Tuesday Middle East Roundup: More dead in Syria
Rebel fighters celebrate after firing powerful rockets toward Libyan Army positions near Ajdabiyah April 11, 2011.
April 12th, 2011
09:07 AM ET

Tuesday Middle East Roundup: More dead in Syria

Overview

UK and France want more aggressive NATO action to break Libya stalemate
Former Libyan Foreign Minister warns his country may become another Somalia
Syria: More clashes around Baniyas; 200 killed in unrest so far
Yemen: Opposition presses for Saleh's immediate exit
Egypt: Tensions within military as it tries to establish new rules

Libya

UK and France call for intensified NATO attacks (NYT)

“France on Tuesday urged an intensification of NATO bombing raids on loyalist forces, saying the alliance was not doing enough to shield civilians from Col. Gadhafi's heavy weapons.

“Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, said NATO was not doing enough to protect civilians after it assumed control of the air campaign from the United States eight days ago.

“‘NATO must play its role in full,’ Mr. Juppé said in the radio interview. ‘It wanted to take the operational lead, we accepted that.’

Libyan stalemate is official (CNN)

“After weeks of U.S. and NATO bombardment, about one-third of Moammar Gadhafi's ground armor has been destroyed, as well as most of the fixed air defense sites and aircraft, but a stalemate between government and rebel forces is emerging and could last for some time, according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the latest military assessments.

Ex Libyan FM: unity of country essential (CNN)

“In an interview Monday with the BBC, former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa expressed concern that Libya ‘will be a new Somalia.’”

“‘Today, as a Libyan, I am the same as all the Libyans,’ said Koussa, who fled to London last month and announced he had resigned from Gadhafi's regime. ‘I ask everybody, all the parties, to avoid taking Libya into a civil war. This will lead to [much bloodshed], and Libya will be a new Somalia.’”

Syria

More injured in Baniyas; human rights groups say some 200 killed in Syrian unrest (BBC)

“Dozens of people have been injured in clashes with security forces in the Syrian port of Baniyas, where 13 people were killed on Saturday, residents say. The suburb of Bayda is surrounded by tanks and gunfire is ongoing, they say.

“[Human] [r]ights groups say hundreds of people have been arrested, including several students who took part in a rare rally at Damascus University on Monday.”

Wave of arrests (CNN)

Syrian authorities have arrested at least 117 activists, intellectuals and anti-government supporters since early Monday, a human rights group said.

"The wave of arrests across the country includes journalist Faiz Sarah ... along with many more," Wissam Tarif, executive director of the human rights group Insan, told CNN. "We were able to confirm only 117 arrested but we expect the number to be a lot higher," he added.

The group said authorities raided homes and arrested opponents in the capital, Damascus, and also in the cities of Latakia, Homs, Aleppo, Jubah, Tartus and Banias.

Yemen

Opposition presses Gulf mediators on Saleh departure (Reuters)

“Yemen opposition parties on Tuesday urged Gulf mediators to spell out whether President Ali Saleh would hand over power early under their proposal to end a two-month crisis over leadership and political reforms.

“Gulf Arab foreign ministers said this week they would invite Saleh and the opposition coalition to mediation talks in Riyadh, a key financier of Sanaa who analysts say Saleh trusts, on a transition of power.

“The opposition said on Monday they rejected the Gulf Cooperation Council statement on the framework for the talks because it appeared to offer Saleh a waiver from any future prosecutions, demanded by the protest movement in the streets of Sanaa since February.

“Opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan said on Tuesday the parties also had concerns over the phrase "transfer of power", which does not specify the timeframe for Saleh to step down. Protesters and the opposition are demanding an immediate exit.

“’The Gulf states need to clarify the meaning of the transition of power,’ he told Al Arabiya TV, adding Gulf states had not yet set a date for their talks invitation.

“‘We are awaiting their call ... We have not received (a date), we are awaiting their call, (to see) if there is a new suggestion from them.’”

Yemen Post adds that the opposition itself is bitterly divided:

“The first response came from Change Square in the capital Sana’a and also from Taiz governorate where protestors confirmed that they would remain at sit-in demonstration sites until all their demands were met. 

They said that they wanted complete regime change.

Anti-government youth protesters also said in a statement that President Saleh should not choose his successor because he has no legitimacy to do so. They pointed out that only the revolutionaries possess this right. 

The youth said in a statement that any party that alleges that it represents them in any external or internal dialogue was not authorized to speak on their behalf because all youth protesters all over Yemen have clearly announced that there should be no dialogue with the regime until it departs. “

Bahrain

Hunger strike (Reuters)

“The daughter of a prominent Bahraini activist says she is on hunger strike to protest the arrest of her father, husband and other relatives after martial law was declared to quell weeks of pro-democracy protests.

“Zainab Alkhawaja wrote a letter addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama on her blog "Angry Arabiya" announcing the start of her hunger strike on Monday evening and urging him to call for the release of her family.

‘I chose to write to you and not to my own government because the al-Khalifa regime has proven that they do not care about our rights, or our lives,’ she said.”

Egypt

Blogger gets jail time (HRW)

“The military court’s sentencing of the blogger Maikel Nabil to three years in prison is a serious setback to freedom of expression in post-Mubarak Egypt, Human Rights Watch said today.

“The ruling comes at a time when the Egyptian military is drawing very restrictive red lines around permissible speech.

“’Maikel Nabil’s three-year sentence may be the worst strike against free expression in Egypt since the Mubarak government jailed the first blogger for four years in 2007,’ said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. ‘The sentence is not only severe, but it was imposed by a military tribunal after an unfair trial.’

“Military officers arrested the 25-year-old activist on March 28, 2011, at his home in Cairo. The military prosecutor charged him with ‘insulting the military establishment,’ under article 184 of the penal code, and with ‘spreading false information.’”

Going after Mubarak and his men (CNN)

“The president’s men keep falling. Day after day, Egyptians wake up to news that yet another former official from Hosni Mubarak’s government has been arrested on charges of corruption and abuse of power. His prime minister. His chief of staff. His ministers of tourism and housing.

Mounting tensions with military (LAT)

“Last Friday, the revolution was back in Tahrir Square. Tens of thousands of Egyptians turned out for what may have been one of the biggest rallies since the 18 heady days of street protests that toppled Mubarak on February 11th. The crowd was baying for the head of their former president.

“The military is also encountering pressure from current and former junior officers who have joined the protests and posted YouTube videos accusing the army of protecting former government officials and abandoning the ideals of the revolution. Progressive officers have criticized the 75-year-old Tantawi and the old guard as too inflexible to meet the demands of a changing Middle East.

“’The military is concerned and worried about officers dissenting from within,’ said Ammar Ali Hassan, an analyst and former military officer. ‘Any divisions from within the military establishment might result in a military coup that would sweep away the legitimacy of our civilian revolution.’

“Yet, for many Egyptians, the military remains the country's most hallowed institution. It has been the protector of national pride and a counterbalance to Mubarak's reviled police state.”

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Topics: Egypt • Libya • Middle East • Military

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Onesmallvoice

    The British and the French have never been more appalling as they are now over Libya. Who are they to decide Libya's future? This goes to show just how much these thugs are in cahoots with the right-wing thugs in Washington. Talk about an "Axis of Evil"!!!

    April 12, 2011 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      I think Obama is wary of unpredictable outcomes, when he joined this rally of "ALL AGAINST ONE", therefore he was glad to let NATO take over. It's Sarkozy, who wants to be in the limelight again, seeking boosts for his second term. He is not happy that the NATO fights the proxy war on his behalf. He is so obsessive with the vocation of bringing Gaddafi down, that he doesn't trust anybody. Indeed he thinks he would do a better job than anyone else and rather flied the sorties himself.

      April 13, 2011 at 5:36 am | Reply
  2. Diana Davenport

    I think Fareed is razor sharp, and I more often agree with him than not. However, I sincerely hope he was just mistaken and not lying when he said that Paul Ryan's budget plan is the one one that is commendable because it includes "painful" but necessary cuts (I'll paraphrase) that take on the toughest problem – entitlement spending projections. He goes on to say that it doesn't address Social Security, and it increases defense spending, AND it doesn't detail how it will reduce discretionary spending. Surely Fareed knows about Rand Paul's proposed budget that also doesn't hurt Social security in the long term, is in "painful' detail regarding spending cuts, and puts the defense budget in the mix. He claims, and rightfully so, that we cannot seriously affect the budget without cutting some of our defense spending. Well, I guess Fareed couldn't have acheived such a level of media success if he couldn't speak out against the military industrial complex. I also think that he should get Rand Paul to speak on the show, if he's really intereted in diverse opinions. I am so saddened by this, and I hope that in time I will see something come from Fareed that will restore my confididence in him.

    Everything that Fareed said as he introduced as he introduced this topic could have been said about Sen. Rand Paul's proposed budget, right up to the part where he said "increases defense spending." Dr. Paul's proposed budget cuts fat from defense as well as other areas. It cuts $500 billion (with a B) and describes in detail the "painful" cuts that would be made. I'm appalled that this was overlooked. For me, the jury is still out about Rand Paul, however, as I find more and more that he is blacked out by the media, it gives me reason to think I like him. Please, Fareed, lets hear all the sides.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:14 am | Reply
  3. james2

    I think that the main reason Fareed commended Paul Ryan's plan was that it provided an avenue of attack for Democrats to propose a better plan and cut defense spending (as well as farm subsidies).

    April 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Reply

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