Reuters)
The former Egyptian president refuses Saudi offer to host him, insists on spending his final days on Egyptian soil.
Report: CBS news reporter sexually assaulted during anti-Mubarak Cairo protest (DPA)
Report: Mubarak awakes from coma, refuses to leave Egypt for medical treatment (Haaretz)
Renewal of gas from Egypt pipeline delayed again (Israel Radio)
Egypt to hold referendum on changes to constitution within 2 months (Israel Radio)
EU's foreign policy chief Ashton to visit Egypt on February 22 (Reuters)
Meanwhile, up in Lebanon, the many factions are uncertain if they want to allow Hezbollah to take control of the government, and the armed forces. For many Lebanese, another short war with Israel is preferable to another decade of civil war with Hezbollah. To make matters worse, there have been an increasing number of power shortages in the last few days, as a result of a gas line explosion in Egypt a week ago. No one took credit for the explosion, which was officially attributed to a leak in the pipe that carries natural gas to Israel, Jordan and Lebanon. Israel and Jordan were able to find alternate sources, Lebanon was not. Pipeline repairs are expected to be completed in another week.
- There is the issue of the Resistance’s arms. What is left of the March 14 coalition is determined to re-address the issue of weapons.
- This issue has been a national dispute. The weapons are just a detail in the issue of the Resistance. We, in Lebanon, are disagreeing on the Resistance [concept].
- The liberty we have been granted in South Lebanon was due to the blood of the martyrs and not [achieved] through agreements.
- We consider our participation in [past] national dialogue sessions as a concession. If the people are ready for dialogue, however, we are ready for dialogue and have no problem with it.
- If you are estimating that the daily statements [against Hezbollah] might affect or weaken the Resistance, you are wrong.
- We move on to the issue of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). We in Lebanon are the people of truth and justice and believe that Justice brings stability… but after all these years, the leaders of [March 14] should re-assess: [will] the track of the tribunal lead to the truth?
- We, the Lebanese people, are concerned with re-discussing this issue. Is there another way to find out the truth? Yes, but you [March 14 parties] have lost this chance.
- All the Lebanese people know how the STL [was established]. There was a decision from day one, to politicize the tribunal’s work.
- If you think that this leads to the truth, then [you are] welcome [to] act upon this truth, and we will act upon what is forged.
- Concerning the Lebanese cabinet, what happened with [March 14] was the result of the latter’s mistakes. But unfortunately, [March 14] recognize that they made mistakes but do not know that [they are acknowledging the wrong mistakes]… [they are not aware] of their other mistakes.
- Everyone knows the relations of [March 14] with the US and with the toppled regime of Hosni Mubarak.
- The US system [that March 14] took part in, will degenerate.
Major General Wang Pufeng of the Chinese Academy of Military Science called for further military cooperation with Tehran in a Monday meeting with Iran's military attaché in China Colonel Mohammad Hassan Cheraghi in the Chinese capital, Beijing.
Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis, told Pravda.Ru that everything that Iran could boast of was poor quality rip-offs of foreign arms.
"The so-called Iranian defense technology is a bluff, that has no match anywhere in the world. Most of the arms, which the Iranians advertise, have been ripped off from China, and China, as it is well-known, makes copies of Russian weapons. The quality of Chinese rip-offs is a lot lower than that of Russian weapons, and one can only imagine what the Iranians produced.
ElBaradei: Ahmadinejad wanted direct talks with U.S. (Reuters)
Washington Post: Iran has already recovered from damage from Stuxnet virus (Ch. 10)
Iranian opposition leaders condemn protest suppression, reject claims of foreign help (DPA)
Supporters and opponents of Iran government clashing in Tehran (Reuters)
President Peres: The Iranian regime will be toppled by the Iranian people (Army Radio)
Iraq protesters demand jobs in countrywide rallies (Reuters)
British, Swiss study concludes civilian death-rate in Iraq makes it a 'dirty' war (Reuters)
Iraq premier seeks to repair relations with Kuwait during visit (AP)
At least 14 people were injured when police dispersed an anti-government demonstration in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi in the early hours of Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported.
Demonstrators gathered in front of police headquarters, chanting slogans against the "corrupt rulers of the country", the TV channel said. Police fired tear gas at the protesters and used batons to disperse them, it said.
The TV channel quoted local private newspaper Quryna as saying the protesters were armed with petrol bombs and threw stones at police and government supporters.
Libya announces intention to release 110 prisoners of banned Islamist group (Reuters)
Hundreds of Bedouins block Jordan major highway in protest for land return (AP)
Egypt-style uprisings cannot happen in India, Prime Minister Singh says (DPA)
Two Iranian warships will pass through the Suez Canal on their way to Syria via the Mediterranean Sea, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced during a Jerusalem conference.
He added that sending the warships was "a provocation that proves Iran's nerve and self-esteem is growing from day to day". Lieberman called on the international community "to understand that Israel cannot ignore these provocations forever"
A video of the accomplishments of Israel's recently-retired military chief hints at Israel's unacknowledged role in attacks on the Iranian and Syrian nuclear programmes, according to an Israeli daily.
The video, shown on Monday at a farewell ceremony for outgoing chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, showed scenes from the bombing of a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007, and of the damage caused by the Stuxnet computer worm which ravaged Iran's nuclear programme, the Haaretz newspaper said.
The article was only published in Hebrew and did not appear in the paper's English language version.
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman warned Israel on Thursday that another invasion of his country would no longer be "a walk in the park," as a war of words between the neighbouring states escalates.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak "knows full well that entering Lebanon is no longer a walk in the park," Sleiman said in a statement.
"The defence minister's threat to send his forces into Lebanon again shows premeditated intentions of aggression. The Lebanese people, army and resistance are ready to respond to any such aggression."
Hezbollah chief tells IDF: Watch your heads (Haaretz)
Gaddafi supporters counter Libya's 'day of rage' (Reuters)
Bahrain's military deployed armored vehicles in the centre of Manama and vowed to restore order Thursday after a violent police raid on anti-regime protesters left four people dead and scores wounded.
Enraged by the brutal crackdown, the largest Shia opposition bloc said it was planning to quit parliament while angry protesters gathered outside a hospital where victims are being treated to chant anti-regime slogans.
Riot police stormed through Pearl Square, the epicenter of pro-democracy protests that have shaken the Gulf island state, in the early hours of Thursday firing rubber bullets and tear gas and sending hundreds of protesters fleeing.
Up to 95 protesters were wounded in the operation which was launched without warning at around 3:00 am (midnight GMT), opposition members and witnesses said.
"They attacked the square, where hundreds of people were spending the night in tents," said one witness, 37-year-old Fadel Ahmad.
Bahrain's army seizes control of protest square, bans gathering (AP)
Report: U.S. officials to call Bahrain later Thursday, urging restraint (Reuters)
Health Minister: Three killed, 231 hurt in Bahrain protest camp raid (Reuters)
UN chief Ban urges end to violence in Bahrain (Reuters)
Pentagon: U.S. defense chief discusses security with Bahrain prince (Reuters)
Clinton: Bahrain needs 'real, meaningful' change (Reuters)
Protester killed in Yemen riots (Army Radio)
Al-Arabiya: Iranian opposition calls for public protests on Sunday
Germany criticizes crackdown on demonstrations in Iran (DPA)
Suez Canal Authorities: We received no notice about Iranian ships (AP)
U.S. intelligence report: Iran leaders split over whether to use nuclear program for weapons (AP)
Israel forecast of Iranian warships in Suez Canal Wednesday night proves false (Army Radio)
Probe by Tunisian women's group reveals abuses during the country's uprising (AP)
Le Monde: Deposed former president of Tunisia Ben Ali has fallen into a coma (Haaretz)
Report: Former Tunisian president in grave condition (Reuters)
Car bomb blast in Iraq kills 13, wounds 33, security sources say (Reuters)
Black smoke billows from southern Iraqi governor's headquarters as protesters climb walls into compound; 3 killed, 55 injured.
Jordan justice minister: Israel is a terrorist state (Haaretz)
Saudi rights group urges release of writer critical of Kingdom's religious establishment (AP)
Report: Turkish students face prison term for anti-government protest (AP)
Egypt revolt death toll at 365, state TV reports (Reuters)
Egypt protest organisers form Council of Trustees (Reuters)
Netanyahu: Israel must prepare for the worst in Egypt (Reuters)
Official: Egypt army means to lift emergency laws before parliamentary, presidential vote (Reuters)
Egyptian troops deployed to protect Sinai gas line to Israel (AP)
Western diplomats: Israel upset over U.S. Egypt position, oppose Amr Moussa for president (Ch. 10)
Egypt reports finding fourth stolen Pharaonic treasure of eight (Reuters)
Egypt army says won't field presidential candidate (Reuters)
Clinton: U.S. to allocate $150 million to assist Egypt to make transition (Reuters)
Algeria says to lift emergency rule by end of month (Reuters)
Witnesses: Israeli troops kill 3 in Gaza (Reuters)
Abbas says elections in West Bank dependent upon holding elections in Gaza (Israel Radio)
Abbas: No September elections if Hamas refuses voting in Gaza (Reuters)
Human Rights Watch: Cut off Palestinian funds over abuse of protesters (AP)
Obama calls Abbas to discuss UN Security Council resolution on settlements (Haaretz)
Meh.. Ships can be rebuilt, but the blow to Israel's reputation would be priceless.. Worthwhile? Are you kidding me? Think of the damage this would cause to Israel! And who would even imagine that they'd blow up their own ships? It would have to be the Israelis in everyone's eyes!