U.S. allies: Expel Syrian diplomats over massacre

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CAIRO - Western nations expelled Syrian diplomats Tuesday as the rebellion opposing the regime of Bashar Assad insisted that only military force can stop the massacre of women and children in the town of Houla.

Burhan Ghalioun, president of the Syrian National Council opposition movement based in Berlin, said an attempt by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan to reach a truce is making things worse for innocent civilians being killed by the Assad regime.

Read more at USA Today

Egyptian politics: Vote pits old vs new

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CAIRO - Voters in Egypt's first free presidential election in its history have picked a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a former member of the ousted regime to compete in a runoff vote, the presidential elections commission said Monday.

A few hours after the commission's announcement, a mob set fire to the campaign headquarters of one of the top two candidates, former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, the Associated Press reported. There were no reports of injuries.

Read more at USA Today

U.S. allies: Dispel Syrian diplomats over massacre

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CAIRO – Western nations expelled Syrian diplomats Tuesday as the rebellion opposing the regime of Bashar Assad insisted that only military force can stop the massacre of women and children in the town of Houla.

Burhan Ghalioun, president of the Syrian National Council opposition movement based in Berlin, said an attempt by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan to reach a truce is making things worse for innocent civilians being killed by the Assad regime.

Read more at USA Today

Egypt vote: Next stage of presidential election pits old vs. new

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CAIRO – Voters in Egypt's first free presidential election in its history have picked a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a former member of the ousted regime to compete in a runoff vote, the presidential elections commission said Monday.

A few hours after the commission's announcement, a mob set fire to the campaign headquarters of one of the top two candidates, former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, the Associated Press reported. There were no reports of injuries.

Read more at USA Today

Egyptian politics: Confident free of corruption

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CAIRO - Sabet Mashed Mina, 76, voted for a president in Egypt's elections Wednesday for the first time in his life.

Mina was among voters across Egypt who rushed to the polls after 16 months of tumultuous transition that followed the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Many Egyptians at the polls said they were voting for the first time because previous elections were corrupt.

"This is the greatest feeling," Mina said.

Read more at USA Today

Egyptian revolution: Fervor gives way to wish fr stability

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CAIRO – On a road lined with buildings plastered by posters of presidential hopefuls, most passersby ignore the shiny, decorative pyramids and models of the Sphinx at a knickknack shop near Tahrir Square.

Business at Helmi Saqr's store has diminished since protests erupted in the square last year, a common lament from Egyptians hurt by the decline in tourism.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian rebels: Underarmed, under siege

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IDLIB PROVINCE, Syria In a cave hewed into the craggy rock of the north Syrian countryside, a dozen men sit planning the future of the Syrian insurgency.

A mix of army deserters and volunteers, they are part of the Free Syrian Army, a group — one of many across Syria — that is trying to take on the army of President Bashar Assad.

Read more at USA Today

Arab Spring: Rappers provide anthems for uprising

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MIDDLE EAST - Eighteenth-century French revolutionaries marched to La Marseillaise, and two centuries later, rock music spurred opposition to the Shah of Iran and Czechoslovakia's communist regime. It's no different with the uprisings in the Arab world.

"Arab hip-hop, especially that coming out of Tunisia and Egypt, played a major role in creating the soundtrack to the so-called Arab Spring," said Joshua Asen, a documentary filmmaker and writer of the Hip Hop Diplomacy blog.

Read more at USA Today

Egypt politics: A wish for stability

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CAIRO - On a road lined with buildings plastered by posters of presidential hopefuls, most passersby ignore the shiny, decorative pyramids and models of the Sphinx at a knickknack shop near Tahrir Square.

Business at Helmi Saqr's store has diminished since protests erupted in the square last year, a common lament from Egyptians hurt by the decline in tourism.

Many people just want stability in politics and the economy, he says, which is why he says he'll vote in presidential elections today and Thursday for Ahmed Shafiq, a prominent figure of the regime Egyptians toppled in February 2011.

Read more at USA Today

Syria conflict: Destabilizing Lebanon

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BEIRUT — Syria’s conflict is increasing instability in Lebanon, which already is grappling with sectarian tensions, a crumbling economy and a weak, divided government, even as it has so far avoided the popular uprisings of its Middle East neighbors.

“The entire region is destabilized,” said Bassem Chit, a Lebanese activist in Beirut.

Read more at The Washington Times

Turkey's woman: At the top

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ISTANBUL — Two years ago, Turkish businesswoman Arzuhan Dogan Yalcindag was riding high on success when she was asked to do what most believed was impossible: save the family business.

Yalcindag’s father, media tycoon Aydin Dogan, had just stepped down from his position as CEO of the Dogan Business and Media Groups in early 2010. The company was one of Turkey’s leading industrial and media conglomerates, but had come under fire for tax evasion after a spat with Turkey’s leadership.

Read more at GlobalPost

Syrian Christians: Live in uneasy alliance with Assad, Alawites

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DAMASCUS, Syria – Hani Sarhan is a Christian who says none of his relatives works with the regime of Bashar Assad or has anything to do with it.

"But what we heard from (the protesters) at the beginning of this revolution saying, 'Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the coffin,' started us thinking about the real aim of this revolution," he said. "So from this point of view, fearing for my life, I declared my support for President Assad."

Read more at USA Today

Soccer hooligans: Morocco struggles to rein in fans

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CASABLANCA — Whenever there is a soccer game in Casablanca, the town descends into chaos as dozens of supporters of the city’s two teams, Wydad and Raja Club Athletic, and their opponents storm through the city center leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. But after a soccer riot last month resulted in the death of Hamza Baqqali, 21, Morocco is doing some soul-searching about the causes of increasing hooliganism and ways to prevent it.

Soccer violence waxes and wanes in various countries, but this scourge has reached Morocco only in recent years. It is still mainly limited to Casablanca — the country’s largest city and economic capital.

Read more at The New York Times

Moroccan soccer: Struggle to rein in hooligans

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CASABLANCA - Whenever there is a soccer game in Casablanca, the town descends into chaos as dozens of supporters of the city’s two teams, Wydad and Raja Club Athletic, and their opponents storm through the city center leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. But after a soccer riot last month resulted in the death of Hamza Baqqali, 21, Morocco is doing some soul-searching about the causes of increasing hooliganism and ways to prevent it.

Soccer violence waxes and wanes in various countries, but this scourge has reached Morocco only in recent years. It is still mainly limited to Casablanca — the country’s largest city and economic capital.

Read more at The New York Times

Alienated voters: May divert Serbia from West-friendly rule

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BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbs who have lived through years of high unemployment and cronyism were threatening Sunday to throw out a pro-Western government for former allies of strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

The deceased Milosevic unleashed horrific violence against ethnic groups in the 1990s, and it took a U.S.-led bombing campaign to end it. Polls indicate that many Serbs will vote for anyone who can offer a more stable and prosperous living than what they have experienced under the ruling Serbian Democratic Party. Others do not like their choices.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian refugees: Fear they'll never see home again

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ANTAKYA, Turkey – Abdul Rahman can't sleep. Forced to flee after Syrian troops burned down his home, he lives in a safe house in Turkey with Syrian army defectors in their 20s.

Rahman, 40, left behind his wife and three children and $200,000 of assets, and he is penniless. He still puts on a suit in the morning and makes sure the young men he lives with tidy their bedrooms.

Read more at USA Today

Yemen revolution: "We are not finished yet"

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SANAA, Yemen – Salman Abdul Salam has lived on University Square in Sanaa for more than a year in protest. He hasn't had a job since graduating from college two years ago. His clothes are worn, and he says he's too poor to marry his girlfriend.

But the departure of longtime dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh has him feeling determined.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian regime: Ignoring UN-brokered truce


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KILIS, Turkey – The United Nations observer mission says the Syrian regime is not adhering to a U.N.-brokered truce as thousands of refugees who fled their homes to escape the violence continue to wait in limbo in camps in Turkey.

Satellite imagery and reports from activists in Homs, Hama and other cities show that the Syrian regime has failed to withdraw all of its heavy weapons from towns and cities as it agreed to do in a deal with former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian regime: Not adhering to a U.N.-brokered truce

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KILIS, Turkey – The United Nations observer mission says the Syrian regime is not adhering to a U.N.-brokered truce as thousands of refugees who fled their homes to escape the violence continue to wait in limbo in camps in Turkey.

Satellite imagery and reports from activists in Homs, Hama and other cities show that the Syrian regime has failed to withdraw all of its heavy weapons from towns and cities as it agreed to do in a deal with former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan.

Read more at USA Today

Egypt politics: Protests focused on military rulers

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CAIRO - Thousands of protesters from across the political divide took to Tahrir Square today. Ostensibly united for a common goal, the competing camps of protesters revealed deepening divisions amid Egypt's ever-more turbulent transition.

“On the inside, the protest is divided,” says Rafik Atif, a member of the April 6 Youth Movement, a secular political group among those that called for the demonstration. “But overall we are here to say: Bring down SCAF.” "SCAF" is the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the junta that has run Egypt since Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February 2011.

Read more at The Christian Science Monitor

Arab Spring: What happened to the revolution?

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BERLIN - What happened to the Arab Spring?

The uprisings that swept dictators and autocratic regimes from power last year were supposed to have ushered in a new season of democracy.

From Tunisia to Yemen, however, things have gone wrong.

Tunisian fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest police confiscating his goods in December 2010, inspiring revolts across the Arab world. Over the next 14 months, despots fell in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt.

Read more at The Washington Times

Morocco's TGV: High-speed train not on track

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CASBLANCA - The Moroccan government’s cherished ambition to build a fast train linking its major cities is running into trouble.The plan has provoked a debate not only about the wisdom of the project but also about what form development should take in a country as poor as Morocco: Should it be embracing potentially transforming technology or should it stick to basics like building schools and hospitals?

The high-speed rail link would be built with French help. It would link the country’s economic center, Casablanca, with the capital, Rabat, and Tangier, in the north.

Read more at The New York Times

Syria cease-fire: Threatened by 'outside forces'

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ISTANBUL - Russian claims that a United Nations cease-fire is being undermined by outside forces was met with derision by Syrian activists Tuesday as the military of Bashar Assad expanded attacks on rebel-held neighborhoods.

Clouds of smoke rose over the cities of Homs and Idlib as bombs flattened homes despite Assad's acceptance of a cease-fire brokered last week by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan.

Read more at USA Today

Egypt elections: Islamist candidate banned

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CAIRO - 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.

"We do not accept it. We will challenge it," said Gehad El-Haddad, a member of the steering committee for the Renaissance Project, which is at the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential campaign.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian activists: Give us our revolution back

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BEIRUT, LEBANON, and CAIRO - Syrian activist Mohamed Alloush has fled his native country for Lebanon, but it wasn't President Bashar al-Assad's regime that drove him away. It was the rebels of the Free Syrian Army who ran him out of his hometown of Homs.

"In September last year I had been arrested again by the regime for organizing protests," says Mr. Alloush, speaking on a cafe terrace in Beirut. "After they released me, I ran into a group of men I knew as members of the Free Syrian Army. I walked up to them and screamed: "You guys have stolen our revolution! You are just as bad as the shabiha," the pro-regime militia in Syria.

Read more at CS Monitor

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