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Iran thinks Assad will survive and more 4/20
Published April 24, 2012

(ANI) – Pakistan’s decision-making body on national security has reportedly given the green signal for reopening of vital supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Some 500 Jews are expected to travel in May to Tunisia’s Ghriba synagogue, the oldest in Africa, reviving a pilgrimage scaled back last year amid security fears, the chief organiser said Tuesday.
Pakistan’s decision-making body on national security has reportedly given the green signal for reopening of vital supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Any foreign military action could provoke anger from Russia and China, and open hostility from Iran, whose personnel have actively supported Assad’s government.
A human rights organisation has urged the Canadian government to intervene in the case of a 44-year-old man facing execution in Iran on charges of espionage and having links with an opposition group. Hamid Ghassemi-Shall.
Crude reached the highest level since May last month amid speculation that Western sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program will disrupt Middle East shipments. The U.S. and its allies say Iran is seeking the capability to make an atomic bomb.
Russia and al-Assad’s ally, Iran, apparently believe that Syria can weather the storm; Europe, Turkey and the United States that it is ultimately doomed.
Thousands have backed a video appeal to Syria’s first lady to speak out against violence, made by the wives of the British and German ambassadors to the United Nations. In the video, Sheila Lyall Grant and Huberta von Voss-Wittig implore Asmaa al-Assad “to stand up for peace”
As expected, former regime official Omar Suleiman, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat Shater and ultraconservative preacher Hazem Salah abu Ismail are out.
The race for the Egyptian presidency has been redefined by the disqualification of Hosni Mubarak’s spy chief and prominent Islamists, including a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a popular Salafi cleric.
Security Council is expected to send all 250 to oversee peace plan, but Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon fears that still won’t be enough.
The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Congress should pass new oil-, banking-related sanctions to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuke program; Republicans, Democrats considering amendments to month-old sanctions bill.
Exposing a rift with Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday insisted that the U.S. has not “given anything away” in recently renewed nuclear talks with Iran.
3 intelligence officers killed in Syria and more 4/22 & 23
Published April 24, 2012

Iran’s oil production could fall almost 15 percent this year due to reduced foreign investment, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.
A car bomb exploded in central Damascus on Tuesday, wounding three people, state television reported, blaming an “armed terrorist group”.”An armed terrorist group detonated the car bomb near the Yelbugha complex in the Market.
Bashar al-Assad’s international allies must realise the Syrian president is “finished” and persuade him to step down to avoid further bloodshed, Tunisian President Moncef al-Marzouki said in a newspaper interview published today.
President Barack Obama ordered travel and financial sanctions against anyone found to be complicit in human rights abuses by the governments of Syria and Iran through information technology.
Nearly 60 people were reported killed in violence across Syria on Monday despite a hard-won ceasefire and the upcoming deployment of 300 UN observers to monitor the truce, a watchdog said.
President Barack Obama of the United States announced new sanctions on Iran and Syria, Monday, which include, among other things, an attempt to prevent the two regimes from obtaining “digital weapons for rent”, key technology that enables them to monitor protesters.
The European Union on Monday banned the sale of luxury goods and products to Syria that can have military as well as civilian uses as the U.N. political chief demanded that the Syrian government stop using heavy weapons.
Two Iranian nationals kidnapped by Syrian rebels while on pilgrimage in Syria will be flown home on Tuesday, an Iranian Foreign Ministry official says.“Two other Iranian pilgrims kidnapped in Syria have been released… and will return to the country on …
The bold experiment in independent journalism succumbs to economic distress of revolution. English Egyptian daily folds.
As the time approaches for the Egyptian presidential election, there have been calls not only in Egypt but also around the Arab world for televised presidential debates.
A Saudi hacker who targeted Jewish and Israeli websites passed away from an asthma attack at the young age of 28, the UAE’s Al-Bayan reported Saturday.Dedicating himself to the “defense of Islam and the Prophet,” the hacker had struck well-protected sites such as Kaspersky and Microsoft, in addition to numerous Jewish sites, banks and major companies, according to the report.Going by the code name “Cyber Terrorist,”
Negotiations to halt Iran’s nuclear-enrichment program will probably fail, setting the stage for full implementation of U.S. and European Union sanctions against the nation’s oil exports, Societe Generale SA (GLE) said.
An Iranian official says the country’s oil industry is working well despite an attack from hackers and a computer virus that targeted the sector’s computer systems.
(Reuters) – The Iranian oil ministry said on Tuesday its IT systems had suffered no lasting damage from a suspected cyber attack, but its experts would require two or three days to investigate and address the impact of the virus.
Yemen’s sacked air force commander, who has refused to quit for weeks, on Tuesday left the post he has held for nearly three decades, the United Nations envoy to Yemen said.
Cairo says it is closely following the case of an Egyptian rights lawyer arrested in Saudi Arabia that has revived decades-old resentment over the treatment of Egyptians working in the oil-rich kingdom.
Syrian activists said three intelligence officers were killed in Damascus on Tuesday while a separate bomb blast downtown injured three in the latest attacks on regime targets as the country’s 13-month conflict grows increasingly militarized
(AP) — Officials say small amounts of Israeli fuel are coming into the Gaza Strip, easing an energy crisis provoked by a cutoff of Egyptian fuel.
During a high-level event on women in development, convened yesterday at the thirteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad XIII), leading women from the business community in Qatar outlined the “enormous steps” taken by the country to address the issue.
(Reuters) – Hardliners in Bahrain’s Saudi-backed Sunni Muslim ruling family may dig in their heels after a Formula One Grand Prix debacle that spotlighted a frustrated pro-democracy uprising instead of projecting an image of stability. Western leaders joined rights groups and media watchdogs in criticizing Bahrain before Sunday’s race, which was cancelled last year due to the unrest.
The U.N. food agency says it will soon deliver help to 500,000 people in Syria, a tenfold increase since December. Even after the increase, the U.N. says there are still around a million more who don’t have enough to eat.
Tensions rise between Iran & Gulf states and more 4/17 & 18
Published April 23, 2012

President Barack Obama said there would be more sanctions imposed on Iran if there is no breakthrough in nuclear talks with global powers in the coming months, responding to Israeli accusations that Tehran has been given a “freebie”.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Sunday that the Group 5+1 has confirmed the entitlement of the Islamic Republic of Iran to peaceful nuclear energy based on non-proliferation treaty , IRNA reported.
President Barack Obama says the U.S. hasn’t “given away anything” to Iran in the latest round of talks over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.
The federal government issued a plea Sunday for the life of a Canadian on death row in Iran, over fears his execution “may be carried out imminently.”
(IANS/RIA Novosti) – Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi has said the country was making progress in the development and manufacture of an indigenous version of the Russian S-300 air defense missile system.
According to FARS report the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad PakpourA hailed Tehran’s might and progress in different fields, and stressed that “no country dares to attack the Iranian nation”. The General, flanked by “Takavar” Special forces commandos.
“There are around Iran-backed 40 satellite channels that have antagonistic and sectarian stances against Bahrain in particular and the Gulf states in general. These channels have assumed a suspicious position against Bahrain using lies and baseless accusations.
Heavy street fighting between militants and security forces in the center of the Afghan capital Kabul ended on Monday after 18 hours of intense gunfire, rocket attacks and explosions, police and government officials said. Battles which broke out at mid-day on Sunday gripped the capital’s central districts through the night, with explosions and gunfire lighting up alleys and surrounding streets.
Afghan and U.S. officials blamed the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, which is part of the Taliban and has close links with al-Qaida, for the weekend attacks that left 36 insurgents, eight policemen and three civilians dead in Kabul and three eastern provinces. But Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials have not concluded whether the attacks emanated out of Pakistan.
Some 500 Jews are expected to travel in May to Tunisia’s Ghriba synagogue, the oldest in Africa, reviving a pilgrimage scaled back last year amid security fears, the chief organiser said Tuesday. “This pilgrimage is going to have a very important affect people.
(Reuters) – Pakistan is seeking to start liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from Algeria and a plan to build a regasification terminal in Karachi was discussed on Tuesday with the North African country, officials said.
Osama bin Laden’s three widows and their nine children were scheduled to be deported to Saudi Arabia overnight, almost a year after U.S. Navy SEALs killed the al-Qaida chief at a compound in northwest Pakistan, their lawyer said.
Putin shall bring no foreign policy changes. “As regards the United States, it needs Russia on an entire set of issues: without Russia’s support at the international level, problems connected with Iran, North Korea and the situation in Syria cannot be resolved,” Pushkov said.
IMF says the stoppage of oil supplies from Iran could increase the prices by 20 to 30 percent. Check out the chart below to see the IMF growth forecast for major economies.
Ten candidates, including the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and a former spy chief, have lost their appeal against disqualification from upcoming presidential elections in Egypt, according to official news agency egynews.
The race for the Egyptian presidency has been redefined by the disqualification of Hosni Mubarak’s spy chief and prominent Islamists, including a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a popular Salafi cleric. The developments add to the turbulence of a transition to democracy?
As expected, former regime official Omar Suleiman, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat Shater and ultraconservative preacher Hazem Salah abu Ismail are out reported by L.A. Times.
(AFP) – Hundreds protested late on Tuesday near Bahrain’s international airport as Formula One teams began arriving in the Sunni-ruled kingdom ahead of a Grand Prix hit by a Shi’ite-led uprising, witnesses said.
Tensions are rising between Iran and the Gulf Arab States after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited a Gulf island also claimed by the United Arab Emirates. Ahmadinejad last week visited Abu Musa, one of 3 disputed Gulf islands.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Congress should pass new oil-, banking-related sanctions to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuke program; Republicans, Democrats considering amendments to month-old sanctions bill. Reporter JP.
A Libyan military commander is taking legal action against ex-UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to find out if he signed papers allowing his rendition.
U.N. observers have acknowledged that they face a tough task to firm up a ceasefire in Syria, as scores of people were killed in the latest violence on the sixth day of a tenuous truce. As many as 70 people have been killed by the Syrian forces, 40 of which were in the besieged.
(Reuters) – So many refugees have fled the violence in Syria that Turkey has begun accepting international aid to help share the cost of the caring for the nearly 25,000 Syrians, including rebel fighters, who have crossed the border.
(Reuters) – Turkey submitted its bid on Tuesday to host the 2020 European Championship, less than a month after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan began the race to stage one of soccer’s biggest tournaments. Erdogan told delegates at a UEFA.
As an investigation into the Feb. 28, 1997 coup is still under way, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the decisions of the actors behind the coup were the reason for his imprisonment in 1999 after reciting a poem during a party rally, Today’s Zaman reported.
Saudi Arabia says al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a Saudi diplomat in Yemen last month and threatened to kill the man unless the kingdom releases detained militants. Saudi officials said Tuesday the terrorist network’s regional.
In the wake of a two-day visit, a senior United Nations official today raised concern about Yemen’s humanitarian situation, underscoring the need for strong commitment from the international community to support the millions of people there facing a humanitarian crisis.
Iran warns Arab leaders, and Brotherhood appeals ban. 4/14 & I 15
Published April 16, 2012

Egypt’s military ruler will hold talks with political leaders on Sunday after next month’s presidential election was thrown into further turmoil with the disqualification of key candidates. Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi will meet the heads of political parties and groups to discuss major developments five weeks ahead of the first presidential election since a popular uprising ousted long-time leader Hosni Mubarak last year, the state-owned Al-Akhbar reported.
Heavy explosions, rockets and gunfire rattled Kabul Sunday as Afghanistan’s Taliban launched their largest co-ordinated attack in 11 years with multiple strikes targeting Western embassies, the NATO force’s headquarters and the parliament building.
Pakistan’s Taliban movement, which is close to al Qaeda, said it was behind the brazen assault by militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles.
U.N. peace monitors are due to start their mission in Syria on Monday to oversee a shaky ceasefire undermined by persistent violence and the shelling of the opposition stronghold of Homs by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The ceasefire is part of a broader peace plan brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan, but it looked increasingly under threat throughout the weekend as the government vowed a crackdown on a wave of “terrorist attacks” in Syria.
The U.N. Security Council authorized the deployment of up to 30 unarmed observers on Saturday in the first resolution on Syria the 15-nation council managed to approve unanimously since the uprising erupted in March 2011.
(Reuters) – Gulf Arab states will meet in Qatar on Tuesday to discuss a territorial dispute between the United Arab Emirates and Iran over a small island in the Strait of Hormuz that both claim, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said on Sunday. The UAE recalled its ambassador from Tehran on Wednesday after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Abu Musa island, 60 km (40 miles) off the UAE, as part of a tour of Iran’s Gulf coast, a visit described by the UAE foreign minister as “a flagrant violation of the UAE’s sovereignty.”
(AP) — The Afghan capital awoke Monday to a second day of explosions and heavy gunfire as Afghan-led forces worked to defeat insurgents holed up in one building in the heart of the city and another near parliament.As darkness turned to dawn, Afghan-led forces fired one rocket-propelled grenade after another into a building in the center of the city where insurgents began their attack on Sunday in the capital and three eastern cities. The Taliban’s boldest and most complex assault in years lasted more than 17 hours.
Tunisia’s government is marking the 10th anniversary of the al-Qaida bombing attack that killed 21 people at the synagogue on the island of Djerba.
Israeli President Shimon Peres is awaiting a reply from the White House on his plea for clemency for Jonathan Pollard. Peres’ letter, sent Monday, cited Pollard’s reportedly severe health situation in requesting that he be released.
Denmark’s prime minister has urged Bahrain to release a jailed activist with dual citizenship, saying he’s in “very critical” condition after a two-month hunger strike.
Bahrain plans clamp on hiring expats. ‘The majority of our workforce is expatriate and they are increasing, especially with the suspension of the LMRA fees due to losses suffered by businesses in Bahrain during the unrest,’ said Humaidan.
Syria’s 4-day-old cease-fire appeared to be quickly eroding Sunday, with regime forces firing dozens of tank shells and mortar rounds at neighborhoods in the opposition stronghold of Homs, hours before the arrival of a first team of U.N. truce monitors. Assad accepted the truce deal at the prodding of his main ally, Russia, but his compliance has been limited. He has halted shelling of rebel-held neighborhoods, with the exception of Homs, but ignored calls to pull troops out of urban centers, apparently for fear of losing control over a country his family has ruled for four decades. Rebel fighters have also kept up attacks, including shooting ambushes.
A top Afghan official says one of the militants arrested during the latest attacks on Kabul and three other cities has told authorities the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network was behind the assaults. Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi told reporters on Monday that a total of 36 insurgents were killed during the attacks in Kabul and three other cities in eastern Afghanistan. He says one other insurgent, who was arrested in Nangarhar province, confessed to the police that Haqqani network, based in Pakistan, launched the attacks.
Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades battled their way into a prison in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, freeing 380 prisoners, including at least 20 described by police as very dangerous insurgents, authorities and the militants said. The raid by more than 100 fighters was a dramatic display of the strength of the insurgency gripping the nuclear-armed country.
(Reuters) – Key ship insurer the China P&I Club will halt indemnity coverage for tankers carrying Iranian oil from July amid tightening Western sanctions against Iran.
An Iranian Energy Ministry official says the country will increase electricity exports to neighboring Turkey by twofold in the next two months.
The three most prominent and divisive front-runners in Egypt’s presidential elections indicated Sunday they were appealing their exclusions from presidential elections scheduled for next month—demanding a reversal of decisions that are likely to stoke popular outrage across Egypt’s political spectrum.
Farouq Sultan, a judge who leads the commission, said Saturday night that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat al-Shater, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and hard-line Islamist preacher Hazem Abu Ismail were among 10 candidates barred from running.
Yemeni military officials say an unmanned U.S. drone targeted a vehicle carrying seven al-Qaeda members south of the capital of Sanaa, killing all of them. Two officials say the drone fired a missile at the vehicle on Saturday in the town of al-Zahar south of Sanaa. It was heading to the southern province of Abyan where al-Qaeda militants and government forces are fighting. Witnesses said the vehicle turned into a charred skeleton along with its passengers.
The Muslim Brotherhood said Sunday that it will fight the banning of its candidate for president that has thrown Egypt’s move toward elected civilian rule into disarray and threatens a return to massive street protests. Brotherhood’s lawyer, Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, said Sunday that the exclusion does not comply with applicable laws. Shater was disqualified because of a previous criminal conviction. The group is continuing with Shater’s campaign until the election judge issues a final verdict.
A senior Iranian commander on Sunday warned Arab rulers to avoid joining a US-Israeli project for deploying a missile shield in the Persian Gulf.
Members of the Toronto-area Iranian community are demanding that a former head of their homeland’s national bank be sent back to Tehran to face questioning in a $2.6 billion fraud.
An Iranian official accused of involvement in the torture of protesters while in custody has resigned from his post after parliament threatened the government with impeachment, Iranian media reported.
Iran’s Central Bank has announced that the electronic information of 3 million customers of 10 Iranian banks have been compromised. These banks now require their customers to change their ATM pin numbers before they can access their account. This has caused a rush to the ATM machines by the worried customers.
Tehran and six world powers finally resumed talks and found at least enough common ground to agree to meet again next month.
Israel is banning entry to hundreds of protesters planning to demonstrate in the West Bank next week. Aside from turning back newly arrived activists at Israeli airports, the country is also ordering foreign airlines to eject passengers from flights.
The ship, which had been chartered by a Ukrainian shipping company, was delivering weapons to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been coping with 11-month-long mass protests against his rule.
The decision to go ahead with the Grand Prix on April 22, 2012, givesBahrain’s rulers the opportunity they are seeking to obscure the seriousness of the country’s human rights situation. The decision was announced on April 13 by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the Formula One Teams Association.
23 candidates register in Egypt as blast hits pipeline to Israel, Jordan 4/7 & 8
Published April 9, 2012

Registration for presidential candidates closed Sunday amid a flurry of last-minute additions and possible eliminations that laid bare persistent doubts that Egypt’s ruling military regime intends to oversee free and fair elections.
A group claiming affiliation with activist hacker collective Anonymous says it has hacked 2,725 emails belonging to Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda party, including those of the prime minister, in the latest challenge to the Islamist-led government.
“Stop the killing. We want to build a Syria for all Syrians.” These were the words on the banner that Rima Dali held in front of the Syrian Parliament in Damascus on Sunday, April 8. Activists say she was arrested right after that.
(UPI) – The U.S. government plans to use massive surveillance before making the call on striking Iran, an intelligence source told The Washington Post.
American diplomats say the U.S. and its Western allies will call for the immediate closure of Fordo, Iran’s underground nuclear facility.
Iran on Sunday rejected demands the West is reportedly to submit at talks due to take place in days, saying it will neither close its Fordo nuclear bunker nor give up higher-level uranium enrichment.
Iran must immediately close a large nuclear facility built underneath a mountain if it is to take what President Obama has called a “last chance” to resolve its escalating dispute with the West via diplomacy.
Hosni Mubarak’s former vice president and spy chief Omar Suleiman will have the behind-the-scenes backing of Egypt’s ruling generals and the state media’s endorsement bid to succeed his longtime mentor for the nation’s highest office, according to officials with firsthand knowledge.
“Iran strongly rejects any U.S. plan in respect to Syria” the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, announced.
The deadline for registering as a presidential candidate has passed in Egypt, ahead of the country’s first post-revolutionary polls.
(Bloomberg) – The United Nations effort to end the violence in Syria unraveled as the regime differed with envoy Kofi Annan over terms of a cease-fire and opposition groups reported 59 more people killed.
Kuwait’s real gross domestic product (GDP) is predicted to grow by 4.5 percent in 2012 on increase in oil production and increased government spending, according to a report by Global Investment House (Global).
Bahrain has urged all Bahrainis who hold another nationality to inform the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence (GDNPR) about their dual citizenship.
(Reuters) – Syria on Sunday demanded written guarantees insurgents will stop fighting before it pulls back troops under the terms of a U.N. peace plan, and a rebel leader said the initiative was doomed. “The regime will not implement this plan. This plan will fail,” Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief Riad al-Asaad told Reuters.
FSA leader Asaad said his group had not been asked to deliver written guarantees to end violence. “We have given our word that if the regime commits to the plan then we will too,” he said. “We are honest.” “Nobody has asked us for anything written. Nobody has discussed with us handing over our weapons. We will never hand over our weapons.”
Nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, are slated to begin Friday in Istanbul, Iranian state media said Sunday.
Nigeria has been producing between 2.0 and 2.4 million barrels per day, and any significant boost beyond that appears out of the question for now. “So we are not going to be able to, in the immediate, fill up such gaps,” Ajuonuma said, referring to any sudden cut in output from Iran.
The International Energy Agency estimates that exports from Iran could plunge by about 800,000 barrels per day to one million barrels per day in the second half of the year after the tighter Western sanctions go into force.
(AP) — Iran is promoting a conservative cleric close to its supreme leader as a possible successor for the aging spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiites, a move that would give Tehran a powerful platform to influence its neighbor, according to figures close to Iraq’s religious leadership. The 81-year-old spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is one of the most influential figures in Iraq, revered by its Shiite majority as well as by Shiites around the world. In the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and fall of Saddam Hussein, he was strong enough to shape the new Iraq, forcing American leaders and Iraqi politicians to revise parts of their transition plans he objected to.
In his first public comments since being nominated by the Brotherhood on March 31, Khairat al-Shater played down fears of a clash between the powerful Islamist movement and the army generals who have ruled Egypt since Mubarak was ousted last year.
In an interview with Reuters on Sunday, the 61-year-old millionaire businessman denounced former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman’s eleventh-hour decision to seek his former boss’s job. Mubarak made Suleiman vice president just before losing power.
(Reuters) – Hosni Mubarak’s former intelligence chief said his bid for the presidency does not have the support of Egypt’s military rulers and accused Islamists of sending him death threats, an Egyptian newspaper reported on Monday. Omar Suleiman, 74, announced his candidacy on Friday and showed he still wields political clout by collecting around 72,000 signatures of eligible voters in one day, more than twice the 30,000 required. The deadline for submitting signatures was Sunday.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has warned the government it will not support an IMF loan unless the terms are changed or it moves aside and allows a new administration to oversee how the funds are spent, its candidate for president said on Sunday. The government has been negotiating a $3.2 billion loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help it avert a balance of payments crisis caused by the political and economic turmoil of the last year, and an IMF technical team is now in Cairo.
An explosion hit the Egyptian pipeline carrying gas to Israel and Jordan on Monday for 14th time since the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak began last year, security sources said. The blast took place in the northern Sinai at the entrance of the Mediterranean coastal town of Al-Arish. Residents in the city told Reuters they had heard the sound of the explosion.
The Libyan general prosecutor’s office is investigating foreign and domestic oil companies over their past operations in the country, which is recovering from a civil war that ended with the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, the Wall Street Journal reported. The office is probing Libyan and foreign operators in the country for possible financial irregularities, the body’s deputy head, Abdelmajeed Saad, told the newspaper.
Yemen’s main airport reopened on Sunday, a day after gunmen loyal to the nation’s ousted president seized the facility in the capital Sanaa in a brazen challenge to the new government’s authority, officials said. Supporters of former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh attacked the airport on Saturday, shooting up a surveillance tower and sending tanks and armored vehicles to occupy the tarmac. Their action followed a military shake-up in which key commanders loyal to Saleh were fired.
(Reuters) – Saudi Crown Prince Nayef is expected to return to Saudi Arabia next week, a month after travelling to the United States for medical tests, a Saudi official told Reuters on Saturday. Prince Nayef, who is about 78 years old, went to Cleveland in March for “scheduled medical tests”, Saudi state television said at the time. He left a clinic there after a few days.
Afghanistan and the United States reached a deal on Sunday to curb night raids on Afghan homes, giving Kabul a veto over the operations despised by most local people and clearing the way for a wider pact securing a U.S. presence. Night raids on suspected militants have helped fan rising anti-Western sentiment ahead of a withdrawal by most Western combat troops to be completed by 2014, but are backed by NATO commanders as a key anti-insurgent tactic.
The United States released satellite images on Friday that it said showed Syria has artillery poised to hit residential areas and has moved some forces from one town to another despite calls for a withdrawal. Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, posted the commercial satellite images on Facebook in what seemed an effort to pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad to pull back forces as called for in a peace plan devised by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Former Iraqi member of parliament Mishan al-Juburi, 54, is accused along with his son Yazen, whose company allegedly failed to fulfil a contract to provide food for Iraqi forces guarding oil installations.
A new ranking puts Dubai among the top 5 financial centers for new office openings this year, among the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong, London and Shanghai.
In Egypt, 23 candidates have filed their nominations for the upcoming Presidential elections as the nomination process ended yesterday. The candidates include former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat el-Shater, Salafist Abu Ismail, former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon record the highest number of billionaires, while 2012 welcomes newcomer Morocco to the billionaires club, Forbes Middle East said Sunday in its report on the Arab billionaires ranking.
Syrian security forces summarily executed over 100 – and possibly many more –civilians and wounded or captured opposition fighters during recent attacks on cities and towns, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
Second US carrier in the gulf, Suleiman announces in Egypt 4/6 & 7
Published April 9, 2012

(Reuters) – Yemen’s president removed a half brother of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday as head of the air force, replacing nearly 20 top officers but leaving Saleh’s son, nephew and other allies in place as heads of important military units.
NetProphet comments on the release of Azerbaijan’s first domestically produced anti-virus software, named after the country’s capital, B.A.K.U. Launched at an expensive hotel, the launch was not without its glitches, however, and most notably with invitations for the event plagued by grammatical errors from what appeared to be machine translation. Amused, social network users reportedly shared them online.
Iran’s leaders on Friday backpedaled from their recent criticism of Turkey, the host of coming talks on the disputed Iranian nuclear program, in a possible indication of their concern about alienating the Turks at a time when Iran is facing increased isolation.
The Washington Post has said the verbal message was sent to Khamenei via Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who recently met Obama and later visited Tehran.
(AFP) – International envoy Kofi Annan said Thursday that “alarming” casualties were being reported in Syria despite the government’s claims of a partial troop withdrawal from protest cities.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the Syrian government for unleashing new military attacks on its own people despite agreeing a ceasefire date. He warned that the April 10 ceasefire deadlines was “not an excuse for continued killing”.
Iraqs Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi underlined that he will return to Kurdistan after ending his Arab and regional tour, noting that he will visit Riyadh on Wednesday in response to an official invitation.
Yemeni government troops have killed more than 100 al-Qaida fighters in the past two days in an offensive against militant hideouts in the country’s south, the interior ministry said Thursday.
In a significant boost to US naval capabilities in the region as tensions with Iran continue over its disputed nuclear program, a second carrier has joined the USS Abraham Lincoln in the 5th Fleet area of operations.
Omar Suleiman, a former deputy of the ousted President Hosni Mubarak, announced his presidential candidacy, shaking up an already heated race.
(AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI led the world’s Catholics in Good Friday ceremonies clouded by growing Vatican concern over the fate of Christians in the Middle East and perceived threats to its teachings.
Tens of thousands of Syrian protesters took to the streets on Friday under fire from regime forces, who pressed their campaign to pound rebel cities into submission, activists said.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 37 people were killed.
The U.S. ambassador to Syria says its military has pulled back forces from some areas ahead of a U.N.-brokered cease fire next week but in other places has kept or simply shifted around troops and armored vehicles.
(AP) — Loyalists of former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh seized the country’s main airport Saturday as tanks and armored vehicles occupied the tarmac and forced authorities to cancel flights, a day after a military shake-up in which key commanders were fired. Driving pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, armed tribesmen along with troops in uniform blasted buildings of Sanaa International Airport and opened fire on one of the airport surveillance towers before surrounding the entire complex, blocking roads and turning away passenger vehicles.
Yemen’s new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, fired several generals and other figures from the old regime Friday in a bid to show he was making good on promises of reforms and to appease protesters worried Saleh is trying to wield power from behind the scenes. In his more than 30 years in power, Saleh had stacked key security and government posts with relatives and cronies. The restructuring didn’t touch the ex-president’s son Ahmed, who kept command of the well-equipped and powerful Republican Guard, or Saleh’s nephew, Yahia, the head of the Central Security Forces, and the show of force appeared to be an attempt to intimidate Hadi from trying to implement more sweeping reforms that would remove them and other family members.
In a Egyptian poll in March, before Shater and Suleiman emerged as candidates, Moussa was frontrunner with hard-line Salafi Islamist candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail in second place and Mubarak’s last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq in third.
Arab leaders diss summit, Brotherhood bashing on social networks and more 4/2 – 4
Published April 5, 2012

only 10 heads of state from the Arab League’s 22 members attended, with the rest sending lower-level officials. Especially notable were the absences of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and most other Gulf countries, as well Morocco and Jordan — all of them headed by Sunni monarchs who deeply distrust the close ties between Baghdad’s Shiite-dominated government and their top regional rival, Iran.
The Gulf countries also see Iraq as too soft on Syria. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have talked of arming Syria’s opposition, apparently eager to bring the fall of Assad and break the Sunni-majority country out of its alliance with Iran.
(AP) — Sunni Muslim rulers largely shunned an Arab League summit hosted by Shiite-led Iraq on Thursday, illustrating how powerfully the sectarian split and the rivalry with Iran define Middle Eastern politics in the era of the Arab Spring.
(AP) — The Muslim Brotherhood’s surprise decision to field a presidential candidate is stirring fears that the two biggest powers to emerge from the ouster of Hosni Mubarak — the Islamists and the military — are maneuvering to put in place a new rule in Egypt not much different from the old, authoritarian one.
In response to the Iranian regime’s increasing efforts to crack down on internet communications, the US has stepped up its own attempts to facilitate Iranians’ access to the World Wide Web. Last week, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued clear guidance regarding permitted software exports that would help Iranians access the web, including free chat programs like Skype and Google Talk.
In Egypt social networking websites have been rife with anti-Muslim Brotherhood remarks, including many sarcastic ones which further expose the group’s fragile image among many of the youth who were on the frontlines during the battle with Mubarak’s men. A Facebook page titled “I will not vote for Khairat El-Shater” attracted more than 100,000 users in less than two days, reflecting an outcry that the Brotherhood might struggle to contain.
The latest violence comes despite Syrian president Bashar Assad’s agreement to implement a ceasefire starting on April 10.The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops are clashing with rebel army defectors in the northern towns of Hraytan.
Between 800 and 900 Syrian refugees fled to Turkey from Syria in the past 24 hours, a Turkish official said on Thursday.
The rocket fire from the Sinai late Wednesday night did not come as a surprise for the Israeli defense establishment. For months now, the IDF has been tracking Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist activity in the Sinai and there have been reports that the organizations have established rocket production lines in Egyptian territory and even moved some of their weapons caches there reported JP.
Israel’s Nobel peace prize-winning president on Tuesday hosted New Jersey’s governor on the second day of his visit to Israel.
Russia will support the UN Security Councils resolution on Syria if it contains no ultimatums and promotes the implementation of the peace plan put forward by the UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan.
Syrian troops launched assaults on several towns across the country on Thursday, activists said. The offensives appeared to be a push by President Bashar Assad’s forces to make gains on the ground ahead of a cease-fire next week.
Syrian artillery has pounded the rebellious city of Homs and tanks and troops stormed towns in the north and south, deepening doubts that President Bashar Assad will follow through on his commitment to a truce starting next week.
Religion-inspired political movements are challenging Tunisia’s cosmopolitan political and social attitudes, threatening to reverse the country’s long-standing moderation toward Israel and the Jews.
(AP) – The head of Egypt’s constitutional assembly said Wednesday that the committee would forge ahead with its work despite appeals from liberals, Christians, and others who walked out in protest against the Islamist domination of the panel.
The head of the Saudi Olympic Committee has ruled out sending women athletes from the ultra-conservative kingdom to the London Olympics this summer, local dailies reported on Thursday.
The head of Egypt’s constitutional assembly says the committee will forge ahead with its work despite appeals from liberals, Christians and others who walked out in protest against the Islamist domination of the panel.
(Reuters) – An explosion on one of the two pipelines bringing crude from Kirkuk in Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean led to a large fire on Thursday, shutting oil flows on that pipe, a Turkish energy official said. The pipeline, which carries a quarter of Iraq’s crude exports, from the northern Kirkuk oilfield to Ceyhan, has been repeatedly attacked. It has a capacity of 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) and typically pumps 500,000 bpd.
(Reuters) – The United States has posted a $10 million reward for help in the arrest of a Pakistani Islamist leader, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, suspected of masterminding attacks on India’s financial capital and its parliament.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the time for diplomacy with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme is not “infinite”.
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has decided now is a good time to forget all that fluffy talk about unity and reconciliation and start showing whos really the boss. Its hijacking the constitutional assembly, forcing through its own presidential candidate.
CNN, Al Jazeera English and National Public Radio received the prestigious award for their coverage of the pro-democracy movements that led to leaders being unseated in the Middle East, including Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, wanted by Iraqi Shia authorities linked to Iran on terrorism charges, was in Saudi Arabia.
Meetings in Washington follow renewed popularity of Islamist parties in the Middle East and North Africa Reported by VOA News 8 hours ago.
Muslim Brotherhood presidential nominee Khairat al-Shater said Tuesday that the application of Sharia is his ultimate goal.
“I will rely on people of experience to help Parliament achieve that goal,” Shater said during a meeting of the Islamic Legitimate Body of Rights and Reformation, a moderate body of Islamic scholars, according to the group’s website, which quoted his remarks in a statement.
(Reuters) – Iraq should impose a moratorium on executions in the country, which has seen a sharp rise in the number of people put to death in recent months, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report released on Wednesday. Ban said he was “concerned by the continued and increased implementation of the death penalty.” His report said Baghdad executed 80 people between December 2011 and February 2012 compared with 68 in January-November 2011.
Russian-Saudi tensions were heightened further by Russia and China’s February 4, 2012 veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for Assad to transfer power to his deputy and for the establishment of a national unity government. On February 22, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev telephoned Saudi King ‘Abdallah bin ‘Abd Al-’Aziz, only to be told that Russia should have coordinated its moves with the Arabs before casting its veto in the Security Council, and that there was no longer any use in dialog between the two countries over the events in Syria.
One of the prominent claims leveled by Saudi editors and columnists against Russia following Lavrov’s statements was that the country had joined the Shi’ite camp led by Iran, espoused the discourse of the Syrian regime, and taken a stance against the region’s Sunnis.
When NATO comes to Chicago this May for its annual summit, the streets should be flooded with thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people demanding that NATO countries and their allies band together to give the Syrian people the same type of protection and assistance they gave Libyans with a no-fly zone after Ghaddafi s forces were attacking civilians for one month reported BCI.
(Reuters) – Iran has approached Baghdad to host forthcoming talks with six world powers over its disputed nuclear program, Iraq said on Wednesday.
Turkey tells Iran backing Al-Assad is futile 3/28 & 29
Published March 31, 2012

The top US diplomat for the Middle East said Wednesday that Iran and Al-Qaeda are exploiting political uncertainty in Yemen and the region as a whole to expand their influence. “Iran operations are similar to those (of) Al-Qaeda,” Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told reporters in Sanaa, a day after talks with Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
An Iranian oil official said Tehran had proposed to set up a joint operating company with Iraq, which could have been registered in the British Virgin Islands. But he said that following Washington’s pressure, Baghdad offered to bring in a private Iraqi contractor rather than a state concern, fearing the latter could breach U.S. sanctions. Iran maintained that no existing private Iraqi contractor was large enough to handle such project, making the proposal unviable.
(Reuters) – A widely expected ban on European insurance cover for Iranian oil exports from July 1 is threatening to curtail shipments and raise costs for major buyers such as Japan and South Korea, insurance industry sources say.
(Reuters) – Japan’s imports of oil from Iran fell 27.3 percent in February from a month earlier, customs-cleared data showed on Thursday, as the third-biggest buyer of Iranian crude complied with U.S. demands to curb purchases.
(Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Saudi Arabia on Friday for talks to weigh limited options available to end the violence in Syria and launch a “strategic forum” with Gulf allies against a backdrop of growing tensions with Iran.
Three rockets exploded around Baghdad on Thursday despite a massive security operation as Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki hosted the country’s first Arab League summit in two decades. “The blast happened close to the Iranian embassy. The windows of the embassy have been shattered, but there are no casualties,” a senior Iraqi security source said.
The only high-ranking Gulf Arab leader at the talks was the emir of Kuwait, but his presence was a sign of progress in Iraq’s often tense relations with Sunni neighbors. The summit was twice delayed because of clashes between Baghdad and Gulf governments over a crackdown on Shi’ite protesters by Bahrain’s Sunni leadership, with the aid of fellow Sunni monarchies Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
(Reuters) – Iran backs a U.N.-sponsored peace plan for Syria that calls for the withdrawal of troops that are crushing an uprising but does not demand the removal of Tehran ally President Bashar al-Assad, its foreign minister said on Wednesday. Iran backed popular uprisings that removed leaders in Egypt, Libya and Yemen but has steadfastly supported Syria, a rare ally in the Arab world which is largely suspicious of Tehran’s ambitions for greater regional influence.
Turkey hosted a conference of Syrian dissidents on Tuesday and will host a “Friends of Syria” meeting of mostly Western and Arab countries on Sunday.
(UPI) – Turkey’s prime minister was expected to tell Iran’s president the Syrian government will change, so backing the Assad regime is futile, a Turkish official said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, visiting Tehran, was expected to urge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Thursday to reverse his steadfast support of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, arguing that regime change in Syria was inevitable and inescapable, a senior Turkish official told Israel’s English-language Ynetnews Web site.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has praised the Syrian leadership’s handling of the year-long uprising in which over eight thousand have died, saying Tehran would do everything it could to support its closest Arab ally.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Thursday that arming anyone in Syria could lead to a “proxy war.” Maliki made his comments during a speech at an Arab League summit in Baghdad, adding that diplomacy and a “serious national dialogue” are the only ways to stop the year-long violence in Syria. “Based on our experience in Iraq, the option to arm either side of the conflict will lead to a regional and international proxy war in Syria,” Maliki said.
Turkeys PM in Iran, Standoff in Egypt over new constitution 3/26 & 27
Published March 28, 2012

Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tami, Chief of Dubai Police, has spoken out against the use of Twitter to criticize the UAE government, calling for legal action to be taken against offenders, Gulf News reports.
(AP) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials are expected to discuss Tehrans disputed nuclear program and the crisis in Syria with visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan arrived in Tehran on Wednesday from South Korea, where he attended a nuclear security summit and also held talks with President Barack Obama.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have formed an unexpected bond on the matter of Iran’s threat and in considering what must be done about it.
India could yet be exempted from tighter US sanctions on buyers of Iranian crude, and New Delhi would like to be judged on the size of term deals with Tehran which begin in April, the International Energy Agency’s executive director told Reuters last week.
Former defense chief Shaul Mofaz has unseated former diplomat Tsipi Livni as head of Kadima, Israel’s largest opposition party, results of a leadership vote showed on Wednesday.
All but one of Syria’s opposition groups agree at a meeting in Istanbul to unite behind the Syrian National Council reports BBC world.
Hosting an Arab summit that demands Assad stop violence places Iraq in a delicate position, because of the Baghdad government’s close ties to Iran. The preliminary meetings began Tuesday, and the leaders arrive for their summit Thursday.
(Reuters) – Iran expects to reopen talks with world powers over its disputed nuclear program on April 13, state news agency IRNA quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.
The Obama administration sanctioned an Iranian airline for allegedly ferrying machine guns and munitions into Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad put down a rebellion against his rule.
Some 100 businessmen from Turkey have frozen their businesses in Syria and returned home following Ankaras call for Turkish nationals to leave the violence-hit country, said the head of a regional business association.
Syrian National Council President Burhan Ghalioun has said he would meet with all opposition blocs to discuss reform of his party.
Turkey is in negotiations with several nations to build a nuclear power plant announced at a summit Tuesday.
American diplomat stresses the need for free and fair elections, details some of the changes introduced in the electoral code, and urges the government, opposition and civil society to ensure the proper conduct of the May vote in Armenia.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that Moscow will do everything in its power to persuade Iran and North Korea to return to talks on their nuclear programs.
Total Jordan opened four new service-stations located on the Airport Road , as well as in Hay Nazzal, Russyfeh, and Bayader in Amman, bringing the number of Total service-stations up to 17 across Jordan.
The US has responded cautiously to Syria’s sudden acceptance of a United Nations peace plan, wary that president Bashar Assad’s regime may use its apparent willingness to compromise as cover to press on with a year-longpolitical crackdown.
Syria accepted a cease-fire drawn up by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan on Tuesday, but the diplomatic breakthrough was swiftly overshadowed by intense clashes between government soldiers and rebels that sent bullets flying into Lebanon.
A Yemeni security official says a Saudi diplomat has been kidnapped in the country’s south.
(Daily Star Lebanon) – Three Syrian soldiers died in clashes with rebels in the central province of Homs on Wednesday, an activist group said, just a day after President Bashar Assad said he has accepted a U.N. plan to resolve the country’s crisis.
(UPI) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Syrian President Bashar Assad must prove he is committed to U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
The international motor racing body, the FIA, is emphatically denying that the controversial Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for next month, will be cancelled because of continuing disturbances in the Gulf kingdom reported the Guardian UK.
In a bid to save the CIA’s drone campaign against al Qaeda in Pakistan, US officials offered key concessions to Pakistan’s spy chief that included advance notice and limits on the types of targets but the offers were flatly rejected reported Pakistan news service.
Pakistan opposition parties are moving to block the reopening of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply routes into neighboring Afghanistan ahead of crucial deliberations to set new terms of engagement with the United States.
Ahmad Wali Siddiqui, a German-Afghani who is alleged to have been a member of al-Qaeda, said on both Monday and Tuesday during his trial that Iran harbored al-Qaeda terrorists.
(IPS/Al Jazeera) – Ilker Basbug, Turkey’s former army chief, has gone on trial on charges of leading a terrorist group accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The number of Syrian citizens taking shelter in Turkey on Wednesday stood at 17,655, Turkish semi-official Anatolia news agency quoted the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) as saying.
(UPI) — Clashes between Turkish police and members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in southeastern Turkey left five officers dead, officials said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement Wednesday Turkey will continue fighting terrorism, which he called a threat to the country’s unity and its citizens’ security.
The United States added an Iranian cargo airline, three officials from Irans Revolutionary Guards and a Nigerian trading agent to its Iran sanctions blacklist on Tuesday, on evidence they had conspired to funnel illicit weapons shipments to Syria.
A standoff between Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the country’s military rulers deepened Tuesday as dozens of non-Islamist politicians said they would boycott the writing of a new constitution because Islamists dominate the panel selected to draft the document.
Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood met Tuesday to decide whether the group should field its own candidate for president, a proposition that would require the Islamist group to abandon a pledge to back an outside candidate. But the meeting broke up late Tuesday without reaching a consensus, said Mahmoud Hussein, the Brotherhood’s secretary general reported NY Times.
US says diplomatic channel closing with Iran, Dubai chief cites rise of Muslim Brotherhood 3/25
Published March 27, 2012

(ANTARA News/AFP) – Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi arrived in Baghdad on Sunday ahead of this week`s Arab summit in the Iraqi capital, the first to be held here in more than 20 years. “This is a summit for Iraq,” Arabi said in remarks aired on state broadcaster Iraqiya TV.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has called for a national conference on April 5 aimed at bridging sharp political differences in the country, a statement from his office said on Sunday. “After intensive consultations with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi” and other political leaders, “Talabani, decided to call for the national meeting to be held on Thursday, April 5, 2012,” a statement on the presidency website said.
For the first time, the head of state of a country hosting an Arab League summit is a Kurd, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
The US has paid $50,000 (€37,687) in compensation for each Afghan killed and $11,000 for each person wounded in the shooting spree allegedly committed by a US soldier in southern Afghanistan, an official and a community elder in the country said.
Egypt’s newly empowered Islamists have tightened their grip, giving themselves a majority on a 100-member panel tasked with drafting a constitution that will define the shape of the government in the post-Hosni Mubarak era.
Washington believes Iran is working with rebels in northern Yemen and secessionists in the country’s south to expand its influence at the expense of Yemen’s Gulf neighbors, the US envoy to Sanaa was quoted as saying yesterday.
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, warned yesterday that Kofi Annan represented the last chance for avoiding a civil war in Syria and offered the UN-Arab League envoy Moscow’s full support. Russia, a key ally of Al-Assads regime recently sent fighter jets to Syria.
The number of people killed by the Syrian army forces in Syria on Sunday has risen to 66, including three children and five army defectors, the Local Coordination Committees said.
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Fereidoon Abbasi said his country is willing to work with Russia on more nuclear power plants, reports said Sunday.
Oil prices fell slightly toward $106 a barrel Monday in Asia as investors mulled how much the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program might disrupt global crude supplies.
Barack Obama has urged North Korea “to have the courage to pursue peace” while warning Iran that time is running out over its nuclear stand-off. Reported by Sky News.
More than 3000 temporary jobs are set to be created by his year’s Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, in addition to hundreds of other job opportunities stemming from other events held at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), said a top official.
German Iranians and German Jews on Sunday criticized ZDF for broadcasting without objection an interview in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust. The interviewer was also slammed for failing to raise the repression of Iran’s democracy movement.
US president reiterates position on Tehran’s nuclear issue after talks with Erdogan on eve of nuclear summit in Seoul. President Obama said diplomatic channel is closing.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the main Islamist force that emerged after the Arab Spring, is plotting to take over Gulf states, Dubai’s police chief said in remarks reported on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set later this week to launch a new diplomatic drive aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria, making visits to Saudi Arabia and Turkey as Damascus complained to the United Nations that armed “terrorist groups” in Syria have been receiving weapons from Lebanon. Al-Assads regime routinely labels opposition to his regime “terrorists”
Syria’s opposition groups begin talks in Turkey on Tuesday to provide an alternative to Al-Assads regime, as international peace envoy Kofi Annan is expected to hold talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing. The US, EU and many Arab nations have been pushing for a replacement to Al-Assads regime. Al-Assad maintains close regional allies such as the Hezbollah and Iran. Iran is itself under pressure due to international sanctions and a domestic pro-democracy movement.
Bahrain is facing economic uncertainty. Failure to act will have serious consequences for those who lose their jobs and their families and a long-term affect on the country’s psyche, said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) second vice-chairman Abdulhameed Al Kooheji.
US and Turkey to provide non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition & other news 3/24 & 25
Published March 26, 2012

Turkish media has emphasized the declaration by the PKK’s de facto leader Murat Karayilan that “If Turkey intervenes against our people in western Kurdistan, the area will turn into a battlezone.” Western Kurdistan is the name the Kurds call eastern Syria, inhabited by more than two million Kurds. Turkey now blames Syria for using the PKK as an additional arm, allowing members of the organization to roam freely in its territory with weapons and permitting them to carry out terror acts in Turkish territory reports Haartz.
US President Barack Obama has departed for Seoul, South Korea, for an international summit on keeping nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.
The United States defended the record of the UN Human Rights Council on Friday, saying that the international organization had taken “robust action” against human rights abuses. The US State Department statement came amid increased controversy over the Council after it established a fact-finding mission to probe the effects of settlements on Palestinian human rights. The move drew condemnation from Israeli political authorities, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday announcing that he was considering withdrawing the Israeli ambassador to the UNHRC and severing ties with the body.
Investigators have found no signs the suspected gunman behind a deadly string of attacks in southern France was under orders from al-Qaeda or any militant group, a top French official said Friday.
The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday adopted a resolution demanding that the Syrian Government cease all violence, protect its people, and put an end to widespread and systematic abuses such as the killing and persecution.
Dozens of Libyans were arrested on Friday for attacking Libyas Istanbul consulate, demanding financial aid to pay for treatment they received in Turkey after being injured in the Libyan unrest. Police arrested nearly 70 Libyan protesters.
(Agencies) – Syrian forces bombed towns and clashed with rebels in several regions Friday as activists said thousands staged anti-regime protests and the European Union slapped sanctions on the country’s First Lady.
As activists are planning to lead a Global March to Jerusalem next Friday, Israel has warned neighboring countries that it would forcefully respond to attempted breaches of its borders. The Global March to Jerusalem initiative aims at getting over one million participants.
(UPI) – Israel is to send diesel fuel to the Gaza Strip Friday in response to a critical fuel shortage, sources told Ynetnews. The Palestinian Authority is to pay for about 118,877 gallons of fuel.
Republican Lawmaker, Representative Kay Granger, stated Friday that she will be releasing $147 Million to the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank after she withheld the money since August of last year in protest to the Palestinian National Unity deal. It remains unclear if the funds will be released due to another hold put by a different lawmaker.
The United States and Turkey have announced plans to provide “non-lethal” aid such as communications equipment and medical supplies to Syrian rebels, and will urge other key allies to do the same.
Tunisians are likely to vote for their first full post-revolutionary parliament in just under a year’s time, a government official told Reuters on Saturday.
US envoy to Sanaa tells ‘al-Hayat’ that Washington believes Tehran working with Shi’ite Muslim rebels in northern Yemen to build its influence at expense of Yemen’s Gulf neighbors. Washington believes that Hezbollah and Hamas are helping their backers in north Yemen.
(Reuters) – Turkey could still get a waiver over sanctions which the United States plans to implement on countries buying oil from Iran despite not being named on a list of exempted nations released by Washington.
The Syrian army has used civilians as human shields during arrest and combat operations in rebel- held towns and villages, Human Rights Watch said.
International peace envoy Kofi Annan was expected to head to China on Monday after asking Russia to back his mission to end fighting in Syria despite Moscow’s differences with Western and Arab states over who is to blame for the conflict, as a rights group accused the Syrian regime of using human shields as reported by Al Arabiya.
Iraq relies on oil exports for 95 percent of its revenues, and the uncertainty in the market stemming from the conflict between the West and Iran over its controversial nuclear program has helped support global crude prices but past year has seen 4% decline of output.
(AP) – The commander of a powerful Libyan militia said Sunday he has withdrawn from the country’s main airport, while some of his men remained behind to give the government another chance to either hire them or take over security.
(ANTARA News/AFP) – Baghdad will host an Arab summit from March 27-29, the first time such a gathering has been held in Iraq in more than 20 years. Here are key issues facing the Arab world:
- The Syria crisis
Monitors say that more than 9,100 people have been killed in Syria`s brutal attempt to repress an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
The uprising began as protests but has now shifted to armed conflict between rebel and pro-regime forces. Despite international efforts to curb the violence, it shows no sign of abating.
The Arab League voted on November 12 to suspend Syria, one of its founding members, over its crackdown on dissent, and has attempted to broker a solution to the unrest.
The small, wealthy emirate of Qatar sits at the head of an Arab League committee dealing with events in Syria, and is leading calls for armed intervention in the conflict there.
- Consequences of the Arab Spring
The December 2010 self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor sparked protests that forced Tunisia`s long-time dictator from power and inspired uprisings across the Arab world that toppled autocratic rulers in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and others that are still ongoing such as in Syria and regular protests in Bahrain.
The Arab world is still struggling with the fallout.
- Iran`s nuclear program
Tensions are high over Iran`s controversial nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for civilian purposes, while much of the West accuses Iran of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
Iran has warned that it will strike back in the event of an attack by the US or Israel, and has threatened to disrupt shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, a Gulf choke point for global oil shipments.
- Arab League reforms
Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi has proposed a series of structural reforms aimed at strengthening the League and improving mechanisms for the implementation of its decisions.
- The economy in the Arab world
Oil-producing states continue to benefit from high oil prices, but others suffer from economic crises including from the collapse of tourism because of Arab Spring protests. Countries in the region also face problems related to water and food shortages.
Iran provides Al-Assad with broad assistance, EU sanctions Syrias first lady 3/22 & 23
Published March 24, 2012

Iran recently resumed financial aid to the Hamas, which was suspended six months ago, to block a unity deal with the rival Palestinian faction Fatah that was supposed to end the five-year rift between the two political parties, a Fatah spokesperson has said.Tehran withdrew financial aid six months ago when the Hamas failed to support their mutual ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whose forces are struggling to contain a violent insurgency as reported by IBN.
A dispute between Egypt and Gaza’s Hamas government has produced the worst energy crisis here in years: Gazans are enduring 18-hour-a-day blackouts, fuel is running low for hospital backup generators, raw sewage pours into the Mediterranean Sea for lack of treatment pumps and gas stations have shut down.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder, plus charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault in the massacre of civilians in an Afghan village last weekend. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder, plus charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault in the massacre of civilians in an Afghan village last weekend.
(Reuters) – The United States said on Wednesday it appears to be on track to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan charting their future relations during or before a late May NATO summit.
(AP) — Mauritania will hand over one of Moammar Gaddafi’s closest associates, former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi, for trial in his home country, a Libyan official said Wednesday.
The U.S. may be edging closer to energy independence, but in the oil markets and its prices, Saudi Arabia is king.Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s oil company, has chartered 11 very large crude carriers (VLCCs). Each transports as many as two million barrels.
Shelling in the besieged Syrian city of Hama continued Thursday, a day after the United Nations Security Council called for the regime to end the bloodshed.
US State Department spokesperson has said the United States is working with Turkey to reduce its dependence on Iranian oil and find alternative sources of supply in a bid to further squeeze the Islamic republic over its suspected nuclear program.
Last week, the transport arm of state-owned Saudi Aramco booked at least nine supertankers —far more than usual — for shipments to the United States, according to traders and Lloyd’s List. Each tanker can carry 2 million barrels of oil.
There are 13 million Saudis using the Internet and a new trend is expanding where they are expressing themselves by uploading videos, according to Patrick Walker, YouTube’s senior director for content partnerships in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The ‘Local Class A’ office market in Riyadh is increasingly being dominated by increasing levels of oversupply and moderate levels of demand, while there remains strong demand and a shortage of supply in the two ‘International Class A’ properties.
A dispute between Egypt and Gaza’s Hamas government has produced the worst energy crisis here in years: Gazans are enduring 18-hour-a-day blackouts, fuel is running low for hospital backup generators, raw sewage pours into the Mediterranean Sea for lack of treatment pumps and gas stations have shut down.
(Reuters) – Petrol pumps have run dry and power cuts are blacking out the Gaza Strip because of a dispute over fuel supplies between Egypt and the enclave’s Hamas Islamist rulers.
US official says Robert Bales to be charged with murder for alleged rampage of which he claims to have “no memory.”
UN rights group calls for a look into how Israeli settlements affect Palestinian rights.
Ten civilians fleeing to Turkey on a bus among dozens killed, as violence rages despite Security Council statement.
Front group claims its “Sunni lions” were responsible for attacks that killed 46 people ahead of Arab League summit in Iraq.
Justice minister says prosecution of 20 health workers who treated wounded protesters last year will proceed in Bahrain.
Bahrain Government report claims “significant” progress on implementing reforms following abuses during last year’s unrest.
UN Security Council set to discuss envoy’s proposals to end conflict, as calls for daily ceasefire grows stronger in Syria.
Iran will retaliate against any attack by Israeli or US forces, the country’s supreme leader has said in a defiant address made shortly after US President Barack Obama had issued a message directly to the Iranian people. Both Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Obama were speaking on Tuesday to mark Nowruz, the Persian new year, with Khamenei reiterating once again that his country did not intend to build nuclear weapons.
Two gunmen have killed a US citizen in southwestern Yemen in an attack that was claimed by an armed group associated with al-Qaeda. The assailants, who were riding a motorbike, shot the man in his car while he was driving in Taiz, then fled the scene, a Yemeni official told the AFP news agency. The man was believed to have been a teacher working at the International Training and Development Centre in the southern city. The US state department confirmed that a US citizen had been killed.
Bashar al-Assad’s father-in-law has been offering advice to the Syrian president on how to depict to the world his bloody crackdown on a popular uprising, a fresh cache of emails printed by Britain’s Guardian newspaper shows. Fawaz Akhras, a 66-year-old cardiologist and the father of Assad’s British-born wife Asma, sent his son-in-law suggestions on how to counter criticisms of his government in private emails to the president, according to the London newspaper.
(Reuters) – Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) plans to raise its output of fertilisers by 2020 to 10 million tonnes, from 3.6 million, as Morocco’s top export earner bets on a rapid increase in global demand, company sources said on Thursday. The state-owned phosphate monopoly also plans to raise mining capacity to 55 million tonnes by 2020 from 28 million tonnes of phosphate rock currently.
(Reuters) – Plans to grant more autonomy to Libya’s oil rich east were laid out this week at the nation’s first oil and gas summit held in Rome after months of unease among international oil companies over the uncertainty. A new system in place will devolve power to subsidiary firms previously controlled by the state’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) Mohamed Elabdaly, chair of the Libya Oil.
The Amazigh, once constituting about 5% of Libya’s population, were unrecognized and repressed, forced to see themselves as Arabs and now free to recognize their roots.
(AP) As Syria’s bloodshed deepens, the British-born first lady has become an object of contempt for many, a Marie Antoinette figure who shopped online for crystal-encrusted Christian Louboutin stilettos while her country burned. The European Union slapped sanctions Friday on Asma Assad, the 36-year-old wife of the president who for the past decade offered a veneer of respectability to one of the world’s most opaque and ruthless dictatorships.
As Syrians took part of “Damascus here we come” demonstrations across the country on Friday, a pilot rejected orders to kill civilian protesters and instead targeted a military security building in Aleppo. After depleting his ammunitions, the pilot flew to Turkey, a country that already hosts Syrian army defectors. Head of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), Colonel Riad al-Asaad, is currently residing in Turkey reported Al Arabiya.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators turned out Friday in the hot spots of anti-regime revolt across Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
(Reuters) – Iran is providing a broad array of assistance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to help him suppress anti-government protests, from high-tech surveillance technology to guns and ammunition, U.S. and European security officials say.
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