Weekly Roundup 6/11

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Picture: The Siege of Misrata (Foreign Policy)

– This fighting intensified in Misrata, a city that has been under siege by Qaddafi’s troops for two months. At least 17 were killed.

– The international community is taking a mixed stance on the conflict. The Russians still link that there is a chance for a peace agreement between the rebels and the Qaddafi government, while the US and its allies pledged more than $1.3 billion to the opposition. This comes the same week that CIA director Leon Panetta said that the Libya rebel council may include extremists.

–  Former oil minister Ali al-Amin Manfur, who recently defected, said that Qaddafi is trying to stay afloat by selling Libyan oil on the black market. He also said that those still supporting Qaddafi are doing so for financial reasons.

– On June 7th, state news agencies reported that 120 members of the police and security forces were killed by armed gangs in the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour. The opposition says that those killed were actually defectors who refused to shoot on protestors. This, along with a number of other reports, points to potential divisions within the Syrian Army.

– The Army has poured troops in Jisr al-Shoughour and Idlib province in an attempt to suppress the uprising. This has resulted in thousands of Syrians fleeing across the border to Turkey.

– Turkey has accepted these refugees and PM Erdogan accused the Syrian regime of “atrocity” in his most strongly worded statements to date.

– Reports surfaced this week of another teenage boy (15 year old Thamer al-Sabri) who was tortured to death by security forces. The boy’s body was returned to his parents six weeks after his disappeared. Aljazeera released a gruesome video of the “mutilated body.”

– Earlier this week a French TV network aired the resignation of Syrian Ambassador Lamia Shakkour, but as it turns out, the call was phony.   

Along similar lines, earlier this week it was reported that state security forces detained Amina Abdallah, who runs the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus. It was later revealed that the picture on her blog was in fact of a woman named Jelena Lecic. This identity theft, along with other dubious factor, has thrown her identity into serious doubt.

-Despite the army offensive, protestors continued to come out in large numbers. At least 30 were killed in clashes around the country on Friday Jun 10.  This most recent waved of violence has led the US to intensify its rhetoric and endorse a European draft security council resolution condemning the crackdown and calling for an end to the violence.

– Last week’s attack on the Presidential Palace has injured President Saleh more than originally thought. Various reports say that he has burns on 40% of his body, a punctured lung and possible bleeding to the brain.

– The estimates on when he will return to Yemen range from two weeks to never. The ruling party refuses to negotiate until Saleh comes back.

– Stratford’s analysis of the attack has led US experts to believe that it was an assassination attempt and likely an inside job.

– In the meantime, the cycle of protests and crackdown continues. Warplanes are now being used as a tool of suppression, and yet on Friday protestors still took to the street.

The situation on the ground has become very complicated. Here is a snapshot:
– The VP Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi was made acting president, but Saleh’s son, Ahmed Ali Saleh has dug in and taken control. Ahmed commands the most loyal division of the army and uses the presidential palace and a top military compound as his office. Hadi is relegated to working from his home.

– The 1st Armored Division, led by defected army general Ali Moshin al-Ahmar is guarding Hadi’s house.  This is the same group that has been protecting protestors in Change Square. The other day, the troops had to restrain protestors from attacking Hadi’s house.

– Ali Mushin met with the US and other Western ambassadors earlier in the week to discussing the transition of power.

– Tribesmen are said to have taken over Tiaz, the second largest city in Yemen.

– Earlier in the week it was reported that Islamic militants gained ground in the south (Ayban province). Earlier in the week the government claimed to have killed 30 of these militants and 40 more from both sides were died today in clashes.

-The US also killed AQAP leaders in an airstrike in southern Yemen, although exactly whom they killed is still up for debate.

– James Spencer and Gregory Johnsen try to but the AQAP and Islamic threat in proportion in two insightful articles: “A False Dawn for Yemen’s Militants” and “AQAP and Ansar Al-Shariah” respectively.

– The trial of 45 doctors and nurses accused of engaging in efforts to overthrow the monarchy began this week. The medics say that they were physically and mentally tortured into making confessions.

– Prince Salman, who errs on the liberal side, has been making the international rounds recently, trying to restore faith in the monarchy. Stops this week included meeting with President Obama and VP Joe Biden.

– On June 8 the UN human rights office said that the monarchy has agreed to let UN officials visit the country, but only in principle.

– In the span of three days the Forumla 1 Grand Prix was rescheduled for October and then canceled due to an outcry from both teams and human rights activists.

– On Saturday June 11 demonstrators held the first major rally since the government cracked down in mid-march. The protestors were responding to a call from Bahrain’s main opposition party al-Wefaq.

– This week the Muslim Brotherhood became legal for the first since it was founded. That said, the group is still struggling to adapt to its new role. One significant move was that the Brotherhood will not let members run for President, nor will they put forward a candidate.

– Copts have expressed concern about the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, as well as the proposed “unified building code” which is meant to help ease religious tensions.

– A recent poll found that the majority of Egyptians “oppose theocracy” and want religious leaders to play an advisory role in new legislation, not a central one.

– The Egyptian economy has taken a big hit as a result of the revolution. Projected growth has slowed from 5 percent to under 2 percent, and the currency has fallen by 25%.

– As Ramadan approaches (it begins in August), presidential hopeful Ayman Nour called on Egyptians to donate zakat (alms) to political campaigns.

– June 6th was the one year anniversary of the death of blogger Khaled Said. Hundreds attended a vigil that was held in Alexandria. 

– June 5th marked the 44th anniversary of 1967 6-Day War, which Arabs refer to as “the Naksa (the setback)”.  Demonstrations were held around Palestine and Israel, including the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan.

– Violence erupted on the border between Syria and Israel when protestors broke through the fence. Israeli forces opened fire, killing at least 20 and wounding 350 others.

– On Friday Hamas leader Muhammad Hassan Shama’a died at the age of 70.

– The leadership of the PLO is apparently split about whether or not to seek UN recognition. President Mahmoud Abbas wants to pursue the plan, while others believe it could ultimately be harmful.

The Green Coordination Council in Iran is calling for demonstrations on Jun 12 to mark the anniversary of the 2009 presidential elections and demand the release leaders Mir Hossein Mousavil and Madhi Karroubi. 

The US issued new sanctions against members of the Revolutionary Guard and Law Enforcement who violently surpassed protests after in the wake of the 2009 elections.

The election of a representative assembly was postponed from July 24 until October 23 due to technical difficulties.

– To mark the 12th anniversary of his ascension King Abdullah issued a general pardon that will benefit 1.148 million people. The pardon ranges from releasing prisoners to forgiving penalties for traffic violations.

– The country is starting to face a political crisis as factions of the country start to split and rebel. Members of parliament have been known to challenge the ruling al-Sabah family, but the opposition has turned into a political rebellion. This is coupled with splits inside the ruling family itself.

This entry was posted in Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Other, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen. Bookmark the permalink.

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