Scenes From Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution
An Egyptian riot police officer fires tear gas during clashes with protesters near Tahrir square in Cairo, on November 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
An injured protester, center, is aided by men on a motorcycle during clashes with Egyptian riot police, not pictured, near Tahrir square in Cairo, on November 23, 2011.
A teargas canister fired by Egyptian riot policemen flies over the heads protesters standing on top of the of of the library of
the American University, close to Tahrir Square, on November 23, 2011 on the fifth day of clashes with security forces.
Protesters show the soles of their shoes as they chant slogans against head of the ruling military council Field Marshal Mohamad Hussain Tantawi in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Thousands of Egyptians have continued to occupy Cairo’s Tahrir Square despite an offer from the military for a speedier handover to civilian rule.
Dancers of the Folkloric Ballet of the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, perform during a festival in Bogota, Colombia.
photo: AP / Arturo Rodriguez
Spaniards began voting Sunday in general elections all but certain to hand a landslide win to the right and topple yet another debt-struck eurozone government. Bowed by a 21.5-percent jobless rate, economic stagnation and deep spending cuts, the 36-million-strong Spanish electorate was set to hand the right a crushing win.
Gaddafi’s spy chief Abdullah al-Sanussi ‘captured’
Abdullah al-Sanussi was Gaddafi’s brother-in-law and close aide
Col Gaddafi’s fugitive spy chief Abdullah al-Sanussi has been captured, Libya’s interim government says.
He was seized by fighters in the south of the country, officials say.
Mr Sanussi, who has not yet been seen in custody, was one of the last senior figures from the Gaddafi regime still on the run.
Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam was seized on Saturday. Both he and Mr Sanussi are wanted for alleged war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Mr Sanussi, a brother-in-law of Col Gaddafi, is said to have been arrested at his sister’s home in the southern town of Sabha on Sunday.
He was regarded as the late leader’s right-hand man – and one of the regime’s most-feared figures.
Mr Sanussi, 62, is being sought by the ICC in connection with the repression of protests against Gaddafi’s rule earlier this year.
He has also been accused of human rights abuses, including his implication in the massacre in 1996 of more than 1,000 inmates at the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli.
Southern Germany: A Slice Of Europe Where Debt And Unemployment Are Worlds Away
Around Germany’s Eichstätt region, unemployment hovers just above 1%, with industry booming despite the euro debt crisis. Across southern Germany, the overall economy has largely recovered, especially as the auto sector is rebounding. A good sign for the rest of us?
Shoppers in Munich, Germany
Slow-Burning Sexual Revolution
Fueled by income inequality, gender imbalances and repressive laws, China is experiencing a barely-hidden sexual crisis. The government criminalizes Internet porn and sex toys, but offers no better solution for the urban lonely and millions of men unable to find a wife.
What would Mao say?
Pharmaceutical Commission Finding: Most “Brand New” Drugs Are New In Name Only
Just because something’s new doesn’t mean it’s better — or even different. According to the German Medical Association, most “new” drugs are little more than repackaged – and re-priced – versions of their predcessors.
Of the 2,000 drugs on the German market today, no more than 500 are necessary
Tibetan Buddhist nuns take a rest from repairing a mountain road.
November 11, 2011. A reveller holds a mask during a so-called “Karnival der Empoerten” (Carnival of the Outraged) street demonstration by the Occupy movement in Berlin.
A pedestrian takes a picture of an empty and closed Zuccotti Park after police officers evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters overnight.
84-Year-Old Woman Becomes the Pepper-Sprayed Face of Occupy Seattle
Joshua Trujillo / Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Twilight fans begin camping out ahead of Friday premiere
Syria: Jordan Embassy Attacked
Syrian’s rally to show their support for their President Bashar al-Assad in the capital in Damascus on November 13, 2011, a day after the Arab League suspends Syria until President Bashar al-Assad implements an Arab deal to end violence against protesters, calling for sanctions and transition talks with the opposition.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton returned to form to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel retired. Hamilton was gifted the lead when Red Bull’s world champion retired on the opening lap because of a puncture going through the second corner.
Tim Mathieson of Australia shows US First Lady Michelle Obama his cowboy boots before she hosts a luncheon with the spouses of Apec leaders at Kualoa Ranch on the east side of Oahu in Kaaawa, Hawaii.
The police were out in force as thousands of students marched through central London. Some 4,000 officers were on duty, as demonstrators marched peacefully in a protest against higher tuition fees and “privatisation” in universities. At lunchtime, some protesters broke away from the march and set up tents in Trafalgar Square, but were eventually moved on.
Protesters are hit by water cannon used by the police as they try to march towards the headquarters of the ruling Grand National Party during a rally against the South Korea and US free trade agreement (FTA) talks in Seoul.
Residents use a block of styrofoam to make their way home through flood waters in Bangkok. Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has pulled out of an Asia-Pacific summit at the weekend to focus on the floods crisis.
Thai Floods: Honda Under Water
In this Oct. 16, 2011, file photo, vehicles at a Honda car factory submerge in floodwaters in the Rojana industrial district in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand. A month after being inundated, the factory that makes nearly 5 percent of Honda vehicles worldwide is still under 5 feet of water. (AP photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)
Turkey Earthquake Kills At Least 7, Traps Dozens In Rubble
Rescuers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed hotel in Van, eastern Turkey, late Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Evrim Aydin, Anatolia)
Sudan Bombs South Sudanese Refugee Camp, Reports Say
South Sudanese people living in Kenya sing and dance on July 9, 2011 as they wave their countries flag during independence day celebrations along the streets of Nairobi.
Miabek Lang, the commissioner of Pariang County in South Sudan’s Unity State said the planes dropped bombs Thursday in an area called Yida. He said 12 were killed but that the toll could rise.
Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the U.S. advocacy group the Enough Project, said aid workers inside the Yida refugee camp told Enough at least one bomb landed in the camp, and three or four fell outside it. Hutson said at least 15,000 refugees who fled violence in Sudan are living in the camp.
Musicians Graham Nash and David Crosby perform for “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators as they continue their protest at Zuccotti Park, New York.
A police officer detains a student during a protest to demand changes to the public state education system in Valparaiso city, Chile. Nearly six months after they began, Chile’s student protests show little sign of running out of steam.
Iran Nuclear Program: Ahmadinejad Promises Country Will Not Retreat
An art critic takes a closer look at a painting by Leonardo da Vinci entitled Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, on show as part of the “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan” exhibition in London.
photo: AP / Menahem Kahana, Pool
MICROPHONES accidently left on after G20 meeting pick up a revealing private conversation between US and French presidents about the Israeli prime minister. French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly told US President Barack Obama that he could not “stand” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that he thinks the Israeli premier…
French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly told US President Barack Obama that he could not “stand” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that he thinks the Israeli premier “is a liar.”
According to a report on the French website Arret sur Images, after facing reporters for a G20 press conference last Thursday, the two presidents retired to a private room, to further discuss the matters of the day.
The conversation apparently began with Obama criticising Nicolas Sarkozy for not having warned him that France would be voting in favor of the Palestinian membership bid in UNESCO despite Washington’s strong objection to the move.
The conversation then drifted to Netanyahu, at which time Sarkozy declared: “I cannot stand him. He is a liar.” According to the report, Obama replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”
The remark was naturally meant to be said in confidence, but the two leaders’ microphones were accidently left on, making the would-be private comment embarrassingly public.
Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
By Victoria Kim and Harriet Ryan
The pop star’s doctor is convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a trial that painted him as a reckless caregiver.
- Trial draws big audience overseas
- Jackson family gasps when verdict is read
- Bail rejected; Murray sent directly to jail
IAEA report to detail efforts by Iran to develop a nuclear weapon
By Elise Labott,
November 7, 2011 —
IAEA report due on Iran’s nuclear program
- The report will charge that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at weapons development, sources say
- The United States is looking to increase the heat on Iran
- One of several options being considered is sanctioning the Central Bank of Iran
Washington (CNN) — In a report to be released early this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency will make the most detailed charges to date that Iran’s nuclear program is geared toward weapons development and military use, several Western diplomats briefed on the report told CNN.
The diplomats said that the report will include more data than the organization has previously released on clandestine efforts by Iran to develop technologies to build a nuclear weapon, including computer models of a nuclear warhead. They argue the IAEA studies offer no other explanation for those efforts beyond Iran seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.
‘Carlos the Jackal’ on trial for 1980s bombings in France
By the CNN Wire Staff
November 7, 2011 —
File picture of Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as ‘Carlos the Jackal,’ taken at a Paris courthouse in November 2004.
- NEW: “I am a professional revolutionary,” Ramirez says in court
- NEW: After 17 years, Ramirez “hasn’t learned” a thing, an attorney says
- The attacks took place in 1982 and 1983 and killed 11 people
- Ramirez was captured in 1994 in Sudan after two decades on the run
(CNN) — A man known as “Carlos the Jackal” stood trial in Paris on Monday, accused of fatal bombings in France during the 1980s.
The 62-year-old, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, was once among the world’s most wanted fugitives.
He is on trial for his alleged role in the attacks on two trains, a train station and a newspaper office in France in 1982 and 1983. The bombings killed 11 and injured more than 100.
The Venezuelan-born revolutionary has been serving a life sentence in France since 1997, when he was convicted for the shooting deaths of two French secret agents and an informant in 1975.
Ramirez, who was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, first made headlines in 1975 when he led an attack on an OPEC meeting in Vienna that took at least 60 hostage, including 11 oil ministers. He was nicknamed “Carlos the Jackal” by the press, a reference to the principal character and assassin in Frederick Forsyth’s novel “The Day of the Jackal.”
After two decades on the run, Ramirez was captured in 1994 in Sudan and taken to Paris in a sack.
Tschüss Papandreou! As New Greek Government Arrives, A German Call For Austerity
Analysis: after a turbulent weekend in Athens, all eyes turn to the new Greek government of national unity, charged with the Herculean task of fixing the country’s finances and maintaining social order.
MUNICH – After days of chaos, Greece’s government and opposition have agreed on a joint alliance that does not include Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou. The new transitional government’s most urgent task is the implementation of the austerity measures imposed by Brussels.
The news was announced Sunday evening by the office of Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, who had brokered the agreement between Papandreou and the conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras. After addressing the immediate task of implementing the bailout plan, the transitional government will call an election. It is due to announce the composition of the cabinet and the name of the new prime minister today.
On Sunday, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn called for Greece to form a national unity government quickly, saying that that would be a way for Athens to “restore the confidence” of its euro-zone partners. He went on to say that, since the Greek state only has enough money to last through early December, it was essential that its current Parliament endorse the new bailout plan and implementation measures so Greece can receive the next loan installment.
Monday’s meeting of 17 finance ministers of the euro group will address the payout of the tranche, said Rehn, adding that he was expecting to receive from Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos a convincing report about further steps being taken by Athens.
Drug Dealers Molded Cocaine Into Manolo Blahniks
We’ve heard women discuss their love for shoes as an addiction.
But drug dealers in Spain took the high heel-as-drug metaphor quite literally when they smuggled cocaine from Colombia to Spain in the form of fake Manolo Blahniks.
The drug smuggling endeavor was run up by a Colombian man and his wife, who molded paste-like cocaine into the shape of a shoe and slapped it with the label “Manolo Blahnik.”
When the “shoes” would arrive to Spain, the New York Post writes, several men would be in charge of returning the paste to its original white powder form and distributing the drugs.
Nicaragua Elections 2011: President Daniel Ortega Headed For Second Term
Silvio Berlusconi: Resignation Rumors ‘Without Foundation’
Guatemalan presidential candidate for the Patriotic party, Otto Perez Molina, speaks to supporters in Guatemala City. Mr Perez faces the candidate for the Renewed Democratic Liberty party, Manuel Baldizon, in a run-off election on 6 November.
Pope Benedict XVI attends a mass in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican to commemorate the cardinals and bishops who have died this year
Switzerland Offers U.S. Multibillion-Dollar Settlement Over Tax Evasion Controversy
European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi (left) stands by US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner prior to posing for a “family photo” during the G20 Summit of Heads of State and Government in Cannes. The leaders of the world’s most powerful economies are confronting a European debt crisis that threatens to plunge the global economy into renewed recession.
Pictures in the News begins in El Salvador, where revelers take part in a parade on the eve of the Day of the Dead.
Libya struggles to secure loose weapons
TRIPOLI, Libya-More than two months after the fall of Tripoli, Libya’s new leaders are still struggling to secure massive weapons depots, stop the smuggling of munitions out of the country and disarm thousands of fighters who brought down Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The international community has offered to help, but also expects Libyans to step up.
However, the interim leadership — in limbo until the formation of a new government mid-month — may not be up to the task. Libya’s temporary leader, responding to increasingly urgent international appeals, said he can’t do much because he lacks the funds.
As recently as last month, Human Rights Watch researchers found an unguarded weapons site with thousands of crates of rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft rounds in the Libyan desert.
Libyan authorities also discovered two military compounds housing chemical weapons that an official said were ready to be assembled and used, as well as another site containing 7,000 drums of raw uranium. The officials would not give further details. Chemical weapons inspectors arrived in Libya this week to start securing the sites, a U.N. official said.
Failure to secure weapons has fueled fears that the material could fall into the wrong hands, including shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles that could pose a threat to civil aviation.
Julian Assange weighs options after losing extradition appeal
REPORTING FROM LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Wednesday that his legal team will weigh his options now that he has lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he faces charges of sexual assault.
In an uncharacteristically brief statement on the steps of Britain’s High Court, Assange tried to downplay the decision to uphold his extradition order, saying that the proceedings and conclusions were “merely technical” in nature.
“No doubt there’ll be many attempts made to try and spin these proceedings as they occurred today, but they are merely technical,” Assange said, adding that people should visit his website to know “what’s really going on in this case.”
The two High Court judges said their decision to reject Assange’s appeal against extradition was based on points of law and procedure — in other words, whether the arrest warrant was properly issued and executed — and not on the strength or weakness of the evidence.
The arrest and extradition proceedings were “lawful” and “proportionate” for a case that centered on “serious sexual offenses,” the judges said.
Assange, 40, looked on impassively in court when the ruling was handed down. His lawyers now have 14 days to decide whether to try to take the case to Britain’s Supreme Court.
Assange has been under virtual house arrest since last December, when a judge allowed him out on bail but ordered him to surrender his passport, wear an electronic tracking tag, abide by a curfew and report daily to police. He has been holed up in the 10-bedroom mansion of a supporter who lives on a 600-acre country estate northeast of London.
Greek referendum stuns eurozone, markets
photo: AP / Thanassis Stavrakis
Greece has thrown the eurozone back into deep crisis and financial markets into panic with a shock call for a referendum on a debt rescue reached with huge difficulty only five days ago.
Prime Minister George Papandreou’s announcements of confidence and referendum votes hit global stocks, angered EU leaders and relit warnings about the future of the eurozone – all just as G20 leaders head for a summit in France.
Italy was thrown back into the danger zone, and its borrowing rates rose sharply.
The gospel on celebrity and pop culture
Kim Kardashian wastes no time, will divorce Kris Humphries
Kim Kardashian divorce is true.
Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from Kris Humphries on Monday morning, citing “irreconcilable differences” after only 72 days of what appears to be a waste of a perfectly good wedding.
Maybe they should have gone on a better honeymoon?
Kardashian was spotted out in New York on Saturday night, Halloween partying at Lavo as the sexy yet villainous Poison Ivy character of Batman-comics fame — notably sans Humphries. The elegantly brief divorce papers (obtained by TMZ) were filed Monday morning in Los Angeles, listing high-profile divorce lawyer Laura Wasser as Kimmy’s attorney. Yes, Virginia, there was a prenup.
Photos: Celebrity marriages that didn’t last for long
Kardashian’s rep did not immediately respond to a Ministry request Monday for confirmation and comment.
With unnamed sources saying last week that Humphries was “not drinking the Kardashian Kool-Aid,” Rob Kardashian took it upon himself to defend his sister’s happiness (though not necessarily the strength of her marriage). The dealbreaker, according to TMZ, may have been geographic incompatibility. She wanted to stay “in town” for her career, he was looking forward to settling down in his home state of Minnesota. Funny how most folks work that out before the $10-million wedding?
Humphries and Kardashian briefly honeymooned for paparazzi on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, then moved into a three-bedroom suite with sis Kourtney, her boyfriend Scott Disick and their 22-month-old son to film the second season of “Kim & Kourtney Take New York.”
“We have to find our home base,” Kardashian told People at her 31st birthday celebration in Las Vegas, just a week ago Saturday.
So, yeah, take that off the to-do list — along with the kissing and hand-holding and hanging with the in-laws that she and Humphries were doing in the VIP area at the Cosmopolitan nightclub that night.
Here at the Ministry, we like to think it’s all part of a carefully designed career arc in which Kim sets herself up as the next Zsa Zsa Gabor, who is essentially famous for being famous, and has been married nine times, with seven divorces and one annulment, winding up with Prince Frederick von Anhalt, for better or worse.
After divorcing music producer Damon Thomas after four years and prepping to split from Humphries, she’s off to a rolling start. Zsa Zsa never had a Twitter trend like this one: “#ThingsLongerThanKimsMarriage.”
For those keeping score, the two started dating last December and were engaged by May. They married on Aug. 20 in Montecito. With California’s 60-day minimum to get a simple divorce finalized, this could theoretically be wrapped up in time for the newlyweds to have completely new dates for New Year’s Eve.
Polish Airlines Boeing 767 flying from New York with 227 people on board makes an emergency landing at Warsaw’s airport on Tuesday after having problems lowering its landing gear. The plane had dropped fuel and circled above Warsaw for some time, and a landing strip was especially prepared at the airport in case of a crash landing. No one was injured during the emergency landing,
CHINA CONTINUES APARTHEID IN TIBET
Nepalese riot police arrest Tibetan protesters near the Jwalakhel Refugee Camp in Kathmandu. Police arrested more than 50 Tibetan exiles demonstrating in support of monks from their homeland who have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule.
St Louis Cardinals’ David Freese had his jersey ripped off by team-mates after hitting the game winning home run against the Texas Rangers during the MLB’s World Series baseball championship in St Louis, Missouri.
Dhammakaya monks and volunteers worked to fortify the flood gate and barrage, made of sandbags and pipes, at Klong Rapi Pat in Klong Luang on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand. Thousands of residents left the Thai capital which is braced for potentially severe flooding over the weekend.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Europe has moved closer to solving the eurozone debt crisis, as an agreement was reached in Brussels. Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Barroso said the deal showed the EU could unite in the most difficult of times
EU leaders gathered for marathon talks in Brussels to attempt to solve the region’s huge debt crisis. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pledged to balance his country’s budgets and implement reforms to bring down its 1.9tn-euro debt.
Actress Keira Knightly attended the press Premiere of A Dangerous Method at the 55th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End.
Family members of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who died in America on Saturday, performed final prayers at his grave at Al Oud cemetery in Riyadh.
Rescue workers carried Azra Karaduman, a two-week-old baby, who was pulled from the debris of the earthquake in Ercis in Turkey. The Turkish government pledged more aid to thousands of people affected by Sunday’s deadly earthquake.
A police officer stands in front of 10 Downing Street which is illuminated in a pink light in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, London, England.
Residents of Benghazi celebrated victory over Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi and on Sunday the transitional government declared national liberation before a jubilant crowd.
New Zealand were crowned rugby world champions for the first time in 24 years after squeezing past an inspired France team by a single point. The final whistle triggered scenes of wild jubilation at Eden Park as a nation celebrated a repeat of the outcome from the very first World Cup final in 1987.
Tunisia’s Islamists will ‘steer clear of radicalism’
photo: AP / Amine Landoulsi
The Islamist Ennahda party that emerged dominant in Tunisia’s first free vote will not seek to impose Sharia-style restraints on a moderate-minded society whose economy relies on Western tourists, analysts say. The party, claiming to have taken a commanding lead as ballots were still being counted, has said it will seek a coalition on a new… 217-member assembly that will rewrite the constitution and appoint a caretaker government.
Even if it manages to put together a majority alliance to give it a bigger say, Ennahda will have no choice but to toe the line of consensus, said the analysts.
“Ennahda will be mindful not to offend its coalition partners, and also the youth who voted for it, who aspire to a certain way of life,” Issaka Souare, a north African specialist at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, told AFP.
“It will need the buy-in of other members of the assembly in all decisions.”
Official results in Tunisia’s first-ever democratic elections, held nine months after the toppling of long-time dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, are expected Tuesday.
Ennahda on Monday claimed to have captured the biggest block of votes, between 20 and 40 percent, immediately seeking to allay the fears of investors and women.
“We would like to reassure our trade and economic partners, and all actors and investors, we hope very soon to have stability and the right conditions for investment in Tunisia,” executive party member Abdelhamid Jlassi told journalists in Tunis.
He stressed the party was open to coalition talks with all parties “without exception.” Most of the other parties on the assembly appear set to be ones with leftist, liberal leanings.
“We respect the rights of women … and equality between Tunisians whatever their religion, their gender or their social
Morocco Demonstrations 2011: Protestors Call For Election Boycott (PHOTOS)
A protester holds a sign during a demonstration called by opposition group ‘The 20th of February Movement,’ which called for ‘widescale political reforms’ in the country, in Rabat, on October 23, 2011. The protester’s sign reads ‘Moroccans be vigilant, do not trust parliamentarians.’ (Getty)
RABAT, Morocco — Thousands of Moroccans have demonstrated in dozens of cities and towns across the country calling for a boycott of next month’s parliamentary elections.
The pro-democracy activists maintain the elections in the North African kingdom will only give credibility to an undemocratic regime.
King Mohammed VI appeared to have defused the country’s pro-democracy movement by amending the constitution to strengthen the prime minister and parliament.
Activists maintain the changes are only cosmetic and real power still resides with the king and his counselors.
Sunday’s demonstrations saw 3,000 protest in the capital Rabat and another 8,000 in Casablanca, the kingdom’s largest city.
The weekly demonstrations call for greater democracy and an end to corruption.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is reelected
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner won in a landslide in Sunday’s general election.
By Juan Forero, Sunday, October 23
BUENOS AIRES — Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, whose first two years as president were marred by protests and tumbling ratings, made a dramatic turnaround on the back of Argentina’s fast-growing economy and scored a landslide reelection victory Sunday, according to early official returns.With the economy having grown 9 percent last year, Fernandez de Kirchner crushed a fractured opposition that fielded six opponents, all of whom trailed her by at least 35 percentage points. With 53 percent of Argentines voting for her, according to exit polls, Fernandez de Kirchner’s margin of victory is the widest in a presidential election since democracy replaced a brutal military dictatorship in 1983.
Tunisia counts votes in historic free election
Tunisians have voted in their first truly free elections.
Tunisian election officials are counting votes after Sunday’s election, the first free poll of the Arab Spring.
More than 90% of registered voters turned out to cast their ballots, officials say.
Tunisians are electing a 217-seat assembly that will draft a constitution and appoint an interim government.
The US and EU have praised Tunisia on the peaceful election process, with President Barack Obama saying the vote was “an important step forward”.
Former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown nine months ago after mass demonstrations – he had been in power for 23 years.
Electoral commission secretary-general Boubaker Bethabet said more than 90% of the 4.1 million registered citizens had voted. No turnout figures were available for another 3.1 million unregistered people who also had the right to vote.
‘A step forward’
Across the country on Sunday, queues stretching for hundreds of metres formed outside polling stations from early in the morning.
At the scene
Allan Little BBC News, Tunis
They stood patiently and quietly in line for hours, waiting to vote. “We are suffering in this hot sun,” one man told me. “But it is a beautiful kind of suffering”. I asked another who he thought would win. “We are all going to win. This is a free election. It means we have already won”.
For most it is the first time in their lives that they have voted in a free election. Tunisians know their emerging democracy carries a huge burden of expectation. Success here will resonate across the Arab world. But you sense an immense popular will to succeed. The cheerful public optimism is irresistible.
The Islamist Ennahda party is expected to emerge as the largest single group in the constitutional assembly.
Opponents have tried to paint the Islamists as extremists, but the campaign appears not to have worked. In poorer, more religiously conservative areas, men and women formed separate queues to vote. In these neighbourhoods, the religious parties are expected to do well.
Polling stations began to close at 19:00 (18:00 GMT) but people still queuing at that time were being allowed to stay and cast their vote, AFP said.
With large numbers of ballot papers to count, election officials said results were expected on Monday or possibly later.
In a statement issued by the White House on Sunday, Mr Obama congratulated Tunisia on the election.
“Just as so many Tunisian citizens protested peacefully in streets and squares to claim their rights, today they stood in lines and cast their votes to determine their own future,” he said.
The European Union also praised the elections and promised to support the new authorities.
Islamist party Ennahda is expected to win the most votes, though it is not clear if it will gain a majority.
More than 100 parties had registered to participate in the elections, along with a number of independent candidates.
Hundreds of foreign election observers and thousands of local ones monitored the poll and will be watching the vote counting.
This democratic moment carries an enormous burden of expectation, not just in Tunisia but across the Arab world, says the BBC’s Allan Little, in the capital, Tunis.
Tunisians led the Arab Spring; they know the world will be watching this key stage in the transition, he says.
Turkey launches incursion into Iraq
photo: AP / Murat Cetinmuhurdar, Presidential Press Service
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish soldiers, air force bombers and helicopter gunships launched an incursion into Iraq on Wednesday, hours after Kurdish rebels killed 24 soldiers and wounded 18 others in multiple attacks along the border. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had launched large-scale operations, including “a hot pursuit.
Turkish soldiers, air force bombers and helicopter gunships launched an incursion into northern Iraq on Wednesday, hours after Kurdish rebels killed 24 soldiers and wounded 18 in attacks along the border.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan canceled a visit to Kazakhstan and held a nationally televised news conference to announce that Turkey had launched the “hot pursuit” operation, wording that officials often use to describe cross-border offensives in northern Iraq.
“We will never bow to any attack from inside or outside Turkey,” he said.
Turkey’s chief of the military and the interior and defense ministers rushed to the border area to oversee the anti-rebel attacks, and the United States and NATO both issued statements supporting the offensive, the largest in more than three years.
NTV television said Turkish troops have gone some 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) into Iraq and that helicopters were ferrying commandos across the border. Dogan news agency said more than 20 Kurdish rebels were killed in ensuing clashes, but did not provide a breakdown. Neither report identified its sources.
The incursion for now appears to be limited in scope. Turkey last staged a major ground offensive against Iraq in early 2008.
WATCH: Shalit Arrives In Israel.. Emotional Welcomes In Gaza.. PHOTOS
photo: AP / Bernat Armangue
MARK WEISS in Jerusalem THE ISRAELI cabinet met in emergency session last night and was expected to approve by a large majority a prisoner swap deal with Hamas under which captured soldier Gilad Shalit will be released in return for 1,000 prisoners, mostly Palestinian militants. The dramatic development came more than five years .
Greek state workers take to streets to fight cuts
ATHENS (Reuters) – Flights were grounded, schools shut and striking Greek workers took to the streets Wednesday in protest against cuts the government says are needed to save the nation from bankruptcy. The first nationwide walkout in months marks the start of what labor leaders say is a street campaign to derail emergency austerity steps launched last month by a government that has already imposed two years of tax hikes and wage cuts.
Thousands of state workers, pensioners and students gathered at a central Athens square, beating drums and waving banners reading “Erase the debt!” and “The rich must pay!”
A separate group of thousands of communist-affiliated workers marched into the central Syntagma square, carrying red flags and chanting: “We don’t have jobs! We don’t have rights! No sacrifice for the bosses!”
YEMENS UNHAPPY ENDING
Sometimes, the bad guys win.
| SEPTEMBER 27, 2011
Back in June, when Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia for treatment of his wounds, most observers thought Yemen’s political crisis would be resolved in favor of the political opposition and the revolutionary street protesters. If Saleh — who was badly burned in an attack on his presidential mosque — did not die, then he would at least be prisoner of the Saudis, who had been actively seeking his resignation. Few thought he would ever return. And inside Yemen, the pro-Saleh forces would be weak without the president, so it was a hopeful time for those opposed to Saleh’s rule. A transitional government would oversee a new set of elections that would usher in a new post-Saleh era.
photo: AP / Ivan Sekretarev
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev proposed on Saturday that Vladimir Putin run in next year’s presidential election, signaling they have agreed the prime minister will return to the post he held for eight years until 2008. Medvedev also agreed at a congress of the ruling United Russia party’s that he would head its list of…
photo: AP / Gaia Anderson
Reporting from Tripoli, Libya— Libya’s provisional rulers on Sunday put off “indefinitely” their much-anticipated naming of a new government tasked with guiding the nation forward after the ouster of longtime leader Moammar Kadafi. Meanwhile, new clashes were reported in two remaining pro-Kadafi strongholds, the coastal city of Surt, Kadafi’s home tribe.
photo: AP / Gaia Anderson
‘ President Barack Obama will seek to boost Libya’s transitional leadership Tuesday and highlight the early success of the international community’s efforts to end Moammar Gaddafi’s rule as he opens two days of meetings at the United Nations. However, Obama’s attempts to point out progress in Libya threaten to be overshadowed by a showdown…
Families from southern Somalia wait for food rations at a refugee camp in Mogadishu.
Cautious Cameron Avoids Triumphalism In Libya
Thursday September 15, 2011
When the British government was confident that the rebel advances in Libya were irreversible, some officials and politicians were in triumphant mood.
Cameron got a hero’s welcome when he visited Libya for the first time
The word soon came from Downing Street and the Foreign Office not to take a triumphal tone with the media. There were to be no ‘We told you so’ briefings.
Prime Minister David Cameron may have pulled off a risky policy of intervention, but the experience of Iraq had scarred wise heads and there is to be no repeat of the ‘Mission Accomplished’ photo opportunity debacle which damaged President George Bush when the Iraq ‘victory’ turned into a protracted guerrilla war.
Instead Mr Cameron, William Hague, and others have adopted a tone of cautious optimism carefully layered with acknowledgement of the problems which lie ahead.
Later this month, the Palestinian Authority intends to go before the United Nations to request recognition of an independent Palestinian state. Although there is strong backing for the bid, the United States, in the name of supporting Israel, has stated its willingness to use its Security Council veto power to keep the Palestinians from joining .
The U.S. should not veto or vote against efforts to have the U.N. recognize a Palestinian state.
A masked Palestinian man waves his national flag during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Bilin Sept. 9. On the same day, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the Palestinian people are “long overdue” in their quest for an independent state. (Oliver Weiken / EPA)
photo: AP / Francois Mori
Libya’s new leaders pledged “moderate” Islamic rule even as their fighters were accused by Amnesty International on Tuesday of committing possible war crimes. A defiant Moamer Gathafi, meanwhile, vowed from hiding to battle on until victory as his forces launched surprise fightbacks on three fronts.
Cuba’s Armed Forces: On The Threshold Of A Generational Change
Cuban Defense Minister Julio Casas, who died on Sept. 3. (CubaDebate)
The death of Cuban Defense Minister Julio Casas should remind President Raúl Castro of two things: 1) that he has limited time to replace the old guard, and 2) age and health should be key factors in the selection of possible successors. With an eye toward the Cuban Communist Party Conference scheduled for January 2012, those messages amount to a call to rejuvenate the Political Bureau (average age: 67.5) by incorporating younger leaders and seriously considering substitutes for the key positions of first and second secretaries of the Communist Party (PCC, in Spanish).
Libyan conflict: Troop convoy crosses border into Niger
Anti-Gaddafi troops have recently made major advances
An armed convoy of at least 50 vehicles from Libya has crossed over the southern desert border into Niger.
The convoy is believed to be carrying mainly Tuareg fighters recruited by fugitive Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi to fight for his regime.
Niger’s foreign minister is quoted as saying Col Gaddafi was not in the convoy. On Monday, his spokesman insisted he was still in Libya.
The new Libyan authorities say the convoy was carrying gold and money.
Col Gaddafi has vowed to fight to the death, even though he has lost control of most of the country.
The armed convoy, which arrived in the town of Agadez late on Monday, is now heading for Niger’s capital, Niamey.
Celeste Hicks BBC News
There is a long established corridor across the Sahara Desert to the Libya/Niger border to Airlit and south to Agadez.
Many migrants trying to get to Europe from West Africa use this route. So have thousands of people escaping from Libya in the last couple of months.
It is also believed that some of those fighting for Col Gaddafi were from Niger. There is some support for Col Gaddafi in Niger: local groups have tried to organise pro-Gaddafi demonstrations, although turnout was fairly small.
However, Niger’s government has recognised the National Transitional Council in Libya and is a new democracy.
President Mahamadou Issoufou was elected in February this year to replace a military junta. He is trying hard to convince the international community that he is a responsible leader, so he will be keen to prevent Niger getting caught up in the Libya conflict.
One can only speculate but Niger is a gateway to West Africa if you are coming across the Sahara. It is possible that the Gaddafi loyalists could be heading through Niger en route to somewhere else.
Niamey lies in Niger’s extreme south-west, 950km (600 miles) from Agadez and close to the border with Burkina Faso, which has offered Col Gaddafi asylum.
Officials from Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) said the convoy had set out from the Gaddafi-held town of Jufra on Monday.
“Vehicles carrying gold, euros and dollars crossed from Jufra into Niger with the help of Tuaregs from the Niger tribe,” Fathi Baja from the NTC told Reuters.
Another NTC spokesman, Jalal al-Gallal, put the number of vehicles at about 200, and told AFP news agency: “We can’t confirm who was in this convoy.”
The BBC’s Kevin Connolly, in the Libyan capital Tripoli, says there is speculation that the convoy could be carrying members of Col Gaddafi’s entourage, as the desert route is the likeliest way for them to escape troops loyal to the NTC.
Many Tuareg former rebels from Mali and Niger were trained in Libya in the 1970s and 80s.
Col Gaddafi helped broker a peace accord in 2009 between the government of Niger and a Tuareg rebel group led by Rissa ag Boula, who then took refuge in Libya.
Taliban admits abducting 30 boys in Pakistan
From Nasir Habib, CNN
(file photo) Pakistani soldiers patrol in Bajaur Agency, which lies along the border with Afghanistan, in February 2009.
- The group says it seized the boys to punish their tribe for forming a militia
- The boys are taken Thursday from Bajaur Agency
- Taliban: “Everyone who supports the government … will face the same fate”
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 30 teenage boys who were seized from Pakistan’s tribal region during an outing last week.
The militant group said it abducted the boys to punish their tribe for forming a pro-government militia to battle the Taliban.
The boys were taken Thursday from Bajaur Agency, which lies along the porous border with Afghanistan. It is one of seven districts in Pakistan’s tribal region.
“Everyone who supports the government against Taliban will face the same fate,” the Taliban spokesman said.
Islam Zeb, a senior administrator in Bajaur Agency, told CNN on Friday the boys were walking to a picnic spot along a river to mark the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan when they were taken.
photo: AP / Francois Mori
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – The proliferation of weapons in Libya is a major concern and the new rulers need to establish a proper police force and army to replace the hundreds of armed groups who patrol the streets, the United Nations special adviser on Libya said on Sunday. U.N. special envoy Ian Martin (L) talks to National Transitional Council (NTC)…
Afghanistan Police Casualties Soar
Joshua Partlow 4:15 AM ET
Forever maligned as corrupt and incompetent, the Afghan police have suffered casualties at a rate far higher than Afghan soldiers or their partners in the U.S. coalition. For now, they remain the weakest, and most hammered, link in the war against the Taliban.
They die in assaults on lonely mountain checkpoints and in group-beheadings captured on hand-held video cameras. They are engulfed by flaming car bombs and shot at point-blank range by men who often dress up in the same plain gray uniform as theirs.
Forever maligned as corrupt, incompetent and drug-addled, the Afghan national police nevertheless have sacrificed unlike any force in the country, foreign or domestic, taking casualties at a rate far higher than Afghan soldiers or their partners in the U.S.-led coalition.
Last throes of Libya war focus on Sirte
photo: AP / Gaia Anderson
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan rebel forces were converging on Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte on Monday, hoping to deliver the coup de grace of their revolution but uncertain if the fallen strongman was holed up there. The fugitive Gaddafi’s whereabouts were still not known and it was possible he was still in hiding in Tripoli after it fell to…
Whether or not Gaddafi makes a last stand in Sirte, the city is a strategic and symbolic prize for Libya’s new rulers as they tighten their grip on the vast North African country.
The NTC has offered a $1.3 million reward and amnesty from prosecution for anyone who kills or captures Gaddafi.
Its forces have advanced toward Sirte from east and west, even as contacts continue for its surrender.
Jamal Tunally, a commander in Misrata, to the west, told Reuters: “The front line is 30 km from Sirte. We think the Sirte situation will be resolved peacefully, God willing.”
“Now we just need to find Gaddafi. I think he is still hiding beneath Bab al-Aziziya like a rat,” he said, referring to Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound, which was overrun last Tuesday.
On the coastal highway east of Tripoli, transporters carried Soviet-designed T-55 tanks toward Sirte. Fighters said they had seized the tanks from an abandoned base in Zlitan.
Libyan forces advancing from the east pushed 7 km past the village of Bin Jawad and secured the Nawfaliya junction, a spokesman said. “We’re going slowly,” Mohammad Zawawi added.
“We want to give more time for negotiations, to give a chance for those people trying to persuade the people inside Sirte to surrender and open their city.”
Mindful of preserving their image to the world and stung by accounts that captured Gaddafi loyalists have been found dead with their hands tied behind their backs, NTC leaders sent a text message urging followers not to abuse prisoners.
“Remember when you arrest any follower of Gaddafi that he is like you, that he has dignity like you, that his dignity is your own dignity, and that it is enough humiliation for him that he is already a prisoner,” it said.
TRAIL OF CORPSES
NTC military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Bani has said around 40,000 people detained by Gaddafi forces remain missing, saying some might still be held in underground bunkers in Tripoli.
The Khamis Brigade, a military unit commanded by and named after one of Gaddafi’s sons, appears to have killed dozens of detainees in a warehouse in a neighborhood adjoining the Yarmouk military base south of Tripoli last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said.
Three days later the warehouse, used as a makeshift prison, was set on fire but the cause was unknown. HRW said it had seen the charred skeletal remains of about 45 smoldering bodies on Saturday. At least two more corpses lay outside unburned.
“Sadly this is not the first gruesome report of what appears to be the summary execution of detainees in the final days of the Gaddafi government’s control of Tripoli,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East and North Africa director.
The NTC, recognized as Libya’s legitimate authority by more than 40 nations, has sought to establish control in Tripoli after days of chaos and clashes with diehard Gaddafi loyalists.
The council, whose leaders plan to move to Tripoli from Benghazi this week, is trying to impose security, restore basic services and revive the energy-based economy.
The chief executive of Italian oil firm Eni, the largest foreign oil producer in Libya before the conflict, was meeting officials in Benghazi on Monday, an NTC spokesman said.
Paolo Scaroni is the first oil chief to visit Libya since Gaddafi’s fall, in a move widely seen as an effort to secure Eni’s stake in Libya, a former Italian colony which has Africa’s biggest oil reserves.
“He is in Benghazi and meeting with the head of the National Oil Company. They are discussing Eni’s interests in Libya,” NTC spokesman Shamsiddin Abdulmolah said.
Eni, keen to make up for hesitant Italian support for the uprising in its early stages, is expected to offer emergency fuel supplies to Libya, which a Western diplomatic source said would be paid for from the $8 billion of Libyan assets that Italy froze as part of sanctions against Gaddafi.
The reopening of the main border crossing from Tunisia on Sunday should help relieve shortfalls in the Libyan capital.
Medvedev in Siberia for summit with Kim Jong Il
photo: AP / RIA Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il,, is welcomed with bread and salt in front… North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, right, signs in the book of honorable guests… North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, second right, steps down from his armored… MOSCOW (AP) – Russian media report that President Dmitry Medvedev started talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong…
The Wednesday’s summit is expected to focus on energy deals, economic aid and nuclear disarmament. It takes place in Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia, a Buddhist province near Lake Baikal.
Kim has rolled across sections of eastern Russia aboard his special armored train in a trip that began Saturday.
The Itar Tass news agency reported that Kim is expected to start his return trip home “immediately” after the talks.
It is his first visit to North Korea’s Cold War ally since 2002.
The Kremlin said the leaders will discuss how to quickly resume long-stalled six-nation talks aimed at ending the North’s nuclear weapons program in return for aid.
Gaddafi, the ghost
photo: AP / Francois Mori
Even after rebels stormed into the capital and overwhelmed his residence, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has plenty of places to hide. Underground, for example. The man who ruled Libya for 42 years is known to have deep bunkers under his Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, which rebel fighters seized on Tuesday.
Even after rebels stormed into the capital and overwhelmed his residence, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has plenty of places to hide.
Underground, for example. The man who ruled Libya for 42 years is known to have deep bunkers under his Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, which rebel fighters seized on Tuesday. Some former officials say the compound is connected by long tunnels to far-flung parts of Tripoli in a hidden network that would provide a quick escape route.
Few have seen the tunnels and it’s not certain they exist. But the reported “underground city” fits in with the aura that Gaddafi cultivated, a mix of subterfuge, rumor and myth that kept Libya’s people guessing and his opponents confused. That aura – plus a healthy dose of brutal retaliation – helped him survive dozens of assassination attempts and would-be coups during his decades in power.
During the 6-month-old uprising against him, Gaddafi often showed an almost wraithlike elusiveness, making sudden appearances in public, then vanishing.
And after rebels overran much of Tripoli early on Monday, he once more became Gaddafi the ghost. Many rebels were convinced he was holed up in the sprawling Bab al-Aziziya compound – one senior official, Fathi al-Baja, said there were reports Gaddafi, who is almost 70, had suffered a heart attack and was bedridden in the compound.
When rebels overran it Tuesday, they found hoards of weapons, one of the golf carts Gaddafi used to get around, the Bedouin tents where Gaddafi held court. But no Gaddafi. It is not known if he was there and escaped or if he was never there at all.
“There are so many rat holes in Tripoli. We are searching for him in the holes,” said Col. Ahmed Bani, a rebel military spokesman.
Associated Press WASHINGTON—U.S. officials say the Obama administration is ready to make an explicit call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power and has notified Arab and European allies that an announcement is imminent. The timing is still in flux but preparations are in place for the White House to issue a statement Thursday…
photo: AP / Farah Abdi Warsameh
The United Nations‘ humanitarian chief says aid efforts in drought-stricken Somalia and the Horn of Africa need to be scaled up to save the lives of millions facing starvation. “There are still many lives that need to be saved in the Horn of Africa,” Valerie Amos, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told a news conference in…
An emergency session of Parliament will be held today to discuss the rioting and looting which has caused devastation across England and left three men who attempted to protect their community from the violence dead. MPs have been recalled to the Commons by Prime Minister David Cameron who yesterday declared a fightback against those responsible…
photo: AP / Farah Abdi Warsameh
DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed promised on Wednesday to rid the country of the Islamist militants who are fighting to overthrow his administration and blocking food aid to millions of people facing starvation. Ahmed was speaking four days after al Shabaab pulled most of its forces out of the Somali capital amid…
photo: AP / Sergey Ponomarev
The Libyan rebel leadership is showing signs of strain and disarray six months into its fight to oust Muammar Gaddafi. Tensions over the killing of the opposition’s military commander, Abdel-Fattah Younis, possibly by other rebels, spurred the leaders to sack their own Cabinet late yesterday and today they ordered the movement’s various armed…
photo: AP / Muhammed Muheisen
RIYADH (Reuters) – Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has agreed to look at restarting a Gulf Arab initiative aimed at ending the country’s violent political standoff with a peaceful transfer of power, a Yemeni government official said on Wednesday. Saleh has already agreed to the plan brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) three times,…
Article by WN.com Correspondent Dallas Darling. Whereas Revolutionary soldier Joseph Martin wrote in the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, “We were absolutely, literally starved…I do solemnly declare that I did not put a single morsel of victuals into my mouth for four days and as many night, except a little black birch bark which I gnawed off a…
photo: AP / Egyptian State TV
Ousted president Hosni Mubarak has denied all charges of corruption and complicity in killing protesters during Egypt’s uprising after a court detailed the allegations against him at the opening session of his trial. The ailing former president lay on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom as his historic trial.
The ailing former president lay on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom as his historic trial began.
The scene, shown live on Egypt’s state TV, was Egyptians’ first look at the 83-year-old since February 10, the day before his fall when he gave a defiant speech refusing to resign.
Inside the cage, an ashen-looking Mubarak craned his head up to see the proceedings, a sheet drawn up to his chest.
His two sons, Gamal and Alaa, who are on trial with him, stood next to his bed, leaning over to talk with him. The elder Mubarak and his nine co-defendants, also including his former interior minister, all wore white prison uniforms.
Outside the Cairo police academy where the trial was being held, hundreds of his opponents and angry supporters scuffled.
In chaotic scenes, hundreds of policemen in gleaming white uniforms and riot police with shields and helmets separated demonstrators hurling stones and bottles at each other.
It was a sign of the profound emotions stirred by the unprecedented prosecution of the man who ruled Egypt with unquestioned power for 29 years until he was toppled in February by an 18-day uprising.
Younis assassination magnifies divisions among Libyan rebels
As Ramadan dawns in Libya, internal strife among the opposition continues to frustrate their impatient western allies.
The death of military commander Abdel Fattah Younis, above, has increased divsions within the Libyan rebel movement. Photograph: Altaf Qadri/AP
Libyans face extraordinary uncertainty as the Ramadan holiday gets under way, though Muammar Gaddafi‘s boastful claim that the tide of war is turning against his rebel enemies and their Nato supporters looks wildly premature.
“The will of the Libyan people is stronger than Crusader aggression,” the “brother leader of the revolution” declared in his latest characteristically defiant address, pledging “never to abandon” the battle.
Gaddafi was quick to gloat about the mysterious assassination of Abdel Fatah Younis, his former interior minister who defected to become military commander of the Benghazi-based opposition. To Gaddafi it proved the movement is disorganised and incapable of running the country, just as, to his evident fury, it had won wide international – and then British – recognition as the legitimate government of Libya.
Tripoli has tried unsuccessfully from the beginning of the crisis to portray the rebels – who certainly include significant Islamist elements – as promoting an al-Qaida agenda, so ostensible evidence of internecine strife is useful for propaganda reasons. Yet it remains possible the “rogue” action that killed Younis may have been carried out by a “fifth column” working for the Gaddafi regime – no slouch when it comes to deception and clandestine operations. That explanation is, naturally enough, the one favoured by the National Transitional Council which is investigating the incident.
“Regrettable but containable,” is the official council line about his death.
“This is not a revolution based on one man,” one opposition official said. “It is based on six million people.” Another avenue of speculation is that Younis might have been playing a double game.
News of fighting involving rival Islamist factions came as yet another worrying sign of internal division at a time when western political and military support for the rebels has reached the point of no return.
The bigger question is whether the disarray in Benghazi, compounded by new reports of dissent in the coastal enclave of Misrata, will slow an accelerating though still uneven military momentum, backed by Nato air power, with rebel forces in the western mountain areas now getting uncomfortably close to Tripoli.
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the NTC chairman, clearly understood the need for calm and continuity when he announced the appointment of General Suleiman Mahmoud al-Obeidi – by no coincidence a member of the same powerful eastern tribe as Younis – as interim chief of staff.
Younis’s killing has deepened concern among the rebels’ western and Arab backers, who are worried about a lack of unity and the Islamist influence. But the rebels are, at the end of the day, the only anti-Gaddafi forces available.
“These events are embarrassing but I don’t think they will affect the overall thrust of Libyan events,” said Ashour Shamis, a London-based opposition activist and commentator.
The US, Britain, France and Nato as a whole have invested far too much to abandon this war in the face of one setback, however serious. The bombing of Libyan state TV satellite transmitters in Tripoli suggests the overall alliance strategy is continuing. France, hawkish from the start, vowed to carry on, with its defence minister Gerard Longuet calling for an uprising in Tripoli. It looks like being a long hot Ramadan in Libya.
photo: AP / Kerim Okten, Pool
Britain is to recognise the rebel opposition as Libya’s legitimate government and expel all existing Libyan embassy staff from the country, foreign secretary William Hague said today. The United Kingdom will also unfreeze ?91 million (Euro103 million) of assets held…
The UN is preparing to airlift food aid to the drought-stricken areas of the Horn of Africa, but flights have been delayed due to administrative complications. Airlifts were to begin on Tuesday to the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Dolo in Ethiopia and Wajir in Kenya. Now, officials say, they will not start until Wednesday.
A post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt is hardly the epitome of peace and stability as envisaged by tens of thousands. Though the Egyptian military leadership made a critical choice by siding with the popular protests at the right time, their standing at present seems to have sunk low enough to merit concern. Egypt today is mired in political uncertainty as it…
photo: AP / Kirsty Wigglesworth
News Corporation chiefs Rupert and James Murdoch and former executive Rebekah Brooks will be quizzed by MPs later about the phone-hacking scandal. The Murdochs agreed to appear before the Commons media committee after it issued a summons for them.
photo: AP / Libya State TV
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – U.S. officials met with representatives of Muammar Gaddafi to deliver a message that the embattled Libyan leader must go, a State Department spokesperson said on Tuesday. The rare meeting between U.S. diplomats and Gaddafi envoys on Saturday was held “to deliver a clear and firm message that the only way to move forward is for…
photo: AP / Virginia Mayo
BRUSSELS – The European Union could toughen sanctions on Syrian President President Bashar al-Assad’s government in days over his crackdown on pro-democracy protests, EU foreign ministers said on Monday. The EU has already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on Assad and other officials and targeted military-linked companies over the crackdown in…
photo: AP / Akira Suemori
LONDON (Reuters) – A former journalist who told that phone hacking at ‘s now defunct was more extensive than the paper had acknowledged at the time, has been found dead, media reported on Monday. Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious. Sean Hoare, a former show business…