U.S. journalist: Has gone missing in Syria


BEIRUT -- Austin Tice is quick to warm up to anyone he encounters, friends say, and it is perhaps that ease of trust that got the 31-year-old American freelance journalist into trouble.

Tice, a second-year law school student at Georgetown University and former Marine, set off for Syria in May to try his hand in journalism after reading about the challenges journalists were having getting into the country.

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Syrian opposition: New group recognized by Gulf council


ANTAKYA, Turkey – The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council says it has recognized the new broad-based Syrian opposition group as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people.

Monday's statement is the first formal recognition for the newly united opposition group that seeks to topple President Bashar Assad.

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Egypt’s Islamists: Divided by Shariah Law


CAIRO — Unlike other protests organized by Egypt's Islamist currents, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party, who dominated more than 70% of the 2011 parliament, announced boycotting the protest and left Tahrir Square with several thousand protesters demanding a puritanical Islamic constitution.

Sheikh Mohamed Al-Saghir, the Islamic Group's prominent cleric and top officer of its political Building and Development Party, led the Friday sermon by fiercely criticizing "liberals and democrats who oppose the application of Islamic Sharia."

Read more at Al Monitor

Egypt’s Islamists: Divided by Shariah Law (2)


CAIRO — Unlike other protests organized by Egypt's Islamist currents, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party, who dominated more than 70% of the 2011 parliament, announced boycotting the protest and left Tahrir Square with several thousand protesters demanding a puritanical Islamic constitution.

Sheikh Mohamed Al-Saghir, the Islamic Group's prominent cleric and top officer of its political Building and Development Party, led the Friday sermon by fiercely criticizing "liberals and democrats who oppose the application of Islamic Sharia."

Read more at Al Monitor

Salafist attacks: Raise spectre of further violence in Egypt


CAIRO — Attacks by hard-line Salafist Muslims have raised concerns that Egypt may be in store for even more violence, similar to that witnessed this week in Tunisia.

Both Arab nations were ruled by ironfisted dictatorships for decades, led the Arab Spring and witnessed an unprecedented rise of Islamists to power.

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Syrian fighting: Chaos rocks capital

CAIRO -- Syrian dissidents sought Monday to bolster their opposition movement with members inside Syria as fighting raged in Damascus between anti-government rebels and Palestinians backing dictator Bashar Assad.

The move Monday in Qatar to broaden membership in the Syrian National Council (SNC) comes after the United States said the dissidents needed to include a wider array of Syrians to help get recognition from the West.


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Cease-Fire Begins: Israel says all troops will leave Gaza (2)

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GAZ140508AA001.jpegGAZA CITY — The Israeli military says all its ground troops will have pulled out of the Gaza Strip by the start of the cease-fire agreed to by both sides in the war.

The announcement came after Israel and Hamas accepted a three-day cease-fire proposal from Egypt to begin Tuesday morning, even after several earlier attempts at a truce collapsed within a few hours.

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Syria military: Massive use of air attacks


CAIRO -- The Syrian government began a nationwide series of airstrikes Monday in what activists and analysts say is a serious escalation of the 19-month-old Syrian conflict.

Air attacks by forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad killed 18 civilians Tuesday and destroyed numerous buildings in the rebel-held cities of Maaret al-Numan and Duma, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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Syrian activists: Al-Qaeda hijacking the revolution


ANTAKYA, Turkey – Syrian opposition activists say they are worried that Islamist terrorists are hijacking the Syrian revolution after Jordanian authorities thwarted a plot to attack targets such a

s the U.S. Embassy using weapons reportedly designated for Syrian rebels.

"Al-Qaeda is hijacking the revolution and diverting it from its original purpose, which was toppling the regime" of President Bashar Assad, said Abu Chin Orwa'a in Idlib province. Orwa'a is a member of the National Unity Battalion, a group fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which says it is resisting involvement by extremist foreign fighters.

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Sirte, Libya: Demolished hometown of Gadhafi


SIRTE, Libya — Huge splotches of white paint mark numerous walls in the coastal city of Sirte, trying to cover up Moammar Gadhafi's slogan — "Allah, Moammar and Libya."

Even so, the walls of Gadhafi's hometown still lack the graffiti glorifying the 2011 revolution or the caricatures of "frizz head" that grace those of other Libyan cities.

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Syrian shelling: Turkey protects its border


ISTANBUL — Turkey's prime minister insisted Thursday that his country does not want to go to war with Syria, after the Turkish parliament authorized military action against Syria's regime and Turkish forces lobbed mortars into Syria for the second consecutive day.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey is determined to protect its borders and its citizens, five of whom were killed Wednesday in a Syrian mortar attack on a Turkish village. He noted that Syrian mortars hit Turkish areas seven other times during the 18-month-old civil war between Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad's regime..

Read more at The Washington Times

Turkish parliament: Military authorized in Syria


The Turkish parliament's approval of military operations outside Turkey on Thursday has reignited calls from Syrian opposition activists for international intervention a day after shelling from Syria killed five Turkish civilians.

"It's a good sign," said Hozan Ibrahim, a member of the Syrian National Council, based in Berlin. "Turkey has signaled both to the Syrian regime and the international community a willingness to intervene.".

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Hamas, Gaza: Abandoned by former allies


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Islamist militant group Hamas, which has ruled Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since 2007, is coming under increasing fire — not from its avowed enemy Israel, but from former allies, human rights groups and even its own citizens.

Meanwhile, its chief cause — the creation of a Palestinian state — has been almost forgotten amid the post-Arab Spring turmoil in the Middle East, with the threat of an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites, the deepening civil war in Syria and growing violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Iraq.

Read more at The Washington Times

Egypt debate: Freedom


CAIRO – Graffiti and artwork from last year denouncing former dictator Hosni Mubarak can be seen on walls and buildings, reminders of the freedom with which Egyptians expressed themselves during their revolt.

Yet nearly 20 months after the uprising that ousted Mubarak, who stifled free speech for decades, Egypt is deciding whether to embrace or restrict liberties cherished in the West.

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Syrian war: Christians pulled from both sides


BEIRUT — Christians in Syria say they are coming under increasing pressure to choose sides in the 18-month-old civil war that has engulfed their country, as Syria's foreign minister, in a speech Monday, accused some members of the U.N. Security Council of supporting "terrorism."

"[Both sides] want us in this war," said Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar, whose congregation in the Christian quarter of the capital, Damascus, said it can't trust the government or the rebels.

Read more at The Washington Times

Syrian exiles: Building towards transition


Syrian exiles who released a document in Berlin last month about methods that a transitional government might use to establish a free and democratic Syria after the fall of the Assad regime say they did it to inspire debate, and to quell fears over the future of the silent majority that remains trapped in the war-torn country.

"There was no disagreement among the Syrian opposition and the Syrian people about what the future of Syria will look like," said Rami Nakhla, a member of the executive committee that drafted The Day After, a paper outlining a post-Assad democratic landscape. "Everybody is calling for almost the same thing: a free country, a civil state, democratic models, rule of law and civil authorities."

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Egyptian security: Sinai Attacks Cast Doubt on military


El-SHEIKH ZWAYYED, Sinai — The Sinai Peninsula has witnessed a significant surge in attacks by armed militants targeting military security facilities in El-Arish and elsewhere over the past month, raising concerns over the effectiveness and methods of Egypt's military campaign in the region and its attempt to keep strict control of the message.

Egypt's military said the attacks in El-Arish were in retaliation for the detention of a number of suspected militants on Sept. 16. The violence followed dozens of armed jihadists attacking the peacekeeping mission base at El-Gora, a town 37 kilometers southeast of El-Arish, two days earlier.

Read more at the Al-Monitor

Syrian humor: Fighting fire with satire


BERLIN - As the Syrian regime continues to crack down on its opponents in the 18-month uprising, Syrians have fought back with a wicked sense of humor that includes a "Top Goon" finger puppets series, cartoons, crank callers and comic sketches performed in bombed-out buildings.

The Syrian leader himself has offered plenty of fodder: Bashar al-Assad's long neck and sloping eyebrows, as well as his distinctive lisp and strangely manic laugh, have become the butt of endless jokes by subversive comics since the first protests rocked Syria.

Read more at Al-Monitor

Syrian sanctions: Only reach so far


BERLIN - It has been just over a year since the United States and Europe announced sanctions against the regime of Bashar Assad to end the violence in Syria. Yet Assad remains in power, and the killings have not only not ended but are escalating.

The sanctions have caused economic pain in Syria; however, the regime survives because the Assad family is intensely loyal to one another and controls revenue sources that international sanctions could take years to crimp.

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Assad family: Who's who


Hafez Assad - Born to a poor Alawite family in 1930, he rose in the ranks of the military to become commander of the Air Force. Lost the Golan Heights to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Seized control of country in 1970 coup. Ordered a massacre against Sunni Muslims during the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama 1982, which killed an estimated 20,000 people.

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Turkish rally: Against Syrian refugees


ISTANBUL - Thousands of demonstrators rallying against Turkey's support for Syrian rebels clashed with riot police Sunday in the southern city of Antakya.

Police immediately moved in to disperse the unauthorized rally as up to 5,000 demonstrators flew banners in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad and called for the expulsion of the more than 80,000 Syrian refugees that have flooded into Turkey over the past 18 months.

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Syrian relief: Efforts for countrymen in Jordan


AMMAN, Jordan — During one of her visits to the Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan, a young pharmacist from the Syrian city of Homs tried to inspire distraught and disenchanted refugees.

"Don't feel humiliated, and keep your head up," she told a woman, bemoaning the squalid living conditions at the camp. "You have to stay positive or else how are we going to rebuild our country?"

Read more at The New York Times

Embassy attacks: Slow response


SANAA, Yemen - As violence outside U.S. embassies spread to new Arab capitals Thursday, two former U.S. ambassadors said the slow response Tuesday by Egyptian security officials in Cairo points to a security lapse that warrants investigation.

Tear gas was used on protesters outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Thursday while anti-American demonstrators battled police outside the U.S. Embassy in Yemen's capital of Sanaa. The protesters were angered over an anti-Muslim film produced in the USA.

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Embassy attacks: USA asks, why?


CAIRO - Emad El-Tohamy was lifted onto the shoulders of other Egyptian protesters Wednesday outside the U.S. Embassy here and denounced America for allowing a film that depicts the Islam prophet Mohammed in a vulgar, insulting manner.

"I see the U.S. government allowed the Web to spread this link all over the world without limiting freedom, without banning it," said Mohammad Umma, who like many in the crowd believes that because America is a democratic nation it should censor media that insult any religion.

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Embassy attacks: Days in the making


CAIRO - Days of planning and online promotion by hard-line Islamist leaders helped whip up the mobs that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya that killed an ambassador and three others.

As the U.S. tightened security worldwide at embassies and Libya's president apologized for the attack, details emerged of how the violence began, according to experts who monitor Egyptian media.

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