KHI pages 17-11-2011_Layout 1 11/17/2011 1:58 AM Page 14
14 Foreign News
Thursday, 17 November, 2011
Syrian army defectors attack security complex g
Saudi prince says assad’s departure ‘inevitable’ g Six civilians killed, three activists die in custody AMMAN
Y R I A N army defectors attacked an intelligence complex on the edge of Damascus early on Wednesday, the first such reported assault on a major security facility in the eight-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said. Members of the Free Syrian Army fired shoulder-mounted rockets and machine guns at a large Air Force Intelligence complex situated on the northern edge of the capital on the Damascus-Aleppo highway at about 2:30 a.m. (0030 GMT). A gunfight ensued and helicopters circled the area, the sources said. The attack appeared to mark an escalation in armed confrontations between government and opposition forces instead of clashes involving street protesters. “I heard several explosions, the sound of machinegun fire being exchanged,” said a resident of the suburb of Harasta, who declined to be named. There was no immediate report of casualties and the area where the fighting occurred remained inaccessible, the sources said.
Syria said it would boycott an Arab League meeting following the body’s decision to suspend Damascus from the organisation, as regional states stepped up efforts to isolate Assad for refusing to end the government repression of eight months of protests. The meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Rabat on Wednesday comes four days after they decided to discipline Syria for pursuing the crackdown instead of implementing an Arab peace initiative. The League has stopped short of calling for Assad’s departure or proposing any Libya-style military intervention. “In light of statements by officials in Morocco, Syria has decided not to participate in the Arab meeting in Rabat,” the agency said, without giving details. Morocco’s foreign minister said “Syrian colleagues” were welcome at the meeting but did not say if Syria’s foreign minister could attend. Syrian forces killed at least six civilians on Tuesday, shooting from roadblocks in the northwestern province of Idlib and in raids on the central city of Homs and its environs, activists said. Several deaths also were reported in fighting between army defectors and loyalist forces on both sides. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the bodies of three
young activists who were killed in custody were delivered to their families on Tuesday, including 23-year-old Osama al-Sheikh Youssef. “The family collected the body from Tishreen Military Hospital on the condition of a quiet burial. Security police in plainclothes stood on top of Osama watching as we lowered him into the ground,” an activist who attended the funeral said. Syrian authorities have banned most independent media. They blame the unrest on “armed terrorist gangs” and foreign-backed militants whom they say have killed 1,100 soldiers and police. The United Nations say the crackdown has killed 3,500 people. With armed resistance mounting against Assad’s rule, alongside mostly peaceful protests, hundreds of Syrians have been killed this month in one of the bloodiest periods of the revolt, inspired by uprisings which have overthrown leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. INSURGENT ATTACKS oN RISE: An Arab official, who did not want to be named, said insurgent attacks on loyalist forces rose sharply in the last 10 days, although the army remains largely cohesive. Tank bombardment continued overnight on Bab Amro, an area of Homs that has seen regular protests
against Assad and where army deserters have been fighting loyalist forces, witnesses said. “The tanks were firing according to instructions they were receiving from snipers stationed on rooftops,” a retired army officer in his 50s, who had fled the district, said. As the diplomatic pressure rose, Syria released more than 1,000 prisoners, state media reported, including prominent dissident Kamal Labwani. Human rights campaigners say tens of thousands of Syrians have been detained since street protests against Assad’s repressive rule erupted in March. The Arab League, stung into action by months of bloodshed in Syria, met opponents of Assad on Tuesday, a day after violence in his country killed 69 more people. In a rare move among Arab leaders, Jordan’s King Abdullah said earlier this week that Assad should step down in the best interests of the country. A Saudi prince said Assad’s “lack of response” to efforts to end the violence has made his departure inevitable, predicting that opposition to him will mount. “I think it is inevitable that he will have to step down in one form or another,” Prince Turki alFaisal, the former chief of Saudi intelligence, said in Washington.
The Indian government will aim to pass a slew of legislation in the winter session of parliament commencing on Tuesday, including an anti-corruption bill, the parliamentary affairs minister said on Wednesday. Parliament will also introduce the Food Security Bill, seeking to expand the scope of subsidised food entitlements to the poor, and the Mining Bill, aimed at sharing profits with local communities, Pawan Kumar Bansal said.
Anti-regime protesters, inspired by the suspension of Syria from the Arab League, staged a massive rally in Sanaa on Wednesday to urge the regional grouping to do the same with Yemen. “Arab League, we demand the freezing of (Yemeni) membership,” chanted the protesters who marched from Change Square, the epicentre of anti-government demonstrations, towards Al-Hasaba — both in the north of the capital. “No immunity for the killer, resist, people, resist,” they chanted, in allusion to a Gulf plan to end 10 months of unrest under which veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh would step down in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his family. “Silence after today is shameful, after the bombs and the destruction,” they shouted. Security forces fired warning shots in the air when protesters passed by a house owned by Saleh. No casualties were reported. Saleh, who has been in power in Sanaa since 1978, has come under mounting domestic and international pressure to step down in line with the Gulf-brokered peace blueprint. Saleh has welcomed but has yet to sign off on the plan.
India looks to pass anti-corruption bill in November
China kindergarten bus crash kills 20
Iran to send ‘analytical’ response to Iaea report Iran is to send an “analytical” response to a report suggesting it was pursuing nuclear weapons, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Wednesday, a day before the UN watchdog meets on the issue. “We have decided to draft and send an analytical letter with logical and rational responses to (International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya) Amano’s recent report,” the Iranian state television website quoted Salehi as saying. Salehi said the letter would be distributed to countries and international organisations. His announcement came before a meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member board on Thursday and Friday to consider the November 8 report which strongly suggested Iran was researching nuclear warheads, although it stopped short of saying so explicitly. The United States and its allies are keen for the board to issue a resolution condemning Iran or referring it to the UN Security Council, according to a European diplomat in Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered.
Yemenis urge arab League to suspend their country
MAnILA: A group of students clash with policemen as they block the path of the convoy of uS Secretary of State Hillary Clinton near the Philippine presidential palace on Wednesday. Filipino security and at least one uS man jumped out with automatic rifles drawn after about 50 protesters kicked their vehicles and hurled red paint on the cars, but no shots were fired. afP
Twenty people, 18 of them children, were killed in a head-on collision between a hugely overloaded school bus and a truck in northwestern China Wednesday, local authorities and state media said. The small nine-seater bus, from a local kindergarten, was carrying 64 people when the accident happened on Wednesday morning in Gansu province, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing local authorities. Children are often crammed into buses for their journeys to school in China, especially in rural areas, despite strict regulations on such practices. In September Chinese police reportedly charged the driver of a school minibus with “seriously overloading” his vehicle after it was stopped with 64 children on board. The bus was built to carry eight passengers and most of the seats had been removed to cram many times that number of people on board, Chinese state media said. Two adults — reportedly a driver and a teacher — were among those killed in Wednesday’s crash, an official surnamed Du from the Gansu safety bureau told AFP. Another 44 people were injured, with 12 in a serious condition, China Central Television said. Earlier reports had said 19 people died in the accident.
Abbas to ‘speed up’ moves towards new cabinet, polls RAMALLAH AFP
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas pledged on Wednesday to “speed up” work with Hamas to form a new caretaker government and to prepare for fresh elections. In an address to the Palestinian leadership timed to mark seven years since the death of veteran leader Yasser Arafat and the 23rd anniversary of their declaration of independence, Abbas vowed to push ahead with efforts to cement a landmark unity deal between Fatah and Hamas. “In order to expedite the implementation of the reconciliation, we will continue to make every effort to speed up the resolution of the remaining issues — first among them the presidential and legislative elections, as well as those for the Palestinian National Council, and the formation of a government of independents
to oversee the elections,” he said. The formation of a caretaker government, which would prepare for elections within a year, was a central aspect of a surprise reconciliation deal which was signed in May, but efforts to implement the deal have run aground due to a dispute over who would take on the role of premier. Abbas is said to have pushed strongly for his current prime minister Salam Fayyad to remain in office, but Hamas has said publicly it would not support him. Fayyad told Arab media this week he did not want to be an obstacle to reconciliation, and reports have suggested he will step aside to allow another independent to lead the interim government. “Achieving reconciliation is the desire of all our people... and I promise you all that we will do what we can to accomplish the reconciliation,” Abbas said. Moves to set up a unity government
ahead of new elections will be central to key talks between Abbas and exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal when they meet in Cairo on November 25 to try and advance the reconciliation deal between their rival movements. “This issue and related political matters will be on the agenda of my meeting with Khaled Meshaal... including the question of where are we going,” Abbas said. Abbas said they would also discuss the Palestinian bid for state membership at the United Nations, which is currently being debated by the UN Security Council, although its members are split over the issue. Meeting late Tuesday, the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee called for reconciliation efforts to be speeded up. “The PLO executive committee underlines the importance of making real
progress to open the way for reconciliation and advancing toward holding... elections,” the committee said. Hamas is not a PLO member. Earlier this week, senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said the two factions had reached agreement on “important issues” which would be announced after the leaders meet in Cairo. “The meeting will also address the issue of presidential and legislative elections and there is an agreement between the Fatah and Hamas movements to hold them as scheduled in May,” he told AFP late on Monday. “They will be preceded by the formation of a national consensus government, the restructuring of the Central Election Commission, the formation of an election court, the initiation of national reconciliation and the restructuring of the security services.”