Category: Middle East

Yemen Protests End Incident Free

The planned protests on Thursday by both anti-Saleh and pro-Saleh have concluded peacefully in Yemen’s capital Sanaa. Saleh’s opponents called to observe a “day of rage” onYemen protests Thursday demanding Mr Saleh to step down. Nearly 20,000 people marched in Sanaa asking for political reforms and more rights. They rejected Saleh’s offer of not contesting in 2013 when his tenure ends.

The same numbers of people are reported organizing another rally in another part of the city, Sanaa. They demanded Saleh to remain in power. However, they demand Mr Saleh to fulfill his pledge of carrying out reforms at the earliest. It was reported that the supporters are organized by the government from the nearby villages of the capital Sanaa, after the opponents have called for a “day of rage.”

In an emergency parliament session on Wednesday, Mr Saleh, 64, laid out his plans to move aside, saying he would not seek to extend his presidency when his current term expires in 2013 and pledging not pass on power to his son. The "day of rage" was organised by civil

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Egypt Protesters Do Not Relent for Election Promise

Article first published as Egypt Protesters Do Not Relent for Election Promise on Blogcritics.

Though Mr Mubarak promised not to contest in coming elections in September, hundreds of thousands of protesting Egyptians do not agree to end their protests demanding him to step down immediately. Mr ElBaradei dismissed Mubarak’s announcement as a trick to continue in power. Western news agencies are writing that some sections of the people are accepting Mubarak’s announcement as a reliable stable solution as sudden change “could lead to more drastic consequences.”

Apart from the pressure from Egyptians, leaders of the countries are also suggesting indirectlyEgypt protests Mubarak to step down. Turkey’s PM Erdogan advised Mr Mubarak should take a "different step", US President Barack Obama said transition must begin now in an orderly fashion. Egypt’s army, which had been telling that it would not use force against protesters issued a statement on February 2 asking demonstrators to return to their homes. It said demonstrators succeeded conveying their message and they should now allow life in the country return to normalcy.

It is stated that the government restored internet connection that was cut for days for fear of spreading antigovernment sentiments across the country through social network websites like Facebook and Twitter. Nationwide curfew is also said to be eased reducing it to a lesser time period. According to UN estimates, at least 300 people have died in Egypt alone since the demonstrations began there ten days back.

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Arab Leaders Take Steps to Prevent Unrest in Advance

Successful ouster of Tunisia’s autocratic president Ben Ali and unrelenting unrest on Cairo’s streets in Egypt are forcing the heads of Arab states to offer advance promises to their people to prevent possible unrest against their rule. Jordan president has dismissed his cabinet on Tuesday after protests. Yemeni president has also offered a series of concessions to the opposition, workers and unemployed youth.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen said Wednesday that he would not seek re-electionYemen_Protests when his term ends in 2013. The announcement was a rather stunning concession to protesters and another reverberation of the popular anger that has rocked the Arab world in recent weeks. Saleh said his son would also not seek power either. Yemeni protesters are asking for reforms and a smooth transition of power through elections.

Mr Saleh has been in power for a longest period of 32 years and is a strong alley to the US. The announcement came a day before the planned protests in Sana, Yemen’s capital. “No extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock,” Mr. Saleh said Wednesday in a joint session of Parliament boycotted by the opposition. The opposition called to observe a “day of rage” on Thursday, February 3. The organisers are expecting larger turnout than the last week demonstrations.

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Yemenis Demand President to Step Down

Inspired by the Tunisia Revolution, thousands of Yemenis are demonstrating in the capital Sanaa, demanding their president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. Mr Ali Abdullah has been ruling the country for last thirty years. Yemen protests come after a mass uprising in Tunisia on January 14 and country wide protests in Egypt for last three days.

Yemeni opposition members and youth activists organized protests in four partsYemen protest of the city Sanaa including Sanaa University. The protesters are chanting anti-government slogans demanding economic reforms and an end to corruption. Yemenis are worried with soaring poverty and lack of political freedom. There are fears among western countries that Yemen is increasingly becoming haven for al-Qaeda militants.

Protesters gathered in several locations of the city on Thursday morning, chanting that it was "time for change", and referring to the popular uprising in Tunisia that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month. Counter-protests have also been staged by the party of President Saleh, the General People’s Congress. Government supporters are telling that the dissident protesters are a threat to the country’s stability.

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Hezbollah Backed Sunni Businessman Forms New Government in Lebanon

America educated billionaire Sunni businessperson Mr Mikati is appointed as the new Prime Minister for Lebanon. The new government has the backing of the Shia Islamic group Hezbollah, a key player in Lebanon politics. He replaced the former western supported Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of murdered president Rafik Hariri.

Lebanon’s national unity cabinet collapsed on 12 January after a row over a UNNajib Mikati tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of Rafik Hariri, the father of Western-backed caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Mr Hariri had refused to renounce the UN inquiry that correspondents say will blame senior Hezbollah figures for his father’s murder. Hezbollah says the investigation is politically motivated.

The latest development proves that the Hezbollah group gained strength in Lebanese Parliament, which is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US government. The US expressed displeasure over the development. The US has said it would have "great concerns about a government within which Hezbollah plays a leading role" as per BBC News.

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Veracity of al-Jazeera Leaked Documents Questioned by Palestinians

Top Palestinian officials are doubtful of the veracity of leaked documents that show offers of major concessions to Israel. The documents, obtained by al-Jazeera, suggest the Palestinians offered Israel keeping major parts of illegally occupied East Jerusalem said to be rejected by Israel. Palestinians’ chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the leaks were lies. The BBC said it was unable to verify the documents.

Al-Jazeera says it has 16,076 confidential records of meetings, e-mails,Illegal settlements communications between Palestinian, Israeli and US leaders, covering the years 2000-2010. It was leaked that the Palestinians proposed to handover Islamic holy sites to an international committee and limiting returning refugees to 100,000 over ten years. Mr Erekat questioned the authenticity of the leaked documents speaking with al-Jazeera. He questioned why Israel did not sign the accord if the concessions for actually offered. PA president Mahmoud Abbas, who is to attend talks with Egypt President Mubarak on the peace process on January 24, also expressed same doubts

Hamas spokesperson said the leaks revealed the ugly face of the PA and its cooperation with the occupation. It said Fatah was involved in attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause on the issues of refugees and East Jerusalem. They show "the level of the Fatah Authority’s [sic] involvement in attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause, particularly on the issue of Jerusalem and refugees, and its involvement against the resistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip", Sami Abu Zuhri said, quoted by AFP news agency. Israel occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem on both of the rivals have claims. Israel built settlements for 500,000 settlements that are still continuing.

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Iran Hit by Sanctions, Cut Subsidies

Article first published as Iran Hit by Sanctions, Cut Subsidies on Blogcritics.

Iran, facing four rounds of international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council, has decided on Saturday, November 18 to cut subsidies extended to energy and food items. Iran has been under sanctions regime for a long time imposed due to its nuclear programme, which western countries fear aimed at acquiring nuclear arsenal. Iran has repeatedly cleared that its nuclearIran sanctions programme was not intended to build nuclear programme but for peaceful purposes such as energy and medicine.

Unified Sanctions

However, the US along with its western allies has been pressurising Iran to allow IAEA inspectors to inspect its nuclear enrichment facilities. As a member of the IAEA, Iran allowed several times the IAEA inspectors but latter expelled them, saying IAEA was not sending inspectors but spies. As a result, the US lobbied intensively to slap unified sanctions by the UN Security Council and succeeded to convince Russia and China to that effect. Fourth round of sanctions followed in June 2010.

However, Russia and China preserved their business interests with Iran while negotiating with the United States. Many analysts opined the sanctions were substantially weak due to opposition from Russia and China. Some said it was a victor for the United States for persuading China and Russia to impose sanctions. The sanctions resolution was adopted by the 15-nation Security Council in 12-2 vote with Brazil and Turkey casting no vote and Lebanon abstaining.

Deal Ignored

Prior to the Security Council vote, Brazil and Turkey negotiate a truce to shift Iran’s low enriched Uranium to Turkey in a bid to swap it with reactor ready Uranium rods from western countries. However, the truce negotiated by Brazil and Turkey was effectively ignored by the key world powers. Iran President Mr Ahmadinejad described the sanctions as a used handkerchief demonstrating continued defiance of Iran with the western sponsored sanctions.

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