Regional - UN Council condemns Syria "terrorist attacks"
 

Thu 10/05/2012 22:17

NNA - 10/05/2012 - (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the "terrorist attacks" in Syria on Thursday, urging all parties to the 14-month conflict to cease armed violence and comply with a U.N.-backed peace plan.
Two suicide car bombers killed 55 people and wounded 372 in Damascus earlier on Thursday in the deadliest attacks in the Syrian capital since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began last year.

"The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks that occurred in Damascus, Syria, on 10 May, causing numerous deaths and injuries," the 15-member body said in a statement.

The Security Council also called on all parties in Syria to "immediately and comprehensively" implement U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan, in particular to cease all forms of armed violence.

The council "reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier on Thursday strongly condemned the suicide car bombings in Syria and called on all sides to distance themselves from "indiscriminate bombings and other terrorist attacks."
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Hundreds of Jordanians protest against government
 

Fri 4/05/2012 17:52

NNA - 4/5/2012 - Hundreds of Jordanians Friday protested against the government of Prime Minister Fayez Al-Tarawneh, calling for comprehensive reform.

Protestors raised signs saying "people wants elected government" to express their rejection to the appointed cabinet.

Nearly 300 people called for canceling the Israeli-Jordanian peace accord signed back in 1994. They burned flags of both the United States and Israel to express their resentment.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Melees escalate between protesters, military forces in Cairo
 

Fri 4/05/2012 17:45

NNA - 4/5/2012 - Protesters lobbed stones on military police forces near the Ministry of Defense in the Egyptian capital Friday, as reported by AFP.

The broil was more of a rock-throwing as troops held their shields with one hand, and threw the stones back on demonstrators with the other.

Soldiers advanced several times towards protesters--who have crossed the in-between barbed wires--and opened water hoses against them.

The headway of the peaceful rallies-- that began earlier today in Cairo and Alexandria in objection to the rule of the military council--shifted in the afternoon, only days after Wednesday's bloody clashes where more than ten people were killed as armed men attacked Islamist protesters demanding an end to army rule, near the Ministry of Defense in the Abbassiya District.

The army had reaffirmed its stated commitment to handing power to civilians by July, at a time when strain continues to spiral ahead of the presidential runoff.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Saudi envoy to return to Egypt - official
 

Fri 4/05/2012 16:27

NNA - 4/5/2012 - Reuters - Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Egypt will return to Cairo next week, a Saudi official said on Friday, after the envoy was recalled in a rare diplomatic row between the long-time allies.

The ambassador was withdrawn almost a week ago in response to street protests in Cairo against the arrest of an Egyptian lawyer in the Gulf kingdom.

Asked by text message to confirm Egyptian media reports that the Saudi king had ordered the ambassador to return to Cairo, a Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman replied: "yes".

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Saudi envoy to return to Egypt - official
 

Fri 4/05/2012 16:27

NNA - 4/5/2012 - Reuters - Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Egypt will return to Cairo next week, a Saudi official said on Friday, after the envoy was recalled in a rare diplomatic row between the long-time allies.

The ambassador was withdrawn almost a week ago in response to street protests in Cairo against the arrest of an Egyptian lawyer in the Gulf kingdom.

Asked by text message to confirm Egyptian media reports that the Saudi king had ordered the ambassador to return to Cairo, a Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman replied: "yes".

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Egypt military vows fair election, power handover
 

Thu 3/05/2012 21:15

NNA - 03/05/2012 - (AFP) - Egypt's military rulers vowed Thursday that this month's presidential election will be fair and moved to assure the public it will hand over power on schedule, a day after a deadly attack on an anti-military protest.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power when president Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising last year, also warned against any threat to the defence ministry, as protesters called for mass rallies on Friday.

"We are committed to fair elections 100 percent. We don't have any candidates. All the candidates are respectable Egyptians," said Major General Mohammed al-Assar of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Assar said that the electoral commission "sent a letter to the foreign ministry requesting that it invites 45 foreign observers to monitor the presidential election."

"The commission also sent messages to all the embassies inviting them to send a delegate to monitor the election and issued permits to three foreign organisations as well," he added.

Assar was speaking at a news conference as calm returned to Cairo's streets following clashes that killed 20 people outside the defence ministry on Wednesday, according to medics.

"We want to stress the commitment of the armed forces... of not using violence against the people. The armed forces belong to the people," said Assar, who put Wednesday's toll at nine dead and said more than 160 were injured.
The general, an aide to the defence minister, said the security forces had intervened "positively" to stop the bloodshed and to ensure stability, more than a year after a popular uprising toppled Mubarak.

"Egypt is in danger... Everyone must realise this danger," said Assar.

"I propose an initiative to all political parties and religious leaders to go to Abbassiya and try to persuade the youths to leave Abbassiya," he said referring to the Cairo district in which Wednesday's clashes occurred.

"Go to Tahrir Square... to stay away from the defence ministry because we dont want to use any violence against our youths," he added.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Observers' number in Syria reaches 50, says General Mood
 

Thu 3/05/2012 18:25

NNA - 3/5/2012 - Norwegian General Robert Mood said Thursday that the number of international monitors in Syria has reached 50, distributed in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Hama, Edlib, and Deraa districts.

Mood, charged with overseeing a UN-brokered truce in Syria through a 300-strong unarmed mission, arrived Sunday in Syria.

The General met today with Hama Governor, to whom he said that the mission would submit daily reports to the United Nations, to be based upon observers' on-the-ground follow-up.

Mood also said that his visit to Hama city came within the framework of coordinating with all parties and documentation of what is being seen on the ground.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Egypt clashes over army rule leave up to 11 dead
 

Wed 2/05/2012 21:38

NNA - 02/05/2012 - (Reuters) - Eleven people were killed in Cairo on Wednesday, medics said, when armed men attacked protesters demanding an end to army rule, prompting several candidates to suspend presidential campaigns and heightening doubts on the transition to democracy.

Leaders from Islamist and secular camps blamed the trouble on hired "thugs" doing the bidding of entrenched interests behind military rule and warned the generals not to use it as a pretext to delay their departure; the army reaffirmed its stated commitment to handing power to civilians by July.

Unidentified men armed with guns and batons attacked demonstrators who included hundreds of ultraconservative Salafi Islamists protesting at their candidate's exclusion from the ballot for a first-round presidential vote on May 23 and 24.

For hours after the dawn raid, the security forces seemed unable or unwilling to put an end to the violence. As fighting raged near the Defence Ministry in the Abbasiya district of central Cairo, Reuters reporters saw men carrying guns, even a sword, while protesters threw rocks, bottles and petrol bombs.

Only in the afternoon did riot police arrive in large numbers to break up the bloody melee and the clashes abated.

Democracy campaigners blasted the military rulers of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took over 15 months ago as veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was brought down by mass street protests during the Arab Spring of uprisings.

"SCAF and the government unable to protect civilians or in cahoots with thugs. Egypt going down the drain," tweeted Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Prize-winning former U.N. official.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Jordan swears in new conservative-dominated cabinet
 

Wed 2/05/2012 19:33

NNA - 2/5/2012 - Reuters - A Jordanian government dominated by conservatives under new Prime Minister Fayez al-Tarawneh, a pillar of the political establishment, was sworn in on Wednesday and tasked with preparing parliamentary elections expected later this year.

The new government followed the surprise resignation last week of Awn Khasawneh, a prominent and respected international judge, in a move politicians attributed to an extended power struggle with the powerful security services.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Twin explosions in Idlib kill eight, injure 100
 

Mon 30/04/2012 15:30

NNA - 30/4/2012 - Eight people were killed and almost a hundred were injured in Syria's Idlib on Monday when two deadly bombs targeted security HQs, as reported by state-run news agency, SANA.

The agency said two suicide bombers blew themselves up in two booby-trapped vehicles in northwest Syria killing eight civilians and Syrian military personnel.

The blasts took place in two crowded areas, causing major damages to buildings and leaving deep craters in the ground.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - UAE summons Iran's envoy over Gulf Island spat
 

Mon 16/04/2012 11:24

NNA - 16/04/2012 (Agence France Presse) The United Arab Emirates has summoned Iran's ambassador to Abu Dhabi to denounce a visit by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a disputed island in the Gulf, the official state news agency said on Monday.

The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Qarqash, "summoned the Iranian ambassador... and handed him a letter of protest, denouncing" Ahmadinejad's visit on Wednesday to Abu Moussa, WAM reported.

Qarqash called the visit a "violation of UAE sovereignty."

The move came after Abu Dhabi recalled its ambassador to Tehran and lodged a protest with the United Nations over the visit, stressing that the territorial dispute should be resolved in talks or at the International Court of Justice.

On Sunday, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan met ambassadors representing Security Council member states in Abu Dhabi to convey the "UAE's condemnation of this provocative visit," WAM said.

Tehran has insisted that Ahmadinejad's trip, during which he said historical documents proved "the Persian Gulf is Persian," is a purely "domestic issue."

Foreign ministers of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states are scheduled to hold a special meeting in the Qatari capital on Tuesday to discuss the dispute.

Both Iran and the UAE claim territorial sovereignty over Abu Moussa and two other islands in the southern Gulf.

Iran, then under the rule of the Western-backed shah, gained control in 1971 of the islands of Abu Moussa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb, as Britain granted independence to its Gulf protectorates and withdrew its forces.

Abu Moussa, the only inhabited island of the three, was placed under joint administration in a deal with Sharjah, now part of the UAE.

Abu Dhabi says the Iranians have since taken control of the entire island which controls access to the oil-rich Gulf and have built an airport and military base there.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iraq Opting for Syrian Political Solution
 

Sun 15/04/2012 15:26

NNA - 15/04/2012 - Iraqi PM Nour al-Maliki, opted for a political solution to the ongoing Syrian crisis for fear of widespread regional blood-letting as he said.

Maliki and, in a press conference today, disclosed mobilizing all of Iraq's political and diplomatic potentials to see to it that a political solution to the Syrian crisis gets through. He predicted Assad's stay in power since in his words calls upon the regime to step down were fruitless. He flatly rejected an eventual overthrow of the Damascus regime in order to avert any negative regional repercussions.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Bomb kills 3 children in Yemen
 

Sun 15/04/2012 14:21

NNA - 15/04/2012 (Reuters) - A roadside bomb targeting a Yemeni security patrol killed three children on their way to school in the southern province of Hadramout on Sunday, the Defence Ministry said.
Separately, the Interior Ministry said on its website security forces were on alert for a potential plot by al Qaeda targeting "vital and government installations" in the southern province of Dalea. It gave no further details but called on residents to report any "terrorist" activities.
The Defence Ministry, on its website, blamed al Qaeda insurgents for the children's deaths. A local official said the explosives were placed on a road in al-Qatn city in Hadramout.
Yemen's south is a turbulent region where secessionists are seeking to revive a southern state and where an active wing of al Qaeda has taken root.
The Islamists' footprint in the south expanded during a year of mass protest against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He gave way to his deputy in February under the terms of a deal crafted by Yemen's Gulf neighbours with U.S. and U.N. backing.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Israel moves to block pro-Palestinian "fly-in"
 

Sun 15/04/2012 11:21

NNA - 15/04/2012 (Reuters) - A pro-Palestinian "fly-in" to Tel Aviv got off to a slow start on Sunday after Israel scrambled to block activists from boarding flights in Europe.
"Four activists have been detained after arriving on an El Al flight from Paris and are being questioned at (Tel Aviv) airport," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
An Interior Ministry spokeswoman said the Immigration Authority had on Wednesday given airlines the names of some 1,200 activists whose entrance to Israel would be barred. Israel made clear the airlines would have to shoulder the costs of sending any deported activists back to their port of origin.
Leehee Rothschild, a "Welcome to Palestine" activist, said that dozens of campaigners had since been informed by airlines that their tickets to Tel Aviv have been cancelled.
Organisers said some 1,200 Palestinian supporters throughout Europe had bought plane tickets to Israel and had planned to travel on to the occupied West Bank, an hour's drive from Tel Aviv, as part of a campaign called "Welcome to Palestine".
The aim of the so-called "flytilla", organisers said, was to help open an international school and a museum in Bethlehem. But Israel has denounced the activists as provocateurs and said it would deny entry to anyone who threatened public order.
Hundreds of police officers were deployed in and around Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, Israel's main gateway to the world.
"We are expecting hundreds of activists throughout Sunday. Some will be sent back to their countries. As part of normal procedure, they will be questioned and each case will be decided upon individually," Rosenfeld said.
A similar, though smaller "fly-in" last year led to a few hundred activists being blocked at European airports and more than 100 others were deported after Israel denied them entry.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iran officials arrive in Istanbul for nuclear talks
 

Fri 13/04/2012 13:44

NNA - 13/04/2012 (Reuters) - Iran's chief nuclear negotiator arrived in Istanbul on Friday for his first talks with the world powers in more than a year aimed at easing mounting international tension over the Islamic state's atomic activities.
Iranian state television showed footage of Saeed Jalili, who heads the country's delegation for the April 14 talks, getting into a car at the airport of Turkey's biggest city.
Saturday's meeting is widely seen as a chance for the six major powers - the United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany - and Iran to start halting a downward diplomatic spiral and help avert the threat of a new Middle East war.
The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability and Israel has hinted at military strikes to prevent its arch foe from obtaining such arms.
Iran, which has come under increasingly tough Western sanctions targeting its oil exports, says its nuclear programme is peaceful and has repeatedly ruled out suspending it.
Diplomats and analysts played down any expectations for any major breakthrough in the first round of discussions, but say the meeting may pave the ground for further negotiations aimed at resolving the long-running dispute.
"The head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, arrived in Istanbul on Friday and was welcomed by local officials as well as Iran's envoy to Turkey, Bahman Hosseinpour," Iran's official IRNA news agency said.
Jalili headed a four-member Iranian delegation, state television said. Iranian news agencies said his deputy Ali Baqeri would hold talks with Russian and Chinese officials later on Friday.
The formal talks with the six powers and their chief representative, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, will get underway on Saturday, but Ashton and Jalili are expected to meet over dinner on Friday evening.
The last time the two sides met, also in Istanbul in January last year, they could not even agree an agenda.
"It's excellent that these talks are finally going ahead, more than a year since we last met," Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann said. "We hope that this first round will produce a conducive environment for concrete results through a sustained process."
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Motor racing-F1 chiefs give green light to Bahrain GP
 

Fri 13/04/2012 13:40

NNA - 13/04/2012 (Reuters) - Formula One chiefs gave next week's Bahrain Grand Prix the green light on Friday despite security concerns and calls from anti-government activists for the race to be cancelled.
The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) declared in a statement that the race, cancelled last year after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protestors and in doubt again due to ongoing violence, was on as scheduled.
It said the decision followed regular briefings from senior diplomats and "independent experts" in the Gulf kingdom.
Formula One's commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, mobbed by reporters after a meeting with representatives of the 12 teams at the Chinese Grand Prix, declared the race "200 percent" certain to go ahead.
"All the teams are happy to be there," added the 81-year-old. "There's nothing happening. I know people who live there and it's all very quiet and peaceful."
He was speaking only hours after an explosion damaged two cars in Manama. Al Arabiya television said the blast was caused by a gas container thrown among vehicles on a street.
A home-made bomb wounded seven Bahraini policemen, three seriously, during a protest near the capital on Monday.
Christian Horner, principal of world champions Red Bull, side-stepped a question about whether he was happy to go but said he respected the FIA position.
"I think it's clear. The confusing thing has been uncertainty so I think for everybody here in the paddock now it's clear that there will be a race in Bahrain next week," he told reporters.
The Bahrain International Circuit welcomed the decision and said it was ready.
"The BIC has been clear throughout recent weeks and months that the security situation in Bahrain is suitable for the staging of a major sporting event," it declared in a statement.
"This assessment has been provided by experienced figures, from both inside and outside the Bahraini government, to motor racing entities which have travelled to Bahrain to do their own research."
The timing of the FIA statement, released a day before its French president Jean Todt is due to arrive at the Shanghai circuit, was seen as a clear sign of the governing body's determination to set the agenda.
"Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain," the statement said.
"Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled."

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - First president of independent Algeria dies - state media
 

Wed 11/04/2012 19:29

NNA - 11/4/2012 - Reuters - Ahmed Ben Bella, Algeria's first president after the country became independent from France half a century ago, has died following an illness, state media reported on Wednesday.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria says will comply with truce deadline-with caveat
 

Wed 11/04/2012 18:23

NNA - 11/4/2012 - Reuters - Syria has told international mediator Kofi Annan that it will halt all fighting by a Thursday morning deadline but reserves the right to respond to any attack by "armed terrorist groups", the peace envoy's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Wednesday.

In a letter the Syrian Foreign Ministry said Damascus agreed "to cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) tomorrow, Thursday, 12 April 2012, while reserving the right to respond proportionately to any attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against civilians, government forces or public and private property'," Fawzi said in a statement.

Annan, special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League, said he would continue to work with the Syrian government and opposition to ensure complete implementation of his six-point peace plan.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Annan: Syrian crisis to be resolved by dialogue
 

Wed 11/04/2012 11:20


NNA - 11/4/2012- UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said on Wednesday that the only way to resolve the Syrian crisis is dialogue, pointing out that it is impossible to solve it by military actions.

Annan talking in a common press conference with Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister assured that all the articles of his plan stressed on not using violence and military force, indicating that the Syrian situation should not be referred to as a military issue to be resolved.

L.Y.R/N.AF

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Moallem: Syrian troops pulled back from cities
 

Tue 10/04/2012 12:26

NNA - 10/4/2012 - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem Tuesday said Syria has pulled back some of its troops from cities as part of Kofi Annan's plan.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Moallem said Syria has withdrawn some of its army units in line with the third item of U.N. peace envoy.

The Minister also declared of the release of detainees and allowing 28 media institutions to enter the country.
L.W.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - 25 killed in southern Yemen army-Islamist clash
 

Mon 9/04/2012 11:47

NNA - 09/04/2012 (Reuters) - At least 25 people were killed on Monday when fighters from an al Qaeda-linked group attacked a military camp near the southern Yemen city of Lawdar, residents and local officials said.
The fighting erupted when fighters from Ansar al-Sharia launched a dawn attack on the camp, which is in Abyan province, about 120 km (75 miles) from the southern port city of Aden.
The group seized control of a significant amount of territory in Abyan during the turmoil that led to the replacement of President Ali Abdullah Saleh by his deputy, a deal that Saudi Arabia and Washington hope will prevent al Qaeda from getting a foothold near key oil shipping routes.
The conflict with Islamists in the south is only one of several challenges facing the new president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who took office vowing to fight al Qaeda, only to have more than 100 soldiers killed in a series of attacks in his first days in power.
Fifteen fighters were killed in Monday's clash with the army and five when warplanes bombed a checkpoint they were holding, officials and residents said. Four soldiers and one tribesman fighting alongside them were also killed.
A military official said the army drove the fighters away from the area around the camp. The militants said in an emailed statement that none of their fighters was killed in the clash, and threatened to attack Lawdar.
Mohammed Nasser, a resident of Lawdar, speaking by telephone with the sound of artillery and small arms fire audible, said the fighting lasted three hours.
"It is not the first attempt (by the group) to take control, but it's the biggest attack yet," he said. A local official said tribal militiamen joined the fighting alongside the military, and that at least 10 soldiers and tribesmen were wounded.
Washington, which has pursued a campaign of assassination by drone and missile against alleged al Qaeda targets in Yemen, wants Hadi to reunify a military that split between Saleh's foes and allies last year, and focus it on "counter-terrorism".
Yemen's main airport in the capital, Sanaa, was paralysed for a day after Hadi sacked the air force commander, a relative of Saleh, on Friday, and pro-Saleh officers responded by blockading the airport with vehicles.
A government official said they backed down only after warnings from the United States and the Gulf countries which crafted the deal that made Hadi president.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria demands written guarantee for troop pullback
 

Sun 8/04/2012 12:59

NNA - 08/04/2012 (Reuters) - Syria said on Sunday it wants "written guarantees" that insurgents will stop fighting before it implements a troop pullback agreed by President Bashar al-Assad, putting the likelihood of an imminent truce into doubt.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said in a statement earlier reports that Damascus "confirmed that it will pull back its troops from and around cities on April 10 is a wrong explanation."
U.N.-Arab peace envoy Kofi Annan, he said, "has not delivered until now written guarantees regarding the approval of terrorist armed groups to end violence and readiness to lay down its weapons."
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - ICRC chief on way to Syria for talks on aid, detainees
 

Mon 2/04/2012 18:37

NNA - 2/4/2012 - Reuters - Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is on his way to Damascus on Monday for talks aimed at expanding aid operations and gaining access to all detainees, the agency said.

Kellenberger, whose two-day visit will include stops in areas affected by the fighting, will press the ICRC's proposal for a daily two-hour ceasefire in order to evacuate wounded and deliver life-saving supplies to civilians, a statement said.

"I am determined to see the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent expand their presence, range and scope of activities to address the needs of vulnerable people," he said. "This will be a key element of my talks with the Syrian officials."
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian regime's actions leave no space for hope - Erdogan
 

Sun 1/04/2012 13:24

NNA - 01/04/2012 (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the "legitimate demands of the Syrian people must be met, right here, right now" as Western and Arab countries met in Istanbul on Sunday to try to agree on how to support armed rebels fighting to unseat President Bashar al-Assad.
Erdogan was addressing a meeting of mostly foreign ministers from around 70 countries including the United States and leading European Union and Gulf powers who call themselves the "Friends of Syria".
Assad's forces pounded a pro-opposition neighbourhood of Homs city with artillery fire and mortars on Saturday, as his crackdown continued a day after the Syrian Foreign Ministry announced that the year-old revolt was over.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian forces killed a young man at dawn on Sunday as they carried out raids and arrests in the town of Damir in Damascus province. It said a soldier was also wounded in the province when a military checkpoint came under attack.
It also said defectors attacked an army convoy near the village of Janoudiya in Idlib province, close to the Turkish border, killing at least four soldiers and wounding 11.
In the same province, a woman was shot dead by a sniper in the town of Maarat al-Nuaman during army raids, it said.
Gulf Arab countries within the "Friends of Syria" group have pushed for more support to be given to the defector-based Free Syrian Army (FSA), which has taken up the baton of rebellion after months of violent repression of unarmed protesters.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Saturday it was a "duty" to arm the rebels.
But Western countries fear strident opposition from Russia and China as well as the prospect of being sucked in to a bloody and intractable conflict.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Youth shot to death in Bahrain
 

Sat 31/03/2012 16:35

NNA - 31/03/2012 - A youth has been shot to death in Bahrain presumably by a militia in the pay of the authorities, the local Islamist Accord group announced today.

While the Islamist Association accused the authorities of perpetrating the murder a communique issued by the Interior Ministry said the 22-year-old youth met his death under mysterious circumstances and that an investigation immediately got underway.

The local Islamist Accord Association indicated that the youth marched in a perfectly peaceful demonstration when militiamen opened fire and injured a number of protesters.

The Bahraini Ministry of Interior said the youth was killed by bullets not fired by local police.

According to sources close to the opposition, another women and a youth suffocated due to teargas inhalation during army breakup of an earlier demonstration.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Toppling of Asad regime's over!
 

Sat 31/03/2012 13:04

NNA - 31/03/2012 - Toppling of Asad's regime is over, senior Foreign Ministry official Jihad Makdisi told government-run SANA news agency today.

Makdisi added that Asad troops brought about stability and galvanized popular support for President Bashar Asad's so-called blueprint for a reform program.

The Foreign Ministry official disclosed that troops would remain on the streets pending the establishing of full security and peace and that there will be no compromises what-so-ever with the opposition.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved

Regional - (Update) Arab Leaders: for dialogue between rule and opposition in Syria
 

Thu 29/03/2012 20:45

NNA - 29/3/2012 Winding up Arab Summit currently convening in Baghdad, Arab leaders called for "dialogue between the Syrian regime and the opposition", as mentioned in the special decision on Syria.

The Summit decision which received the consensus by participants called on the Syrian opposition, in all its components, to unite its ranks and engage in a serious dialogue that achieves a democratic life as aspired by the Syrian people.

The Arab Summit opened up its meeting on Thursday in Baghdad with nine items on its agenda.

Arab leaders also condemned the grave human rights violations against the Syrian civilians, and called on the Syrian government and all opposition components to deal positively with Joint UN and Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan by engaging in a serious national dialogue based on the plan put forward by the League and UN General Assembly in this regard.

The Arab Summit's decision also called on the Syrian government to immediately halt all violent and killing acts, and to pull out military forces and armed appearances from Syrian cities and towns, withdrawing these forces to their barracks without any delay.

Arab leaders also affirmed their fixed position in preserving Syria's unity, stability and regional safety, sparing it any military intervention.
-----------------L.Y

---------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab Leaders: for dialogue between rule and opposition in Syria
 

Thu 29/03/2012 19:56

NNA - 29/3/2012 Winding up Arab Summit currently convening in Baghdad, Arab leaders called for "dialogue between the Syrian regime and the opposition", as mentioned in the special decision on Syria.

The decision called on the Syrian opposition to unite its ranks.

The Arab Summit opened up its meeting on Thursday in Baghdad with nine items on its agenda.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Tunisia calls Assad to step down, Arab forces to enter Syria
 

Thu 29/03/2012 17:45


NNA - 29/3/2012 - Tunisia's Mouncef Marzouki on Thursday called Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, requesting to dispatch UN-backed Arab peace forces to Syria.

"The [Syrian] regime does not seek anything as much as developing the conflict into a fierce warfare, which he can administrate to the longest time possible and eventually, negotiate from a powerful position," he said, during the Arab summit conference currently taking place in Baghdad.

He called to intensify political pressure on Assad and to talk his allies into the end of the Syrian regime.

"This regime had died in the minds and the hearts; it must end in reality where it has absolutely no future," he said.

"There is no solution for the President but to cede power to his deputy who will be tasked to form a transitional government to end with free elections that shall restitute to the country its sovereignty and to citizens their dignity," he added.

However, Marzouki, who called to dispatch to Syria an Arab peace force under the wing of the United Nations, refused any military intervention therein.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Rocket explodes as Arab summit begins
 

Thu 29/03/2012 15:05

NNA - 29/3/2012 - A mortar rocket exploded on the edge of the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad Thursday, as a landmark Arab summit kicked off.

No damages or human casualties were reported.

The Iraqi capital is currently hosting a meeting for nine Arab leaders. Syria's yearlong crisis is expected to dominate discussions, along with events in Palestine, Yemen, and Somalia and the fallout of Arab uprisings.

The summit is the first to be held in Iraq since the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein in 1990.

Twelve foreign ministers arrived yesterday in Baghdad to partake in the three-day summit, marked by Syria's absence and nay, by the participation of Kuwait, expected to be the only state from the Gulf attending.

Earlier today, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon also arrived in Iraq, largely with the call upon President Bashar Assad to immediately implement Kofi Annan's six-item plan in crosshairs.

The Syrian foreign ministry said yesterday that Syria would not deal with any Arab League's initiative if it is not attending any instance on any level.

"Syria, ever since the suspension of its membership in the Arab League, has been engaging with the Arab states in a bilateral way only; therefore, it will not deal with any initiative to be issued by the Arab League at any level in its absence," spokesperson of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Jihad Makdessi, said yesterday.

The Arab League had voted last November to suspend the membership of Syria in the 22-nation group, accusing it of failing to implement an Arab peace plan. Weeks later, the League approved a new pile of economic sanctions against Syria and later demanded that President Bashar Assad cede power to his first deputy and allow in humanitarian aid into the country.

Qatar, an Arab League's key broker to the Syrian dossier, said it was reducing its representation at the summit to a minimum. "Qatar is not boycotting the summit; [instead] it is sending a message to its brothers in Iraq," Qatari Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassem Al-Thani has told Al-Jazeera channel.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - (corrected) Arab summit in Bagdad for first time
 

Thu 29/03/2012 12:41

NNA - 29/3/2012 - Bagdad hosts Thursday the Arab summit for the first time after 20 years of isolation from its Arab surrounding.

Iraqis deem as exceptional this historical event which "puts Iraq back on the foreground of the Arab scene."

The summit held in Bagdad, the city which had witnessed constant violence for so many years, will be attended by 11 state leaders among whom the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Leaders of major states will be absent though, among which KSA, Egypt, UAE, and Qatar.
It is to note that Syria will not take part of this summit as it had been suspended from participating in the Arab league's sessions.

The 23rd summit will result in various decisions mainly focusing on reactivating Arab joint efforts and solving conflicts within the Arab region.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab summit back in Bagdad
 

Thu 29/03/2012 12:05

NNA - 29/3/2012 - Bagdad hosts Thursday the Arab summit for the first time after 20 years of isolation from its Arab surrounding.

Iraqis deem as exceptional this historical event which "puts Iraq back on the foreground of the Arab scene."

The summit held in Bagdad, the city which had witnessed constant violence for so many years, will be attended by 11 state leaders among whom the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Leaders of major states will be absent though, among which KSA, Egypt, UAE, and Qatar.
It is to note that Syria will not take part of this summit as it had been suspended from participating in the Arab league's sessions.

The 23rd summit will result in various decisions mainly focusing on reactivating Arab joint efforts and solving conflicts within the Arab region.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria rebuffs Arab initiative amid AL membership suspension
 

Wed 28/03/2012 19:13

NNA - 28/3/2012 - Syrian Foreign Ministry said Syria will not deal with any Arab League's initiative if it is not attending any instance on any level.

The Ministry's spokesperson Jihad Makdessi said Wednesday that conferees present in Baghdad summit were to discuss a certain Arab initiative on Syria.

"Syria, ever since the suspension of its membership in the Arab League, has been engaging with the Arab states in a bilateral way only; therefore, it will not deal with any initiative to be issued by the Arab League at any level in its absence," he said.

Arab leaders will meet tomorrow in Baghdad in a summit where Syria's yearlong crisis is expected to dominate discussions.

The summit is the first to be held in Iraq since the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein in 1990.

The Arab League had voted last November to suspend the membership of Syria in the 22-nation group, accusing it of failing to implement an Arab peace plan. Weeks later, the League approved a new pile of economic sanctions against Syria and later demanded that President Bashar Assad cede power to his first deputy and allow in humanitarian aid into the country.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab Foreign Affairs Ministers' meetings start in Baghdad
 

Wed 28/03/2012 13:52

NNA - 28/3/2012- Arab Foreign Affairs Ministers started their meetings today (Wednesday) at noon at Al-Kodss Hall in Iraqi government premises in Baghdad. Discussions reportedly would tackle the agenda of the Arab summit works which will convene tomorrow (Thursday).

Iraqi Prime Minister Nawar Al-Maliki and Arab League Secretary General, Nabil Al-Arabi, attended the meeting.

The ministers are expected to approve the final statement of the Arab summit titled
"Bagdad Announcement" as well as the summit agenda.

Separately, the Arab Foreign Affairs ministers' agenda will include 10 articles of which the most important are: situation in Syria and Somali, Palestinian Cause, putting an Arab strategy to confront terrorism and means of developing the Arab League structure as well as working on making the Middle East a region free of weapons of mass destruction.

L.Y.R/N.AF

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad after inspecting Baba Amr: Security, law enforcement should have been restored
 

Tue 27/03/2012 18:51

NNA - 27/3/2012 Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad stressed that it was inevitable to restore security and safety and enforce law in the area of Baba Amr, after terrorist groups discounted all opportunities made available to them to return to their patriotic sense and cast aside their arms.
President Assad was speaking during a tour he undertook on Tuesday morning in Baba Amr, Homs Province, to inspect damages inflicted to buildings, infrastructure and services institutions. He also met with the people of Baba Amr and listened to their ordeal.

The Syrian President underlined that the extraordinary circumstances sustained in Homs in general and in Baba Amr in particular necessitate the rallying of all efforts by local Province officials and people, to speed up endeavors to rebuild what has been destroyed by orchestrated sabotage acts.

Assad also saluted "Syrian Armed Forces and Army" for their efforts in preserving the nation, its security and stability, saying "the Syrian Arab Army has always been a clear-cut factor in preserving Syria, its independence and the sovereignty of its decisions."
-----------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria accepts Annan's peace plan
 

Tue 27/03/2012 13:38

NNA - 27/3/2012 - United Nations spokesman announced Tuesday Syria's acceptance of the six-point peace plan endorsed by the UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - At least 19 killed, 32 hurt in Algeria road crash
 

Sun 25/03/2012 13:35

NNA - 25/03/2012 (Reuters) - At least 19 people were killed and 32 others injured when a bus fell into a ravine in western Algeria early on Sunday, the official APS news agency reported.
The accident happened when the driver lost control of the bus at a bend near the town of Tiaret about 250 km (156 miles) west of the capital Algiers, APS said, citing local sources.
Authorities have adopted harsher fines and sanctions to curb road accidents which kill around 4,000 people every year in the North African country.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Feltman heads to Yemen, Qatar
 

Sun 25/03/2012 11:42

NNA - 25/03/2012 (AFP) The top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East heads to Sanaa on Sunday to meet senior government officials and activists amid a political transition after longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down.

During his stay in the Yemeni capital Sunday through Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will "highlight the U.S. commitment to Yemen's political transition as well as the need for the transition process to allow broad participation by the Yemeni people," the State Department said.

Feltman was due to meet with President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi and other senior government officials, along with youth leaders, women activists and media representatives, it added in a statement.
Under the terms of the Gulf-brokered agreement which he signed with the opposition in November, Saleh gave up the Sanaa presidency that he had held since 1978.

But he retains the leadership of the General People's Congress party and aides have not ruled out his standing in a contested presidential election due to be held alongside new parliamentary polls in 2014.
Following his stay in Yemen, Feltman is due to travel to the Qatari capital Doha on Wednesday and Thursday to meet with senior government officials.

"His meetings will cover the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including ongoing efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria," the State Department said.

Qatar has played a leading diplomatic role in regional and international efforts to halt the Syrian government crackdown on dissent, which shows no signs of abating after a bloody year in which monitors say over 9,000 people lost their lives.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Druze 'Aql Sheikh' dies in Soueida
 

Sat 24/03/2012 18:59

NNA - 24/3/2012 - Syrian 'Waqf" Ministry and Druze Unitarians' Sect in Syria announced Saturday the passing away of Druze "Aql Sheikh" in the Municipality of Soueida, Ahmad Sleiman Al-Hijri. The late Sheikh died as a result of a car accident.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Three Pakistani soldiers killed in Taliban attack
 

Sat 24/03/2012 15:01

NNA - 24/03/2012 At least three soldiers were killed on Saturday after dozens of Taliban militants stormed a check post in Pakistan's northwest tribal region near the Afghan border.

Islamist militants have killed more than 4,900 people across Pakistan since government troops raided one of their mosques in Islamabad in July 2007.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - PKK: Turkish hands off Syria
 

Sat 24/03/2012 14:23

NNA - 24/03/2012 - The main Kurdish Guerilla group, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) warned Turkey not to intervene in Syria saying this would spread unrest from Turkey into Iraq, Iran and north east Syria.

Speaking in Iraqi Kurdistan today, PKK spokesperson Murat Karayilan said his Organization would turn all parts of Kurdistan (including Syria) into a field of war and conflict. He issued a stern warning to the Turkish government not to send its army into Syrian Kurdistan saying his Party would not stay idle in defending Syrian Kurds.

He accused the United States and Europe of backing the Islamist government in Ankara against the aspirations for unity and independence in all of Kurdistan.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Clashes after Egypt soccer club banned, 1 killed
 

Sat 24/03/2012 13:11


NNA - 24/03/2012(Reuters) - One person was shot dead and 18 injured in clashes between security forces and angry soccer fans in Egypt's Port Said after their club al-Masry was banned for two seasons following the country's worst stadium disaster, a medical source said.
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) said the club was banned for two seasons following the pitch invasion that killed 74 fans last month when Port Said-based al-Masry beat Cairo's Al Ahli, the most successful club in Africa.
Port Said Stadium, where the stampede took place, would be closed for three years, the EFA said.
Witnesses said military police fired shots in the air to disperse hundreds of soccer fans protesting outside the Suez Canal Authority building in Port Said.
The clashes began late on Friday and continued into the early hours of Saturday, witnesses said.
"Hundreds of angry fans clashed with military police after the decision was announced," one witness said.
"One was shot dead, in the back, and 18 were injured in the clashes, two of them are suffering gunshot wounds," the medical source said.
The EFA said in a statement that Masry's soccer activities would be suspended for the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons. The club would be reinstated to the Premier League in the 2013/14 season.
During the February pitch invasion, steel doors at the stadium were bolted shut, trapping fans trying to escape from the stands and dozens were crushed to death.
Many fans blamed the government for failing to send enough police to the stadium given the tense build-up to the match, and many believe the violence was started by hired thugs. At least 1,000 people were injured.
Prosecutors referred 75 people, including nine security officials in Port Said, to the criminal court on March 15 to face trial over the violence.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Japan closes embassy in Damascus
 

Wed 21/03/2012 15:04

NNA - 21/3/2012 - A statement by the Japanese Foreign Ministry Wednesday said that Japan had decided to close its embassy in Damascus.
"We decided to close our embassy in Damascus provisionally as of today due to the deterioration of the security situation in Syria," the statement read.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Bahraini King receives report of investigation committee's recommendations, vows to carry on reforms
 

Tue 20/03/2012 20:17

NNA - 20/3/2012 - Bahrain's Hamad Ben Issa Al Khalifa highlighted keenness on carrying on reforms, stressing there would be neither elimination nor favoring of any party whosoever.

The Bahraini King received today the report of the national committee concerned with the recommendations of the investigation committee in Safriyah Palace.

As reiterating that the doors were still open for dialogue, he pledged to consider the committee's ideas and visions so as to bring about positive change in Bahrain.

"The committee's report shows that the government had taken substantial steps as to transparency and security, judicial, and educational reforms, as well as to elaborating a detailed plan to reform information," he said.

He vowed to bring into effect a plan as per which sacked persons should return to their posts and called the government to grant damaged persons fair and just compensations in the nearest time possible.

He also said that the necessary administrative and legal mechanisms were finalized to establish a special unit to investigate last year's developments.

"Implementing the committee's recommendations indeed mirrors the commitment of Bahrain to permanent all-inclusive reforms," he said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Solemn funeral for late Pope Shenouda in Egypt
 

Tue 20/03/2012 17:35

NNA - 20/3/2012 Amidst climates of grief and mourning, thousands of Coptics bid farewell on Tuesday the late Orthodox Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III, in a solemn funeral held at St Marc Cathedral in Cairo, which was crowded with Coptic citizens and political and religious dignitaries.

The funeral opened up with a mass service at the Cathedral chaired by Ethiopian Coptic Church Head, Patriarch Aboun Boulos, who came on the occasion from Idiss Ababa.

The late Pope was laid in his coffin with his religious clothes and golden crown, surrounded by a number of Coptic priests in their black outfits.

Attending the funeral have been a number of Egypt's Ruling Military council members, four potential presidency candidates, Coptic senior dignitaries and officials, in addition to representatives of accredited corp and US Ambassador to Egypt Ann Paterson.

The funeral was broadcasted live on state-run Egyptian Television.

Following the funeral itinerary, the coffin was transferred on board a military plane to Wadi AlNatroun, where the late Pope was laid to rest, working by his will.

---------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Western powers draft new UN council statement on Syria
 

Mon 19/03/2012 21:50

NNA - 19/03/2012 - (Reuters) - France submitted to the Security Council on Monday a Western-drafted statement supporting U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace efforts in Syria and sending a strong message to Damascus to end violence against protesters, Eur o pean diplomats said.

The decision to prepare a "presidential statement" for the 15-nation council comes after Russia and China twice vetoed resolutions that would have condemned Syria's yearlong assault on demonstrators opposed to President Bashar al-Assad that the United Nations says has killed well over 8,000 civilians.

"The French delegation circulated around a draft (statement) on Syria offering the council's full support for the mission of the joint special envoy Kofi Annan," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, Security Council president this month, told reporters after a closed-door meeting on unrelated matters.

The draft statement, seen by Reuters, would have the council voice its "gravest concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria" and declare that it "fully supports (Annan's) six-point plan" that calls for a ceasefire, political dialogue and full access for humanitarian agencies.

Lyall Grant said that he hoped the statement would be adopted on Tuesday. He added that Russia submitted to the council for approval a draft of informal remarks to the press that would have the Security Council condemn bomb attacks in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo at the weekend.

"Kofi Annan asked for support from the council," French Ambassador Gerard Araud said. "He wanted to show that all the council is behind him. And that's the point of the (presidential statement), only Kofi Annan."

Araud said that council members would most likely want to consult their capitals on the draft presidential statement before approval. It was not clear whether Russia and China would oppose some elements of the statement.

German Ambassador Peter Wittig said the statement would send a double message that "strengthens his (Annan's) hand and strengthens the council support for Kofi Annan."

"Number two, it is a clear message to the Syrian authorities to cooperate with Kofi Annan, to cooperate with the Security Council and, above all, to end the violence that is still raging in a very brutal way as we speak," he told reporters.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Two killed in Yarmouk camp explosion near Damascus
 

Sun 18/03/2012 14:26


NNA - 18/03/2012 - Two passengers on board a car met their death in a mysterious explosion inside the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk near Damascus.

This, according to the official Syrian News Agency (SANA) which reported that the two alleged "terrorists" carrying an explosive charge hidden in their car which presumably went up prematurely before hitting its target.

Earlier, two major security posts were rocked by massive explosions in the Syrian capital leading to the death of 27 and the wounding of 140 others next to the Ministry of the Interior.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - (Update) Car bomb explodes in Syria's second city Aleppo
 

Sun 18/03/2012 14:07

NNA - 18/03/2012 (Reuters) - A car bomb blew up in a residential area of Syria's second city Aleppo on Sunday, a day after two blasts rocked the capital Damascus, the Syrian television channel al-Ikhbariya said.
Opposition sources said the blast hit an area close to a security office. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the explosion had killed and injured people in the area but gave no estimate on the number of casualties.
The state news channel Syria TV said a "terrorist" explosion hit between two residential buildings in the al-Suleimaniya district of Aleppo, behind a post office building.
Residents told the British-based Observatory they saw bodies in the streets and reported a heavy blast which rocked the area.
On Saturday, two car bombs in Damascus killed 27 people and wounded at least 100.
Sunday's blast is the fourth car bomb to hit a major city in Syria, and the second in Aleppo, since a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's rule began a year ago and security forces launched a crackdown.
Activists and the government have traded blame for previous explosions.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Car bomb in Aleppo
 

Sun 18/03/2012 13:32

NNA - 18/03/2012 (Reuters) Car bomb explodes in residential area of Syrian city of Aleppo, reported Syrian television.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Christians gather to bid farewell to Egypt's Pope
 

Sun 18/03/2012 12:34

NNA - 18/03/2012 (Reuters) - Christians gathered on Sunday to pay final respects to Pope Shenouda III, who sought to soothe sectarian tension in his four decades atop Egypt's Orthodox Church but saw increasing flareups in the majority Muslim nation in the last months of his life.
Friction has worsened since President Hosni Mubarak, who suppressed Islamists, was ousted last year. Since then Shenouda, who died on Saturday aged 88, often called for harmony and regularly met Muslim and other leaders.
Christians, who comprise about a tenth of Egypt's 80 million people, have long complained of discrimination and in the past year stepped up protests, which included calls for new rules that would make it as easy to build a church as a mosque.
Shenouda had served as the 117th Pope of Alexandria since November 1971, leading the Orthodox community who make up most of Egypt's Christians. His funeral will be held on Tuesday, Egyptian state media reported.
U.S. President Barack Obama offered his condolences and Pope Benedict, leader of the world's Roman Catholics, offered prayers after being informed of his death.
Thousands of Christians queued in Cairo's Abbasiya district overnight and on Sunday morning at the cathedral where Shenouda's body was initially laid in a coffin and later seated on a ceremonial throne wearing gold and red embroidered religious vestments, a golden mitre on his head and holding a gold-topped staff.
He was popular among many of Egypt's Christians even outside the Orthodox Church, as well as among many Muslims. However, some Christian activists said Shenouda should have pushed the state harder to secure more rights for Christians.
In one phrase Shenouda often repeated and which was also cited in newspapers on Sunday, he would say: "Egypt is not a nation we live in, rather it is a nation that lives in us."
The burial is expected to take place at the Wadi el Natrun monastery in the desert northwest of Cairo, where the late pope had requested he be buried.
Shenouda was banished to Wadi el Natrun monastery in 1981 by then-President Anwar Sadat after he criticised the government's handling of an Islamic insurgency in the 1970s and Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
Under Mubarak's rule, relations between the government and the Coptic church were generally smooth, with the pope portrayed in state media as a symbol of religious harmony, despite occasional outbreaks of sectarian violence.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iraqi al Qaeda says behind Baghdad police attack
 

Sun 18/03/2012 12:05

NNA - 18/03/2012 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq has claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack against police officers and cadets that killed 19 people in Baghdad on Feb. 19, a group that monitors online communication among insurgents said.
The car exploded as it careered into a crowd of cadets who had just been escorted out of a police academy in central Baghdad and were standing in the street.
The U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group said the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella group for al Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgents, claimed responsibility for the incident in a statement posted on Islamist websites on Friday.
"The lion of Islam Sheikh Abu Ghassan al-Ansari penetrated the gates of the academy with his explosives-laden vehicle ... and detonated his vehicle," ISI was quoted by SITE as saying.
SITE said the group also listed 29 operations carried out around Baghdad between Feb. 13-29, which targeted Iraqi forces and officials.

ISI said on Thursday it was behind attacks in western Iraq on March 5 that killed 27 members of the security forces.

Bombings and killings occur daily in Iraq, which is still plagued by a lethal Sunni insurgency and Shi'ite militias, although overall violence has decreased since the height of sectarian fighting in 2006-07.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Yemeni warplane bombards southern city, people flee homes
 

Sun 18/03/2012 12:04

NNA - 18/03/2012 (Reuters) - A warplane bombed Islamist militants in their southern Yemeni stronghold city of Jaar on Sunday causing the population to flee their homes, residents said, but there were no immediate reports of people killed or injured.
Islamist militants captured Jaar in the Abyan Province in March last year after the outbreak of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule and have turned it into their main base in southern Yemen.
The raid comes after a spate of attacks by Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), the deadliest of which killed at least 110 conscripts last week, in a reminder of the challenges faced by newly elected President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Earlier on Sunday, two men on a motorcycle shot and killed an American teacher in the Yemeni city of Taiz, south of the capital Sanaa.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Militants kill American teacher in Yemen -police
 

Sun 18/03/2012 11:28

NNA - 18/03/2012 (Reuters) - Two men on a motorcycle shot and killed an American teacher in the Yemeni city of Taiz, south of the capital Sanaa, on Sunday morning, a local police source said.
A gunman riding on the motorcycle driven by an accomplice shot the man, an English-language teacher and deputy director of a local language school called the Swedish Institute, the source said.
He said the gunmen, who escaped after the attack, were believed to be militants linked to al Qaeda.
Yemen has seen an escalation of violence by the Islamist militant network since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office last month vowing to fight al Qaeda's regional wing.
Yemen's commercial hub of Taiz, located some 200 km (120 miles) south of Sanaa, was a flashpoint for protests against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33 year rule, and where many foreigners in Yemen live and work.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Pope Shenouda III passes away
 

Sat 17/03/2012 20:11

NNA - 17/3/2012 - Egyptian State Television announced Saturday evening the passing away of Christian Coptic Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Twin bombings in Damascus kill at least 27 -tv
 

Sat 17/03/2012 15:29

NNA - 17/03/2012 (Reuters) - Twin blasts hit the heart of Damascus on Saturday, killing at least 27 people in an attack on security installations that state television blamed on "terrorists" seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
Syrian television reported that cars packed with explosives had targeted an intelligence centre and a police headquarters at 7.30 am (0530 GMT), blowing the front off one building and sending debris and shattered glass flying through the streets.
Gruesome images from the sites showed what appeared to be smouldering bodies in two separate vehicles, a wrecked minivan smeared with blood, and severed limbs collected in sacks.
At least 27 people were killed and 97 were wounded, another television channel said, quoting Health Minister Wael al-Halki.
"We heard a huge explosion. At that moment the doors in our house were blown out ... even though we were some distance from the blast," one elderly man, with a bandage wrapped round his head, told a public television channel.
No one claimed responsibility for the coordinated detonations, which echoed similar attacks that have struck Damascus and Syria's second city Aleppo since December.
The explosions came just two days after the first anniversary of the uprising, in which more than 8,000 people have been killed and about 230,000 forced to flee their homes, according to United Nations figures.
They also coincided with a joint mission by the Syrian government, the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that was due to start assessing humanitarian needs in towns across Syria which have suffered from months of unrest.
One source involved in the mission said team members were still gathering in Syria and it was not immediately clear if they would begin their work this weekend as previously planned.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian security compounds hit by deadly car bombs
 

Sat 17/03/2012 11:03

NNA - 17/03/2012 (Reuters) - Two large explosions hit Damascus on Saturday, killing several security force personnel and civilians, state television reported, blaming what it said were terrorists behind the year-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Video from a blast at an intelligence centre showed the front of the building blown away, with numerous burnt out cars littering the street below.
The second bomb targeted a police building, with television showing the smouldering wreckage of a car at the site, and what appeared to be at a charred corpse inside the mangled shell.
A minivan nearby had a pool of blood on the floor. Its doors and windows were shattered and its panels were also stained red with blood. Damascus residents said clouds of black smoke could be seen rising from the areas where the blasts struck.
No one claimed responsibility for the twin attacks, which appeared to be similar to suicide bombings that struck Damascus and Syria's second city Aleppo in the last three months.
The explosions came two days after the first anniversary of year-long uprising, in which the United Nations says more than 8,000 people have been killed and some 230,000 forced to flee their homes as the violence spreads.
The U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, warned on Friday that the crisis could spill over into other neighbouring countries and urged international powers to lay aside their differences and back his peace initiative.
While the West and much of the Arab world have lined up to demand that Assad steps down, his allies Russia, China and Iran have defended him and cautioned against outside interference.
"The stronger and more unified your message, the better chance we have of shifting the dynamics of the conflict," an envoy said, summarizing Annan's remarks to a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation Security Council.
Turkey said on Friday it might set up a "buffer zone" inside Syria to protect refugees fleeing Assad's forces, raising the prospect of foreign intervention in the revolt, although Ankara made clear it would not move without international backing.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria addresses letters on massacres to UN
 

Fri 16/03/2012 19:35

NNA - 16/3/2012 - The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday addressed two identical letters to the Head of the Security Council and UN Chief as well as to the Head of the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner of Human Rights, hereby tackling the crimes recently perpetrated by terrorists in Homs and other Syrian regions.

"Syria calls all the countries and organizations which are fighting terrorism to stand in the face of killing and strife, and to wield pressure on all the known parties to stop supporting terrorism, help cease bloodshed, and impugn those parties in compliance with the Security Council's resolutions on fighting terrorism," the Ministry said in the letters.

It also said that the terrorist groups committed, on March 12, 2012, an appalling massacre in some streets in Homs city, and killed 45 persons.

"Terrorists slaughtered, killed, and filmed these innocent citizens; they even sent the videos to satellite channels which are majorly contributing to misleading and perturbing the situation, something that flouts the values of objective media," the letters read.

The Ministry said herein that the concerned authorities arrested a number of the aforementioned terrorists, who confessed they have committed said crimes.

It also said that the fatwas issued by some Arab clergymen calling for foreign military intervention in Syria were behind the reasons which led to massacres in Homs.

The Ministry made it clear that the Syrian government was still carrying on its duty to protect citizens, remove terrorist weapons and impugn criminals. It also said that it was still working on reaching the much sought political solution to the crisis in collaboration with UN peace envoy, Kofi Annan.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria committed to make Annan's mission a success, Makdessi
 

Wed 14/03/2012 20:21

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Syria is committed to make the mission of Kofi Annan a success, provided that it complies with the Syrian particularity, spokesperson of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Jihad Makdessi, told press reporters Wednesday.

The joint envoy of the United Nations and Arab League for Syria, Kofi Annan, said earlier today from Geneva that he had received Syria's response to his proposals on ending the year-old crisis, but that he was seeking further clarifications.
Annan had left Damascus Sunday without reaching an agreement.

Makdessi said that efforts must be intensified on the regional and international levels, pointing out the endeavors aimed to impede the political solution through the calls to arm the Syrian internal scene.

"The solutions proposed to the crisis in Syria cannot be imported, and we encourage Annan to carry on parleys; we wish him success and we hope that all efforts reach to restore calm, which is accessible through reforms and dialogue," he said.

"We are ready to welcome any initiative that contributes to the political solution," he corroborated, saying that what is happening in some regions is a security handling and not a political solution, "for the army is in a self-defense state."

The Syrian official also said that there was a political and humanitarian commitment to help humanitarian aid reach civilians and that Syria and the UN had agreed over a specific mechanism to evaluate and provide aid in collaboration with the Arab and Syrian Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross, in coordination with the Syrian government.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Annan says has Syria's reply, seeking answers to halt crisis
 

Wed 14/03/2012 15:21

NNA - 14/3/2012 - Reuters - Kofi Annan, joint envoy of the United Nations and Arab League for Syria, has received a response from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to his proposals, but questions remain and he is seeking clarification, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

"The Joint Special Envoy (JSE) for Syria, Kofi Annan, has now received a response from the Syrian authorities. The JSE has questions and is seeking answers," spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a brief statement issued by Annan's office in Geneva.

"But given the grave and tragic situation on the ground, everyone must realize that time is of the essence. As he said in the region, this crisis cannot be allowed to drag on," he added.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian President calls for parliamentary vote on May 7
 

Tue 13/03/2012 15:44

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Syrian President, Bashar Assad, on Tuesday issued a decree hereby setting upcoming May 7 a date for the legislative elections, Syrian state-run news agency, SANA, said.

The parliamentary vote will take place under the country's new Constitution, which was approved by referendum in February.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Situation in Gaza heading for calm

Tue 13/03/2012 09:53

NNA - 13/3/2012 - Acting Israeli Civil Defense Minister Matan Vilnai confirmed that an understanding for calm in Gaza would be achieved today (Tuesday) after the wave of violence which broke out last Friday.


The minister told the public radio "there is real understanding and we are following up what is happening on the ground".



A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Saudi, Jordanian kings meet over developments
 

Mon 12/03/2012 19:11

NNA - 12/3/2012 - Saudi King Abdullah Ben Abdul Aziz and Jordan's Abdullah II on Monday engaged in latest developments on the Arab regional scene.

The meeting, held in the Saudi capital Riyadh, featured high on most recent up-to-dates on the local and international levels, the Saudi state-run agency indicated.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria sees Qatar, KSA upholding armed groups
 

Mon 12/03/2012 16:32

NNA - 12/3/2012 - Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are partners in the terrorism targeting the Syrian people, Syrian Information Minister told AFP on Monday.

He said both countries bore the responsibility for the Syrian blood through their supporting the terrorist armed groups with funds and weapons.

"Some countries upholding the terrorist armed groups like Qatar and KSA are partners in the terrorism targeting the entire Syrian people and they are responsible for the shedding of the Syrian blood," he corroborated.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Local Baathist leader and boxing champion assassinated today

NNA - 11/03/2012 - A local Baathist leader in Homs and a boxing champion in Aleppo met their death at the hands of unknown gunmen, the Syrian National News Agency (SANA) announced today.

No further disclosure as to circumstances surrounding the two murders was made.
 

Sun 11/03/2012 16:05

G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - UAE, Egypt friction escalates
 

Sun 11/03/2012 12:59

NNA - 11/03/2012 Tensions have mounted between United Arab Emirates and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood after the latter threatened to mobilize against the UAE if need arises, which led the Gulf country to demand a clear explanation from Egyptian government Sunday.

Yousuf al Qaradawy, Head of International Institute for Muslim Scientists, issued statements against leaders of the UAE. Dubai's police chief, Dahi Khalfan, retaliated by announcing on his official Twitter account that he intended to issue an international arrest warrant against Qaradawy. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Spokesperson Mahmoud Gazlan in turn said in a statement Friday that the Emirates "would not dare" arrest Qaradawy, further adding that the announcement by Dubai's police commander in chief was a "disgrace".

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, said his government was waiting for a clarification from the Egyptian government.

"The statements of Gazlan reflect bad intention and Egypt never deserved such beliefs," Nahyan commented to local UAE newspaper.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Two killed in Yemen bomb plot, Somali militants caught
 

Sun 11/03/2012 12:19

NNA - 11/03/2012 (Reuters) - Two men were killed in southern Yemen when a bomb they planned to use in an attack on government forces exploded accidentally late on Saturday, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
"The bodies of the two were ripped apart in the explosion, which happened before they were able to execute their attack," the ministry said in the statement posted on its website.
Yemeni security forces, fighting a growing Islamist insurgency, said they had also detained four Somali men suspected of belonging to the al Shabaab militant group near the site of the explosion. There was no indication that they were linked to the bomb plot, the statement said.
The al Qaeda-allied Somali group had sent 300 armed men to fight alongside the Yemen-based wing of the militant network, it said. The four Somalis were captured on the road between the southern provinces of Lahej and Abyan.
The two dead men were identified by the ministry as Yasser and Muneef al-Hawi. The statement said they were killed in Abyan province's Mudiyah district. It gave no further details on whether the men were associated with al Qaeda. U.S. drone attacks killed at least 25 al Qaeda-linked fighters in Yemen on Saturday, while a Yemeni air force raid killed 20 more, also in the south, where militants have expanded their operations during a year of unrest that ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saturday's operation was the biggest since Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, elected in February, promised in his inauguration speech to make fighting al Qaeda a priority.
The United States and Saudi Arabia, Yemen's neighbour and the world's biggest oil exporter, are concerned about al Qaeda's expansion in Yemen where the group controls swathes of land near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved
 


Regional - Israel assasinates PRC Secretary General in Gaza
 

Fri 9/03/2012 18:14

NNA - 09/03/2012 - Head of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) Zuheir al-Qessi and Ahmed al-Halani who had been freed from an Israeli jail last year, as part of a prisoner swap deal to gain the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, had been killed at the hands of Israel on Friday in a targeted attack on a car in the Gaza Strip.

The blast set their small metallic blue car ablaze. Victims were inside the vehicle when the explosion occurred, witnesses said.

"They both fell martyrs to this abominable assassination crime," Resistance Committees spokesperson, Abu Mujahed, told the United Press International. He also pledged retaliation by the PRC against what he described as "dangerous Israeli escalation."
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Amos affirms Syria's consent to "limited assessment mission"
 

Fri 9/03/2012 17:44

NNA - 09/03/2012 - U.N. humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, said on Friday the Syrian government had agreed to join U.N. agencies in a "limited assessment" of the situation in the country, in battle-scarred regions.

Speaking at a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara, Amos said she had asked the Syrian government for unhindered aid access to worst-hit areas, but the Syrian government had requested more time.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Amos enters Baba Amr - ICRC
 

Wed 7/03/2012 21:41

NNA - 07/03/2012 - The United Nations' Humanitarian Chief, Valerie Amos, entered the battle-scarred Baba Amr district, the fallen rebel stronghold of Homs in central Syria, along with a Syrian Red Crescent team, the ICRC said on Wednesday.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Red Crescent enters Baba Amro in Syria
 

Wed 7/03/2012 18:26

NNA - 07/03/2012 - The spokesman of the International Committee of Red Cross, Carla Haddad, declared on Wednesday that the Red Crescent team entered in the afternoon Baba Amro region of Homs.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Moallem receives China's vision on Syrian crisis
 

Wed 7/03/2012 18:15

NNA - 07/03/2012 - Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Moallem received from his Chinese counterpart a letter embodying a six-item vision regarding finding a solution to the running crisis in Syria.

Moallem welcomed the vision that would help solving the crisis.

The Chinese emissary, conveying to Moallem the letter, expressed China's adherence to respecting Syria's sovereignty.

A.M.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved






 

Regional - Egypt fears civil war in Syria, Amr
 

Wed 7/03/2012 15:57

NNA - 7/3/2012 - Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Amr, on Wednesday warned of arming the Syrian opposition, saying it might fan a civil war in Syria.

"Arming the opposition and its armed wing would lead to escalating the military conflict and ignite a civil war in Syria," he said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad: people plan to continue reforms, face terrorism
 

Tue 6/03/2012 16:53

NNA - 06/03/2012 - Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that the Syrian people planned to carry administrative reforms along with fighting terrorism across their country, according to SANA's news agency.

Assad's stance came amidst receiving at his residence head of the Ukrainian Syrian Friendship Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament.

Assad hailed the public as always opposing foreign attempts to destabilize the country.
A.M./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Anan in Syria on March 10 - Alarabi
 

Mon 5/03/2012 15:52


NNA - 5/3/2012 - The Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil Alarabi, on Monday said that Kofi Anan will arrive in Syria on forthcoming March 10, after a visit in Cairo on March 7.

This would be Anan's first visit to Damascus after assuming his new post as the UN and Arab League's Special Envoy to Syria.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


 

Regional - Al-Thani in Riyadh over Syria
 

Sun 4/03/2012 17:08

NNA - 04/03/2012 - Qatari prince Hamad Al-Thani arrives in the Saudi capital Riyadh tomorrow Monday for talks with Saudi monarch Abdullah over the Syrian crisis, the Saudi News Agency disclosed today.

Both heads of state are expected to board the unfolding Syrian situation in light of a Russo-Chinese veto at the U.N.-Security Council construed by both leaders as a green light for Assad's crackdown on Syrian anti-regime resistance. Prince Hamad intends following up the matter at the upcoming regular U.N.-General Assembly's meeting sources here in Qatar confirmed.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Suicide bomber attacks Algerian security base
 

Sat 3/03/2012 13:46

NNA - 03/03/2012 (Reuters) - At least 15 people were wounded on Saturday when a suicide bomber drove a four-wheel drive vehicle packed with explosives at a paramilitary police base in a Sahara desert town, local media and security officials said.
The attack was at a gendarme headquarters in the centre of Tamanrasset, an oasis about 2,000 km (1,240 miles) south of the Algerian capital, and near the border with Mali and Niger.
A Toyota jeep exploded after it was driven at the perimeter wall of the gendarme base at 7:48 a.m., according to the online edition of Algeria's Ennahar newspaper.
The fifteen people injured in the blast included gendarmes and civilians, some of whom were on a bus which was driving past at the moment of the explosion, the newspaper said.
Security officials confirmed to Reuters the newspaper's account of the attack. It was not immediately clear exactly how many people had died or who was responsible.
Al Qaeda's North African wing, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has been carrying out an insurgency in Algeria. It frequently targets security forces.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Suicide bomber kills 2 in Syria
 

Sat 3/03/2012 11:47

NNA - 03/03/2012 A suicide bomber killed two in the southern Syrian town of Deraa, Syrian State news agency reported Sunday.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved
 


Regional - Blast kills 3 at Yemen army base, al Qaeda blamed
 

Sat 3/03/2012 10:59

NNA - 03/03/2012 (Reuters) - Two militants drove a car packed with explosives into a Yemeni army base in the south of the country on Saturday, killing themselves and a soldier, the Defence Ministry said.
The attack targeted barracks of the Republican Guard forces in the province of al-Bayda at dawn, the ministry said on its website. It blamed al Qaeda for the blast.
"The explosion was very loud and took place in Dar al-Nasr, which is a military site of the Republican Guard," said a website close to Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a general who defected from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the early days of an uprising against him last year.
"Residents of the town were frightened by the force of the blast, which was felt more than two kilometres away and damaged dozens of neighbouring houses and blew their windows out."
Militants linked to al Qaeda have exploited a year of political upheaval in Yemen to strengthen their foothold there, particularly in the south, which is also home to rising secessionist sentiment.
Gunmen opened fire on a U.S. security team as it trained Yemeni soldiers in the south of the country on Friday, the Pentagon and a security official said.
The United States and Saudi Arabia, wary of al Qaeda entrenchment in Yemen, backed a Gulf-brokered plan under which Saleh handed power to his deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was sworn in last month.
The Republican Guard, which is commanded by Saleh's son Ahmed Ali, was also the target of a suicide bombing that killed at least 26 people on the day of Hadi's swearing in.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian Foreign Ministry: Syria has taken proper measures to preserve the State
 

Fri 2/03/2012 21:37

NNA - 02/03/2012 - In two identical letters sent Friday to Head of the Security Council and Secretary General of the UN, Syria said the presence of terrorist groups that have killed innocent citizens from the onset of events in Syria, in order to carry out small gains on international and regional levels, are being dealt with in a way to protect the state and its people.

"Syria took proper measures to protect innocent citizens and their properties and to preserve the prestige of the state and its institutions," read the letter. This, according to the ministry, stirred unjustified campaigns by some Arab and Western countries that are related to these armed groups to distort the image of Syria and mobilize international public opinion.


 

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Regional - UN chief Ban pleads with Syria for aid-worker access
 

Fri 2/03/2012 20:47

NNA - 02/03/2012 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an impassioned plea on Friday for Damascus to grant immediate access for aid workers to besieged Syrian towns, describing the images of death coming out of the country as atrocious.
Ban was speaking to reporters after the International Committee of the Red Cross told Syria it was unacceptable that its aid convoy had been prevented from entering a battle-scarred district of Homs where the opposition said President Bashar al-Assad's army had committed a massacre.
"The images which we have seen in Syria (are) atrocious," Ban told reporters. "It's totally unacceptable, intolerable. How as a human being can you bear ... this situation? That really troubles me. I'm deeply sad seeing what's happening."
In a rare show of unity with Western powers, Russia and China joined other U.N. Security Council members on Thursday in expressing "deep disappointment" at Syria's failure to allow the U.N. humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos to visit the country, and urged that she be allowed in immediately.
Russia and China have twice vetoed council resolutions that would have condemned Syria for the crackdown and demanded that it halt the crackdown on anti-Assad demonstrators.
Ban echoed the council's statement from Thursday.
"The Syrian authorities must open, without any preconditions, to humanitarian communities," he said.
"Why are they afraid of receiving the head of the U.N. humanitarian department? We are ready to mobilize, we do not have access. So that is priority number one at this time."
The United Nations says Syrian security forces have killed more than 7,500 civilians during an 11-month government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
"All violence must stop," said Ban. "I am really urging Syrian authorities to stop (the) violence and allow humanitarian access."

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Red Cross says has Syrian okay to enter Baba Amro
 

Thu 1/03/2012 18:50

NNA - 1/3/2012 - Reuters - Syrian authorities agreed on Thursday that the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) could enter the shattered Baba Amro district of Homs on Friday, an ICRC spokesman said.

"The Syrian Red Crescent and ICRC have received a green light from the authorities to go to Baba Amro tomorrow, Friday, in order to bring in much needed assistance including food and medical aid and to carry out evacuation operations," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan told Reuters in Geneva.

Syrian authorities also gave the ICRC "positive indications" on Thursday regarding the agency's Feb. 21 request for a daily two-hour ceasefire to deliver life-saving relief supplies to civilians, he said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Kofi Anan visits Arab League next week
 

Thu 1/03/2012 18:36

NNA - 1/3/2012 - The newly appointed UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Anan, is scheduled to visit Cairo on forthcoming March 7, before heading to Damascus, as announced by Arab League's Nabil Alarabi on Thursday.

Anan will be also touring a number of states wielding influence on the Syrian dossier.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria committed to evacuate foreign reporters from Homs - Makdessi
 

Wed 29/02/2012 18:12

NNA - 29/2/2012 - Spokesperson of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Jihad Makdessi, on Wednesday asserted that Syria will not shrug off its humanitarian obligations when it comes to evacuating foreign reporters from its territories.

"We have carried out three attempts to evacuate the bodies but we failed," Makdessi told a news conference today.

"We tasked the Red Crescent with negotiating with the International Committee of Red Cross, but talks were doomed to failure because the armed groups refused to hand over the bodies and the reporters and to find a solution to this humanitarian tragedy," he added.

He reminded that the Syrian party had allocated a chopper to transfer reporters but they [armed groups] refused.

The Syrian official did not fail to note that calls by Qatar and the KSA to arm the Syrian opposition were "aggressive" to Syria.

"We ask our brothers in Qatar and the KSA to rationalize the opposition and push it to the dialogue table," he said.

On the appointment of Kofi Anan as the special envoy to Syria, Makdessi said his country was still waiting for the UN to clarify his task and the aim of his appointment.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Maliki upholds change in Syria
 

Tue 28/02/2012 16:53

NNA - 28/2/2012 - Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, said his country supports change in Syria, indicating that the situation therein would not change had it not been for this very change.

"Iraq upholds change in Syria; change is necessary and things cannot settle down without change," he told an interview with Saudi Okaz newspaper.

He added that more freedoms should be given and that a national unity government should be formed.

He saw that it was about time to carry out Arab and international-supervised elections.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iran says expects talks with IAEA to continue
 

Tue 28/02/2012 16:04

NNA - 28/02/ 2012 - (Reuters) Iran said on Tuesday that it expected talks with the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to continue and it was optimistic that they would proceed in the right direction.

In the latest high-level talks between the IAEA and Iran, conducted in Tehran in January and February, Iranian officials stuck to a refusal to address intelligence reports about covert research relevant to developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy purposes only.

"We expect the dialogue that has started will continue," Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters after giving a speech to the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.

"We are optimistic," he added, "that upcoming meetings between the high delegation of the IAEA and the Iranian (side) will be proceeding hopefully in the right direction."

The IAEA said that, given Iran's unwillingness to tackle the allegations of research with military nuclear applications, no further talks were scheduled.

"We have clearly stated time and time again there are two alternatives in dealing with the Iranian peaceful nuclear program. One way is engagement, cooperation and interaction. The other is confrontation and conflict," Salehi said. "...Iran is confident of the peaceful nature of its program and has always insisted on the first alternative. When it comes to our relevant rights and obligations, our consistent position is that Iran does not seek confrontation, nor does it want anything beyond its inalienable, legitimate rights."
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad enforces new constitution
 

Tue 28/02/2012 11:22

NNA - 28/2/2012 - Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad issued a decree on Tuesday stipulating that the constitution voted upon by Syrians in Sunday's referendum came into force starting February 27, as reported by the Syrian Arab National Agency (SANA).

The Syrian people had voted on the new constitution with 89.4% of constituents who had scored a 57.4% participation rate in the referendum.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - 89.4% Okay new Syria constitution
 

Mon 27/02/2012 17:28

NNA - 27/2/2012 - 89.4% of Syrians cast vote in favor of the new draft constitution, Syrian Minister of Interior announced on Monday.

He also indicated that the turnout in the referendum, which took place yesterday Sunday, was 57.4%.

Results were publicized, shortly after Qatar's Prime Minister said he upheld the armament of the Syrian opposition.

"We must do our best to help the opposition," Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassem Al Thani, currently on a state-visit to Norway, said today.

KSA, for its part, continued to demur on some states' "flagging" positions, in reference to Russia and China, Syria's strong allies which refused to attend the so-called "Friends of Syria" meeting in Tunis last week.

Saudi Arabia said those states bore the moral responsibility of derailing the international mobilization in that respect.

The referendum also earned sharp rebuke from a number of European foreign ministers, currently meeting in Brussels to lobby for tightening sanctions on the unrest-swept nation.

French minister Alain Juppe said it was a farce to carry out a referendum "while shelling continues upon Homs and other cities."

He vowed to wield more pressure through a pile of "very strong" sanctions.

Echoing Juppe, British minister William Hague said "yesterday's vote did not dupe anyone."
 

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Regional - Referendum in Syrian extended till 10:00 p.m.
 

Sun 26/02/2012 20:37

NNA - 26/2/2012 - National News Agency correspondent has indicated that the referendum in Syria over the new Syrian Constitution has been extended till 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Syrian President, Bashar Al-Asad, and Syrian First Lady, Asmaa Al-Asad, had given their votes at the Syrian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network general headquarters' polling station in Damascus earlier Sunday. In a statement following delivering his vote, Asad described the attack against Syria as being a media attack. "Despite its importance, the media cannot surpass the actual events on the ground," said Asad.
President Asad went on to indicate that Syrian media is exerting huge efforts; referring herein to the notable progress achieved by the Syrian Arab Television in general. However, comparison is made between Syrian official media and private media sources in other countries, a comparison which is "not accurate, non-objective and not viable," Asad noted.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria referendum goes ahead amid military onslaught
 

Sun 26/02/2012 12:22

NNA - 26/02/2012 (Reuters) - Explosions shook several embattled Syrian cities on Sunday before polls opened for a vote on a new constitution that could keep President Bashar al-Assad in power until 2028.
Human rights campaigners reported blasts in Homs, Hama, Deir al-Zor, Deraa and some smaller towns caught up in an almost year-long uprising against four decades of Assad family rule.
Syrian television said voting had begun in the referendum on a constitution which Assad says will lead to a multi-party parliamentary election in three months, but which his opponents see as a sick joke given the violence convulsing the country.
"No one is going to vote," said activist Omar on Saturday from the rebel-held Baba Amro district of Homs, which Assad's forces have bombarded and besieged for more than three weeks.
"This was a constitution made to Bashar's tastes and meanwhile we are getting shelled and killed," he said. "More than 40 people were killed today and you want us to vote?"

The security forces killed at least 100 people, including six women and 10 children, across Syria on Saturday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said in a statement.
The Syrian government, backed by Russia, China and Iran, and undeterred by Western and Arab pressure to halt the carnage, says it is fighting foreign-backed "armed terrorist groups".
Its onslaught on parts of Homs has created harrowing conditions for civilians and rebels.
A video posted by activists on YouTube showed Mohammad al-Mohammad, a doctor at a makeshift clinic in Baba Amro, holding a 15-year-old boy hit in the neck by shrapnel and spitting blood.
"It is late at night and Baba Amro is still being bombarded. We can do nothing for this boy," said the doctor, who has also been treating Western journalists wounded in the city.
American correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in the bombardment of Homs last week and other Western journalists in the city were wounded. The group is still trapped there despite Red Cross efforts to extract them.


 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Libya and France boost military cooperation
 

Sun 26/02/2012 11:44

NNA - 26/02/2012 (Reuters) - Libya and France have agreed to look into boosting maritime security and controlling the North African country's borders, their defence ministers said on Saturday.
On a visit to Tripoli, French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet met his Libyan counterpart Osama al-Juwali to discuss the issues and sign a letter of intent to boost cooperation.
Foreign states are worried about the Libyan interim government's capacity to secure its Mediterranean coast, which could be used as a gateway into Europe for arms traffickers, al Qaeda insurgents and illegal migrants.
The Libyan conflict has also created new problems for the fragile region to its south.
Regional governments have warned that instability in Libya after the end of Muammar Gaddafi's rule is allowing weapons taken from Gaddafi's arsenal to fall into the hands of al Qaeda's north African branch and other insurgent groups across the Sahara desert.
"Libya's strategic position joining Africa with the Mediterranean makes it an exposed territory. We have decided to put in a place a working Franco-Libyan committee to look at all these points," Longuet told a joint news conference.
"This will bring together military staff, engineers, technicians and diplomats who will work on these issues. Cooperation between Libya and France is a long-term project."
Two French warships arrived at Tripoli's port last month carrying navy crewmen to train the Libyan navy and help demine oil ports. The ministers said a number of Libyan divers would be trained by France.
Juwali thanked France for the leading role it took in backing last year's rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi's rule.
"The cooperation between France and Libya is developing day by day," he said. "They have expressed their readiness to give us the necessary technical advice to secure our borders."
In December, French army chief of staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud said France was ready to offer military training to Libya and was examining ways to boost its co-operation with the new government.
Longuet also met the chairman of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Anti-Nahda Demonstration Rocks Tunis
 

Sat 25/02/2012 16:14

NNA - 25/02/2012 - A multi-thousand-strong demonstration took to Tunisia's main Habeeb Bourgeeba thoroughfare in protest against Nahda-led government inaction vis-a-vis inflation and generally bad financial situation today.

Amid tight police security, mainly protesting workers backed by secular students marched against Hammad al-Jamali's Nahda-led government accusing it of crackdown on labour syndicates while doing nothing to remedy a worsening economic situation.
Protesters urged Jamali and allies from the Congress for the Republic party to step down. They were restoring the honour of workers' syndicates by voicing their disenchantment at the present situation they exclaimed.

Left-wing organizations reiterated in public statements issued today, full support for striking municipal workers who reportedly came under systematic attacks by Nahda thugs for a week or so now. Syndicate offices were also littered by garbage by those same thugs neutral observers here confirmed.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Yemen's Hadi takes oath as car bomb kills 26 in south
 

Sat 25/02/2012 14:43

NNA - 25/02/2012 (Reuters) - Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi became Yemen's new president on Saturday, formally removing autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh from power, as a car bombing in the south of the country underscored the violence that will be the new leader's greatest challenge.
The car loaded with explosives killed at least 26 people and injured dozens when it was driven towards a presidential palace in the southern Yemeni city of Hadramout, far from the capital Sanaa where Hadi was sworn in.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Yemen's Hadi takes oath, replaces Saleh as president
 

Sat 25/02/2012 11:36

NNA - 25/02/2012(Reuters) - Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took the constitutional oath to become Yemen's new president on Saturday, formally removing Ali Abdullah Saleh from power after a year of protests that paralysed the impoverished Arabian Peninsular country.
Hadi, who stood as the sole candidate to replace Saleh in a power transfer deal brokered by Gulf neighbours and backed by Western powers, was voted in after more than 60 percent of eligible voters had taken part in an election this week.
Saleh's departure makes him the fourth Arab autocrat to be removed from power in more than a year of mass uprisings that have redrawn the political map of the Middle East.
After taking the oath, Hadi said in a speech that Yemen must draw a line under the crisis and tackle pressing issues such as Yemen's economic problems and bringing those displaced by the crisis back to their homes.
"If we don't deal with challenges practically, then chaos will reign," Hadi said.
Yemen's richer neighbours, led by Saudi Arabia, crafted the power transfer, also backed by Washington and a U.N. Security Council resolution, to ease out Saleh, who had ruled Yemen for 33 years. There are fears that chaos in Yemen could empower the country's branch of al Qaeda near major oil shipping routes.
Hadi now is tasked with overseeing a proposed two-year political transition that envisions parliamentary elections, a new constitution and restructuring of the military in which Saleh's son and nephew still hold power.
The international community described the oath as a key step forward.
"Yemenis want an end to the crisis, and to turn a new page. Now it's time to rebuild, for consensus and concord... and to bring people into an inclusive political process," said Jamal Benomar, U.N. envoy to Yemen.
The U.S. ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, said: "We are seeing the beginning of a process that I believe will deliver great results over the next two years."
Hadi's inauguration ceremony is scheduled for Monday, which Saleh is to attend. Saleh returned to Yemen on Friday after seeking treatment in the United States for injuries suffered in a assassination attempt last year.
A high election turnout was deemed crucial to Hadi's legitimacy, but the vote was rejected in advance in wide swathes of the country, notably the south, where secessionists urged a boycott.
One of the poorest countries in the Middle East, Yemen had already been fractured before the revolt against Saleh's rule, with separatists in the south, Shi'ite rebels in the north and an active wing of al Qaeda.
Some 42 percent of the population of 23 million live on less than �2 per day in a land where tribal loyalties remain central to society.
"If Abd-Rabbu Hadi doesn't rein in the mashayikh (tribal notables) then we'd be better off with Ali Abdullah Saleh," said Amin al-Sharaby, 24, after gunmen loyal to a tribal leader scuffled with bystanders outside door of parliament, and beat a man with the butts of their rifles.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Medical evacuation of women, children from Homs underway-ICRC
 

Fri 24/02/2012 21:22

NNA - 24/02/2012 (Reuters) - The Syrian Arab Red Crescent on Friday began evacuating wounded or sick women and children from the Baba Amro district of the besieged city of Homs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
"Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams have started evacuating women and and children, the operation is underway," ICRC chief spokeswoman Carla Haddad told Reuters in Geneva. "The evacuation operation started with SARC ambulances that entered Baba Amro."
"It's a first step forward," she said.
There was no immediate information from the humanitarian agency's teams on the ground as to whether wounded foreign journalists were among them, she said.


 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - "Friends of Syria" echo solemn appeal to end Assad's rule
 

Fri 24/02/2012 19:55

NNA - 24/05/2012 - Western and Arab nations gathered on Friday in a plea to have Syrian President Bashar al-Assad halt his 11-month-old crackdown on the opposition and allow aid to be delivered to desperate civilians trapped by the escalating violence.

Foreign ministers from more than 50 countries were in the Tunisian capital for the "Friends of Syria" inaugural meeting, against the backdrop of a surge in attacks on the city of Homs and mounting world outrage over violence that has killed thousands of people so far.

Saudi Arabia's delegation walked-out of the "Friends of Syria" due to what it saw as the gathering's "inactivity", Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said.

It said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal left the meeting after saying in a speech that focusing on humanitarian aid to Syria was "not enough".
At the sidelines of the conference, he noted that arming Syria's opposition would be an excellent idea, saying that was a substantial need for them to protect themselves.

In turn, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on the world to find ways to deny the Syrian government "the means with which to perpetrate atrocities against the Syrian people".

"We must seek ways and means of enforcing an arms embargo upon the regime," Davutoglu told the "Friends of Syria" group.

He said a significant number of countries taking part in the meeting, including Turkey, had already put into effect such measures, but a broader effort was needed, Reuters reported.

Qatar, also attending the "Friends of Syria" meeting, expressed hope that this meeting would be a start to a much-desired decline in violence sweeping Syria, supporting proposals to send an Arab-International Force to preserve peace in Syria.

Present delegates said that with efforts to end the violence through the United Nations blocked by Russia and China, the aim of the meeting was to challenge Assad to let in aid and to lay the groundwork for an eventual handover of power in Syria.

"Confronted by the crimes committed against humanity, it is the duty of the international community to reinforce the pressure on the Syrian regime," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told the meeting.

"Bashar al-Assad has taken the terrible decision to drown the aspirations of his own people in blood. He therefore carries a heavy responsibility before history."

The "Friends of Syria" were unlikely to publicly endorse the supply of arms because their public position is that they want a negotiated solution, Reuters reported.

A draft of the declaration to be issued at the meeting called on Syria to "immediately cease all violence" to allow the United Nations access to Homs, and to let agencies deliver aid to civilians affected by the violence.

The "Friends of Syria" pledged, in the latest version of the draft seen by Reuters, to deliver humanitarian supplies within 48 hours if Syria's government "stopped its assault on civilian areas and permitted access."

The draft "Friends of Syria" communique calls for further diplomatic pressure on Assad to step down and endorse an Arab League plan that would see him handing power to a deputy as a prelude to elections.

The group will also commit to enforce sanctions aimed at pressuring the Syrian authorities to halt violence, according to the draft declaration.

These include travel bans, asset freezes, a halt to purchases of Syrian oil, ceasing infrastructure investment and financial services relating to Syria, reducing diplomatic ties and preventing arms shipments to the Syrian government.

Juppe said the European Union would freeze the assets of Syria's central bank from Feb 27, Reuters reported.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - China ready to change stance on Syria, Al-Marzuqi
 

Fri 24/02/2012 15:26

NNA - 24/2/2012 - Tunisia's Al-Munsif Al-Marzuqi on Friday said China is now ready to change its position regarding Syria, calling to wield more pressure on Russia.

"We must continue to exert pressure on Russia's friends as well because there is truly evidence on China's willing to change its position vis-a-vis Syria," he said.

He added that the world could no more stand cross-handed before "massacres" in Syria.

He ruled out any military solution in the unrest-swept nation, warning that gearing up the Syrian opposition would only increase violence.

R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - On-the-ground events in Syria beef up world polarizations
 

Wed 22/02/2012 17:47

NNA - 22/2/2012 - The International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday it is carrying on contact with anyone wielding influence in Syria in order to clinch cease-fire, in an effort to help humanitarian aid reach civilians.

The ICRC called yesterday both belligerent parties in the unrest-swept nation to allow a two-hour truce on a daily basis so as to enable supplies to reach civilians.

Concerns continue to spiral over the humanitarian conditions in Syria, hitherto jolted by an 11-month crisis.

But the correspondent of Lebanese state-run National News Agency in Damascus, Joumana Khoury, today said that Syria has sent several letters to the ICRC, the UN, and the Human Rights Council, hereby clarifying that the Syrian government had paid special heed to the health sector, through 124 public hospitals, 1919 dispensaries, and 387 private hospitals.

"Health institutions affiliated to the Ministry of Public Health have provided for the last nine months more than 30 million health services, whereby they opened their doors to nearly 4.5 million patients. Health centers, for their part, have offered more than 24 million related services," the letters indicated.

But they noted that the sanctions tightened by the US, Europe, and some Arab states led to a shortage in imported medical goods and equipments.

Nonetheless, the West persists adamantly to slam the 11-year rule of embattled Syrian President, Bashar Assad, especially after two journalists, French photographer Remi Ochlik and American reporter Marie Colvin, were killed earlier today in the war-torn city of Homs.

The killing drew ire of both France and the UK.

British Foreign Minister, William Hague, today called to multiply efforts to cease what he termed as "Assad's intimidation campaign." President Nicolas Sarkozy, for his part, saw it was about time for the Syrian President to leave power.

However, Syria denied knowledge of the presence of the deceased journalists on its territory.

Syrian Information Minister, Adnan Mahmoud, today said that the Ministry had no information about the access of the American reporter and the French photographer to the country.

In turn, Russia said this appalling incident highlights the necessity that the parties to the conflict in Syria must immediately cease fire trade.

Earlier today, Russia said it upheld the ICRC appeal to agree a daily truce to enable aid to reach civilians.

Spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexandre Loukachevitch, said Russia was concerned over "the reports on the stiff humanitarian condition in Syria."

He stressed that the ICRC truce is supposed to aim to help the Syrian people, at a time when Russia demurs on establishing humanitarian corridors in Syria. "This would only exacerbate the conflict," Russia argues.

Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexandre Zasypkin, said yesterday Russia suggested that the UN dispatch an envoy to coordinate with the Syrian government in that respect, as Russia fears that flocking humanitarian aid into Syria would be embedding hidden goals to tamper with national sovereignty and establish unauthorized zones.

Russia, Syria's strong ally who had vetoed in October a West European draft resolution at the Security Council threatening sanctions, also announced yesterday that it would not participate in the "Friends of Syria" meeting.

A Western and Arab-backed contact group is scheduled to meet in Tunisia on Friday to lobby for gleaning international support for the Syrian opposition.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - On-the-ground events in Syria beef up world polarizations
 

Wed 22/02/2012 17:47

NNA - 22/2/2012 - The International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday it is carrying on contact with anyone wielding influence in Syria in order to clinch cease-fire, in an effort to help humanitarian aid reach civilians.

The ICRC called yesterday both belligerent parties in the unrest-swept nation to allow a two-hour truce on a daily basis so as to enable supplies to reach civilians.

Concerns continue to spiral over the humanitarian conditions in Syria, hitherto jolted by an 11-month crisis.

But the correspondent of Lebanese state-run National News Agency in Damascus, Joumana Khoury, today said that Syria has sent several letters to the ICRC, the UN, and the Human Rights Council, hereby clarifying that the Syrian government had paid special heed to the health sector, through 124 public hospitals, 1919 dispensaries, and 387 private hospitals.

"Health institutions affiliated to the Ministry of Public Health have provided for the last nine months more than 30 million health services, whereby they opened their doors to nearly 4.5 million patients. Health centers, for their part, have offered more than 24 million related services," the letters indicated.

But they noted that the sanctions tightened by the US, Europe, and some Arab states led to a shortage in imported medical goods and equipments.

Nonetheless, the West persists adamantly to slam the 11-year rule of embattled Syrian President, Bashar Assad, especially after two journalists, French photographer Remi Ochlik and American reporter Marie Colvin, were killed earlier today in the war-torn city of Homs.

The killing drew ire of both France and the UK.

British Foreign Minister, William Hague, today called to multiply efforts to cease what he termed as "Assad's intimidation campaign." President Nicolas Sarkozy, for his part, saw it was about time for the Syrian President to leave power.

However, Syria denied knowledge of the presence of the deceased journalists on its territory.

Syrian Information Minister, Adnan Mahmoud, today said that the Ministry had no information about the access of the American reporter and the French photographer to the country.

In turn, Russia said this appalling incident highlights the necessity that the parties to the conflict in Syria must immediately cease fire trade.

Earlier today, Russia said it upheld the ICRC appeal to agree a daily truce to enable aid to reach civilians.

Spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexandre Loukachevitch, said Russia was concerned over "the reports on the stiff humanitarian condition in Syria."

He stressed that the ICRC truce is supposed to aim to help the Syrian people, at a time when Russia demurs on establishing humanitarian corridors in Syria. "This would only exacerbate the conflict," Russia argues.

Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexandre Zasypkin, said yesterday Russia suggested that the UN dispatch an envoy to coordinate with the Syrian government in that respect, as Russia fears that flocking humanitarian aid into Syria would be embedding hidden goals to tamper with national sovereignty and establish unauthorized zones.

Russia, Syria's strong ally who had vetoed in October a West European draft resolution at the Security Council threatening sanctions, also announced yesterday that it would not participate in the "Friends of Syria" meeting.

A Western and Arab-backed contact group is scheduled to meet in Tunisia on Friday to lobby for gleaning international support for the Syrian opposition.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad: Armed terrorist groups receive support from foreign sides
 

Mon 20/02/2012 18:17

NNA - 20/2/2012 Syrian President Bashar Assad stressed that armed terrorist groups receive support in "money and arms" from foreign sides, in the aim of shaking Syria's stability, according to official SANA News Agency.
"What is currently taking place aims at shaking Syria's stability and aborting any endeavor to reach a solution, notably after the accomplishment of reforms," SANA quoted Assad as saying during his reception on Monday of Russian Duma Council Foreign Relations Committee Head Alexi Boshkov.
Assad expressed appreciation of Russia's positions towards Syria, especially its concern about having a closer look at what is currently taking place in the country.
--------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved



 

Regional - Egypt recalls its ambassador to Syria - TV
 

Sun 19/02/2012 13:49

NNA - 19/02/2012 (Reuters) - Egypt recalled its ambassador to Damascus, state television said on Sunday, in what appeared to be the latest step in a series of Arab diplomatic moves to intensify pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, who is trying to crush a popular uprising in Syria.
State news agency MENA said the decision was made after a visit from Egypt's ambassador Shawky Ismail to Cairo. The foreign ministry decided to keep him in the Egyptian capital "until further notice."
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Prosecutor general, judge killed in Syria
 

Sun 19/02/2012 11:47

NNA - 19/02/2012 A small armed group murdered Sunday Attorney General of Edleb (Syria), Nidal Ghazal, and judge Mohammad Ziade.
The car the two men were in was targeted by gunfire near Hossam Hijazi school in the Dobayet neighborhood. They were killed instantly along with their driver.
An armed group assassinated Saturday council member of Aleppo, Jamal el-Besh, in the locality of Sfeira in Aleppo.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iranian warships en route
 

Sat 18/02/2012 13:30

NNA - 18/02/2012 - A number of warships reportedly crossed the Swiss Canal en route to the Mediterranean Sea, Admiral Habibullah Siyari of the Admiralty in Tehran announced today. He did not specify the number of ships crossing the canal but indicated that the purpose is to flex Iranian muscle against world arrogance namely the US and Israel.

Observers counted however, a battle ship and a logistical support surface vessel passing through the canal.

G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - China envoy meets Assad, backs Syria election plan
 

Sat 18/02/2012 13:21

NNA - 18/02/2012 (Reuters) - China said on Saturday it backed President Bashar al-Assad's plans for a referendum and multi-party elections to resolve the Syria crisis, a show of support against world condemnation of the Syrian leader's crackdown on a popular uprising.
After meeting Assad in Damascus, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun also called for an immediate end to the violence by all sides in the 11-month-old conflict.
Assad announced his plan on Wednesday for a referendum on a new constitution on Feb. 26 followed by a multi-party election. The Syrian opposition and the West swiftly dismissed it as sham.
"We hope that the referendum on the constitution and the parliamentary elections take place in a continuous way," Zhai said, according to Syrian state television monitored in Beirut.
"China supports the path of reform taking place in Syria and the important steps that have been taken in this respect."
The Chinese state news agency Xinhua highlighted Zhai's comments that China was "deeply concerned by the escalating crisis and wanted the government and various political factions in the country to end all acts of violence against civilians".
The Syrian report quoted him as saying: "The Chinese experience shows a nation cannot develop without stability".

China and Russia have been Assad's most important international defenders during the crackdown which has killed several thousand people and divided world powers. The United Nations, the United States, Europe, Turkey and Arab powers want Assad to step down and have condemned the ferocious repression.
Beijing and Moscow vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on Feb. 4 calling on Assad to quit and also voted against a similar, non-binding General Assembly resolution on Thursday.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - White House urges more transparency by Libyan leaders
 

Fri 17/02/2012 20:44

NNA - 17/02/2012 (Reuters) - The White House called on Libya's new leaders on Friday to be more transparent in their decisions and respect the rights of all Libyans in a message marking the first anniversary of the revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.
Acknowledging that democracy will take time to build, President Barack Obama's press secretary Jay Carney emphasized that oil-producing Libya's natural wealth could now be invested for the benefit of the entire nation.
"The Transitional National Council and government should take full advantage of this historic moment by making decisions openly and transparently," Carney said in a statement, which also repeated Washington's promise assist the country.
The Council has struggled to impose its authority across a country, where heavily armed militias enforce law on the ground and answer first to their own local commanders despite avowed loyalty to the central authorities.
"The revolutionaries who fought so hard for liberty now have a responsibility to protect their freedoms by working with the government to establish stability, peace, and reconciliation," Carney said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Chinese vice FM in Syria meets officials, oppositionists
 

Fri 17/02/2012 20:41

NNA - 17/02/2012 Vice Foreign Minister of China began Friday an official two-day-visit to Syria to discuss with high-ranking officials and opposition groups current crisis.

Uprising in Syria, progressing well towards its first year, demanded ousting of President Bashar Assad. The popular revolt was met with a violent crackdown, amid regime claims of terrorist groups instigating the hostilities. Assad found strong support in his Russian and Chinese allies.

Zhai Jun, the special envoy of the Chinese government and Vice FM, is scheduled to meet his Syrian counterpart, Faysal Mouqdad, tonight, and Syrian FM, Walid Moualem, on Saturday. The Chinese official plans to convene as well with delegations from Syrian opposition at the Chinese embassy in Damascus.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad: Reform and stability should be inseparable
 

Fri 17/02/2012 18:45

NNA - 17/2/2012 Syrian President Bashar Assad considered that political reforms in Syria should accompany stability, SANA Official News Agency quoted him as saying.

President Assad's words came during his meeting with Mauritanian Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf in Damascus on Friday.

"Political reform steps undertaken by the state should go parallel with the restoration of security and stability and citizens' protection," Assad stressed.

Laghdaf, for his part, underlined the importance of stability in Syria, considering Syria's stability as crucial for the security and stability of Arab countries and the region.

"The aim behind what is currently taking place is fragmenting Syria and quelling its historic, leading role in the region," Laghdaf said.

Laghdaf also conveyed a letter to Asaad from his Mauritanian counterpart, whose content has not been disclosed.
----------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrians to vote on Constitution on Feb. 26
 

Wed 15/02/2012 17:00

NNA - 15/2/2012 - Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday issued a decree hereby fixing forthcoming February 26 a date for the referendum over the newly drafted Syrian Constitution.

This step earned welcoming from Russia, Syria's strong ally, whereby Russian Foreign Minister said the new draft Constitution was a step forward.

Speaking following his meeting today with his Dutch counterpart in The Hague, Sergei Lavrov said the bids to isolate Syria were a huge mistake.

"Unfortunately, some of our partners gave up on the Syrian government long time ago, and instead of dialogue, there is an attempt to isolate the Syrian government," he said.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Bomber targets Yemen election committee office

 

Tue 14/02/2012 11:18

NNA - 14/02/2012 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a Yemeni election committee office in the southern port city of Aden early on Tuesday, a security official said, one week before an election to replace outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The official said the unidentified bomber was wearing an explosive belt that detonated before he reached the election committee building in the Crater district of Aden, killing him instantly but injuring no one.
The attack was the latest sign of opposition to the Feb. 21 vote, rejected by southern separatists, northern Shi'ite rebels and Islamist militants emboldened by political upheaval that has weakened central government control over swathes of Yemen.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Alarabi, Merkel to dwell on Mideast juncture
 

Mon 13/02/2012 19:39

NNA - 13/2/2012 - Arab League's Nabil Alarabi will head today to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel over latest developments in the Middle East.

The pair is also scheduled to engage in the current situation in Palestine and Syria.

Alarabi will brief Merkel over the Arab League's decisions on Syria, following the Arab ministries' meeting in Cairo yesterday.

R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - KSA calls for strict measures regarding Syria
 

Mon 13/02/2012 17:52

NNA - 13/2/2012 - The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia highlighted Monday the necessity to adopt stern measures regarding the crisis in Syria and welcomed Tunisia's call to host "Syria's Friends Conference."

"The cabinet underlined the necessity to take strict measures after all half-solutions failed to cease massacres in Syria," Saudi Minister of Social Affairs and Information said today, following the cabinet's weekly session, chaired by King Abdullah Ben Abdul Aziz.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria berates Arab League decisions
 

Mon 13/02/2012 15:14

NNA - 13/2/2012 - Syria renewed on Monday rejection of fresh decisions by the Arab League and deemed them as blatant interference in the Syrian domestic affairs.

The Arab League agreed Sunday to instigate communication with the Syrian opposition and to ask the United Nations to form a joint peacekeeping force to oversee the implementation of a cease-fire in the unrest-swept nation.

"Syria rejects the decisions of the Arab League's ministerial council on the situation in Syria, considering that they are a blatant interference in [Syrian] internal affairs and a violation of national sovereignty," Syria's state-run news agency, SANA, said today.

"Yesterday's decisions again unearthed the conspiracy scheme designed by some Arab states through undermining the role of the Arab League in solving the crisis, with a view to internationalization," it added.

R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Asad's "Draft Constitution"
 

Sun 12/02/2012 17:15

NNA - 12/02/2012 - Asad's "Draft-Constitution" constitutionally-speaking has been submitted to him at his Damascus presidential palace, Qadri Jamil who helped produce the 185-article-document disclosed today.

Jamil added that a major consensus reached between all 28 editors of the Constitution would help put the document to a general referendum upcoming March. Asad who thanked committee members commissioned to write his new constitution, felt quite satisfied with the outcome, the Baathist official said.

On the future leading role of the Baath party in running both state and society, Jamil added that the provision would be diluted while the article stipulating the president's religious faith would be observed or remain basically unchanged in the new document.

Asad notably decreed the formation of an ad-hoc committee for drafting a new constitution last October of 2011.

G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Al-Makdissi: We understand the Lebanese particularity
 

Sat 11/02/2012 23:47

NNA - 11/2/2012 - In a press conference Saturday afternoon, Syrian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Jihad Al-Makdissi, told Arab and foreign press correspondents that Syria needs and urges Lebanon to play a greater role, in light of the significant and brotherly ties between the Lebanese and Syrian people. "We understand the Lebanese particularity, which is the self-distancing policy declared continuously," said Al-Makdissi, hoping that said policy would be positive.
Over incidents occurring in the North of Lebanon, namely in the region of "Tabaneh and Jabal Mohsen," Al-Makdissi considered that whenever a faction that is in opposition to Syria plunges into internal Syria, then this would have negative impact on pro-Syrian factions.
Al-Makdissi went on to state that, "Saudi Arabia's position towards Syria is not positive and is supportive to fighting in Syria." He added, "Qatar's card has been exhausted and is now in need of a wider umbrella, which is that of Saudi Arabia." Al-Makdissi indicated that the Syrian Embassy in Qatar has been closed and the Syrian Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been recalled. Furthermore, he stated that Syrian Ambassadors to Tunisia and Libya have also been summoned back to Syria, and similarly, Tunisia and Libya have been asked to recall their Ambassadors from Syria within 72 hours.
Regarding the German accusations towards the Syrian Embassy in Germany, Al-Makdissi denied any truthful grounds to such accusations, pointing out that no embassy can adopt any non-diplomatic arrangements.
As for the British Ambassador to Damascus, Al-Makdissi disclosed that he shall be returning on the 18th of the current month, in accordance with the British Foreign Ministry's memorandum to the Syrian Foreign Ministry in this respect.
Regarding the Arab monitors' mission, Al-Makdissi declared that Syria has received no official news of their return. "We are awaiting upcoming Sunday, which shall finalize this issue," Al-Makdissi noted, adding that Syria shall have its say in case the mission returns once again to Damascus.
Moreover, Al-Makdissi called on the opposition in Syrian to unite together and return to the table of dialogue, which is open to all. He explained that the regime has really changed in the wake of a series of reform steps that have been introduced and implemented, most importantly the Constitution which shall be declared soon, he noted. "Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad speaks of Syrian today as the: Renewed Syria," said Al-Makdissi.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Egyptian Civil Disobedience Day!
 

Sat 11/02/2012 17:04

N.N.A. Feb. 11,2012 Pro-Democracy protesters organized an Egyptian Day of Civil Disobedience against military rule and Muslim Brotherhood supporters in downtown Tahrir (Liberation) Square and Cairo university campuses.

They clamored for an immediate rule of law, social justice and dignity amid calls on the military to hand over power to the civilians. Secular-democratic worker and student protesters hinted they might escalate their anti-Brotherhood/military dictatorship struggle in a bid to end oppression and exploitation.

A tiny group of Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers staged a counter-demonstration under army protection against the backdrop of threats of a nationwide military crackdown on dissenters dismayed by the present state of affairs in Egypt.

The military for their part, said they would not hesitate to crackdown on what they termed as outside-inspired domestic conspirators acting against their own army and country.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iran to announce nuclear progress-Ahmadinejad
 

Sat 11/02/2012 15:30

NNA - 11/02/2012 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday the Islamic Republic would soon announce "very important" achievements in the nuclear field, state TV reported.
He was speaking on the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Tens of thousands of Iranians joined state-organised rallies across the country to mark the occasion.
Demonstrators carrying Iranian flags and pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America".
"In the coming days the world will witness Iran's announcement of its very important and very major nuclear achievements," Ahmadinejad told a crowd at Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square in a speech relayed live on state television.
He gave no details.
Tension with the West over Iran's disputed nuclear work has risen in recent weeks. The United States and its European allies have imposed new sanctions to try to force Tehran back to talks before it produces enough nuclear material for an atomic bomb.
Iran says its nuclear programme has only peaceful purposes.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Military hospital director gunned down in Damascus
 

Sat 11/02/2012 13:19

NNA - 11/02/2012 Director of Hamish Military Hospital in Damascus was assassinated by anonymous gunmen Saturday morning, NNA correspondent reported.

Three armed men awaited Brigadier Doctor Issa Khouly in front of his home as he left to work this morning. Khouly was shot to death in Rakan al Deen street in the Syrian capital.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Internationl - Uzbek man guilty of plotting to kill President Obama
 

Sat 11/02/2012 11:32

NNA - 11/02/2012 (Reuters) - A man from Uzbekistan living illegally in the United States pleaded guilty on Friday to terrorism and weapons charges involving a plot to kill President Barack Obama.
According to court evidence, defendant Ulugbek Kodirov believed he was acting on behalf of an Islamist militant group in his homeland and was plotting to shoot Obama while the president campaigned for re-election this year.
Kodirov 22, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Alabama, to three charges as part of an agreement that spares him from a potential life sentence.
He still faced up to 30 years in prison and �750,000 in fines for providing material support for terrorist activity, being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and threatening to assassinate the president.
Four other charges against him were dropped, and mainly involved additional threats to kill Obama.
U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon set sentencing for May 17.
Kodirov came to the United States in 2009 to study medicine and his student visa was revoked in April 2010 after he failed to enroll in school, investigators said.
He "self-radicalized" through Internet research and sought like-minded individuals, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said.
Kodirov met a mentor he called "Emir," whom he believed to be a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an Islamist militant group the United States has designated as a foreign terrorist organization.
Kodirov conversed with the man and decided to kill the president, according to court evidence.
He determined that the upcoming 2012 campaign would be an opportune time to either shoot the president with a sniper's rifle or shoot him up close, according to evidence read by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Whisonant.
"He did not care if he got shot and killed as long as he killed the president," Whisonant said.
Kodirov was arrested in July at an Alabama motel where he had obtained a fully automatic machine gun and four hand grenades from an undercover agent. "He was attempting to obtain weapons and explosives that he intended to use to kill the President of the United States," Vance said.
According to his plea agreement, Kodirov also showed jihadist Web sites and videos on his computer to another individual and told that person he wanted to assist others in jihad overseas. He also had lengthy conversations with another person about killing Obama, and that person introduced him to the undercover agent.
Vance said members of the local Muslim community were instrumental in thwarting the threat to the president, but did not give specifics. "We have warm relations with the Muslim community - they also want a safe place to live and raise their children," said Vance.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian regime demands Security Council combat terrorism
 

Fri 10/02/2012 20:52

NNA - 10/02/2012 Syrian Foreign Ministry addressed Friday United Nations, Arab League and others with stern letters demanding a halt for all support to "terror groups" killing innocent citizens daily.

Two powerful car bombs ripped through Aleppo today killing at least 25. Bashar Assad's regime blamed foreign-backed terrorists of the assault.

The regime sent letters to UN Secretary General, Head of the Security Council, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Secretary General of the Arab League and the Human Rights Council in Geneva describing Aleppo's bombs as part of an evil campaign hatched by the dark forces against Syria.

"Syria confirms its right to protect its citizens and battle terrorism and violence," read the letter, "[Syria] demands the Security Council assume responsibility in fighting terrorism and carry out its resolutions in this regard."

Assad's regime went on to denounce any country which harbored terrorist groups and demanded their extradition under international law.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - 'Free Syrian Army' declares responsibility for Halab blasts
 

Fri 10/02/2012 14:47

NNA - 10/2/2012 - Deserter General Aref Hammoud declared the responsibility of the "Free Syrian Army" for Halab blasts Friday.

"'The Free Syrian Army' is responsible for the two operations which targeted the military security branch and the headquarters of regime forces in Halab," he told France 24 radio station today, adding that the military security branch operation was coordinated with deserter members inside the building.

Two booby-trapped cars exploded this morning in Halab, targeting two security buildings and causing human casualties.

R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Hague: International Community seeks to tighten grip on Asad's regime
 

Thu 9/02/2012 23:25

NNA - 9/2/202 - British Foreign Minster William Hague has indicated that exerted efforts by the international community to end the escalating situation in Syria are being intensified, on a regular basis, for the sake of tightening the grip more and more on Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad's regime, both diplomatically and economically.
In a statement to the BBC World Service Television, Hague denied the existence of any outside interferences in Syrian affairs. He added that no military intervention is possible except by a UN International Council decision, like in the case of Libya. However, Hague went on to explain that the Syrian case is more complicated, since Syria shares its borders with Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Israel; thus, rendering it difficult to predict the outcome of any adopted move, he noted.
Furthermore, Hague pointed to the international community's worry towards Syria; nevertheless, he indicated that action in this respect requires additional efforts for the sake of forming an international front, and placing huge diplomatic and economic pressures on the Syrian regime.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Ahmadinejad for Assad all the way
 

Thu 9/02/2012 13:09

NNA - 09/02/2012 Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated full support for Bashar Assad of Syria in his war against the Americans and the Israelis, Tehran-based presidential website announced Thursday.

Ahmadinejad's utterance came during Syrian Grand Mufti Badruddeen Hassoun's visit to the Iranian capital when the president stated future apprehensions regarding what he termed as "U.S.-allied efforts at breaking the regional Hezbollah line in order to salvage the Zionist regime." Ahmadinejad expressed confidence that America and Israel may well be resisted through unity of Muslim ranks and by showing enough wisdom.

The senior Syrian cleric, currently attending an "Islamic Unity Conference," conveyed to Ahmadinejad Assad's gratitude for Iranian endeavors to shore-up his regime.
G.G.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Ban: Arabs, U.N. could send joint mission to Syria
 

Thu 9/02/2012 12:12

NNA - 09/02/2012 (AFP) The Arab League and United Nations may send a joint observer mission to Syria where the government's deadly crackdown could worsen, U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

Ban launched the idea as he bemoaned the U.N. Security Council's failure to agree a resolution on the crisis, saying the vote had been "disastrous" for the Syrian people and had only encouraged President Bashar Assad to step up his "war" on opponents.

Diplomats said careful preparation would be needed, however, before an Arab League-U.N. mission could go ahead.

Ban and Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi spoke on Tuesday. The League suspended its monitoring mission to Syria on January 28 because of the mounting violence.

"He informed me that he intends to send the Arab League observer mission back to Syria and asked for U.N. help," Ban told reporters after briefing a U.N. Security Council meeting.

"He further suggested that we consider a joint observer mission in Syria, including a joint special envoy."

The U.N. leader said consultations would be held with the Arab League and U.N. Security Council members in coming days "before fleshing out the details.�

The U.N. secretary general said he feared the violence would worsen and launched into a new attack on the divided 15-member Security Council. Russia and China again vetoed a Syria resolution on Saturday.

"I deeply regret that the Security Council has been unable to speak with one clear voice to end the bloodshed," he said.

"The failure to do so is disastrous for the people of Syria. It has encouraged the Syrian government to step up its war on its own people. Thousands have been killed in cold blood, shredding President Assad�s claims to speak for the Syrian people."

He said the "appalling brutality" of the government's artillery assault on the protest city of Homs "is a grim harbinger of worse to come."

Western nations have called for Assad to stand aside and the Arab League has also proposed a plan under which he would transfer powers to a deputy to allow new elections. But Russia has stood by Assad.

"If this killing continues, it will only erode his legitimacy as leader of Syria," Ban said when asked if Assad should stand down.

"I have been repeatedly saying that he�s losing legitimacy as the leader of Syria. Therefore, it is important to take bold and decisive measures. The situation has reached a totally unacceptable stage."

The international community has been floundering over the next step to take on Syria after Russia and China vetoed the latest Security Council resolution. Russia called the text drawn up by Arab and European nations "unbalanced.�

Diplomats have said the idea of a joint Arab League-U.N. mission could increase pressure on Assad but would have to be considered along with other proposals.

"The Arab League-U.N. mission will have to be discussed with a lot more detail before it can be agreed," said one Security Council diplomat.

"We want to support the Arab League," added a second diplomat, who said the international community would want to be sure that the mission would "make a difference."

Since the second veto of a Security Council resolution in four months, the European Union and United States are considering toughening their sanctions on the Assad government. Some countries are considering taking the failed Security Council resolution to the full U.N. General Assembly where it could not be vetoed. This would only apply symbolic pressure however.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - U.S. drone strike kills four in NW Pakistan - officials
 

Thu 9/02/2012 12:09

NNA - 09/02/2012 (REUTERS) A U.S. drone attack in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghanistan border killed four suspected militants on Thursday, intelligence officials said, the second such attack in two days.
The unacknowledged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drone programme, a key element of the U.S. counter-terrorism strategy in the region, was apparently halted after a November NATO cross-border air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, sparking fury in Pakistan.

On Thursday, an unmanned drone fired two missiles at a house believed to be a militant hideout near a market in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan.
"Taliban fighters had started hiding here in rented buildings and those killed are believed to be militants," one official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Officials said the death toll could rise because of damage to buildings next to the one targeted by the drone.
On Wednesday, a drone strike on another alleged hideout in a village near Miranshah killed 10 suspected militants.
Several militant groups, including the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda, have a presence in Pakistan's border tribal regions, taking advantage of a porous border with Afghanistan to conduct cross-border attacks, or plot violence elsewhere.
North Waziristan is also an important base for the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, an Afghan militant faction allied with the Taliban, which the United States says is one of its deadliest adversaries in Afghanistan.
While the Haqqanis say they no longer need havens in North Waziristan and stay in Afghanistan, they are known to still maintain a presence in the Pakistani border region.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Turkish clashes with PKK militants kill 14
 

Thu 9/02/2012 12:04

NNA - 09/02/2012 (Reuters) - Turkish security forces killed 13 Kurdish militants in fighting in southeast Turkey overnight, security sources said, marking an escalation in violence at a time when cold winter weather normally limits clashes.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters attacked some 10 different security force locations at 2:30 a.m. in Cukurca in Hakkari province near the Iraqi border, the sources said.

One soldier and four militants were killed in the fighting and military operations were continuing in the area.

Separately, nine PKK guerrillas died in clashes with Turkish troops in a mountainous region of Bingol province after the soldiers discovered a winter shelter used by the militants.

Security sources said most of the militants were believed to have killed themselves by detonating hand grenades rather than being captured.
Three of the militants were capture alive, two of them wounded, the sources said.

More than 40,000 militants, soldiers and civilians have been killed since the PKK began its fight for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast in 1984.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union all classify the PKK as a terrorist organisation.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria keen on dialogue, Moallem asserts
 

Wed 8/02/2012 17:13

NNA - 8/2/2012 - Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Moallem, on Wednesday relayed Syria's keen determination to hold an all-inclusive national dialogue, with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abollahian.

The pair, who met in Damascus today, reportedly skimmed through the "special" relations between both countries and the means to bolster them on all levels.

Moallem briefed the Iranian official over the ferocity of the attack staged against Syria- people, government, and institutions- by West-backed armed thugs.

The meeting also featured high on the reforms program.

Abdollahian, in turn, said he had confidence in Syria's ability to overcome the current juncture.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad keen on all-inclusive dialogue
 

Tue 7/02/2012 19:40

NNA - 7/2/2012 - Syrian President Bashar Assad avowed Tuesday Syria's determination to carry out national dialogue with the participation of the government, the opposition, and independent forces.

Assad, who met today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, thanked Russia for its position at the UN Security Council, where it vetoed, along with China, a Western-Arab-backed resolution to condemn the Syrian regime.

State-run SANA said today that Assad tackled with Lavrov latest developments in Syria, the reforms program, and terrorist acts taking place in the country.

He reiterated Syria's readiness to cooperate with any effort aimed to restore stability in the country.

Lavrov, accompanied by Russia's Foreign Intelligence Chief Mikhail Fradkov, vowed earlier to continue efforts to reach a solution to the crisis in Syria.

"Syria needs peace; we must reach an agreement away from foreign interference," he said.

"Syria seeks the continuity of an extended Arab League's mission," he added, revealing that President Assad would soon announce the date of the referendum on a new Constitution.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian-Russian talks kick off in Damascus
 

Tue 7/02/2012 13:04

NNA - 7/2/2012 Talks between Syria and Russia Tuesday began in Damascus.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met today with Syrian President Bashar Assad, the National News Agency correspondent reported.


L.W.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - States step up calls to mitigate crisis in Syria
 

Mon 6/02/2012 15:46

NNA - 6/2/2012 - A Security Council failure to adopt a resolution condemning Syria prompted KSA on Monday to call for decisive measures to cease bloodshed in this Arab nation.

"The Security Council fiasco in adopting a resolution upholding the Arab initiative must not forestall decisive measures to protect the lives of innocent [civilians]," Saudi state-run news agency quoted the cabinet as saying in a statement today.

Saudi cabinet, chaired by King Abdullah Ben Abdul Aziz, exhorted the international community to continue to exert efforts to solve crisis in Syria.

Earlier today, France's Nicolas Sarkozi announced that neither France nor Germany could accept "the hurdle" of the international community's work through the Russian-Chinese veto.

The French President said, during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today, that he would contact by phone his Russian counterpart.

"Germany and France will not disappoint the Syrian people. What is happening is a scandal," Sarkozi said.

Russia's Medvedev is scheduled to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus tomorrow (Tuesday.)


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Abbas-Mish'al Agree on Elections
 

Sun 5/02/2012 16:50

NNA - 05/02/2012 - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Polit-bureau head Khaled Mish'al, agreed in Qatar to hold imminent presidential elections at a date to be announced later senior P.A. official Azzam al-Ahmad disclosed in Ramallah today. According to Azzam who is in charge of the Fatah/Hamas reconciliation dossier, both officials agreed in principle over the formation of a national unity cabinet led by independent figures.

The agreement was reached in Doha under the good offices of prince Hamad al-Thani who prodded both officials to adopt definite electoral devices and mechanisms. There remains however few snags put forth by Damascus-based organizations and deposed Hamas P.M. Isma'eel Haniyyeh, Azzam al-Ahmad concluded.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved
 


Regional - Kuwait interim government resigns
 

Sun 5/02/2012 15:00

NNA - 05/02/2012 (Reuters) - Kuwait's interim government tendered its resignation on Sunday, state television said, making way for the formation of a new cabinet following a snap parliamentary election on Thursday.
Under the constitution, a new cabinet must be formed before the new parliament's first session, which is held two weeks after the vote.
The outgoing cabinet was appointed in December after its predecessor resigned in response to a political deadlock that has stymied reform and held up vital development projects in the major oil-exporter.
Kuwait's emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah then dissolved parliament and called early elections in which an Islamist-led opposition bloc stormed to victory, taking control of the Gulf state's fourth parliament in six years.
The next cabinet, which is handpicked by a prime minister of the emir's choice, will face an opposition emboldened by its gains in last week's vote.
Opposition candidates had been tipped to expand their influence in parliament, riding on a wave of popular frustration over corruption and political paralysis.
That anger came to a head in November, when protesters stormed the chamber demanding the resignation of former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, whom they accused of graft.
Thursday's election left the assembly without any female parliamentarians, while the number of Shi'ite deputies was also eroded. Analysts say they were punished for siding with Sheikh Nasser or not being at the forefront of the movement to oust him.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved
 


Regional - Bahrain opposition launch week-long rally for reform
 

Sun 5/02/2012 14:16

NNA - 05/02/2012 (Reuters) - Bahraini opposition parties, launching a week-long 'sit-in' for political reforms at a mass rally, swore on Sunday to take their campaign to the centre of last year's democracy protest in the capital Manama.

"This is a dress rehearsal for the return. We will return! We will return! Soon our sit-in will not be here but at the Pearl Roundabout," said poetess Ayat al-Qormozi, who became a face of the Arab Spring movement after she was jailed for reading out a poem criticising the king at Pearl Roundabout.

She was addressing a crowd of over 10,000 at the rally outside Manama, where anti-government protests last year were crushed by Bahraini forces and troops from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Pearl Roundabout, a large traffic junction in Manama where the protesters camped out and rallied for a month, has since been closed off by security forces who monitor the area closely.
Bahrain, a key U.S. and Saudi ally in their stand-off with Iran across the Gulf, has been in turmoil since the uprising broke out last year, inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.
The opposition are trying to
sustain pressure on the government, dominated by the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family, ahead of the Feb. 14 anniversary of the uprising. The reforms they want include an elected government - the first in the Gulf - and reduced powers for the Al Khalifa family.
Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the largest opposition party Wefaq, called on activists to keep the protests peaceful but warned that intelligence agencies and pro-government militias would act as agent provocateurs in coming weeks.
He called on activists to use only Bahraini flags over the coming week and to avoid using party or sectarian symbols.
Opposition groups draw wide support from Bahrain's majority Shi'ite population, which accuses the ruling elite of political and economic marginalisation. The government says Shi'ites have a sectarian agenda coordinated with Iran - which they deny.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Cairo protesters demand early vote, clash with police
 

Sun 5/02/2012 14:04

NNA - 05/02/2012 (Reuters) - Protesters demanding a swift presidential election and an early handover of power by the army hurled rocks at police guarding the Egyptian interior ministry on Sunday and were forced back with volleys of tear gas.
It was the fourth day of clashes outside the ministry, in which seven people have died. Protesters accuse the ministry of failing to prevent the deaths last week of 74 people after a soccer match in the Mediterranean city of Port Said. Five more have died in Suez.

Some protesters believe that remnants of the government of ousted president Hosni Mubarak were behind violence that caused a stampede at the soccer match last Wednesday, and see it as part of a plot to create chaos to reassert their influence.
Political figures and a civilian advisory body to the military have suggested bringing forward a presidential vote to April or May, from the June date foreseen in the transition timetable of the army, which took power after Mubarak quit.
Police and protesters, some waving flags of Al Ahli soccer team which played in Wednesday's match, hurled rocks at each other and police fired volleys of teargas to push the lines of mostly young protesters back from the ministry building.

The authorities erected fresh barriers of big concrete blocks barring access through streets leading to the ministry. Some earlier barriers had been hauled down.

"The demand is that the army step down politically and announce the start of nominations for the presidential election immediately," said Waleed Saleh, 30, an activist
with a facemask at the ready, speaking near the ministry.
The military council, which took charge when Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising on Feb. 11, has promised to hand power to civilians by the end of June after an election.
But calls for a swifter handover have mounted, and the Muslim Brotherhood which has the biggest bloc in parliament, added its voice on Saturday to calls for a faster transition.
An army-appointed civilian council set up to advise the military is proposing accepting nominations for the presidency from Feb. 23, nearly two months sooner than the April 15 date previously announced. This could lead to a vote in April or May.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Blast hits Egypt's gas pipeline to Israel
 

Sun 5/02/2012 11:05

NNA - 05/02/2012 (Reuters) - An explosion hit a gas pipeline running from Egypt to Israel on Sunday, witnesses and state television reported.
The pipeline, which also supplies gas to Jordan, has come under attack at least 12 times since Egyptian resident Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011.
The latest blast took place in the Massaeed area west of the Mediterranean coastal town of al-Arish. Gas pumping was stopped after the explosion.
Residents in al-Arish told Reuters they could see flames from their town. Security forces and fire trucks raced to the scene, witnesses said.

Security in Sinai loosened after Mubarak's fall as the police presence thinned out across Egypt.
Egypt's 20-year gas deal with Israel, signed in the Mubarak era, is unpopular with some Egyptians, with critics accusing Israel of not paying enough for the gas.
Previous explosions have sometimes led to weeks-long shutdowns along the pipeline, run by Egypt's gas transport company Gasco, a subsidiary of the national gas company EGAS.
Egypt said in November it would tighten security measures along the pipeline by installing alarm devices and recruiting security patrols from Bedouin tribesmen in the area.
Sinai has long been a restive area, where Bedouins complain of government neglect. It hosts several Red Sea resorts with five-star hotels, but Bedouins say they do not see the benefits.

Egypt doubled the gas price for Jordan in October. Jordan said on Monday it would raise electricity prices as of February to cover the rising burden of imported fuel costs after loss of regular Egyptian gas supplies.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Turkey against Mubarak's execution
 

Sat 4/02/2012 15:00

NNA - 04/02/2012 Turkish administration issued a statement Saturday objecting to possibility of passing a death sentence to ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's Prosecutor General demanded capital punishment for Mubarak and seven of the members of his regime for the murder of protestors during the uprising that began January, 2011 and lead to the downfall of Mubarak.

"Besides basic humanitarian reasons, the execution of Mubarak is wrong for preserving social security in Egypt," said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Russian officials to meet Assad next week in Syria
 

Sat 4/02/2012 15:39

NNA - 04/02/2012 (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and foreign intelligence service chief Mikhail Fradkov will travel to Syria on Tuesday to meet President Bashar al-Assad, Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying in Munich on Saturday.
The statement came as Russia and Western states clash over a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would support an Arab League plan calling for Assad to cede power.

Lavrov, who said President Dmitry Medvedev had instructed him and Fradkov to make the trip, gave no details about its specific purpose, the reports said.


 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iranian war games in South
 

Sat 4/02/2012 14:37

NNA - 04/02/2012 - Iranian war games conducted by the nation's "Revolutionary Guards" are to be launched in the South-west as a posture of tactical defense commander of the land forces, Brigadier General Muhammad Pakvar announced in Tehran today.

He dubbed war games under way, as Revolutionary Guards' tactical specialty. The importance of the war games, he added, lies in the fact that the martyrs of the Guards would be simulating a military scenario of Iranian armor being deployed to defend the western wing of the country.

The purpose of war games, he concluded, is to maintain a high footing of military preparedness in a bid to show the huge potential of land forces affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards. Planning, command and control of Revolutionary Guard Forces is another secondary purpose of the present war games.

G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iran warns of turmoil if EU oil ban enforced
 

Sat 4/02/2012 14:06

NNA - 04/02/2012 (Reuters) - Iran's oil minister said the Islamic state would not retreat from its nuclear programme even if its crude oil exports grind to a halt, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.
But he also called on the European Union, which accounted for a quarter of Iranian crude oil sales in the third quarter of 2011, to review its decision last week to bank Iranian oil imports from July 1.
"We will not abandon our just nuclear course, even if we cannot sell one drop of oil," Rostam Qasemi told reporters, according to IRNA.
Tension with the West rose last month when Washington and the European Union imposed the toughest sanctions yet on Iran in a bid to force it to provide more information on its nuclear programme. The measures are aimed at shutting off the second-biggest OPEC oil exporters' sales of crude.

Qasemi said Iran would cut oil exports to some nations in Europe - he did not specify which - in retaliation for the 27-state EU's decision to stop importing Iranian crude.

"Our oil exports will certainly be cut to some European countries ... We will decide about other European countries later," Qasemi told a news conference, IRNA reported.

He urged Europe to reconsider its ban, and said the oil market is in balance now but would be thrown into turmoil without Iranian crude supplies.

"Unfortunately the EU has succumbed to America's pressure. I hope they would review their decision on sanctioning Iran's oil exports," Qasemi said.

"The international crude market will experience turmoil in the absence of Iranian oil with unforeseen consequences on oil prices," he said.
However, analysts say the global oil market would not be greatly affected if Iran were to turn off the oil tap to Europe.
The EU's ban on Iranian oil came after U.S. President Barack Obama signed new sanctions into law on New Year's Eve that would block any institution dealing with Iran's central bank from the U.S. financial system.
If fully implemented, these measures will make it impossible for countries to buy Iranian oil.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Lavrov disapproves Syria's draft resolution, threatens of scandal
 

Sat 4/02/2012 11:11

NNA - 04/02/2012 Russia's Foreign Minister deemed Saturday the United Nation's draft resolution concerning onslaught in Syria as unsuitable for his country, during an interview with local Russian TV.

Russia has stood by its long time Syrian ally since the beginning of the popular uprise demanding ousting of President Bashar Assad and his Baath regime. Many attempts by Arab League and UN to solve the conundrum have failed so far.

"This draft resolution does not suit us at all," said Minister Sergei Lavrov, "and presenting it to the Security Council today will lead to a scandal."

Lavrov went on to say that if the United States wanted a scandal at the Security Council, Russia cannot stop it from doing so.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Russia cannot support amended Syria draft-Interfax
 

Fri 3/02/2012 18:17

NNA - 03/02/2012 (Reuters) - Russia cannot support a Western-Arab draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria despite changes that took some of its concerns into account, the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying on Friday.
Gatilov did not specify whether Russia would veto the resolution, which supports an Arab League plan that calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cede power, or abstain if it comes to a vote in the Security Council in its current form.
"We have received the text. Some of our concerns and the concerns of those with like minds have been taken into account in it, but nonetheless, this is not enough for us to be able to support it in this form," he was quoted as saying.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Saudi Monarch, Lagarde discuss world economy
 

Fri 3/02/2012 17:02

NNA - 03/02/2012 Riyadh witnessed Friday world economy discussions that brought together Saudi King with International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director over talks of possible Saudi contribution of 500 billion US Dollars.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is part of the Group of Twenty (G-20), a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 major economies: 19 countries plus the European Union. The G-20 economies account for more than 80 percent of the global gross national product (GNP), 80 percent of world trade (including EU intra-trade) and two-thirds of the world population.

Christine Lagarde relayed to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abed al Aziz, the IMF's need to increase its resources by 500 billion US Dollars, dubbing it "Essential for facing world economy crisis."

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - NNA visits balloting stations in Kuwait
 

Thu 2/02/2012 21:28


NNA - 2/2/2012 - National News Agency visited on Thursday the various balloting stations in Kuwait, marking Feb 2 the date for parliamentary elections in which 400 thousand electorates are to choose deputies of the new Umma council.
National News Agency Correspondent to Kuwait Mona Sukkarieh reported that tranquility marked the day of elections, overloaded with mottoes depicting elections as of a "decisive" nature."
400 thousand Kuwaiti electorates (184 thousand males and 215 females) are to elect 50 deputies to the new parliament out of 286 candidates. 23 women are running for the elections, distributed among five electoral departments.
Dr. Mohamed Romeihi, Political Science Professor, told NNA Correspondent that there is no "fear over Kuwait's fate", disclosing the presence of a wide crisis revolving around two main rooftops: constitution and social structure.
"Legal rooftop is represented by Constitution and social factor set by traditional social institutions, including authority that is part of social fabric," Romeihi told NNA.
Dr. Chafic Ghabra, Political Science Professor at Kuwait University, told NNA that the current elections are described as decisive since they come within the context of Arab Spring.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Jordan withdraws from observer mission in Syria
 

Thu 2/02/2012 21:17

NNA - 2/2/2012 - Jordan withdrew today its monitors from the Arab League's observer mission in Syria, Jordanian Foreign Minister told Reuters on Thursday.

He said the withdrawal decision was taken a few days ago, when the League settled on suspending the work of the mission, tasked to ensure compliance with a government cease-fire in Syria.

The Arab League has said Saturday it had suspended the work of the mission in Syria "due to the escalation of violence." But it did not officially declare the end of the mission.

Both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council withdrew from the mission, shortly after the group's head submitted his report, after the observers' one-month-long mandate expired on January 19.

General Mohammad Mostafa Al-Dabi today said he was satisfied about the mission's performance, despite the continuity of "bloody repression" in Syria.

"There is a campaign against the mission and its head, but all this is untrue and criticizers did not get the role of the Arab observer mission," he told a news conference in Khartoum today.

The Arab League and Western governments have sent their top diplomats earlier this week to New York to lobby for a UN resolution condemning the Syrian regime at the Security Council, where Syria can still reckon on its two strong allies, namely China and Russia.

Russia had anyway stated, earlier today, that it would continue to export weapons to Syria.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Ben Helli: Arab Summit shall convene in Baghdad March 29
 

Wed 1/02/2012 18:45

NNA - 1/2/2012 Arab League Deputy Head Ahmad Ben Helli announced that forthcoming Arab Summit shall take place in Baghdad upcoming March 29, 2012.
Helli's announcement came in a joint press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshar Zeebari at the Ministry's headquarters in Baghdad on Wednesday.
Ben Hell said that all requisite preparations and climates are currently available to ensure the success of the Arab Summit, to realize a quality leap amidst transformations of the Arab world.
The senior Arab League official said that his visit to Baghdad comes to put the final touches for the holding of the Summit at the logistic, technical and security levels.
"Summit agenda shall be more open and interactive with the Arab street and incidents," Ben Helli disclosed.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Ben Helli: Arab Summit shall convene in Baghdad March 29
 

Wed 1/02/2012 18:45

NNA - 1/2/2012 Arab League Deputy Head Ahmad Ben Helli announced that forthcoming Arab Summit shall take place in Baghdad upcoming March 29, 2012.
Helli's announcement came in a joint press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshar Zeebari at the Ministry's headquarters in Baghdad on Wednesday.
Ben Hell said that all requisite preparations and climates are currently available to ensure the success of the Arab Summit, to realize a quality leap amidst transformations of the Arab world.
The senior Arab League official said that his visit to Baghdad comes to put the final touches for the holding of the Summit at the logistic, technical and security levels.
"Summit agenda shall be more open and interactive with the Arab street and incidents," Ben Helli disclosed.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Terrorists attack gas pipeline in Homs
 

Mon 30/01/2012 12:08

NNA - 30/1/2012 - A terrorist group blew up on Monday a gas pipeline between Homs and Banyas in Syria, according to Syria's state news agency.

"A terrorist group targeted a gas pipeline running from Homs to Banyas in Syria", the agency stressed.

A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Israeli advanced military plane crashes
 

Sun 29/01/2012 22:36

NNA - 29/1/2012 - Israeli military spokeswoman disclosed Sunday that an Israeli pilot-less military plane, one of the most advanced Israeli Army planes, crashed in one of the fields inside occupied Palestine. The plane crash came during a test that the Israeli Army was undergoing with an Israeli plane manufacturing industry.
According to the Israeli Channel 10 TV, the incident occurred when one of the plane's wings split due to extra weight. The loss incurred in the wake of the crash is estimated at 10 million USD. The TV Channel also indicated that the crash poses a question before the Israeli aerial forces, which are in possession of similar planes that have been put to use. These planes are capable of flying for 36 hours, carrying a weight of 1 ton upto an altitude of 13,000 meters, with a radiance scope far-reaching Iran.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Sednaya under fire today
 

Sun 29/01/2012 16:54

NNA - 29/01/2012 - Sednaya Monastery to the north-west of Damascus came under artillery fire with one shell reportedly piercing the wall of a room in the north-westerly ward. This, according to Head of the Sednaya Monastery, Sister Verona who said there were no casualties albeit with minor damage to the room.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab ministers to discuss Syria crisis on Feb. 5
 

Sun 29/01/2012 14:35

NNA - 29/01/2012 (Reuters) - Arab foreign ministers will meet on February 5 to discuss the Syria crisis, a top Arab League official said on Sunday after the pan-Arab body suspended the work of an observer mission that was sent to check if Damascus was heeding an Arab peace plan.
League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Helli told reporters the ministers meeting to discuss "the latest developments in Syria" would also hold talks on the Palestinian issue.
A League official had told Reuters on Saturday that the meeting to discuss whether Arab monitors would be permanently withdrawn from Syria would be held in the week starting Feb. 5.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian military ambushed in Greater Damascus area!
 

Sun 29/01/2012 13:54

NNA - 29/01/2012 - Six Syrian military including 2 Lieutenant-colonels met their death in Sidnaya near Damascus when a remote-controlled roadside bomb was detonated at the passage of their vehicle, the Syrian News Agency (SANA) reported today. According to SANA 6 further soldiers were badly injured in the attack.

Earlier, Syrian Interior minister Muhammad Shaar stated his ministry's intension to "root-out renegades and cleanse the country of vicious outlaws." He stressed that thanks to political and military resolve the country would remain strong as ever.

Support for the regime expectedly forth came from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who condemned from the Sultanate of Brunei Arab League suspension of security-monitoring in unrest-ridden Syria. He singled out certain Gulf States who could have stayed one extra month in Syria.

G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Egypt Islamists seek more gains in upper house polls
 

Sun 29/01/2012 10:47

NNA - 29/01/2012 (Reuters) - Polls opened on Sunday in an election for Egypt's upper house of parliament, with Islamists seeking to repeat the success they enjoyed in elections for the lower house.
The parliamentary votes, which began in late November, are the first since a popular uprising toppled President Hosni Mubarak last February.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned during his rule, won 47 percent of lower house seats, far more than any other party, and a low turnout on Sunday was blamed by some voters on the feeling that the upper house vote now mattered little.
After the lower house election that saw an unprecedented turnout and was hailed as Egypt's most democratic since military officers overthrew the king in 1952, some Egyptians knew nothing of the upper house vote.

"I came to vote today because it is my right and I will be held accountable to God," said Nour Essam, a 28-year-old university teacher. "But I am sad to see that noone was there at my polling station."
"It is wrong - your vote will matter," said a young woman. "I will go now and urge all my family members to come and vote."
The powers of the upper house are limited and it cannot block legislation in the lower house. However, its members must be consulted before lower house MPs pass any bill.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab League suspends Syria mission as violence rages
 

Sat 28/01/2012 17:04

NNA - 28/01/2012 - (Reuters) - The Arab League said on Saturday it had suspended its monitoring mission in Syria because of "the critical deterioration of the situation" as state security forces battled rebels holding three suburbs just outside Damascus.

The Arab League called last week for President Bashar al-Assad to step down after 10 months of revolt against his rule and will take its suggestion for an Arab peace plan to the U.N. Security Council next week.

"Given the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence ... it has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab League's mission to Syria pending presenting of the issue to the league's council," Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said in a statement.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Egypt demonstrates Tuesday
 

Sat 28/01/2012 15:59

NNA - 28/01/2012 - The Federation of Egyptian Youth for the Revolution called on the Military Council to step down in favor of civilian rule. They urged the Egyptian people to take to the street in a massive demonstration upcoming Tuesday.

The Federation of Egyptian Youth insisted that the revolution continues up till the military cede the theater for civilian rule. They accused military leaders of betraying the revolution by using excessive violence.

Among other things, they claimed compensations for the victims of the old regime and stated that demonstrations would be staged from the houses of those who gave their lives for the victory of last year's revolution.

Egyptian Youths' call for demonstration coincided with minor demonstrations in Liberation (Tahreer) Square where a new Friday of rage was proclaimed.

Among demands put by the youth were speeding up of the trial of perpetrators of last year's killings and the ouster of the Supreme Military Council.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Rebels Kill 7 in Greater-Damascus Area
 

Sat 28/01/2012 15:04

NNA - 28/01/2012 - Rebels thought to be break-away or mutinied soldiers ambushed an army truck carrying troops to their base in Damascus. The Syrian National News Agency (SANA) reported 7 dead including one ranking officer.

SANA also reported an army dorm coming under attack between Adra and Douma in the Greater Damascus area with no immediate word on casualties.

SANA also claimed further attacks mounted by unknown assailants against an oil terminal to the east of Qouriyyeh/ Deir az-Zour with flames and heavy fumes shooting up the air. No casualties were reported.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - U.N. resolution demands end of violence in Syria
 

Sat 28/01/2012 13:12

NNA - 28/01/2012 (AFP) European and Arab nations on Friday circulated a new draft resolution on Syria at the U.N. Security Council calling for backing for an Arab League plan under which President Bashar al-Assad would have to stand down.

Morocco presented a draft resolution to the 15-nation body -- drawn up by Arab states with Britain, France and Germany -- that seeks to end months of U.N. deadlock over Syria.
Russia and China vetoed a previous European resolution in October, accusing the West of seeking regime change.

"I think we have the chance today to open a new chapter on Syria," said Germany's UN ambassador Peter Wittig as he entered Friday's talks.
The draft, which still faces days of talks amid doubts from Russia and its allies, says the council "fully supports" an Arab League plan released last weekend under which Assad would hand over powers to a deputy so that new elections can be held.

The text "encourages" all states to follow sanctions imposed by the Arab League against Syria in November, but contains no mandatory action.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said earlier in Moscow that his country would not support any measure which orders Assad to leave office, Russian media reported.

Diplomats said they hoped for a vote within days. Official talks on the resolution are only expected to start on Monday however. Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi and Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani are to brief the council Tuesday about the Syria plan.
Earlier on Friday, Gatilov said Russia would not support any Security Council resolution calling on Assad to go, warning that an early vote on a new Western-backed text was doomed to failure.

"We cannot support any U.N. resolution calling for the support of Assad's resignation," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Russian news agency Interfax, adding that a quick vote on the Western-Arab draft was "destined for failure".
The new draft contains strong backing to an Arab League initiative for ending a crisis that the United Nations estimates has claimed more than 5,400 lives.

Nations behind the measures -- which besides Britain, France, Germany include Arab nations such as Morocco and Qatar -- have been pushing for a U.N. Security Council vote next week.
Gatilov said a quick vote "was destined to failure because we have already clearly expressed our position, as have our Chinese partners."

Showing little movement from Russia's initial tough stance on the measure, Gatilov also criticized the resolution for leaving open the threat of sanctions and even possible military involvement should Assad fail to quickly meet its demands.
Russia and China placed a rare double veto on the first draft resolution last year, which placed the blame for the violence directly on Assad.
Moscow still enjoys close trade ties with its Soviet-era ally, signing a new military jet delivery contract with Damascus this month and still leasing one of its ports for its navy.

Russia has proposed its own draft resolution that assigns equal blame for the violence on both Assad and the opposition, an option dismissed by the West.

The Western-backed draft resolution, obtained by Agence France Presse, "condemns the continued widespread and gross violations of human rights" and makes a new call for an immediate halt to the government crackdown.
It also hints at sanctions, stating that it "takes note" of Arab League economic measures ordered on November 27 and "encourages all states to adopt similar steps and fully to cooperate with the League of Arab States in the implementation of its measures".
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Al Dabi: brutality in Syria on the rise!
 

Fri 27/01/2012 17:51

NNA - 27/01/2011 Head of the Arab League monitoring mission in Syria sounded alarm Friday that violence has spiraled out of control in past three days, calling for immediate halt to hostilities.

Syrian uprising, which began ten months ago, demanding the ousting of President Bashar Assad and rule of Baath Party was met with violent crackdown, as an estimated 4,500 people died in the process. The Arab League monitoring mission arrived to the Syrian state to evaluate reports of bloody onslaught of civilians demanding basic human rights and reforms.

"The violence in Syria increased drastically between January 24 and 27, especially in Homs, Hama and Idlib," General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al Dabi said in a statement. He added that the grim situation did not make for a platform for national dialogue.

"[There should be] an immediate end to the violence to protect the Syrian people and clear the way for peaceful resolutions," al Dabi suggested.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Suicide bomber hits Shi'ite funeral in Baghdad
 

Fri 27/01/2012 16:21

NNA - 27/01/2012 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber detonated his explosive-filled taxi near a Shi'ite funeral procession in Baghdad on Friday, killing 31 people and bringing the death toll from violence since an Iraqi political crisis erupted in December to more than 400.
The bomber exploded his vehicle near the group of mourners passing by a small market street in the mainly Shi'ite Zaafaraniya neighbourhood in the south of the Iraqi capital, police officials and hospitals said.

The Shi'ite-led government often blames Sunni Islamist insurgents for attacks targetting Shi'ites, saying they are trying to stoke the kind of sectarian slaughter which killed tens of thousands of Iraqis at the peak of the war in 2006-2007.
"I was in the old Zaafaraniya market when a funeral came by and just as it passed, a car bomb exploded," said Ali Mohsen. "I helped evacuating the dead and injured people, their blood covered the ground."
The funeral was for a Shi'ite real estate agent who was killed by gunmen in Baghdad a day earlier, police said. The motive for his murder was not clear.
But the suicide car bomber appeared to target the funeral near Zaafaraniya police station, blowing himself up close to shops and the market, said an official at the office of Baghdad security spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi.
Sunni insurgents also often target local government offices and police stations and patrols as a way to show the authorities are unable to provide security.
At least 60 people were wounded in Friday's attack, officials said.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Terrorists shoot dead priest, Syrian Red Crescent Head: Sana
 

Wed 25/01/2012 20:55

NNA - 25/01/2012 - An armed terrorist group assassinated on Wednesday Priest Basilios Nassar, from the Damascus countryside village of Kfarbaham, as he was aiding an injured man in Jarajima - Homs, the Syrian News Agency SANA reported on Wednesday.

The head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Abdulrazak Jbero, was also shot dead on Wednesday in the northern town of Idlib at the hands of an armed terrorist group, SANA added.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Observer mission adamant to remain impartial, objective
 

Wed 25/01/2012 15:41

NNA - 25/1/2012 - Arab monitors Chief, General Mohammad Ahmed Al-Dabi, on Wednesday relayed to Foreign Minister Walid Moallem the group's keenness to cleave to neutrality and objectivity, while assuming its freshly extended mission in Syria.

Al-Dabi today laid to Moallem a presentation about the report he already submitted to Arab League's ministers on the headway of the situation in Syria, after observers concluded their one-month mission.

A press release by the Syrian Foreign Ministry said that Moallem underscored Syria's commitment to fully cooperate with the observer mission, despite bids by some parties to forestall the group's work.

He also highlighted the government obligation to protect citizens and curb armed thugs' crimes and vandalism.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab monitors to suspend activity unless Syria approves mandate extension
 

Tue 24/01/2012 19:59

NNA - 24/1/2012 - Arab monitors would suspend their activity in Syria as of Thursday, if the Syrian government did not meet the demand to extend the mission's mandate, Arab League's Deputy Secretary General, Ahmed Ben Helli, told AFP Tuesday.

He maintained that the mission's mandate officially ended on January 19 but was "verbally" renewed till January 24.

Syrian foreign minister Walid Moallem told a news conference earlier today that the mission's mandate extension was still on-the-table until related instructions by the Syrian command.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria berates Arab League 'desecrating' plan
 

Tue 24/01/2012 15:41

NNA - 24/1/2012 - An Arab League plan to urge Yemen-like scenario in Syria drew the country's rebuff, prompting Foreign Minister Walid Moallem to utter out-and-out refusal for Arab-brokered solutions to the ten-month crisis in Syria.

Arab foreign ministers unexpectedly put forth a six-item initiative mainly calling on President Bashar Assad to delegate power to his first deputy, during their meeting in Cairo Sunday, where they had been to merely broach, as scheduled, the report of the observer mission, after its one-month-long mandate expired Thursday.

"When we received the mission's report, we concluded that its content would not be satisfactory to some Arabs who are executing the scheme they already agreed upon outside Syria," Moallem told a news conference today.

"They presented a political draft decision which they know we would not accept because it is tantamount to a blatant tampering with Syrian sovereignty and meddling into our internal affairs," he said.

Moallem revealed that the Arab League's [ministerial] council did not delve into the mission's report.

Arab League's ministers agreed Sunday to extend the 22-nation group observer mission in Syria for another month, something that Moallem assured to be on-the-table with a view to further instructions from the Syrian command.

Syria had agreed in mid-December to let in the Arab observer mission, tasked to ensure compliance with a government cease-fire, and signed the Arab League-drafted protocol, two days after a committee of Arab foreign ministers had said that Arab states may take their proposals to the UN Security Council.

Internationalization is still looming, particularly in light of a Saudi decision to withdraw from the monitoring mission Sunday, and incoming news about a similar move by the GCC earlier this morning.

Moallem made clear that the solution in Syria must definitely stem from the Syrian people per se, a solution to be based upon the comprehensive reforms plan vowed by President Assad and the all-inclusive national dialogue.

He saw that any resorting to the Security Council, where Syria can still reckon on its two strong allies, namely China and Russia, was a clear-cut acknowledgement of the Arab League's disqualification to assume its role in the Syrian dossier.

The Security Council had condemned in August the "widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities."

Later in October, Russia and China had vetoed a West European draft resolution that threatened sanctions.




R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - GCC urge Security Council to exert pressure on Syria
 

Tue 24/01/2012 12:11

NNA - 24/1/2012 - Gulf cooperation countries (GCC), members in the Security Council, called Tuesday on the latter to exert pressure over Syria to execute the decisions of the Arab league.
D.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Damascus rejects Arab decisions
 

Mon 23/01/2012 09:32

NNA - 23/1/2012 - Syria rejected on Monday Arab League foreign ministers' proposal that president Bashar Assad should hand over power to a deputy and set up a new unity cabinet, according to Syria's official TV.

"Syria rejects the decisions from the Arab League ministerial council and considers them a violation of its national sovereignty and a flagrant interference in its internal affairs," the TV added.

A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iran Denies Suleimani's Statements
 

Sun 22/01/2012 15:45

NNA - 22/01/2012 - Tehran categorically denied what it termed as Western media misquotes of al-Quds commander Suleimani's recent utterances about "revolutionary Guard leverage and ability of influencing and bringing about Islamist rule to Iraq and Lebanon." Suleimani also allegedly confirmed Tehran's unflinching support for the struggle of the Syrian ruler Bashar Asad against his domestic and outside opponents."

Foreign ministry spokesman in Tehran Ramin Mahmanerst, informed a local T.V. channel that Iranian meddling into other nations' affairs is unthinkable and that Suleimani's words were either misquoted or read out of context.

He duly accused Western powers of working to poison Arab-Iranian relations. Mahmanerst however had nice words for Nour al-Maliki's government in Baghdad and that Westerners were keen at portraying Iran as posing the main threat to the Gulf and Arab regions.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - 5255 political prisoners released overnight
 

Sun 22/01/2012 12:29

NNA - 22/01/2012 - Syrian 5255 political detainees have been released overnight upon a special decree by President Asad of Syria, the Syrian National News Agency (SANA) announced today.

All released detainees were incarcerated on charges ranging between state slandering with the purpose of diminishing the ruler's prestige. Accusations of racism and sectarianism were also leveled at a number of detainees working to infringe national unity, SANA said.

Several army defectors and participants in armed clashes with regular army troops were not among those benefiting from the presidential amnesty.

G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iran: Sarcouzy's false allegations aim at pressuring us!
 

Sat 21/01/2012 22:39

NNA - 21/1/2012 - Iranian Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Ramin Mahmanparst, indicated Saturday that French President, Nicola Sarcouzy's statement about Iran's seeking to develop nuclear weapons has no true grounds.
In a statement via Iranian National Television, the Official Spokesman considered that the aim behind Sarcouzy's false claims is to exert pressure on Iran and push for enforcing illegitimate and unjust sanctions on it.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Israeli Raid on Rafah
 

Sat 21/01/2012 12:49

NNA - 21/01/2012 - Israeli warplanes raided a group of Palestinian guerillas in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip using air-to-ground missiles which reportedly failed to kill anyone. The men belonging to Popular Resistance-Saladin Brigades apparently prepared for launching a raid into the 1948-occupied territory today.

They were preempted to do so by the Israeli air force, military spokeswoman Luba Samari announced in Tel-Aviv. She added that the raid came in retaliation for an earlier Katiusha attack against "Eshkol/Southern Israel" with no casualties reported. She concluded that the rocket only caused minimal material damage.

All-in-all, Palestinian guerillas in the Hamas-controlled Strip fired a total of 7 Grad missiles since the opening of January 2012 with the Israelis retaliating through air strikes which claimed the lives of 2 Palestinians. According to Palestinian sources here, both victims were civilians who happened to be in the sector.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - US, EU ban on Syrian fuel increases damages to USD 2 billion
 

Thu 19/01/2012 20:31

NNA - 19/1/2012 - Damages resulting from US and EU ban on Syrian fuel exportation have increased to USD 2 billion since September, Syrian Minister of Oil told a news conference Thursday.

"The sanctions prompted us to refer to Treasury and public Syrian banks so as to provide to citizens their fuel-related needs," he explained.

But he noted that six petroleum companies from China, Russia, Croatia, and Egypt were still operating in Syria.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian people capable of surpassing current circumstances: Assad
 

Thu 19/01/2012 20:03


NNA - 19/1/2012 Syrian President Bashar Assad voiced confidence that the Syrian people are capable of surpassing current circumstances witnessed in their country and the building of a cherished, sturdy Syria.
President Assad was speaking before a delegation of "Arab Popular Initiative against Foreign Intervention and in Support of Dialogue and Reform" who visited him on Thursday.
"The support by Arab peoples and patriotic powers committed to sense of Arabism bolsters Syria's immunity and its belief in the future", Assad told the delegation.
The delegation, for its part, expressed support to Syria in the face of the systematic campaign it is currently facing, which the delegation considered as part of a plot to disintegrate the region and lastly to conclude Arab-Israeli conflict to the interest of the Zionist enemy.
--------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Mubarak's Lawyers hold army responsible for killings
 

Wed 18/01/2012 20:33

NNA - 18/01/2012 - Lawyers defending out thrown Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak accused the Egyptian Army of being behind the killing of scores of innocent civilians during the 18-day protests which ended in toppling the Egyptian President.

The Lawyers, who strongly adhered to the innocence of Mubarak, argued that the former President had imposed a curfew starting the 28th of January/2011, a thing which legally left the security responsibility within the court of the Egyptian Army.

But activists and the lawyers of victims insisted that the Egyptian police and other Interior Ministry elements were the primarily responsible for the death of more than 800 people.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Lavrov: Western sanctions on Iran aims to aggravate its economy
 

Wed 18/01/2012 12:06

NNA - 18/1/2012 - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that Western sanctions against Iran aimed at strangling Iranian economy.

"Western sanctions on Iran aims to aggravate the Iranian economy", Lavrov said, adding that this action also was an attempt to incite the people.

A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Lavrov urges to halt immediately violence in Syria
 

Wed 18/01/2012 11:52

NNA - 18/1/2012 - Russian Foreign Minister Sergi Lavrov urged to cease instantly violence in Syria.

Lavrov stressed "to stop violence immediately in Syria and to hold comprehensive dialogue".

Lavrov said that his country did not violate international obligations regarding military and technical cooperation with Damascus, adding that importing weapons to the armed men and "extremists" to Syria is "refused" and lead to escalation of violence.

A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Obama: To increase international pressure on Syria
 

Wed 18/01/2012 11:34

NNA - 18/1/2012 - U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he was looking forward to exert more international pressure on Syria.

His remarks came following his meeting with Jordanian King Abdallah.

A.A.M

NNA 2012 All rights reserved
 


Regional - Arab League monitors visit Syrian provinces
 

Tue 17/01/2012 20:06

NNA - 17/1/2012 Arab League monitors' team pursued on Tuesday their visits among a number of Syrian provinces, and met with recently released detainees in line with issued amnesty decree #10.
In this framework, a team of Arab monitors visited a number of Muslim and Christian religious men, while another team visited the province of Aleppo and met with local industrial dignitaries, citizens and families of martyrs who fell victims of criminal acts perpetrated by armed groups, SANA-Syrian National News Agency reported.
Another team of Arab mission met with representatives of civil and philanthropic associations in the province of Tartous at local Social Affairs and Labor Directorate building.
In another framework, two arrested people in the province of Deraa were released on Tuesday in presence of a team of Arab monitors, who visited Tyre village in Reef Deraa, some villages in eastern area, Dahr Jabal area in Sowaidaa Province, SANA said.
Another group of Arab monitors visited a number of Muslim and Christian religious men in the Province of Rekka.
----------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iraq summons Turkish ambassador
 

Mon 16/01/2012 16:45 \

NNA - 16/1/2012 - Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned Turkish ambassador in Baghdad, in objection to recent statements by Turkish officials.

Mohammad Jawad Dourki from the Foreign Ministry voiced the Iraqi government's concerns over said statements, which the Ministry termed as "meddling into Iraq's domestic affairs."

He added that such statements would have negative effect on the relations between Turkey and Iraq.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Unabating Iranian Hangings
 

Sun 15/01/2012 15:36

NNA - 15/01/2012 - Unabating Iranian hangings of alleged drug-pushers, rapists and kidnappers reached unprecedented levels with the public execution of 12 convicts in the southern city of Shiraz early today.

Local and International human rights organizations mention however the total figure of 15 executions since the advent of the new year; included are 3 Kermanshah convicts who were hanged to death on charges of armed robbery.

The European Union expressed deep concern over ongoing executions in Iran and brought to attention that the total number of executions during 2011 reached 227 while Human Rights' Watch put the figure at 338.

According to London-based Amnesty International, last year's estimates stand at 252 putting Iran thus next to China in terms of capital punishment.

Iran notably applies Islamic Shari's Law stipulating death by hanging when it comes to certain categories of crime such as man slaughter, rape, armed hold-up drug-trafficking and adultery. These are all punishable by death.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Juppe criticizes UN silence towards Syrian violence
 

Sun 15/01/2012 15:00

NNA - 15/01/2012 French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe condemned Sunday silence of the United Nations Security Council on Syria's onslaught of protestors, describing the situation as "intolerable."

Protests began in Syria over ten months ago, demanding ousting of Bashar Assad and his regime which has reigned over the country for almost fifty years. International reactions were varied, as China and Russia stood by their long-time ally, while the US and some European and Arab countries condemned the violent crackdown which left over five thousand killed.

"The massacre continues; the silence of the Security Council too, " he said at a press conference during a visit to Myanmar.

"The oppression has not ceased. The violence is still at work. The Arab League has given itself until January 19 to assess the situation. I strongly hope that it will make a report that is as objective as possible that it can communicate to the Security Council," Juppe said.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Bomb kills 6 in Syria
 

Sun 15/01/2012 14:26

NNA - 15/01/2012 Six Syrian workers were killed Sunday in a roadside blast in Idlib, north-west of the country, SANA, Syria's national news agency, reported.

The bomb comes in line with a series of explosions targeting civilians, with the state blaming terrorist groups for the attack, while opposition pointing the finger at the regime.

SANA claimed that a group of armed terrorists planted the bomb which killed six and injured sixteen others, on the side of the road between the city of Ariha and town of Mastouma in Idlib province.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Bahrain king announces constitutional reforms
 

Sun 15/01/2012 13:46

NNA - 15/01/2012 (Reuters) - Bahrain's king announced constitutional amendments on Sunday giving parliament more powers of scrutiny over government, but the opposition said they fell far short of demands for democracy that have driven a year of unrest in the Gulf Arab state.

The speech did not mention clashes between riot police and mainly Shi'ite opposition activists that have taken place on an almost daily basis since martial law was lifted in May after the Sunni-led government crushed a pro-democracy movement.

The Gulf island nation, home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, is seen by the United States and Saudi Arabia as a key ally against non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran just across Gulf waters.
The amendments, which increase powers to question ministers and withdraw confidence in the cabinet, emerged from a national dialogue King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa organised last year after the Sunni-dominated government crushed a democracy uprising dominated by majority Shi'ites.

The main opposition party Wefaq withdrew from the dialogue, saying it did not go far enough to offer real reform.

The king, in a televised speech said: "Our people have proven their desire for continuing with reforms... We complete the march today with those who have an honest patriotic desire for more progress and reform."

"I must mention here that democracy is not just constitutional and legislative rules, it is a culture and practice and adhering by the law and respecting international human rights principles," he said.

"I beseech all sectors of society to work together so that all their sons adhere to the law, which is linked to coexistence and tolerance..."
The cabinet is headed by the same prime minister from the royal family who was appointed when Bahrain emerged from colonial tutelage in 1971. The elected parliament's powers to legislate are neutralised by an appointed chamber.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Police patrol under gunfire in KSA
 

Sun 15/01/2012 11:18

NNA - 15/01/2012 Saudi police officer was shot in Qateef province Saturday night while on patrol, said spokesman of eastern province police.

Qateef, mostly populated by Shiites, has witnessed turmoil during the past months as its residents attempted to rise against the Sunni rule of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Authorities were quick to restore the peace in said province.

The patrol was under anonymous gunfire while passing through the region. A police officer was wounded, and consequently transported to hospital for treatment. "Concerned authorities began investigating the incident," said the spokesman.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iran warns Gulf countries not to replace its oil
 

Sun 15/01/2012 11:04

NNA - 15/01/2012 (Reuters) - Iran warned its Arab neighbours on Sunday not to raise crude output to replace Iranian oil in the event of an embargo by the European Union, Tehran's OPEC Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi was quoted as saying.

"The consequences of this issue are unpredictable. Therefore, our Arab neighbour countries should not cooperate with these adventurers and should adopt wise policies," Khatibi said in an interview with the Sharq newspaper.

European Union countries have agreed in principle to embargo imports of Iranian as part of the latest Western efforts to step up heat on Tehran.

They will look to other oil exporters to increase output to make up for the shortfall and Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Saturday his country was ready to meet any increase in consumer countries' demand.

Iran, OPEC's second-largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia with output of about 3.5 million barrels per day, faces trade hurdles over its nuclear programme, which the United States and its allies say is aimed at building bombs.

Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.

EU countries have proposed "grace periods" on existing contracts of one to 12 months to allow companies to find alternative suppliers before implementing an embargo.

Iran has threatened to block the vital oil shipping route of the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if sanctions imposed on its oil exports.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria issues amnesty for crimes during uprising
 

Sun 15/01/2012 11:02

NNA - 15/01/2011 (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has granted a general amnesty for crimes committed since the outbreak of a 10-month uprising against his rule, the state news agency SANA reported on Sunday.

It said the amnesty would cover "crimes committed in the context of the events that occurred from March 15, 2011, until January 15, 2012". It gave no further details.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - ElBaradei pulls out of Egypt presidency race
 

Sat 14/01/2012 15:27

NNA - 14/01/2012 (Reuters) - Mohamed ElBaradei pulled out of the race for the Egyptian presidency on Saturday, saying "the previous regime" was still running the country which has been without a head of state since Hosni Mubarak was deposed last year.

"My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a democratic framework," the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a statement.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Tunisians Mark First Revolutionary Anniversary
 

Sat 14/01/2012 12:38

NNA - 14/1/2012 - Thousands of Tunisians marked the First anniversary of the revolution and the toppling of former dictator Zein al-Abideen Bin Ali by demonstrating in main Tunis al-Hbib Bourgiba thoroughfare.

They unfurled a huge banner recalling "freedom and dignity" on January 14, of 2011. Among other slogans raised were: "Work, liberty and ... pressing ahead with the revolution till victory." Hoisted slogans also accused new Nahda party rulers of hypocrisy for their failure to acknowledge and honor fallen victims of Bin Ali oppression. Names of all 300 victims, including the vender Muhammad Bou-'Azeezi who literality ignited the Arab Spring by setting himself alight in protest against poverty and oppression, featured on a map of Tunisia.

Newly-elected Tunisian president Munsif Marzougi who met with members of family martyrs protesting government negligence of their issue, at his Carthage palace to the north of Tunis decided to rename January 14 main Square Martyrs' Square. He reassured them that a statue would be erected in their honor.

G.G.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Bomber kills 20 in attack on Iraqi Shi'ite pilgrims

 

Sat 14/01/2012 11:00
NNA - (Reuters) - A suicide bomber disguised as a policeman killed at least 20 people in an attack that targeted Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims passing through a checkpoint in Iraq's southern city of Basra on Saturday, police said.

The attack at the end of Arbain, one of the main religious observances on the Shi'ite calendar, occurred at a time when a political crisis in Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has renewed fears of a return to sectarian violence in the country.

"A terrorist wearing a police uniform and carrying fake police I.D. managed to reach a police checkpoint and blew himself up among police and pilgrims," said a police official at the scene of the bombing.

At least 20 were killed, including 11 policemen, and at least 70 people were wounded when the bomber detonated his explosives among pilgrims trying to pass through the checkpoint on their way to a major Shi'ite mosque to the west of Basra, police and hospital sources said.

A provincial health official who asked not to be named put the toll at 35 dead and 90 wounded.

Security forces sealed off entrances to the main hospital in Basra, fearing further attacks.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - US raises concerns with Moscow over Syria-bound ship
 

Fri 13/01/2012 21:41

NNA - 13/01/2012 (Reuters) - The United States said on Friday it had raised concerns with Moscow over a Russian-operated ship that has arrived in Syria and which sources said contained a cargo of bullets.

"With regard to the ship we have raised our concerns about this both with Russia and with Cyprus, which was the last port of call for the ship, and we are continuing to seek clarification as to what went down here," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The United States had not independently verified the contents of the ship's cargo, she said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Damascus forms a committee to investigate Jacquier's killing
 

Thu 12/01/2012 21:53

NNA - 12/1/2012 Syrian authorities decided to form a committee to investigate the circumstances of the killing of French journalist Gilles Jacquier in the city of Homs on Wednesday evening, "SANA" Syrian News Agency reported today.
Homs Governor Ghassan Abdel Aal issued a decision to set up a fact finding committee to probe into the circumstances and background of the killing incident of French Television-Channel II- reporter Gilles Jacquier and eight other Syrian nationals in a terrorist attack on Wednesday, SANA said.
----------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian authorities circulate photo of Maydan Street suicide bomber
 

Thu 12/01/2012 18:47

NNA - 12/1/2012 - Syrian Interior Ministry on Thursday circulated a photo of the suicide bomber who blew himself in Maydan Street in Damascus January 6.
R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Monitor Anwar Malek's statements untrue, says al-Dabi
 

Thu 12/01/2012 18:41
NNA - 12/1/2012 - Damascus said Thursday that Head of the Arab League's observer mission, Lieutenant General Mohammed al-Dabi, confirmed that monitor Anwar Malek's statements to a satellite channel were untrue.

Al-Dabi said that Malek did not leave his hotel room for health reasons ever since he was appointed among Homs team.

"Before leaving Damascus, Malek had asked for the permission to go to Paris for treatment; but he left before procedures ended (...) he travelled at his own expense," al-Dabi explained.


R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Two monitors quit mission in Syria
 

Thu 12/01/2012 16:46

NNA - 12/1/2012 - Two monitors withdrew today from the Arab observer mission in Syria, scheduled to proceed its task till forthcoming January 19, Head of the Arab League's monitors' operations room, Adnan Khoudari, said on Thursday.

Anwar Malek, Algerian, renounced to continue the mission for a health cause, while another Sudanese observer is believed to have quit for personal reasons.

R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved



 

Regional - Assad pledges to vanquish schemers
 

Wed 11/01/2012 15:43

NNA - 11/1/2012 - Syrian President on Wednesday pledged to vanquish foreign schemers, hitherto concocting a 10-month-old conspiracy, which Bashar Assad avowed it is in its very last stage.

Assad made a surprise appearance today in the central Umayyad Square in the Syrian capital, one day after he delivered a 100-minute speech from Damascus University.

"I wanted to be with you in Damascus, the capital of Syria, which they sought to be a ruined land," Assad told crowds of rapturous supporters.

"I wanted to be with you because I belong to this street; they told me that people wanted me to speak to them via a TV screen but I refused because I wanted to address you directly," he said.

"I came here so that we tread together towards 'Syria the dignity' with a hand on reforms and another on terrorism," he maintained.

"Syrians will definitely win," he vowed.



R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Moallem: Syria committed to Arab League protocol
 

Tue 10/01/2012 19:49
NNA - 10/1/2012 Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Moallem voiced his Country's commitment to the implementation of the protocol signed with the Arab League, dated 19/12/2011, and readiness to pursue full cooperation with Arab League monitors' mission.
Minister Moallem's stance came during his meeting on Tuesday afternoon with Arab League Monitors Chief Mohamed Ahmad Mustapha Al-Dabi, who came on top of a delegation of Arab monitors.
"Syria shall continue to hold its responsibility in ensuring the safety and protection of Arab monitors", Moallem said, stressing the importance that monitors carry out their mission with a sense of objectivity and impartiality.
Moallem also categorically deplored and rejected any act that hinders the task of Arab monitors, saying the success of their mission (Arab monitors') falls in the interest of Syria and the Arab League.
Moallem pointed out that some international and regional circles are creating doubts around the performance of monitors' mission, in an attempt to foil the role of the Arab League and as such referring the dossier to the Security Council with an Arab coverage.
--------------L.Y

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Al-Arabi holds Syrian government responsible for monitors' protection
 

Tue 10/01/2012 16:14

NNA - 10/1/2012 - Arab League's Nabil Al-Arabi on Tuesday said the Syrian government bore the full responsibility of monitors' protection.

Two Kuwaiti members of the Arab monitors' team in Syria got slightly injured in an attack by anonymous demonstrators on their way to the port city of Latakia, Kuwait's state news agency KUNA reported today.

"The [Arab] League condemns violence against a number of monitors by pro Syria government members in Latakia and Deir Zour," Al-Arabi said in a statement.

He called the lack of protection for the observer mission as "a major failure by the Syrian government to respect its engagements."

As highlighting the Arab League's keenness on carrying on monitors' field mission in a secure climate, Al-Arabi suggested a likely freezing of the observers' work "in case the life of the team's personnel was menaced or its task hindered."

"If the mission's work was frozen, the League would determine the responsibility of the party accountable for the mission's failure," he explained.

"We refuse any pressures or provocations from any party whosoever to obstruct the work of the mission," he corroborated.

Al-Arabi called both the government and the opposition to cease any incitement campaign against the observer mission.

The assault on monitors also earned sharp rebuke from Emirati Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah Ben Zayed Al Nahian, who told a news conference in Abu Dhabi that Syria showed little commitment to allow observers to carry out their mission.

"These are not positive signs," he noted.



R.A.H.

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Regional - Two Arab monitors in Syria wounded in attack
 

Tue 10/01/2012 15:32

NNA - 10/1/2012 - Two Kuwaiti members of the Arab League team of monitors in Syria got slightly injured in an assault by anonymous demonstrators on their way to the port city of Latakia, Kuwait's state news agency KUNA reported on Tuesday.

The monitors were immediately rushed to a hospital where they were treated and then continued their duties, said KUNA, as per a statement by Kuwait's military.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - (UPDATED) Assad says priority to restore order in Syria
 

Tue 10/01/2012 13:06

NNA - 10/01/2012 - Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday his priority was to bring back order in Syria, stressing that this could only be achieved by "hitting terrorists with an iron fist."

Speaking in public for the first time since June last year, Al-Assad asserted that foreign plots were behind the uprising. "Albeit, outside forces did not find a foothold in the revolution that they had designed," he added.

Broadcasted on Syrian television, Al-Assad vowed that his country would not "close doors" to Arab solutions to the 10-month protests against his rule, provided that "they respect Syria's sovereignty".

"There is no tolerance with terrorism or with those who use weapons to kill," he said during a speech he gave at Damascus University.

Furthermore, Al-Assad saw in most recent developments in Syria a "hard-hitting test in patriotism, welcoming the idea of expanding the government to include "all political forces". He said he expected a referendum on a new constitution to take place in March.

As for accusations leveled against Assad's regime of giving orders to open fire on rebels, al-Assad denied said accusations, affirming that no orders were given to anyone to open fire on any citizen.

"There is no cover for anyone. There are no orders for anyone to open fire on any citizen," he stressed.

Trapped in a violent struggle against a wave of unrest, Al-Assad also said that victory was near if Syrians remained steadfast.

The Arab League, which suspended Syria in November and announced sanctions, has sent a monitoring mission to Syria intended to judge whether it is complying with a peace plan calling for a withdrawal of troops from cities, prisoner releases and political dialogue.
R.H.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria's unrest a test in patriotism: Assad
 

Tue 10/01/2012 12:31

NNA - 10/01/2012 - Most recent developments in Syria stand for a hard-hitting test in patriotism Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, said in a speech he delivered on Tuesday at Damascus University.

Broadcasted on Syrian television, Al-Assad vowed that his country would not "close doors" to Arab solutions to the 10-month protests against his rule, provided that "it respects Syria's sovereignty".

Trapped in a violent struggle against a wave of unrest, Al-Assad also said that victory was near if Syrians remained steadfast.

Speaking in public for the first time since June last year, Al-Assad asserted that "foreign planning" was behind the uprising but that outside forces "did not find a foothold in the revolution that they had hoped for".

The Arab League, which suspended Syria in November and announced sanctions, has sent a monitoring mission to Syria intended to judge whether it is complying with a peace plan calling for a withdrawal of troops from cities, prisoner releases and political dialogue.
R.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Erdogan warns of civil war in Syria
 

Mon 9/01/2012 19:41

NNA - 9/1/2012 - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan cautioned against a likely civil and confessional war in Syria.

"Current developments in Syria are heading towards a civil, racist, and confessional war," he told a news conference Monday.

R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Damascus Christians, Muslims join prayers on victims' souls
 

Mon 9/01/2012 19:16

NNA - 9/1/2012 - Muslims and Christians gathered Monday under the cupola of the Holy Cross Church in Damascus, hence joining prayers on the souls of victims who fell throughout the nine-month unrest in Syria.

Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Badreddine Hassoun, indeed aggrieved with the loss of his own son among Syria's martyrs, reminded that not one holy monotheistic book has entitled men to murder their brothers.

In an out-and-out address to the Arab League and Foreign Ministers, currently brokering a solution to the Syrian crisis, the Mufti condemned their silence over unremitting bids to Judaize Jerusalem.

"Why didn't the Arab ministers hold a summit? Why haven't we seen a modicum of conscience?" he wondered.

"I say to those who carried weapons from outside this nation, drop them, for Syria shall rise again this year," he said.

For his part, Bishop Luka Khoury chided US and European leaders, along with those pretending to be Arabs, with killing.

"They crossed every limit with their violations of Syria. They murdered civilians, destroyed infrastructures, burned services facilities, and lied to the whole world with their media forging all truths," he said.

"Do you think that those who conspire against Syria and cause misery to the Syrian people know a thing about Christ and Christianity?" he wondered.

"Why do you support those seeking to sow seeds of war and strife in the world?" he addressed the UN.



R.A.H.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Hamas Critical of the PLO's Attitude towards Syria!
 

Sat 7/01/2012 17:49

NNA - 07/01/2012 - The Palestinian fundamentalist group Hamas sounded critical of the PLO's attitude towards the Syrian regime. Mainstream Palestinians led by Mahmoud Abbas, remain opposed to the present go-between the regime and opposition conducted in Damascus by Hamas polit-bureau head Khaled Mish'al.
Another Hamas polit-bureau member Salah Bardaweel, wondered as to how Yaser Abd Rabbo of the PLO rejects Hamas's good offices on account of non-interference in Syrian domestic affairs. Bardaweel predicated the defense of Palestinian refugee interests in Syria on Mish'al's Damascus visit saying the fate of hundreds of thousands of souls depended much on Mish'al's efforts and that he strives to spare them negative crisis fallout.
Bardaweel meanwhile cautioned the regime against resorting to force in dealing with the popular uprising and expressed deep worry about further bloodshed. He non-the-less reiterated Hamas's non-interference in the affairs of any Arab regime including Syria's.

G.G./R.K

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian Interior Ministry: Al-Midan explosive over 10Kg!
 

Fri 6/01/2012 20:16

NNA - 6/1/2012 - In a statement by Syrian Interior Ministry on Friday over the suicide bomb attack in "Al-Midan Square," it indicated that more than 10Kg of severe explosive materials have been used in the bombing. It added that concerned sides have begun their investigations into the terrorist attack, in order to unveil the perpetrators' identity and the nature of the bombing. It is to note that the attack resulted in the killing of 26 and the injury of 63 innocent civilians and policemen who were present within the vicinity. Huge damages were also incurred by vehicles and surrounding buildings at the scene of the explosion.

The Ministry stressed that it would respond "with an iron fist" to such "terrorist escalation," as it termed it. "We will strike back with an iron fist at anyone who is tempted to play with the security of the country or its citizens," Syria Television quoted Interior Minister Ibrahim al-Shaar as saying.
R.Sh.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Sha'ar of Syria: lone bomber responsible!
 

Fri 6/01/2012 16:19

NNA - 06/01/2012 - Syrian Minister of the Interior, Mouhammad Sha'ar, disclosed a lone bomber's responsibility for the mayhem in the busy Damascus quarter of Maydan early today. The apparent suicide attack left 26 killed and over than 63 injured.

Sha'ar and in a public statement, said a lone bomber strapped with explosive detonated himself at the passage of a mini bus carrying police agents or security personnel. He added that 11 security agents met their death instantaneously with 15 out of a total of 63 ferried to nearby hospitals for treatment.

Also speaking under conditions of anonymity, a senior security officer told United Press International (UPI) that the bomber wore a black sweater and nursed an executive suitcase which he instantly detonated at the local police branch of Maydan.

Shortly after, the place reportedly filled out with demonstrators in condemnation of the attack, the officer said.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Suicide bomber kills several in central Damascus
 

Fri 6/01/2012 13:28

NNA - 06/01/2012 An explosion shattered Maidan district in central Damascus Friday, as suicide bomber left several people killed and dozens injured, according Syrian state television.

Preliminary information by the government held terrorist groups accountable for attack.

R.Z.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Moallem: Turkey plays negative role in destabilizing Syria
 

Thu 5/01/2012 19:02

NNA - 05/01/2012 - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said the Turkish government was playing a negative role by attempting to destabilize the security situation in Syria.

Moallem's word came Thursday in the context of his meeting with head of the Turkish Happiness Party Mustafa Kamalak, who, for his part, hoped that both countries would resume a normal relation between them. Kamalak voiced rejection to any foreign interference in Syrian domestic affairs.

A.M.
 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Prosecutors to take stage Tuesday in Mubarak trial
 

Mon 2/01/2012 15:21

NNA - 02/01/2012 (Reuters): Lawyers demanded Monday that the head of Egypt's ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, be summoned back to the court to give fresh testimony. They also asked for Tantawi's deputy General Sami Anan to give evidence.

Mubarak, his two sons, the former interior minister and senior police officers face charges ranging from corruption to involvement in the deaths of around 850 protesters during the uprising that unseated him last February.

Mubarak is the first leader toppled in a wave of Arab uprisings last year to stand trial in person and the case has drawn worldwide attention.

In a country still grappling with political chaos and an economic crisis almost a near since the uprising began, many people believe national renewal will be impossible unless justice is achieved for those killed and their families.

No official has been convicted over the killing of protesters during the 18-day revolt. Mubarak and the other defendants deny any responsibility for the deaths.

The trial was suspended for almost 60 days until last week because some lawyers had demanded the replacement of the panel of judges overseeing the case.
R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Haniyeh, Erdogan convene in Turkey
 

Sun 1/01/2012 14:43

NNA - 01/01/2012 Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh arrived to Istanbul Sunday to meet PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss regional developments and the reconciliation deal between the Premier's Hamas party and Fatah, officials said.

Erdogan's government has sought to mediate between the parties and maintain good relations with both sides. On Friday Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said every Palestinian was welcome in Turkey.

Haniyeh's tour also included Sudan, Qatar, Tunisia, and Bahrain in an attempt to rebuild Gaza.

R.Z.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Abbas warns of Quartet failure, fears third intifada
 

Sun 1/01/2012 14:10

NNA - 01/01/2012 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cautioned in an interview with Palestine TV Sunday that if negotiations with Israel failed to take place by January 26, then the international peacemaking Quartet will have failed.

The Quartet is comprised of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia. It has set January 26 as the deadline for Israel and the Palestinians to submit all-inclusive proposals on territory and security as the group toils to revive peace talks.

"If nothing transpires, then all options are open to us�there are people who say there will be a third intifada, but I say that is doubtful and I do not accept it," said Abbas.

 

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Iraq declares December 31 a "National Day" marking US withdrawal
 

Sat 31/12/2011 20:31

NNA - 31/12/2011 - Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, declared Saturday, December 31, 2011, as a 'National Day" marking the US withdrawal from Iraq, referring to it as "Iraq's Day!"
Speaking during the central celebrations taking place at the People's Hall in Baghdad, Al-Maliki considered that this day denotes a day of sovereignty and freedom for all Iraqis. He implored the people of Iraq, who can now rejoice in their liberty, to safeguard and preserve Iraq's security and sovereignty.
It is to note that the United States troops' withdrawal from Iraq came in implementation of the security treaty signed in the year 2008 between Baghdad and Washington.

NNA 2012 All rights reserved


Regional - Maliki declares last day of year Iraq Day
 

Sat 31/12/2011 16:20

NNA - 31/12/2011 Prime Minister of Iraq declared 31 December a national day, dubbing it Iraq Day, commemorating the withdrawal of US troops from the country during a celebration Saturday in central Baghdad.

The war on Iraq began in 2003 as the US administration accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of hiding weapons of mass destruction. The war left 4500 American soldiers dead, as tens of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives. In 2008, President Barack Obama promised to pull out his troops by end of 2011.

"This is a celebration for all Iraqis, it is the dawn of a new day," PM Nouri el-Maliki said, reminding his people that it was now their responsibility to keep Iraq safe.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Gas pipeline hit in Homs
 

Tue 27/12/2011 17:19

NNA - 27/12/2011 - Reuters - Syria's state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday that terrorists had blown up a section of a gas pipeline near the protest hotbed city of Homs.

"An armed terrorist group targeted and sabotaged a gas pipeline near Rastan in Homs province," SANA wrote in an urgent news flash on its website.

The pipeline was attacked earlier in December but came back into operation after the outage, the news agency said.

SANA said 150 square meters of gas had leaked from the site of the pipeline explosion and cited an official from the oil ministry saying that gas had stopped being pumped.

 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab League monitors meet Homs governor
 

Tue 27/12/2011 12:44

NNA - 27/12/2011 - Arab League observers arrived on Tuesday to Homs and met with the city's governor Ghassan Abdelaal, later they will head to Hama.

At least 50 Arab monitors arrived on Monday night to Syria to monitor the situation on ground.

The monitors are on a mission to assess whether Syria has halted a crackdown on a nine-month uprising against President Bashar Assad.

A.A.M

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Suicide bomber kills 7 outside Iraq ministry
 

Mon 26/12/2011 12:15

NNA - 26/12/2011 (Reuters) - At least seven people were killed when a suicide car bomber hit Iraq's interior ministry on Monday in the latest attack since a crisis erupted between the Shi'ite-led government and Sunni leaders a week ago.

Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sought the arrest of the Sunni vice president last Monday and asked parliament to fire his own Sunni deputy, triggering turmoil that threatens new sectarian strife just after the last U.S. troops withdrew.

The blast occurred when the bomber drove his vehicle into a security cordon outside the ministry in central Baghdad, detonating an explosion that left dead and wounded on the ground and set fire to nearby vehicles, police said.
A senior police source said authorities believed insurgents were targeting the interior ministry because of the announcement of the arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, charged with running death squads.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Pope calls for end of violence in Syria
 

Sun 25/12/2011 15:18

NNA - 25/12/2011 Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in his Christmas message Sunday.

Benedict delivered his "Urbi et Orbi" speech (to the city and to the world) from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica before thousands of jubilant tourists and pilgrims.

"Give new impetus for constructing the general good for all factions of society in North Africa and the Middle East," the Pope advised.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian officials blames Al Qaeda for double-attack on Damascus
 

Fri 23/12/2011 21:33

NNA - 23/12/2011 (Reuters) Suicide car bombers struck Damascus on Friday, officials said, gutting buildings and sending human limbs flying in the bloodiest violence in Syria's capital since a revolt began nine months ago.

An interior ministry spokesman raised the death toll to 44 people in an evening address on state television. He blamed al Qaeda for the blasts, which hit two security compounds and came a day after the arrival of Arab League officials to prepare for a monitoring team that will check whether President Bashar al-Assad is implementing a plan to end the bloodshed.

Assad has unleashed tanks and troops to try to crush nine months of street protests inspired by other Arab uprisings this year. Mainly peaceful rallies are now increasingly eclipsed by an armed insurgency against his military and security apparatus.
But Friday's blasts in central Damascus signaled a dramatic escalation in violence, which Syrian authorities blame on armed groups they say have killed 2,000 soldiers and security force members this year. The United Nations says Assad's crackdown has killed 5,000 people.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab League team inspects Damascus blast sites
 

Fri 23/12/2011 15:30


NNA - 23/12/2011 - A team of Arab League officials visited the sites of the two explosions in Damascus on Friday to inspect the damages.

At least thirty people were killed and 100 were wounded in the blasts, as reported by Syrian sources.

Arab and foreign TV channels, reporters and correspondents rushed to the explosions scenes to cover the news.
D.K.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - (UPDATED) - Two suicide bombs hit Damascus security sites
 

Fri 23/12/2011 11:40

NNA - 23/12/2011 - The two explosions which targeted Syrian security sites in Damascus on Friday was due rto two suicide bombs attacks, according to the Syrian state television.

A.A.M

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - # Two bomb attacks against security buildings in Damascus
 

Fri 23/12/2011 11:15

NNA - 23/12/2011 - Two attacks were launched on Syrian security buildings in Damascus on Friday executed by al Qaeda, state television said.

"Terrorist attacks were launched against two security sites in Damascus", according to the state television.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria condemns explosions in Iraq
 

Thu 22/12/2011 22:42

NNA - 21/12/2011 Syria condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist explosions that shook the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on Thursday morning, that left 69 killed and 185 injured, Syrian Foreign Ministry Official Spokesman said in a statement.
Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry expressed sincere condolences on the fallen martyrs, voicing solidarity with their families, in the hope that security and safety would prevail in Iraq.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria signs amended deal to let in Arab observers
 

Mon 19/12/2011 16:46

NNA - 19/12/2011 - Syria agreed on Monday to let in an Arab observer mission, tasked to ensure compliance with a government cease-fire, two weeks after it failed to meet the November 25 deadline to allow in the observers.

Syrian Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Faysal Muqdad, today signed on the Syrian government behalf the Arab League-drafted protocol, which Walid Moallem assured to have underwent amendments.

Moallem told a news conference today that the Syrian sovereignty had become protected in the protocol.

Syria had said that the Arab proposal to admit observers infringed its sovereignty, and had asked for clarification.

Earlier this month, Syria revealed intention to sign the protocol, but proposed amendments relevant to details rather than to the essence of the proposal.

The amendments included that the protocol should be signed in Damascus and that the series of sanctions against Syria should be considered null and void.

The Arab League approved a new pile of economic sanctions against Syria on November 27. It hereby banned transactions with the Syrian Central Bank, ceased the funding of projects in the country, and froze the assets of the Syrian government. Syria retaliated by suspending a 2004 free-trade agreement with Turkey, subjecting Turkish imports to customs fees, and suspending membership in the Union for the Mediterranean.

Moallem reckoned today's signature as paving the way for further cooperation between Syria and the Arab League, and said the observer mission was "the most welcome."

Observers are scheduled to stay in Syria for a one-month renewable mandate.

Moallem explained that the mission's reports would be referred to him as well as to the Arab League's Secretary General, Nabil Al-Arabi, with a view to further discussions.

"There will be full cooperation through a national commission, to be the link between the mission and the Syrian government," he added.

The Arab initiative states to cease violence against civilians, withdraw military vehicles from cities and localities, release detainees, and hold a national dialogue conference at the Arab League's headquarter, gathering the Syrian government and opposition, in a an effort to reach a political solution to the ten-month-old crisis.

The signature came two days after a committee of Arab Foreign Ministers on Syria said Arab states may take their proposals to the UN Security Council next week, unless Syria agreed to implement the initiative.

The Security Council had condemned in August "the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities."

Later in October, Russia and China, Syria's strong allies, had vetoed a West European draft resolution that threatened sanctions.




R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria signs Arab League protocol
 

Mon 19/12/2011 14:39

NNA - 19/12/2011 - Syria signed the observers' protocol in Cairo which decides the legal framework and the Arab observers' committee duties, "French Press Agency" said on Monday.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Damascus signs observers' protocol today
 

Mon 19/12/2011 11:01

NNA - 19/12/2011- Damascus will sign today (Monday) afternoon in Cairo the observers' protocol which decides the legal framework and the Arab observers' committee duties, "French Press Agency" said.

It is to note that the Arab League had decided sending the committee to Syria.

The Agency said,"Syrian Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Faysal Al-Mokdad will arrive before noon to Cairo to sign the protocol."

L.Y.R/N.AF

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Qatari PM: Arab League intends to transfer the Syrian dossier to the Security Council
 

Sat 17/12/2011 22:51

NNA - 17/12/2011 - Qatari Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad ben Jassim Al Thani, stated Saturday that the Arab League intends to request that the International Security Council to adopt the resolutions related to Syria, encouraged herein by the Russian stand. He added that the Arab Foreign Ministers shall discuss the matter during their meeting upcoming Wednesday. He noted that the Arab Ministers wish to ensure that the Arab view point is present at the UN Council.
The Qatari Prime Minister's words came during the press conference held following the ministerial committee's work related to the Syrian dossier. He expressed hope that brethrens in Syria would sign the protocol by the Arab mission within two days. He noted herein that if they fail to sign prior to the upcoming meeting by the Arab League Council, then matters might get out of Arab control.
R.Sh.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Politics- Mokbel denies his convoy offended any person
 

Mon 12/12/2011 11:12

NNA - 12/12/2011- Deputy of Prime Minister Samir Mokbel denied that his convoy offended the protesters who were involved in a sit-in in front of the Central Bank of Lebanon.

It is worth noting that a group of people held a sit-in on Saturday (10/12/2011) in front of the Central Bank of Lebanon to protest against the unjust wage increase which the cabinet approved recently.

Mokbel information bureau explained in a statement issued today (Monday) that "the deputy of Prime Minister Samir Mokbel denies some media reports which claimed that his convoy was involved in the clashes with the protesters in front of the Central Bank of Lebanon."

"He (Mokbel) is astonished over embroiling his name in this cheap media warngling which does not serve anybody," The statement concluded.

L.Y.R/N.AF

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad: Syria shall not relinquish its positions
 

Thu 8/12/2011 19:59

NNA - 8/12/2011 Syrian President Bashar Al Assad underlined that Syria clings to its positions, constants and sovereignty regardless of pressures, affirming that Syria will be capable of overcoming its crisis.
President Al-Assad's words came Thursday before a delegation of Lebanese Druze sect dignitaries, where they tackled the situation in the region specially incidents currently taking place in Syria.
The delegation said they stand besides Syria, Command and people, in overcoming the conspiracy targeting the division of Syria and the region, National News Agency Correspondent in Damascus reported.
Deputy Talal Erslan regarded in his word the war waged against Syria as a concrete embodiment of permanent war staged against the region, saying the aim of what is currently taking place is destroying Syria for being the beaufort of the nation and supporter of Arab rights.
--------------L.Y

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Yemen Vice President sets up unity government
 

Wed 7/12/2011 21:11

NNA - 5/12/2011 - Yemen's Vice President issued a decree on Wednesday to set up a national unity government to prepare for elections.

The proclamation by Vice-President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi paves the way for a unity government to be sworn in as part of a plan to end months of protests against outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Under a Gulf-brokered power transfer plan signed in Saudi Arabia last month, Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party agreed to divide cabinet posts with its opponents in a coalition government headed by an opposition leader.

Mohammed Basindwa, a Former Foreign Minister, was nominated to head the new government by opposition parties. The GPC retained the key portfolios of defense and foreign affairs, while opposition parties received the interior and finance ministries.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - (corrected)Arabi, Foreign Ministers thrash out Syria's conditions to sign protocol
 

Mon 5/12/2011 21:25

NNA - 5/12/2011 - The Arab League Secretary General is currently holding discussions with Arab Foreign Ministers over Damascus's conditions to sign a protocol allowing Arab observers in Syria, in a bid to ensure compliance with a government cease-fire.

The Arab League (AL) had given the Syrian government until Sunday to sign its peace initiative and agree to the deployment of an observer mission, or face the nuisance of further sanctions approved last week.

Syria has responded "positively" to the AL initiative aimed at ending eight months of unrest, its Foreign Ministry spokesman has said. Jihad al-Makdisi told reporters that he expected the deal to be signed soon.

"Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem sent a message to the Arab League General Secretariat revealing Syria's intent to sign the AL-drafted protocol, provided that it complies with a set of conditions and amendments," Arab League Secretary General Nabil Arabi told reporters on Monday. He added that Syria's requests are currently being discussed by the Arab League's Ministerial Council.

Moreover, Arabi said that contacts had been made with Arab Foreign Ministers so as to brief them on the content of the Syrian request. But no Arab Ministers' meeting has been scheduled to discuss the matter so far, Arabi says.

"The Arab sanctions on Syria remain active," he added, seeing in Syria's conditions "new things that we haven't heard of before."
R.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Arabi, Foreign Ministers thrash out Syria's conditions to sign protocol
 

Mon 5/12/2011 20:35

NNA - 5/12/2011 - The Arab League Secretary General is currently holding discussions with Arab Foreign Ministers over Damascus's conditions to sign a protocol allowing Arab observers in Syria, in a bid to ensure compliance with a government cease-fire.

The Arab League (AL) had given the Syrian government until Sunday to sign its peace initiative and agree to the deployment of an observer mission, or face the nuisance of further sanctions approved last week.

Syria has responded "positively" to the AL initiative aimed at ending eight months of unrest, its Foreign Ministry spokesman has said. Jihad al-Makdisi told reporters that he expected the deal to be signed soon.

"Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem sent a message to the Arab League General Secretariat revealing Syria's intent to sign the AL-drafted protocol, provided that it complies with a set of conditions and amendments," Arab League Secretary General Nabil Arabi told reporters on Monday. He added that Syria's requests are currently being discussed by the Arab League's Ministerial Council.

Moreover, Arabi said that contacts had been made with Arab Foreign Ministers so as to brief them on the content of the Syrian request. But no Arab Ministers' meeting has been scheduled to discuss the matter so far, Arabi says.

"The Arab sanctions on Syria remain active," he added, seeing in Syria's conditions "good things that we haven't heard of before."
R.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria intends to ink AL protocol, proposes amendments
 

Mon 5/12/2011 16:39

NNA - 5/12/2011 - Syria revealed intention to sign an Arab League-drafted protocol on an observer mission, which calls for the admission of monitors to ensure compliance with a government cease-fire, ten days after it failed to meet the November 25 deadline to allow in the observers.

Foreign Minister Walid Moallem sent a message to the AL Chief, Nabil Al-Arabi late Sunday, herein proposing amendments relevant to details rather than to the essence of the protocol, spokesperson Jihad Makdessi told a news conference.

According to Makdessi, the amendments included that the protocol should be signed in Damascus, and that the series of sanctions and decisions against Syria should be considered null and void.

Syria says the Arab proposal to admit observers infringes its sovereignty, and has asked for clarification.

"The Syrian government wishes to sign the protocol draft with the Arab League's Secretary General in Damascus as per the Arab work plan agreed upon in Doha on October 30, 2011, in addition to the clarifications which Syria had required from AL Chief," Moallem addressed Al-Arabi in a message.

"The Syrian government considers all the decisions issued by the [Arab Ministerial] Council in the absence of Syria, among which the suspension of its membership in the Arab League and the sanctions by the ministerial committee and the Arab ministerial councils against Syria, as null and void, once the protocol is signed by both parties," the message read.

The AL approved a new pile of economic sanctions against Syria on November 27. It hereby banned transactions with the Syrian Central Bank, ceased the funding of projects in Syria, and froze the Syrian government's assets.

In a retaliatory step, the Syrian government said Sunday it was suspending a 2004 free-trade agreement with Turkey. All Turkish imports would be subject to customs fees.

Moallem highlighted in the message that "the good intentions" of the Arab states would certainly bear fruit and have a paramount role in the two-pronged coordination, between Syria and the AL.

"This will certainly have positive effect on the joint Arab work and restitute to the Arab League its status and effectiveness, sought by every Arab citizen," the message read.

Moallem also asked Al-Arabi to notify UN Chief about the deal and the positive results reached after the protocol signature, in a written letter to be distributed later to the head and members of the Security Council as an official document.



R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria "positive" on Arab League protocol
 

Mon 5/12/2011 15:12

NNA - 5/12/2011 Syria has responded "positively" to an Arab League initiative to sign its peace protocol and allow in an observer mission, Syrian Foreign Ministry Spokesman said.

Jihad al-Makdesi also said Damascus was still looking at the plan and that the protocol is intended to be signed soon."

"The Syrian government has responded positively to the draft protocol." he added.

The spokesman also noted that Syria's Moallem had sent a letter to the organization's Chief Nabil Elaraby on Sunday night.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - British embassy shudders from blast in Bahrain
 

Sun 4/12/2011 12:39


NNA - 04/12/2011 A blast occurred inside a minibus parked near the British Embassy in the capital of Bahrain with no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries, a statement by Interior Ministry said Sunday.

The explosion occurred in a public parking area near the British diplomatic compound in the capital Manama. Investigators sealed off the area.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria: Human Rights Council report is unfair and politicized!
 

Sat 3/12/2011 20:57

NNA - 3/12/2011 - Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry described Saturday the recent report by the Human Rights Council over Syria as being "unfair and politicized"!
Syrian News Agency "SANA" quoted a Syrian official at the Ministry, indicating that the report has based its judgment upon information circulated by outside sources within the framework of the media campaign waged against Syria. The official added that the Council's holding of three sessions against a developing country practicing its right in ensuring stability, security and reform on its internal scene, is considered a flagrant and unjustified interference in said country's affairs.
However, the Syrian official stressed that Syria shall pursue its path of reform and launching of a comprehensive national dialogue, so as to overcome its current internal crisis and finalize a modern constitution that surpasses the best constitutions of the world.
R.Sh.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Huge turn out Egyptian elections
 

Sat 3/12/2011 13:32

NNA - 03/12/2011 (Reuters) - More than eight million Egyptians voted in the opening round of their first free vote in six decades in what the election chief said on Friday was a turnout of 62 percent, far higher than in the rigged polls of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood's party and its ultra-conservative Salafi rivals looked set to top the polls, to the alarm of many at home and abroad. Moderate Islamists have won elections in Tunisia and Morocco in the past two months.

The emergence of ambitious Salafi parties is one of the starkest measures of change in post-Mubarak Egypt.

Abdul Moez Ibrahim, the head of the election committe said 8.3 million of 13.6 million registered voters in areas that voted in the first round had cast their ballots. Other parts of the country will vote in two more rounds, and run-offs must also be held in a six-week election process.

"The blood of martyrs has watered the tree of freedom, social justice and the rule of law. We are now reaping its first fruits," Ibrahim said in tribute to more than 850 people killed in a popular revolt that toppled Mubarak in February.

Protesters were out again in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to mourn 42 people killed in the 10 days before the vote at rallies demanding the generals who replaced Mubarak give way to civilian rule.

"Without Tahrir, we wouldn't have had these elections," said Mohamed Gad in the square that cradled the revolt. "God willing, the elections will succeed and the revolution will triumph."

But many of the young people who took to the streets early this year now fear their revolution risks being stolen, either by the army rulers or by well-organised Islamist parties.
Ibrahim announced two from the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and two liberals, won over 50 percent of votes for outright victory out of 56 individual seats at stake.

Yousry Hamad, a senior official of the Salafi Nour Party said 26 of its contenders were involved in run-offs, 24 of them going head-to-head with FJP candidates.

"We will go into the run-offs with all our might and there will be no deals with anyone. We will aim to do better than we have already," Nour leader Emad Abdel Ghafour told Reuters.

The Muslim Brotherhood, banned but semi-tolerated under Mubarak, has said its FJP expects to win 43 percent of party list votes in the first stage, building on the Islamist group's decades of grassroots social and religious work.

But the Brotherhood's website also forecast that the Salafi al-Nour party would gain 30 percent of the vote, a shock for some Egyptians, especially minority Christian Copts, who fear it will try to impose strict Islamic codes on society.

Senior FJP official Essam el-Erian said before the vote that Salafis, who had kept a low profile and shunned politics during Mubarak's 30-year rule, would be "a burden for any coalition".

Kamal al-Ganzouri, asked by the army to form a "national salvation government", aims to complete it soon. State television said the cabinet was still being formed, but included at least half of the outgoing team.

Protesters in Tahrir have rejected Ganzouri, 78.
"It is unacceptable that after the revolution, an old man comes and governs. We don't want the army council anymore. they should go back to barracks," said Menatallah Abdel Meguid, 24.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria suspends membership in Union for the Mediterranean
 

Thu 1/12/2011 17:17

NNA - 1/12/2011 - Syria suspended today its membership in the Union for the Mediterranean, Syrian state-run news agency (SANA) said on Thursday.

According to SANA, this decision came in objection to the "unjustified" European procedures against the Syrian people.


R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Kuwait calls nationals to leave Syria
 

Thu 1/12/2011 15:33

NNA - 1/12/2011 - Kuwait today called upon its nationals to leave Syria, state-run KUNA quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement.

The Ministry explained herein that the call was made for the sake of the nationals' safety.


R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad, Muslim Scholars tackle current situation
 

Wed 30/11/2011 20:07

NNA - 30/11/2011 Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad met on Wednesday with a delegation of "Lebanese Muslim Scholars Gathering" where they tackled the current incidents taking place in Syria and their impact on the regional and international arena.
Delegation members deplored plots currently targeting Syria and its security and stability, rejecting Arab League's decisions that affect the Syrian citizen.
The delegation stressed that Syria is targeted due to its supportive position towards the resistance and Arab right, voicing the Gathering's stand besides the Syrian people in overcoming the crisis.
----------------L.Y

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - 912 detainees released in Syria
 

Wed 30/11/2011 18:52

NNA - 30/11/2011 Around 912 Syrian detainees who were involved in the recent incidents in Syria and whose "hands were not stained in Syrian blood", were released on Wednesday, National News Agency Correspondent in Damascus reported.
1180 Syrian detainees who were arrested for involvement in Syrian incidents were set free on Nov 15 and another 553 were released on Nov 5, NNA Correspondent noted.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - ICO conference on Syria kicks off in Jeddah
 

Wed 30/11/2011 17:11

NNA - 30/11/2011 - The Islamic Cooperation Organization on Wednesday opened an urgent conference in Jeddah to discuss the current juncture in Syria, days after the Arab League had imposed economic sanctions on it.

The conference is special to the ICO's executive committee, comprised of KSA, Senegal, Egypt, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Djibouti, and Tajikistan, with an open ministerial membership.

The ICO had renewed calls upon Syria to adopt peaceful means, apply reforms, and cease violence against civilians, so as to avoid the internationalization of the crisis.



R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Tehran apologetic, UK warns of consequences
 

Tue 29/11/2011 20:42

NNA - 29/11/2011 Iran's Foreign Ministry regretted the unfortunate attack on British embassy Tuesday as Britain warned the Persian state of grave consequences.

Iranian pro-regime students stormed the British diplomatic compounds in Tehran on Tuesday, bringing down the Union Jack flag and throwing documents from windows. The mob surged past riot police into the British Embassy compound - which they pelted with petrol bombs and stones - two days after Iran's parliament approved a bill that reduces diplomatic relations with Britain following London's support of recently upgraded Western sanctions on Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.

"A small number of demonstrators went into the British embassy, despite police efforts," a statement by Iran's foreign ministry said, adding that proper authorities were asked to take needed measures.

Iran faces "serious consequences" after protesters stormed two British diplomatic compounds in Tehran, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said today, adding that he had protested in the "strongest terms" to Iran's foreign minister, Reuters reported.

"We hold the Iranian government responsible for its failure to take adequate measures to protect our embassy, as it is required to do," Hague said in a statement. "Clearly there will be other, further, and serious consequences."

Hague said all embassy staff and their dependants had been accounted for. Earlier reports said six British embassy staff were briefly held hostage during the incident.

A number of countries showed full support for Britain and denounced the attack on the British embassy; among these were Italy, Russia, and USA.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Car blast rocks Latakia Orthodox Archdiocese
 

Mon 28/11/2011 17:14

NNA - 28/11/2011 - A booby-trapped car exploded today near the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Latakia, north Syria, causing material damages only, the United Press agency reported on Monday.



R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Kuwaiti government resigns
 

Mon 28/11/2011 15:06

NNA - 28/11/2011 - Kuwaiti Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Sobah-led government on Monday presented its resignation to Prince Sobah Ahmed Jaber Al-Sobah.


R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Kuwaiti preemptive detentions extended
 

Sun 27/11/2011 14:02

NNA - 27/11/2011 - Preemptive detentions of 24 Kuwaiti oppositionists have been extended by a local court in Kuwait City today, their lawyer Hmadeh Sobay'i announced today.

All 24 activists were part of the group of 200 protesters who broke into the parliament building last week. Their detention has been extended by three weeks with seven of them being bailed out against 3600 US dollars for each.

Kuwaiti opposition indicated that preemptive detentions would not deter future actions against the corrupt government and that tomorrow Monday would be witnessing a massive demonstration demanding the stepping down of the Prime Minister Nasser As-Sabbah.

According to the oppositionists' attorney, they were subject to cross examination as of November 16 and that they found themselves at pains of 6 months' imprisonment.

Earlier, the Emir of Kuwait, Sabbah Ahmad Sabbah, regarded demonstrators' breaking into parliament as a black day in Kuwait's modern history and promised further prosecution over than 40 protesters.

Activists for their part, accused members of the Royal family of money-laundering with millions of dollars transferred into foreign bank which resulted in lacking currency liquidity.

G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Heavy stick-wielding Tantawi
 

Sun 27/11/2011 13:01

NNA - 27/11/2011 - Egyptian strong man of the Supreme Military Council, Martial Hussein Tantawi, appeared belligerent in the face of mounting protests in Tahrir Liberation and other public squares of Egypt.

The heavy stick-wielding Martial told newsmen today that the Egyptian military won't allow anyone or any group to apply pressure on the Council. Tantawi however, acknowledged the presence of myriad challenges but vowed to deal firmly with them.

The Martial apparently was reacting to protesters' call upon him to step down and cede to a civilian government.

G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Iranian parliament demotes British relations
 

Sun 27/11/2011 13:00

NNA - 27/11/2011 Iranian parliament voted to relegate ties with the United Kingdom both diplomatically and economically as an answer to new Western sanctions imposed over Tehran's nuclear program, state radio said Sunday.

Britain, in coordination with the United States and Canada, announced November 14 new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, after a report by the U.N. atomic energy watchdog suggested Tehran was researching nuclear weapons.

Deputies in favor of such measures demanded expelling the British ambassador to Iran. The final decision was pending Guardians Council's approval.
Britain said such measures would be "regrettable.".
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Cairo Protester Crushed to Death by Police Car
 

Sat 26/11/2011 15:12

NNA - 26/11/2011 - A Cairo protester was crushed to death underneath an armored police car while attempting to stop army-appointed Kamal Ganzouri from assuming his office as new Egyptian prime minister. They accuse the 78-year-old politician of belonging to the ancient regime of Housni Moubarak.

The victim agitated within a group of protesters who broke away from Tahrir-liberation Square main demonstration dashing right at the prime minister's office in a bid to prevent Ganzouri's entry into the building.

A confrontation with the baton-wielding police ensued leading to the death of the young man who suffered from multiple injuries including fractured pelvic bone medical sources in Tahrir Square said. Protesters replied to tear gas grenades and rubber bullets with stones and Molotov-cocktail bombs.

In the run-up to the legislative elections within 48 hours, the death of the youth is expected to aggravate the showdown with protesters already escalating demands for Marshal Tantawi's stepping down and ceding for civilian rule.

Thousands partaking in the second wave of the Egyptian revolution vowed to remain put in the Square till all of their demands were met.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Davutoglu: Turkey to take part in Arab foreign ministers meeting
 

Fri 25/11/2011 20:10

NNA - 25/11/2011 Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs regretted Assad's silence towards Arab League warning, and confirmed to Anadolu News Agency Friday his country's participation in meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers upcoming Sunday.

The Arab League gave an ultimatum to Syria's Bashar Assad to sign a draft protocol by Friday to admit a mission of 500 civilian and military observers to monitor the human rights situation and oversee efforts to carry out a peace plan that Syria agreed to Nov. 2, or it would face sanctions.

"If Syria had nothing to hide concerning situation in the cities, and if it had good intentions for peace, [the regime] would have said yes to the observers," said Ahmet Davutoglu.

"Its silence reinforces concerns about the humane situation and doubts surrounding events in the region." He warned that his government would take further measures against Damascus.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Arabs give Syria a day to accept monitors - Egypt
 

Thu 24/11/2011 17:58

NNA - 24/11/2011 - CAIRO, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The Arab League has given Syria a day to sign a protocol allowing monitors into the country or the regional body will press ahead with plans to impose economic sanctions, Egypt's envoy to the League said on Thursday.


"Tomorrow is the deadline for Syria to sign. If they don't sign, the economic and social council (of ministers) will meet on Saturday to discuss economic sanctions," he said adding that if Syria did not sign foreign ministers would meet again on Sunday to review the proposed sanctions.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Egyptian Supreme Military Council discusses crisis diffusion with political parties
 

Tue 22/11/2011 14:21

NNA - 22/11/2011 - the initial round of talks opened between the Egyptian Supreme Military Council and the mainstream political parties in the country in a bid to defuse the crisis which spilled over in Tahrir (Liberation) Square killing over than 35 protesters and wounding of scores of others.

The disclosure was made by the Egyptian government-run TV station which announced that the Muslim brotherhood is the main protagonist to Military Council and party talks.

In a related development, head of the Egyptian stock exchange Mohammad Omran announced the suspension of all financial transactions for over than hour today in view of plummeting shares, bonds and stocks.

According to Omran, the stock exchange index fell by 48,4% with the escalation of street fighting between demonstrators and security forces.

According to the law, Omran said he could use his discretion to redress the imbalance reassuring that stock exchange transactions would resume within an hour or so.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Libya won't surrender Saif Islam
 

Tue 22/11/2011 14:09

NNA - 22/11/2011 - Libya won't surrender Gaddafi junior to the International Criminal Court, Libyan Minister of Justice-designate Mohammad Oulaki announced today.

The Minister's assurance that Gaddafi junior would stand trial in Tripoli came during a visit by Prosecutor-General of the International Criminal Court Moreno Ocampo. Oulaki emphatically turned down Ocampo's request saying in one word, Libya won't surrender Gaddafi.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Saudi Arabia calls on Syria to fulfill its pledges
 

Mon 21/11/2011 20:06

NNA - 21/11/2011 Saudi Arabia called on Syria to fully implement its pledges towards the work plan adopted by Arab League Ministerial Council to resolve the crisis in Syria.
Arab Ministerial Council endorsed the said Arab plan during its meeting held on Nov 2, 2011, that stipulates halting all violent acts, ending military presence in cities and releasing detainees.
Saudi Information and Culture Minister Abdel Aziz Khoja stressed the importance of "ensuring protection for Syrian civilians and halting violent and killing acts", Saudi Official News Agency quoted Khoja in the wake of Saudi Cabinet's meeting on Monday.
Following its meeting presided over by Saudi Crown Prince Nayef Ben Abdel Aziz, Saudi Cabinet hailed the efforts undertaken by Arab League at the level of Foreign Ministers regarding the situation in Syria.
-------------L.Y

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Mouallem: Accuse Arabs of Working to Internationalize Syrian Crisis!
 

Sun 20/11/2011 16:25

N.N.A. Nov.20, 2011 Syrian Foreign minister Waleed Mouallem, condemned certain Arab nations without naming them for working through the League of Arab Nations in order to bring about international intervention against the Assad regime.

Anticipating upcoming Tuesday's emergency meeting of Arab Foreign ministers meeting in Cairo to discuss imposing sanctions against the regime, as disclosed by deputy-Secretary of the Arab League, Ahmad Bin Hilli, Mouallem told a Damascus press conference that the Arab protocol dashed at his government to sign impossibly infringes Syria's sovereign power.

He duly warned Arab regimes against dictating to Assad saying he would fight back if cornered and expressed hope of not coming to that. Mouallem concluded that US Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign minister Daoud Oglu were pushing hard for civil strife in Syria.
G.G./R.K.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - A good day for Libya; Saif Islam's arrest
 

Sat 19/11/2011 14:21

NNA - 19/11/2011 - 39 year-old Saif Islam; apparent regent to deposed dictator Muamar Gaddafi was seized by one of the major groups which took Gaddafi's birth place of Sirte by storm a month ago, based on Reuters breaking stories Saturday.

Gaddafi junior was seized with 3 of his bodyguards pending his trial immediately after the establishment of a new government in Tripoli, sources close to former rebels said.

Gaddafi junior who is wanted for crimes against humanity by the International Court of Justice in the Hague would have to wait in prison before the establishment of an interim government in Zintan.

News of Gaddafi's arrest was met by scenes of jubilation in the capital Tripoli with ex-fighters firing their weapons into the air and throngs of people taking to the street singing and merrymaking.

Saif Islam Gaddafi's arrest however, does not put the lid completely on the revolution since intelligence chief Abdallah Sanousi accused of manslaughter of thousands is still at large.
G.G./P.BC.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved










 

Regional - Al-Arabi calls for halting bloodshed in Syria
 

Wed 16/11/2011 18:39

NNA - 16/11/2011 Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Arabi called on "all" to bear their responsibilities and adopt what is required to bring an end to the continued bloodshed in Syria.
Al-Arabi is partaking in Turkish-Arab Forum meeting in Rabat.
Al-Arabi told journalists that Arab League Ministers' Council adopted few days ago an important decision to ensure protection for Syrian civilians.
--------------L.Y
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Over a thousand Syrian detainees freed
 

Tue 15/11/2011 20:02

NNA - 15/11/2011 State-run Syrian television announced Tuesday the release of over a thousand prisoners arrested during recent uprising.

TV reports said that the innocence of these prisoners was established before allowing them to go free.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Turkey threatens Syria with electricity supply halt
 

Tue 15/11/2011 18:42

NNA - 15/11/2011 Turkish government warned Syria it would stop its supply of electricity if strain in bilateral relations prolonged.

Diplomatic relations between once allied countries were put to the test with the onset of popular uprising in Syria demanding the toppling of President Bashar Assad. This culminated in a rift in bilateral ties eight months into Syria's Arab Spring.

"We currently provide Syria with electricity. If this situation continues we will be forced to revise all these decisions," said Taner Yildiz, Turkish Minister of Energy.

Turkish state news agency Anadolu Agency reported attacks on headquarters of Turkish diplomatic missions in Syria.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Mouallem says Arab league decision "dangerous step"
 

Mon 14/11/2011 14:24

Politics - Syria said on Monday an Arab League decision to suspend it was "an extremely dangerous step" at a time when it was implementing a deal with the organization to end violence and start a dialogue with the opposition.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem also told a televised news conference in Damascus that Washington's welcoming of the Arab League decision amounted to "incitement".
Syria expressed confidence that Russia and China would continue to block Western efforts at the United Nations to condemn its crackdown on protesters, despite its suspension from the Arab League.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said he expected the positions of Beijing and Moscow to remain unchanged despite the action taken by the Arab states, and also played down the prospect of any Western military intervention in Syria.
"The Libya scenario will not be repeated", he said.

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem apologized for attacks on foreign diplomatic missions after the Arab League announced it was suspending Damascus for its crackdown on eight months of protests against President Bashar al-Assad.
"As for attacks on foreign embassies, as foreign minister I apologise for these aggressions," Moualem said.
Crowds attacked the Turkish and Saudi Arabian embassies in Damascus on Saturday night, as well as France's honorary consulate in Latakia and diplomatic offices in Aleppo.

REUTERS

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria countering Arab League Freeze!
 

Sun 13/11/2011 15:13

NNA - 13/11/2011 - Syria countered the Arab League's freezing of its membership on its board by calling for an immediate Arab summit to deal with the ongoing crisis and explore venues for defusing it. The Syrian government call came in SANA which criticized recent Arab League freeze.

Speaking under anonymity, a senior government official in Damascus said the government is still keen to meet with an Arab investigation commission. He also challenged Arab League Secretary Ahmad El-Aarabi to implement decisions recently taken over the Syrian crisis.

He however, insisted that the League representatives meet with government officials to discuss what he termed flows of the Arab initiative. He criticized the initiative on grounds of lacking appropriate mechanisms already decided by the League itself.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Iraq protests Arab League decision, calls it "unacceptable"
 

Sun 13/11/2011 12:21

NNA - 13/11/2011 Iraqi administration strongly condemned Sunday Arab League decision against Assad regime, deeming it "unacceptable" and "risky business."

Arab League foreign ministers on Saturday voted 18-22 to suspend Syria over its failure to fulfill an agreement to end the assault on a nationwide protest movement calling for Assad's resignation.

Spokesperson to the cabinet Ali Dabbagh told State-run TV Iraqiya that his government supported the freedom of the Syrian people, "but not in this coercive manner which internationalized the issue." He furthermore accused Arabs of being incapable of finding acceptable solutions, consequently resolving to the aid of the United Nations and international community.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Turkish embassy under attack in Syria
 

Sun 13/11/2011 11:56

NNA - 13/11/2011 A large mob attacked the Turkish embassy in Damascus on Saturday evening, throwing stones and bottles before Syrian police intervened to break up the protest, Turkey's state-run Anatolian news agency said on Sunday.

The attack came as a retaliation to Arab League suspension of Syria from its meetings after failing to carry out promised reforms and a halt of all violence against demonstrators calling for democracy for the past 8 months.

Reuters reported Sunday that hundreds of men shouting slogans in support of Assad beat a guard and broke into the Saudi embassy in Abu Rummaneh, three blocks away from Assad's offices in one of the most heavily policed areas of the capital.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Pro-Assad marches reject Arab League decision
 

Sun 13/11/2011 11:36

NNA - 13/11/2011 Down Town Damascus swarmed Sunday with supporters of President Bashar Assad protesting decision by Arab League to suspend Syria.

The Arab League said on Saturday it would impose economic and political sanctions on Damascus and had appealed to member states to withdraw their ambassadors as well as call for a meeting of Syrian opposition parties.

Protestors also gathered in front of Qatari and Saudi embassies in the Syrian state.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Prince Nayef's deep apprehensions
 

Mon 7/11/2011 16:41

NNA - 07/11/2011 - Saudi crown-Prince Nayef expressed deep apprehension at the current state of affairs in the Arab and Muslim worlds. The Prince urged Arab and Muslim heads of State to opt for unity and cohesion instead of disorder because in his word, this might bring about cracks and eventual collapse of the Muslims' "big home."

The crown-Prince expressed deep apprehension before accredited diplomats coming to perform the Hajj pilgrimage rites. The Saudi News Agency quoted him as urging them to assume their historic role by arming themselves with awareness. He prodded them to do so in the name of God the almighty who prefers unity and cohesion to chaos and disorder.

The Prince added that Muslim and Arab leaders should become aware of the fact that divisions and dissensions would bring about major cracks in the Islamic edifice and that the only beneficiaries would be the enemies of the Umma of believers.

He concluded on a warning to the Muslim Umma to rise to the challenges by joining hands and facing up together to the future.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Three Palestinians wounded in Israeli shelling
 

Mon 7/11/2011 15:34

NNA - 07/11/2011 - Three Islamic Jihad combatants were reportedly wounded by Israeli shelling of northern Gaza city today. This according to a Hamas communique which said that all three were injured when Shouja'iyeh neighborhood in northern Gaza came under bombardment today.

The Israeli army spokesperson on the other hand stated that soldiers manning check points tracked a number of armed men setting booby-traps near the security fence and that they opened fire killing and wounding an unspecified number of them.

It is to note that the latest bombardment came in violation of an undeclared truce concluded between Hamas and the Israelis with both trading accusations of the latest cease-fire violation.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad's Anti-terrorism, Anti- conspiracy Drive Continues!
 

Sun 6/11/2011 16:33

NNA - 06/11/2011 Having celebrated the first day of Eid al-Adaha at the Riqqa mosque today, Syrian president Bashar Assad reiterated need for confronting strife, terrorism and outside intervention against his 42-year-old regime.

Addressing a group of leading Riqqa clansmen and tribal chiefs at the local municipal office, Asad urged "his" people to stand solidly behind him in order to thwart the plot. He called this thrust "tantamount to holding onto party principles, doctrines, beliefs and legitimate Syrian rights in order to save the regime."

He spoke about "national independent resolve in order to fight it out to the end and win outright victory for his sovereign option."
G.G./R.K.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - al-Adha; Day One
 

Sun 6/11/2011 16:06

NNA - 06/11/2011 - Day One of al-Adaha feast of the Sacrifice, witnessed 1.5 million pilgrims casting their 7 pebbles collected in Muzdalifa at the Devil's stele in Mina before closing in for offering their sacrificial lambs, sheep or camels deemed affordable enough by some pilgrims. They engage in such rituals as prescribed by the Qur'an and the prophet of Islam. Incoming news speak of quite an easy stone-casting from multi-layered pathways albeit, many pilgrims insisting on stone-throwing from the basement created something akin to a near-stampede situation which the authorities found pretty difficult to cope with. Luckily, the "hajeej" pilgrims proceeded to tent locations prearranged time-tables set by Makka police.

Nearly 2 million pilgrims await their role in the high point of the Islamic calendar with over than 150,000 watchful troops, civil defense and security personnel overseeing security and a smooth flowing of the hajj.

G.G./R.K.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Release of 553 detainees in Syria
 

Sat 5/11/2011 18:50

NNA - 5/11/2011 553 detainees were released on Saturday in Syria, on the occasion of blessed Adha Eid, "SANA" Syrian News Agency said. The Agency indicated that detainees who were set free were arrested earlier for their involvement in current incidents in Syria but did not "stain their hands in blood."
Around 119 detainees were also released recently in Syria.
Interior Ministry called on Friday on Syrian citizens who either carried, distributed or bought weapons to hand over themselves and their arms to the nearest local police station, to be set free later, in one week time, SANA said. "This shall be tantamount to a general amnesty for them", Ministry noted.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - French Foreign Ministry suspicious of Syria's intentions towards Arab League deal
 

Fri 4/11/2011 17:56

NNA - 04/11/2011 A statement by the French Foreign Ministry Friday cast doubt on Syrian regime's intent to implement Arab League's peace plan due to continuing deadly crackdown on protesters.

The Arab Spring bloomed in Syria eight months ago as people took to the streets demanding the end of the reign of Assad family which has lasted over 40 years. The regime did not take kindly to the demands and peaceful protests were met by daily bloodshed against men, women and children.

French foreign ministry's deputy spokesman, Romain Nadal, said "Continuous oppression reinforces doubts of the international community in the sincerity of the Syrian regime in carrying out the Arab League's plan."

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Israeli navy halts two humanitarian ships heading to Gaza
 

Fri 4/11/2011 17:39

NNA - 04/11/2011 The Israeli navy intercepted two ships carrying activists supportive of Palestinians under siege in Gaza strip, an Israeli Defense Forces communique said Friday.

Two ships, one Canadian and the other Irish, sailed to Gaza in an attempt to break the inhumane blockade forced on Palestinians by Israeli army. However, Israeli navy halted said attempt and officers went on board the ships, claiming that the siege was in compliance with international law.

Spokesperson for Hamas in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, condemned acts of the Israeli navy describing it as piracy executed by Israel in a show of power against anyone who tries to break the siege.

"The siege on Gaza as a crime against humanity, and it is the right of any person or institution to come to Gaza strip by land, air or sea; thus, the attack on these ships is an attack on humanity."

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Ashton calls on Syria to fully implement Arab plan
 

Thu 3/11/2011 19:27

NNA - 3/11/2011 European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton called on Syria to implement fully and swiftly the Arab plan, welcoming "Arab League efforts to end violence".
Arab League ministerial committee announced on Wednesday, in the wake of its meeting in Cairo, Syria's acceptance of full Arab plan designed to end unrest in Syria.
Ashton stressed the necessity of Syrian authorities' swift and full implementation of commitments made to the Arab League, a statement by Ashton in Brussels said.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Arabi, Syrian National Council meet
 

Thu 3/11/2011 15:29

NNA - 3/11/2011 - Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil Arabi, on Thursday met with a delegation of the Syrian National Council, one day after Syria accepted the Arab League proposal to solve crisis.

The meeting touched on the Arab initiative towards Syria within the frame of the Arab League's keenness on finding an Arab-made solution to the Syrian crisis, based upon the necessity to end bloodshed in this nation.



R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian up-to-dates top talks between Moallem, Qatari Emir
 

Mon 31/10/2011 20:03

NNA - 31/10/2011 - The Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Ben Khalifa Althani received Monday afternoon in Doha the Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister Walid Moallem, accompanied with a delegation, in the presence of Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Ben Jassem Althani.

The Qatari official news resource said that talks focused on recent developments at the Syrian scene.
A.M>

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad predicts disaster if West meddles in Syria
 

Sun 30/10/2011 14:59

NNA - 30/10/2011 - (Reuters) - Western powers would cause an "earthquake" in the Middle East if they intervened in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published on Sunday.

Syrian officials were to hold more talks in Qatar with delegates of the Arab League, which wants to convene a dialogue in Cairo between the Syrian authorities and their opponents.

Syria, as Assad noted in his interview with Britain's Sunday Telegraph, sits at the heart of the volatile Middle East, where it borders Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.

"It is the faultline, and if you play with the ground, you will cause an earthquake," he said. "Do you want to see another Afghanistans, or tens of Afghanistans?"

 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Mubarak's trial postponed
 

Sun 30/10/2011 12:40

NNA - 30/10/2011 Hosni Mubarak's trial, along with his two sons and former interior minister, was adjourned Sunday till Dec. 28, two days after a separate court convenes to decide whether to change the judges handling the case.

All defendants face a range of charges including corruption and involvement in killing protesters.

Lawyers representing families of those killed in the uprising which toppled Mubarak earlier this year have raised a suit calling for presiding judge Ahmed Refaat and others on the judges' panel be replaced.

Mubarak's trial which began early August is being held at the Police Academy on the outer reaches of Cairo.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Sike after meeting Sharaa and Mouallem: we reject foreign interfernce in Syria's internal affairs
 

Thu 27/10/2011 19:54

NNA - 27/10/2011 Syrian Vice President Farouq Sharaa met on Thursday with Chinese Middle East Peace Envoy Wu Sike, where they boarded means of bolstering bilateral relations and the current regional situation.
Sharaa said that Syrian people, who continuously express their support for national reform march, affirm simultaneously their clear-cut rejection of any foreign interference. Sharaa uttered Syria's welcome of the Arab initiative and concern for its content in a way that conforms with Syria's national sovereignty. He also highlighted the importance of national dialogue with preparations for holding it getting underway in Syria.
Sike underlined China's constant position towards incidents in Syria and hailed its adopted steps on the path of national reform. Sike renewed his Country's rejection of any form of foreign interference in Syria's internal affairs.
On the other hand, Sike met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem who put him in the picture of the steps undertaken by the Syrian command to meet citizens' legitimate demands and efforts to achieve reforms and hold a national dialogue conference in Damascus. Mouallem also informed the Chinese Envoy of the outcome of Arab ministerial committee meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Wednesday.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - UN Okays military operations end in Libya
 

Thu 27/10/2011 17:24

NNA - 27/10/2011 - The UN Security Council unanimously approved on Thursday to end seven-month-old NATO-led military operations in Libya.

The resolution also included a demand to lift the no-fly zone siege and to cease actions aimed to protect civilians as of 11:59 pm local Libyan time on October 31.


R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab ministerial delegation head satisfied with Assad's meeting
 

Wed 26/10/2011 19:23

NNA - 26/10/2011 Head of Arab ministerial delegation, tasked with mediation between Syrian command and opposition, expressed satisfaction regarding the delegation's meeting on Wednesday afternoon with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
In a press release by Delegation Head, distributed by Syrian National News Agency (SANA), Qatari Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Hamad Ben Jassem Ben Jaber II, described the meeting with President Assad as frank and cordial, disclosing that the committee and Syrian command shall meet again on Oct 30, 2011.
The Arab committee, chaired by Qatar, arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday afternoon, coming from Doha, to set off mediation between the Syrian regime and opposition.
The committee is comprised of Foreign Ministers of Qatar, Egypt, Sultanate of Oman, Algeria, Sudan and Arab League.
"We sensed Syrian government's keenness on working with the Arab committee to reach a solution", SANA quoted Ben Jaber as saying.
--------------L.Y

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Turkey, Jordan stanch to scupper 'violence' in Syria
 

Wed 26/10/2011 18:34

NNA - 26/10/211 - Ahmet Davutoglu again called to cease what he termed as "inhuman" operations against Syrian civilians, saying what is happening in Syria is "very painful."

"We did all what we could to iron out these problems, but the Syrian government did not respond to our demands as it is still using brutality against citizens," Turkish Foreign Minister told a news conference he jointly held with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Jawdat, in Amman Wednesday.

He renewed calls upon the government to take serious measures to end bloodsheds and retreat the military from Syrian cities and towns.

Jawdat, who agreed with Davutoglu that a radical solution was sought in Syria, said "Turkey is Syria's northern neighbor, while we [Jordan] are its southern one; Syria's interest is also ours."

He hoped the Arab ministerial delegation would set off mediation between the Syrian regime and the opposition.

Foreign Ministers of Sudan, Algeria, Qatar, Egypt, and Sultanate of Oman arrived this evening in Damascus to hold talks with President Bashar Assad, as part of the Arab League's efforts to salve Syrian unrest.




R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved

 


 

Regional - Arab League delegation arrives in Damascus
 

Wed 26/10/2011 17:58

NNA - 26/10/2011 Arab ministerial committee arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus and is currently meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, in the framework of Arab efforts to resolve Syrian crisis.
The committee is comprised of Foreign Ministers of Qatar, Egypt, Sultanate of Oman, Algeria, Sudan and Arab League.
--------------L.Y

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Gadhafi and son buried at dawn in unknown location
 

Tue 25/10/2011 12:14

NNA - 25/10/2011 - Muammar Gadhafi and his son Mo'tassim were buried at dawn on Tuesday in an unknown location with proper respects paid, as announced by Mesrata military council.

The corpses of Gadhafi, his son and the Defense Minister Abou Baker Younes Jaber which had been on public display in a former meat locker since Friday were all buried at the same place.
D.K.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Transitory Council declares Libya's liberation
 

Sun 23/10/2011 19:06

NNA - 23/10/2011 - Libyan National Transitory Council Vice Head, new Libyan Authorities' Spokesman, Abdel-Hafiz Ghoqa, declared Sunday that Libya is free of the late Leader Moamar Al-Kadhaffi's rule. Ghoqa was speaking before thousands of citizens who gathered in the City of Benghazi on Sunday.
Ghoqa stated, addressing each and every Libyan citizen, "Liberation is declared. Raise your head, you are a free Libyan!"
R.Sh.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Afghani Interior Minister survives an assassination attempt
 

Sun 23/10/2011 18:25

NNA - 23/10/2011 - Interior Ministry Spokesman in Afghanistan, Sadiq Sadiqi, disclosed Sunday that Interior Minister Bassem Allah Khan Mohamadi survived an assassination attempt by a suicider in the State of Brown, north of Kabul.
The Interior Ministry Spokesman indicated that Minister Mohamadi was on his way to the State of Banshir, when the suicider attempted to intercept the convoy he suspected belonged to the Minister. However, Minister Mohamadi was in another convoy that was 20 minutes behind the attacked one. The suicider incurred injuries as a result of security men's bullets prior to detonating his hand bomb, which later led to his death.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - 7.6 earthquake hits Turkey
 

Sun 23/10/2011 13:31

NNA - 23/10/2011 An earthquake of 7.6 magnitude shook the city of Van in eastern Turkey, Reuters reported.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Gaddafi's autopsy concluded
 

Sun 23/10/2011 11:59

NNA - 23/10/2011 Autopsy of body of Muammar Gaddafi, former Libyan leader killed four days ago, concluded Sunday morning, one of the people involved in the autopsy anonymously reported.

The autopsy took place at a morgue in Misrata, east of Tripoli. Officials stated that Gaddafi's body would be taken back to the cold store at an old market in the city where it has been on public display.
The National Transitional Council announced Saturday that they would declare independence of Libya today.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Polls open in first free Tunisian elections
 

Sun 23/10/2011 11:04

NNA - 23/10/2011 Nine months after the ousting of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt in Tunisia, which ignited the Arab Spring, polls opened Sunday morning for over 7 million Tunisians to elect a 217 member assembly that will write a new constitution after years of dictatorship.

The multi-party body will appoint an acting president and caretaker government for the interval of constitution drafting process, which may span up to a year.
The Islamic Ennahda party, previously banned under Ben Ali, is expected to win the majority of votes in the first free elections witnessed by Tunisia. Polls will close at 7 p.m. Sunday.

 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince passes away
 

Sat 22/10/2011 11:29

NNA - 22/10/2011 Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud died at dawn on Saturday, the country's royal court reported in a statement.

Sultan, aged about 83, was receiving medical treatment in the United States when he passed away.

As well as heir to the throne, he was defence minister and minister of aviation for almost four decades.

 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Seif al-Islam flees to Niger
 

Fri 21/10/2011 14:41

NNA - 21/10/2011 - Seif al-Islam fled Libya today and headed south towards Libyan borders with Niger, a senior official from the ruling NTC confirmed on Friday.


R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Gadhafi killed, NTC confirms
 

Thu 20/10/2011 16:14


NNA - 20/10/2011 - Moammar Gadhafi was killed, Libya's National Transitional Council confirmed in a news conference in Benghazi Thursday.

"We announce to the world that Gadhafi was killed today by rebels (...) it is a historic moment and the end of dictatorship and tyranny," NTC said.


R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


 


Regional - # Gadhafi breathes his last
 

Thu 20/10/2011 15:35

NNA - 20/10/2011 - Moammar Gadhafi died today in a clampdown by Libya's NTC forces in Sirte, Reuters reported, quoting Libyan Information Minister as saying on Thursday.


R.A.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Shaar, Khoury tackle economic and trade relations
 

Wed 19/10/2011 17:45

NNA - 19/10/2011 Syria's Economy and Trade Minister Mohammed Nidal Shaar discussed with Lebanon's Ambassador to Damascus means of bolstering economic and trade relations between the two countries.
Shaar underlined Syria's aspiration to develop horizons of economic cooperation between the two countries in the framework of joint historic ties and complementary economic and trade potentials.
Ambassador Khoury, for his part, pointed out the vast potentials marking the Syrian economy in terms of financial and human competences in the various trade, banking, cultural, touristic and other fields. Khoury called for coordination in the trade, economic and investment spheres, in a way that reflects positively on the economy of both countries.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Israel frees Palestinian prisoners in Gaza, West Bank
 

Tue 18/10/2011 13:51

NNA - 18/10/2011 - Israel freed 477 Palestinian prisoners, most of them to the Gaza Strip, where Hamas leaders greeted former prisoners who arrived in buses bearing Red Cross insignia.

For Palestinians, it was a time to rejoice what Hamas hailed as a victory, and a heroes' welcome awaited the released prisoners. Palestinians see brethren jailed by Israel as prisoners of war in a struggle for statehood.

The deal had been Okayed by Israel's Supreme Court late last Monday, after it rejected petitions from the public to prevent the mass release of prisoners, many serving life sentences imposed by Israeli courts for deadly attacks.

Those talks, led by Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas collapsed 13 months ago in a dispute over settlement building in the occupied West Bank. Abbas now wants the U.N. to recognize Palestinian statehood, a unilateral bid opposed by Israel and its main ally, the United States.
R.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab Foreign Ministers call for dialogue in Syria
 

Sun 16/10/2011 23:34

NNA - 16/10/2011 - The Arab Foreign Ministers Council called Sunday upon the Syrian government and opposition groups to hold a comprehensive national dialogue conference at the Arab League headquarters within 15 days. The call came at the end of the Arab Ministers' extraordinary meeting held in the Egyptian Capital, Cairo. "The conference is intended to seek ways to end the violence in the country," Qatar's Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said.
The Arab Foreign Ministers also decided on forming an Arab ministerial committee, chaired by Qatar's Prime Minister with the membership of Algiers, Sudan, Sultanate of Oman, Egypt and Arab League Secretary General. The committee's mission would be to establish contact with the Syrian leadership authorities, urging them to halt all acts of violence and fighting and launch dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition, in a bid to execute all political reform steps that meet the aspirations of the Syrian people.
R.Sh.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Arab Foreign Ministers begin an extraordinary meeting in Cairo
 

Sun 16/10/2011 22:51

NNA - 16/10/2011 - Arab Foreign Ministers began their extraordinary meeting Sunday in Cairo, upon a call by the Gulf Cooperation Council, to discuss the situation in Syria and the necessary measures to put an end to all bloodshed and aggressive acts.
Speaking before conferees, Syria's delegate Youssef Ahmad considered that the timing of the extraordinary meeting seems strange and worrisome. He hoped herein that there is no connection between the call for holding the meeting and the failure of the American and European moves against Syria!
In response, Qatari Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Hamad ben Jassim Al Thani, who currently heads the Arab League Council, indicated that the Gulf Cooperation Council States have not called for said meeting under any agenda or stipulations. Instead, he explained that the call for holding the meeting comes in light of keen concern for Syria and the Syrian people.
Following these words, the meeting then continued in a closed session.
It is to note that a number of Arab Foreign Ministers had met prior to the extraordinary meeting with Arab League Secretary General, Nabil Al-Arabi, in presence of Qatari Prime Minister.
According to one Arab diplomat who took part in said meeting, he disclosed that the Arab Ministers wished to coordinate their positions and opinions so as to reach a unified Arab stand vis-�-vis the situation in Syria. He added that all Ministers supported the halting of all bloodshed in Syria; however, they differed in their views over how to guarantee such a thing. He also disclosed that the suspension of Syria's membership in the League was discussed; however, the majority of Arab Ministers preferred giving a chance to the League's Secretary General's attempts to ensure the execution of the needed reform steps in Syria as soon as possible. Furthermore, he indicated that they all unanimously agreed on refusing any foreign interference in Syria.
R.Sh.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Assad, Hardan tackle current developments
 

Wed 12/10/2011 18:52

NNA - 12/10/2011 Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad met on Wednesday with Social National Syrian Party Head Assaad Hardan, where they tackled the current developments in light of plots targeting the disintegration of the region and controlling its fortunes, National News Agency Correspondent in Damascus reported.
Talks reportedly touched on "the importance of activating national parties' role in reinforcing Arab citizens' sense of patriotism in the face of foreign conspiracies seeking to exploit current incidents to undermine national and Arabism intellect".
President Assad, for his part, stressed that Syria was capable through peoples' determination and awareness to surpass the most difficult stage, and will benefit from what has taken place to rise with the Syrian reality.
---------------L.Y

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syria threatens grave measures against countries recognizing National Council
 

Sun 9/10/2011 13:35

NNA - 09/10/2011 Syria warned Sunday it plans to strike back any country that officially recognizes the National Council set up by opponents of President Bashar Assad, Syrian State TV reported.

Six months into the primarily peaceful uprising of the Syrian people against what they termed as oppressive regime of Assad, oppositionists formed a National Council comprised of 140 figures, half of whom lived in Syria and were kept anonymous for security reasons.

"We will take harsh measures against any state which recognizes this unlawful council," Foreign Minister Walid Moualem told Syrian TV.

A number of Western countries, including the United States and France, welcomed the formation of the National Council. However, none has given said council any formal recognition as of yet.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved



Regional - Syria informs Vienna of its condemnation of the attack against its Embassy headquarters
 

Sat 8/10/2011 18:46

NNA - 8/10/2011 - Syrian Foreign Ministry voiced its strict condemnation towards the attack against the Syrian Embassy in the Austrian Capital, Vienna. In this context, Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Minister's Aid, Ahmad Arnous, summoned Saturday Austrian Charge d'Affaires in Damascus, informing him of Syria's severe objection to the attack that took place at a late hour yesterday night.
Arnous stressed that his Country strongly condemns such a criminal act and holds the Austrian authorities totally responsible for any flaw in providing the necessary protection, in accordance with the stipulations of the Vienna Diplomatic Relations Agreement.
It is to note, herein, that the Syrian Embassy headquarters in Vienna was subjected to an attack Friday night by a number of people who forced an entry into the Embassy, causing sabotage and chaos inside.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


 

Regional - Assad sets Dec 12 for local councils' elections
 

Wed 5/10/2011 18:27

NNA - 5/10/2011 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree Wednesday, setting upcoming December 12 a date for the election of local councils' members.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved
 

Regional - Killing of Syrian Mufti's son
 

Sun 2/10/2011 22:30

NNA - 2/10/2011 - National News Agency delegate Joumana Khoury reported Sunday that Syrian Republic General Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun's son died this evening due an injury as a result of open fire by an armed group on the Idlib-Halab Highway.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - 8 UNSC members in favor of Palestinian statehood
 

Thu 29/09/2011 17:57

NNA - 29/9/2011 - Eight countries from the 15-member Security Council Okayed the Palestinian state membership to the UN, Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riad Al-Malki, announced on Thursday.

At least nine votes are required so that the bid be considered as a recommendation, to be later voted at the UN General Assembly.

Lebanon, Russia, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil have voted in support for the bid, while France, Germany, Nigeria, Gabon, Bosnia, and Portugal positions are still whether unrevealed or not settled on.
 

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Syrian Foreign Ministry: USA involved in mobilizing armed groups against Army
 

Thu 29/09/2011 15:51

NNA - 29/9/2011 - The Syrian Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Ministry announced on Thursday that the latest statements voiced by ranking US officials among whom the US state department spokesman Mark Toner is a tangible proof of the American involvement in encouraging and mobilizing armed troupes to exercise violence against the Syrian Army, as reported by our NNA correspondent in Syria.

The Ministry's statement said America's judgment to these violent acts as "very normal" is totally irresponsible as it encourages terrorism and chaos at the service of foreign schemes.

"Syria is determined to fulfill its duties in preserving its security and stability and protecting its citizens' safety in face of all external interferences," the statement finally said.
D.K.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Turkey launches gas drilling off Cyprus
 

Mon 26/09/2011 20:05

NNA - 26/09/2011 - Turkey kicked-off on Monday its gas drilling operations in the Middle East region, off Cyprus, following an agreement with the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus and countering oil exploration operations launched by the Greek-Cypriot side of the Island.

This move comes to widen the island's Greek-Turkish divide and adds to the existing tension between Turkey and Israel.

Turkey, which backs a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in northern Cyprus, has challenged the right of Cyprus and Israel to drill in an area believed to hold the world's biggest gas find of the past decade.
R.H.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Turkey warns EU
 

Sun 18/09/2011 10:55

NNA - 18/09/2011 Turkey warned Sunday it will halt all relations with the European Union if the Union's rotational presidency went to Cyprus in 2012.

R.Z.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - Russian delegation begins a visit to Syria
 

Sat 17/09/2011 18:59

NNA - 17/9/2011 - National News Agency delegate Joumana Khoury reported today that a delegation from the Russian Union Council began Saturday a 4-day visit to Syria, during which they will be meeting with a number of political, social and religious officials.
Russian Union Council Vice Head expressed his country's readiness to partake and cooperate in pushing national dialogue in Syria, which ought to take place in a natural atmosphere without any violence, he noted.
The Russian official also disclosed that his accompanying delegation shall hold a variety of meetings with Syrian political dignitaries so as to receive briefing on various political forces' future approach. He stressed the need for cooperation between all forces for the sake of coming out with a clear vision for the Syrian society's unison, so as to allow for reform steps to be executed.
R.Sh.

NNA 2011 All rights reserved


Regional - EU for "Constructive Solution" Canada Opposed!
 

Sat 17/09/2011 14:45

NNA - 17/09/2011 - The European Union{EU} while taking note of Palestinian desire at joining the United Nations, prefers a constructive solution to the conflict deemed possible only through the resumption of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, EU State Secretary Catherine Ashton announced today. She reiterated that any such "constructive solution" necessarily leads to the desired final outcome.

Responding to Palestinian Authority PA President Mahmoud Abbass' adamant demand for full Palestinian membership at the UN, EU spokeswoman Maya Cozianic preconditioned any final conflict-resolution based on the 2-state solution on what she termed as "perceptive in-depth examination of Palestinian demand deadline." She however predicted pretty decisive dates ahead.

Cozianic added that the International Quartet would double efforts for a negotiated settlement through resumed peace talks and reminded the Palestinians of EU subsidies aimed at sustaining their infrastructures.

In Ottawa, Canadian PM Stephan Harrier echoed Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu by condoning the US-Israeli position saying Canada would exercise its veto power against prospective PA joining of the UN since in Netanyahu's words "any unilateral action by the PA is deemed as a grave act which shall never bring permanent peace to the Middle East.
G.G./R.K

NNA 2011 All rights reserved