Syria turmoil: Rifts among Arab intellectuals

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AMMAN, Jordan — When the Arab Spring reached Jordan last year, a newspaper columnist, Muwafaq Mahadin, was one of the first to march with protesters demanding reforms in his country.

He also backed Syrian demonstrators who began taking to the streets in March 2011. But a few months later, he made an about-face, aligning with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Like many other Arab intellectuals, he says he did so out of fear for the future of the region.

Read more at The New York Times

Syria turmoil: Rift among Arab Intellectuals

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AMMAN - When the Arab Spring reached Jordan last year, a newspaper columnist, Muwafaq Mahadin, was one of the first to march with pro-democracy protestors demanding reforms in his country. He also backed Syrian demonstrators who began taking to the streets in March 2011. But a few months later, he made an about-face, aligning with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Like many other Arab intellectuals, he says he did so out of fear for the future of the region.

Read more at the New York Times

Economic woes: Pakistanis not only worried about war

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KARACHI - Danish Arif, a seller of colorful fabrics at the Mehran Bazaar, repeated what many here say about the direction of Pakistan and its latest change in leaders.

"Who cares who comes and who goes," says Arif as sellers haggle over yards of colorful embroidered cloth. "As long as they're good for the country."

The United States' focus in Pakistan since 9/11 has been on combating radicalism, the latest example of which was the suicide bombing Monday of a U.S. government vehicle. The explosion killed two Pakistanis and wounded two Americans.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian Refugees: Increased Numbers in Jordan and Turkey

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SURAN, Syria – The number of Syrian refugees has doubled in Jordan over the past week and may soon top 100,000 in Turkey, prompting pleas for help from both countries and calls for a safe zone for those fleeing inside Syria.

"The increase in the number arriving in Turkey has been dramatic," said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Read more at USA Today

Safe zone: UN urged to protect Syrians

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SURAN, Syria – The number of Syrian refugees has doubled in Jordan over the past week and may soon top 100,000 in Turkey, prompting pleas for help from both countries and calls for a safe zone for those fleeing inside Syria.

"The increase in the number arriving in Turkey has been dramatic," said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian Christians: Under pressure

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SINCE JULY, the sound of gunfire and artillery from clashes between government and rebel forces in Syria has surrounded the Christian area of Bab Touma in the old town of Damascus.

“They want us in this war, they are pushing us,” says Msgr Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of the Syrian capital..

Read more at The Irish Times

Syrian revolt: 'It will be messy'

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ARA_news_SYR120912AA001.jpegThis week we were lucky enough to chat with our Syria correspondent Stephen Starr, just as his book, Revolt in Syria: Eyewitness to the Uprising (Hurst 2012) is coming out. He sheds some light on one of the most intriguing of all the Middle East countries. The reviews are quite startling.

Noam Chomsky said: “This searching inquiry is painful reading, but urgent for those who hope to understand what lies behind the shocking events in Syria, what the prospects might be, and what outsiders can and cannot do to mitigate the immense suffering as a country so rich in history and promise careers towards disaster”; Fergal Keane of the BBC added: “Stephen Starr had a unique vantage point as Syria’s revolution unfolded. Written with insight and verve his book is essential reading for anybody interested in Syria”

Read more at The INSI
 

Syria Palestinians: Flee to Lebanon

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BEIRUT - At the edge of a sprawling Palestinian camp in south Beirut, Syrian volunteers unload two dozen boxes from the trunk of a taxi. Young boys help carry them into the dark, narrow alleyways where families peer out from underground houses that were bomb shelters during Lebanon's past civil wars.

Down a series of winding passageways and into a two-room house, the boxes are dropped off. Syrian volunteers open and count the medical supplies: bandages, cotton swabs and the pain relievers, all obtained from Doctors Without Borders.

 

 

Read more at USA Today

Crack down: Egypt hits Sinai terror

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Egypt's army on Wednesday launched helicopter missile attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, killing as many as 20 suspected terrorists in a lawless region where a military crackdown on smuggling routes into the Gaza Strip is worsening an energy crisis and heightening violence in the area.

The airstrikes — the first in the Sinai since 1973 — were carried out as part of an offensive to restore control of the peninsula after the killings of 16 Egyptian soldiers Sunday at the Kerem Shalom crossing linking Egypt, Israel and Gaza.

Read more at The Washington Times

Assad regime: Crumbling to its core

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IDLIB, Syria — Syria’s prime minister Monday became the latest and highest-ranking official to defect to the opposition, a sign that divisions within the country are hardening further along sectarian lines.

Riad Hijab is a prominent member of Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, which forms the foundation of the opposition in the 17-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad and his loyalists of the minority Alawite sect.

Read more at The Washington Times

Cease-Fire Continues: Israel pulls all troops from Gaza

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GAZA CITY — Israel said it withdrew all its military troops from Gaza on Tuesday as it and Hamas began a three-day cease-fire that appeared to hold on its first day.

The 72-hour truce so far is the longest in the nearly month-long conflict. Previous cease-fires were short-lived and ended with both sides blaming each other for undermining peace efforts. The situation is still volatile, and fighting that began July 8 between Israel and the Hamas militants who control Gaza has not ended.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian rebels: Spurn Alawites

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ANTAKYA, Turkey — Thaer Abboud volunteered to join the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad but got a rude rejection because of his religion.

“I wanted to join a fighting group, and one rebel said, ‘We don’t need Alawi pigs with us.’ In my head, I said, ‘To hell with this. This is not a revolution.’”

Read more at The Washington Times

EU official: Arrives in Egypt as death toll climbs

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CAIRO - Egyptian police arrested two leaders of an Islamist party in a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, while the European Union's foreign policy chief was to meet with officials in Cairo on Monday to try and end the political clash.

Catherine Ashton's visit to the Egyptian capital is her second this month. More than 260 people have been killed since the July 3 coup that deposed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian sides: Split along class lines in Aleppo

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ANTAKYA, Turkey – Violent clashes have divided Syria's largest city, Aleppo, as wealthier citizens blame the rebel Free Syrian Army for bringing fighting to their doorsteps.

"They prefer the stability that used to be here," said Mohammad al-Sheikh, a 26-year-old unemployed tour guide who lives in Aleppo. "They are pro-government for the stability, not pro-Assad himself."

Read more at USA Today

Middle east: Turkey closes blitzed border with Syrian "no man’s land"

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GUVECCI, Turkey — Turkey closed its border with Syria on Wednesday in an attempt to hold back the chaos and lawlessness that has spread along the border, as Syrians flee the intense fighting between rebels and the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, fierce battles raged in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, for the fifth day. Human rights activists said 32 people died in the fighting.

Read more at The Washington Times

Syrian regime: Sends in reinforcements against rebels

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BEIRUT – Tanks and reinforcements moved on Syria's commercial capital Wednesday after a night of air raids from Russian-made jets and helicopter gunships failed to dislodge thousands of rebels.

About 5,000 insurgents have converged on Aleppo since the rebel Free Syrian Army called for fighters throughout the country to join the battle in the second most-populous city.

Read more at USA Today

Syrians flee: "We are going insane"

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BEIRUT — Om Jamal crossed into Lebanon from her home in the Syrian village of Ain Al-Tennour, where forces loyal to dictator Bashar Assad ransacked homes and terrorized residents.

Her village is part of the region of Reef Qusayr, where people of different faiths have lived together since antiquity until Assad's campaign to crush an uprising turned the region into a bloody battleground. Villagers refuse to surrender, fathers bury sons hurriedly every day, and doctors struggle to save children sliced by shrapnel.

Read more at USA Today

Aleppo, Syria: Largest Syrian city a "real war zone"

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BEIRUT — Syrian attack helicopters and warplanes circled overhead in the country’s largest city of Aleppo, as fierce fighting continued in the former regime stronghold for a fourth day, and rebel fighters struggled to hold on to ground they gained earlier this week.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sent “a clear message of support for the opposition,” while Syrian ally Russia warned Syrian President Bashar Assad against using chemical or biological weapons against a foreign attack.

Read more at The Washington Times

Syrian revolution: The fog of civil war

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PAPHOS, Cyprus – In Jdaydieh Artouz, a town 11 miles southwest of Damascus that is home to a mix of Sunnis, Christians, and Alawites, protests have been taking place almost daily for well over a year. Yet the security forces, centered at a police station a few hundred yards up the street from where the protesters regularly gather, have largely ignored them. One wet, cold January night while out to pick up some sharwama sandwiches, I watched cars with Bashar al-Assad's face emblazoned across the rear window pass within inches of the indomitable demonstrators. Neither side appeared perturbed. With the exception of isolated incidents in which several protesters were killed, the town remained peaceful throughout the uprising -- that is until Thursday, July 19, when rebel fighters fired RPGs at the police station, killing five officers.

Living in this town for the first 11 months of the uprising, I tried, and failed, to get articles published questioning why the regime tolerated protests or allowed free assembly in some areas, but not others. These incidents didn't fit the narrative that all protests were being violently quashed. The majority, of course, were -- and often brutally -- but the full picture was unnervingly complex.

Read more at Foreign Policy

Syria violence: Forces thousands from country

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BEIRUT – Om Jamal crossed into Lebanon from her home in the Syrian village of Ain Al-Tennour, where forces loyal to dictator Bashar Assad ransacked homes and terrorized residents.

Her village is part of the region of Reef Qusayr, where people of different faiths have lived together since antiquity until Assad's campaign to crush an uprising turned the region into a bloody battleground. Villagers refuse to surrender, fathers bury sons hurriedly every day and doctors struggle to save children sliced by shrapnel.

Read more at USA Today

Syrians fear: Toxic stockpile of Assad

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ULUDERE, Turkey — Syrians fear embattled President Bashar Assad is planning to attack civilian opponents and armed rebels alike with chemical and biological weapons, human rights activists said Monday after Syria declared for the first time that its army has weapons of mass destruction.

“The whole population of Syria is afraid,” said Damascus-based activist Sami Ibrahim of the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

Read more at The Washington Times

Syrian regime: Losing on the media front

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BEIRUT — From the beginning of the Syrian uprising, the battle has been one of words as well as weapons and, as rebels strike ever closer to the heart of the regime, the state propaganda machine also appears under threat.

The state-run news agency SANA reported Sunday that the Ministry of Information was accusing “Western intelligence services” of planning to hijack Syrian satellite channels to broadcast “false news.” Meanwhile, SANA cast fighters attacking the capital of Damascus and commercial hub of Aleppo as terrorist insurgents.

Read more at The Washington Times

Assad forces: Strike back against rebels

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HASANKEYF, Turkey – Fighting intensified in Damascus on Thursday as the Syrian military sent attack helicopters and tanks against rebel forces after a bombing that killed three figures in the president's inner circle.

"There have been more attacks using helicopters, rockets and shelling some neighborhoods of Damascus," said Sami Ibrahim, an activist with the Syrian Network for Human Rights, speaking from Damascus. Ibrahim said he had received reports that 129 people had died in the day's attacks.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian officials: Killed by blast

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BEIRUT — Chaos reigned in Damascus on Wednesday as rebel forces attacked the heart of the Syrian regime in their most brazen maneuver in the 16-month-old revolt.

Top-level officials, including the Syrian defense minister and the brother-in-law of President Bashar Assad, were killed in an explosion at the National Security building, a headquarters for one of Syria’s intelligence branches that is near Mr. Assad’s private residence and less than 500 yards from the U.S. Embassy. The embassy has been closed since Washington withdrew its ambassador several months ago.

Read more at The Washington Times

Libyan elections: Favor secular coalition

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CAIRO – A coalition of secular parties in Libya known as the National Forces Alliance won just shy of half the seats allocated to parties in parliamentary elections, besting the party of the Muslim Brotherhood, officials said Tuesday.

The results go against the trend of recent elections in the Arab world, where Islamists have predominated in Egypt and Tunisia following the overthrow of longtime rulers in what has been dubbed the "Arab Spring."

Read more at USA Today

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