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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

Muslim Brotherhood: Leads protest as Egypt turns to presidential election

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CAIRO - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood sent tens of thousands of members pouring into Tahrir Square today in an Islamist show of force as the country turns toward a presidential election scheduled for May 23.

Smaller Islamist groups joined the Brothers on Tahrir, all venting their anger at the felool, or remnants of former President Hosni Mubarak's regime, who many say are a threat to Egypt's revolution. The Brotherhood had kept its supporters off the streets since winning parliamentary elections at the end of last year. But the entrance of Omar Suleiman, a long-time confidant and spy-chief of the deposed Mubarak, into the race and legal maneuvers to have some of the Islamists' own candidates disqualified brought them out today.

Read more at CS Monitor

The wedding day - Coming apart and coming together on the Turkish-Syrian border


b_160_0_16777215_00_images_arawedding-sy-tr-wedding-hand.jpegYAYLADAGI, Turkey - In Turkey's Hatay province near the Syrian border, wedding season is in full swing: hair salons overflow, photographers are booked solid and cars stream with white flowers.

Across the border, a season of revolt is underway: President Bashar al-Assad's forces have razed through northern towns in the past weeks to root out dissent, prompting more than 10,000 Syrians to flee to Turkey. On one mid-June day, those two tides came together: a Turkish man and a Syrian woman, forbidden to marry because of a border, were brought together when tensions between the two countries took a turn for the worse.

For as long as anyone here can remember, lives on both sides of the border have been intertwined: families visit relatives across the border; tradesman and farmers cross to ply their wares and pick up supplies; men romance women into marriage. But the violence in Syria has upended the rhythm as the Turkish military increased its presence and Syrian snipers sit on the other side.

Read more...

Egypt's Christians: Fight for political participation

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CAIRO - Father Alfons Marzou shuffles across a complex that is home to sisters for the Catholic Missionaries of Charity, whose nuns provide medical care and food to impoverished children living amid heaps of garbage. "Look around," Marzou says, motioning to the filthy streets outside the walls where families live among refuse for resale in what is known as Garbage City. Little has improved for these people in the year since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, Marzou says. "The situation is bad in so many ways."

Read more at USA Today

Syria: US senators seek arms for rebels

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YAYLADAGI - Syrian troops defied a U.N.-brokered cease-fire plan Tuesday as international envoy Kofi Annan pleaded for calm and two U.S. senators said weapons, not negotiations, were needed to end the slaughter of civilians.

"Make no mistake, the situation in Syria is an armed conflict — this is a war," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said after meeting with senior officers of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the Turkey side of the Syrian border.

Read more at USA Today

Iranian Comic-Book Artists Seek a Unique, Local Identity

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TEHRAN — From the grinning Statue of Liberty skull on the wall of the former U.S. Embassy to bloody scenes from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that cover entire sides of residential buildings, graphic art is everywhere in central Tehran. But graphic arts, like most forms of expression in the Islamic Republic, are tightly controlled by the authorities, whose watchful eye extends even to Iran's tiny but growing domestic comic book scene. Iranian graphic artists have won international acclaim but are still struggling for acceptance at home...

Read more at the New York Times

Syrian uprising: Regime in 'race against time'

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REYHANLI, Turkey – Violence in Syria and at its borders continued to rage Monday on the eve of a cease-fire that analysts said they doubted would be agreed to by President Bashar Assad.

"The Syrian government is in a race against time to basically crush the armed wing of the uprising and have the upper hand in any political negotiations," said Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center, London School of Economics.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian war: A 'race against time' to end uprising

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REYHANLI, Turkey – Violence in Syria and at its borders continued to rage Monday on the eve of a cease-fire that analysts said they doubted would be agreed to by President Bashar Assad.

"The Syrian government is in a race against time to basically crush the armed wing of the uprising and have the upper hand in any political negotiations," said Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center, London School of Economics.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian war: A 'race against time' to end uprising (2)

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REYHANLI, Turkey – Violence in Syria and at its borders continued to rage Monday on the eve of a cease-fire that analysts said they doubted would be agreed to by President Bashar Assad.

"The Syrian government is in a race against time to basically crush the armed wing of the uprising and have the upper hand in any political negotiations," said Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center, London School of Economics.

Read more at USA Today

Egypt's future: Second thoughts on Islamists

EgyptCAIRO – Relaxing in a vast outdoor cafe, Ahmed Awes puffed on a flavored smoke as many others here do and voiced his remorse over voting for the Muslim Brotherhood in recent parliamentary elections.

"The main reason I don't support the Brotherhood anymore is because they say something and do something else," says Awes, who fixes air conditioners for a living, his skin rough and aged.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian revolt: A year fails to loosen Assad's grip

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BERLIN - Middle East analysts acknowledge that they underestimated Syrian President Bashar Assad, who remains in power and on the offensive a year after protests against his regime erupted.

They say that with continued backing from Russia and China, Mr. Assad could cling to power for years. “

Read more at The Washington Times

Syrian conflict: Rebels smuggle aid across border

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ORENTES RIVER, Syria - In snow-flecked forests separating Turkey and northern Syria, a band of some 50 Syrian rebels regroups in a makeshift hillside base, safe for the moment. With an escalating crackdown against regime opponents and no more than 30 assault rifles and a few shotguns among them, they still say time is on their side.
“We are not going to retreat nor give up,” said Abu Youssef, a 43-year-old building contractor turned revolutionary from Darkush, a few miles across the border.

Read more at The Washington Times

Syrian conflict: A year on Syrians continue to fight

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ORENTES RIVER, Syria  - One year ago, a group of schoolchildren scrawled graffiti on school walls in the small city of Daraa. Excited over the uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere known as the Arab Spring, the boys wrote, "The people want the overthrow of the regime."

The boys, who ranged in age from 10 to 15, were whisked away by the security forces of President Bashar Assad and beaten terribly. Some even had their fingernails pulled out by their tormentors.

Read more at USA Today

Syria conflict: A year on Syrians continue fight

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ORENTES RIVER, Syria  - One year ago, a group of schoolchildren scrawled graffiti on school walls in the small city of Daraa. Excited over the uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere known as the Arab Spring, the boys wrote, "The people want the overthrow of the regime."The boys, who ranged in age from 10 to 15, were whisked away by the security forces of President Bashar Assad and beaten terribly. Some even had their fingernails pulled out by their tormentors.The people of Daraa were outraged and mobbed streets in protest, the customary way in which many in the Arab world communicate with their dictatorial leaders.

Read more at USA Today

Egypt politics: Effects of pipeline attacks spread

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AMMAN, Jordan - Jordan's capital glitters under the black skies of night, as cars negotiate weaving roads and lights from cafes and shops flood the streets of East and West Amman.The glowing desert kingdom capital reveals no signs that several hundred miles south, in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, a conflict with implications throughout the region is taking place over a natural gas pipeline that provides significant power to Jordan and Israel. Egyptian natural gas provides fuel for power plants in both countries, but the gas has flowed rarely in the past year.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian crackdown: Doctors and patients targeted

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MAFRAQ, Jordan - When the wounded protester arrived at the National Hospital in Homs, Syria, a surgeon ordered an immediate ultrasound. As the injured man was wheeled past a police captain, the officer banged the butt of his gun on the patient's knee and said he didn't deserve treatment — and wheeled him out again."I looked at the doctor in the room, and he was not even daring to look at the officer," the surgeon said. The story is one of many recounted to Amnesty International, which has been taking videotaped testimony from doctors.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian crackdown: Doctors and patients targeted

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MAFRAQ, Jordan - When the wounded protester arrived at the National Hospital in Homs, Syria, a surgeon ordered an immediate ultrasound. As the injured man was wheeled past a police captain, the officer banged the butt of his gun on the patient's knee and said he didn't deserve treatment — and wheeled him out again."I looked at the doctor in the room, and he was not even daring to look at the officer," the surgeon said.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian crisis: Refugee recounts torture

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MAFRAQ, Jordan - Dark scars on Mohammad Al-Fawari's face stand out even in the shadows of his cold, dimly lit home in a poor part of town where he and his family sought refuge near the Syrian-Jordan border. The wounds — a result of electric shock — are the faded signs of torture he endured while in prison, he says. But Mohammad and his family count themselves lucky because they were able to flee Homs as it was pounded by Syrian forces.

Read more at USA Today

Analysts report: Iran sanctions unlikely to force regime change

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TEHRAN, Iran – Iranians say they are feeling the pinch of sanctions in the price of meat and other daily essentials, but in spite of growing popular anger toward the government, analysts believe little will change.

"My family — my mom and my two sisters — never asked me for anything before," said Abbas Bakhtiari a musician based in Paris, whose family is in Iran. "This is the first time they asked me to help them to pay their bills, and I'm talking about people who didn't have financial difficulties."

Read more at USA Today

Iran's nukes: Sanctions bite but no regime change

Iranians celebrate Revolution Day in Tehran. Photo: Marc Bennetts.

TEHRAN - Iranians say they are feeling the pinch of sanctions in the price of meat and other daily essentials, but in spite of growing popular anger toward the government, analysts believe little will change. "My family — my mom and my two sisters — never asked me for anything before," said Abbas Bakhtiari a musician based in Paris, whose family is in Iran.

Read more at USA Today

Iran's nukes: Sanctions bite but no regime change (2)

Iranians celebrate Revolution Day 2012 in Tehran. Photo: Marc Bennetts

TEHRAN - Iranians say they are feeling the pinch of sanctions in the price of meat and other daily essentials, but in spite of growing popular anger toward the government, analysts believe little will change. "My family — my mom and my two sisters — never asked me for anything before," said Abbas Bakhtiari a musician based in Paris, whose family is in Iran. "This is the first time they asked me to help them to pay their bills, and I'm talking about people who didn't have financial difficulties."

Read more at USA Today

Iran's nukes: Sanctions bite but no regime change (3)

Iranians celebrate Revolution Day 2012 in Tehran. Photo: Marc Bennetts

TEHRAN - Iranians say they are feeling the pinch of sanctions in the price of meat and other daily essentials, but in spite of growing popular anger toward the government, analysts believe little will change. "My family — my mom and my two sisters — never asked me for anything before," said Abbas Bakhtiari a musician based in Paris, whose family is in Iran. "This is the first time they asked me to help them to pay their bills, and I'm talking about people who didn't have financial difficulties."

Read more at USA Today

Syrian conflict: 'More and more' refugees flee

syria-jordan-tn-030612-jb-01MAFRAQ, Jordan - Piles of cots, secondhand clothing and shoes lay stacked in storage units a short drive from the Syrian border. Aid workers bustled through a nearby building, packing bagged bread and canned food for Syrian refugees seeking shelter from mounting violence that has terrorized their lives and homes several miles north of here.

"We were with Bashar," Manal Ahmad said, carrying her 2-year-old daughter as volunteers dropped off bread and blankets at her home in a poor part of town.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian uprising: Escalating effort to 'cleanse' Homs

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BEIRUT - Civilians cowered in homes and activists recorded what they believed may be their final testaments as Syrian troops and tanks intensified their efforts to "cleanse" Homs on Wednesday. Elite Syrian troops accompanied by tanks began a ground offensive on four fronts to crush the stronghold of a movement opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad. The city has endured 26 days of intense bombardment that an unnamed Syrian government official told the Associated Press was meant to "cleanse" Homs of opposition.

Read more at USA Today

Simmering Jordan: Once quiet, air of unrest looms

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AMMAN, Jordan - Rain falls slowly over protesters outside a mosque nestled in the heart of downtown, where one year after political tumult shook governments across the Middle East, demonstrators continue to demand political and economic reform.

"We are here to say we are not with the government," says Rula Abdel Hamid, marching with a group of women chanting anti-government slogans on a recent Friday afternoon. "They are stealing this country."

Read more at USA Today

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