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Afghanistan's Taliban movement confirms deal to open office in Qatar, 50,000 residents flee South Sudan tribal conflict, former Libyan rebel groups clash in Tripoli, and more.
Russia Today | Aug 22
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been airlifted by helicopter out of Cairo's Tora Prison and flown to the army's International Medical C...
50,000 residents flee South Sudan tribal conflict [BBC Arabic, UK]
Presenter, Female #1
The United Nations said an estimated 50 thousand people fled their homes due to the violence in a remote border region of South Sudan after days of clashes between two tribes in the area. The United Nations reinforced its peacekeeping troops in the Pibor region, which has been witnessing conflicts between its two tribes.
Reporter, Male #1
Six months have passed since South Sudan was declared a country, yet the tribal violence among the ethnic minorities has not ended. Dozens were killed, mostly women and children, after nearly six thousand fighters from the Lou Nuer tribe attacked the Murle tribe in the Pibor region of Jonglei state, northwest of the capital Juba. The United Nations sent additional peacekeeping troops to the region as the government forces retook control of the city's center after days of fighting. The confrontations took place as the two rival tribes accused each other of organized cattle-thefts by semi-organized gunmen. However, the conflict essentially stems from more complicated cultural and political issues. The vice president of the republic is from the armed Lou Nuer tribe, while the Murle tribe, with its tough fighters, is known for its armed rebellion against Sudan People's Liberation Movement which rules the country. The tribal dispute, which has killed approximately 1,000 people in South Sudan in the last few months, is considered one of the most important obstacles hindering the development of the newly-established country.
Mubarak trial resumes after tow month hiatus [Press TV, Iran]
In Egypt, ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons are back in court. Their trial resumes for the second time after a two month delay. The chief prosecutor said during the hearing that Mubarak devoted the last ten years of his three decades in power to ensure his son would succeed him. The former president, his sons Alaa and Gamal, as well as former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly faced charges ranging from corruption to the involvement in the deaths of hundreds of protestors in the uprising that unseated Mubarak last February. Mubarak could face the death penalty if found guilty.
Islamists nearing victory in final round of Egyptian parliamentary elections [Press TV, Iran]
Egyptian voters are casting their ballots in the third and final round of elections for the lower house of parliament. The poll is taking place over two days in nine provinces. The Muslim Brotherhood party won the biggest share of seats in the first two rounds. Islamic groups are expected to consolidate their gains in the third round. The elections are the first parliamentary polls since the overthrow of ousted President Hosni Mubarak last February. The elections are taking place amid growing opposition to the country's ruling military council. The process to elect a full assembly will end in February.
Former Libyan rebel groups clash in Tripoli [Press TV, Iran]
From Libya now: the latest reports we've been getting, telling us that five people have been killed in clashes between two groups of former revolutionary fighters in Libya. Press TV's Nick Jones is joining us now, live from Tripoli to share the latest with us. Nick, good to hear from you. Tell us what has been happening there and what all these clashes are about. Jones: Basically, fighting broke out today on a street near the central hospital in Tripoli, what has come to be known as the Central Field Hospital. It was an attack on a security office. We know a group of Misurati fighters went to try and collect a prisoner. However, the prisoner was not handed over.
Nigerian police fire tear gas to break up fuel protests [Press TV, Iran]
In Nigeria, police have clashed with protestors who opposed the removal of fuel subsidies. One protestor has been injured by live bullets and more than a dozen others have been detained. The protests broke out after the government ended the fuel subsidy that more than doubled fuel prices over the weekend. The protests turned violent after police fired tear gas at a rapidly growing number of protestors stopping the sale of gasoline and vandalizing gas stations. The protestors also lit a bonfire on a major highway to thwart the decision.
Afghanistan's Taliban movement confirms deal to open office in Qatar [Al Jazeera, Qatar]
Presenter, Male # 1
Thirteen people, including four children, were killed in a series of attacks in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. Sixteen others were injured in an attack carried out by a suicide bomber. A security source said the bomber was riding a motorcycle in a crowded market in Kandahar when he detonated his explosives as police attempted to stop him. In another development, top negotiator on Afghanistan's High Peace Council, Arsala Rahmani, told Reuters news agency that he welcomes the Taliban movement's confirmation that it reached an "initial agreement" to open an office in Qatar. Rahmani said it is important for the Taliban to negotiate with the international community, and especially with the United States. The Taliban's initial agreement to open an office in Doha comes after negotiations with Afghans and their Western allies ended in September 2010. As for the Taliban movement and the Afghan government, they both welcomed US Vice President Joe Biden's statement that the Afghan Taliban is not an enemy of America. Observers interpreted Biden's statement as approval for starting negotiations with the Taliban.
Reporter, Male # 2
From the Korangal Mountains, the Taliban field commanders expressed the movement's readiness to negotiate with the United States, seeing that the movement is the main player in the Afghan issue. And with that, the movement would have bypassed the Afghan government and excluded it from a large part of the process to reach a final solution.
Guest, Male # 3 (Mullah Rahmatullah Safi, Taliban Movement Field Commander)
The world's recognition of the Taliban movement and holding negotiations with it is cause for happiness and delight. A short time ago, the world wanted to completely eliminate the Taliban but was not able to do so.
Reporter, Male # 2
For its part, the Afghan government welcomed US Vice President Joe Biden's statement that the Taliban is not an enemy of the US.
Guest, Male # 4 (Hamid Karzai, Afghan President)
We are very happy that the American government announced that the Taliban is not its enemy so it will not have a pretext to hurt and kill Afghans.
Reporter, Male # 2
The Islamic Party, headed by Qalb el-Deen Hekmat Yar, effectively began talks with the Afghan side via a delegation visit to the capital Kabul. It saw the US-Taliban rapprochement as a new strategy in the American government's relationship with its people.
Guest, Male # 5 (Abdul Jabbar Shalkari, Islamic Party Member)
The US is not looking to solve the Afghan crisis. It is trying to showcase its accomplishments in Afghanistan to the American people to end the war that has been ongoing for years. It is a new game the US is playing before its upcoming presidential elections.
Reporter, Male # 2
All signs indicate that the Afghan scene is heading in an uncertain direction. And all parties are trying to seize, as much as possible, on the new reality presented by the current circumstances. The Afghan government fears finding itself isolated if efforts between the Taliban and the Americans do not end with an agreement. Waliullah Shaheen, al-Jazeera, Kabul.
Free Syrian Army commander threatens to escalate attacks on Assad's regime [Future TV, Lebanon]
Presenter, Female #1
The bloody violence committed by Assad's brigades killed and wounded dozens in many Syrian cities today. The commander of the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Riad al-Asaad told Reuters he is not satisfied with the Arab observers' progress in ending the military campaign against the protestors. Al-Asaad threatened that he would only wait a few days before escalating attacks in a different manner that will surprise the regime and the whole world.
Reporter, Male #1
The military forces did not leave the Syrian cities as the Arab observers continued their tours in the provinces. This is what the Syrian opposition wanted to clarify through a series of video clips circulating on its homepages on social-networking websites as a response to the statements by the Arab League's Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi. The images showed tanks, armored trucks, military vehicles, and security checkpoints that continued to mass and be set up in most areas, especially the neighborhoods of Bab al-Drib, Karam al-Zaitoun, al-Naziheen, and as-Siteen Street in Homs amid reports that heavy, arbitrary gunfire targeted residents of these neighborhoods. Coinciding with the Arab observers' visit to the Rastan neighborhood of Homs, citizens took to the streets to greet them and reveal the tragic reality they have been enduring due to the violence by Assad's brigades.
Guest, Male #2
They burnt my bedroom. They burnt all of my books, including the Sharia or Islamic law books. They wanted to destroy Islam. I want Arour and all Muslims to know that they burnt my Islamic textbooks. They stomped on the Quran with their boots and burnt it.
Reporter, Male #1
In Daraa's Sabil neighborhood, some residents gave testimonies before the Arab monitoring delegation. On the ground, a big explosion rocked the area of Bilan, south of al-Rastan. The opposition later said that the blast was caused by a gas pipeline attack launched by Assad's brigades in order to implicate the residents before the arrival of the monitoring committee to the area. Bilan has been witnessing a heavy security presence that impedes the residents' movement. In the area of al-Zabadani, the opposition said clashes erupted between members of the Free Syrian Army and Syrian troops, following an attempt by the latter to reopen Sirqhaya Street, which has been closed due to the strike. In a serious incident, a group of army defectors killed 18 members of Assad's brigades in the down of Jassem in Daraa. The incident comes after Assad's brigades opened fire on the defectors in order to prevent them from defecting. Commander of the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, told Reuters he was frustrated with the Arab monitors' lack of progress in ending the military campaign against the protestors, warning that he will escalate the attacks in a new style that will surprise the regime and the whole world. The Arab monitors' field visits have failed to end the killing campaign waged against the anti-regime protestors. Several people were killed and several others were wounded today by the gunfire of Assad's brigades in various regions of the country. A video was leaked on social media websites showing a citizen being savagely beaten and tortured following his arrest by Assad's brigades.
Guest, Male #3 (Victim)
I don't have weapons.
Guest, Male #4 (Member of Assad's Brigades)
Where is the weapon?
Guest, Male #3
I swear to God, I don't have any, I swear I don't have any!
Reporter, Male #1
The security escalation failed to prevent the thousands of residents from taking to the streets in massive demonstrations in various regions of the country. This is the scene of a demonstration in the town of Dar al-Kabira in Homs. In addition, a large number of demonstrators took to the streets in the town of Hilfaya in Hama, chanting slogans in solidarity with the towns facing the brutality of Assad's brigades. Activists posted images online of a massive demonstration in the town of al-Suwaira in Daraa. The residents chanted slogans denouncing remarks issued by the Arab League's secretary-general. They also expressed solidarity with the Free Syrian Army.
2011: year of the people, Morocco [Al-Alam, Iran]
Presenter, Male #1
Political observers believe 2011 marked an important page in Morocco's political history. The months-long mass mobilization led by the February 20 Movement propelled reforms in the country, be it those related to the constitutional amendments or the early elections that brought the Justice and Development Party to power.
Reporter, Male #2
According to political observers, 2011 was a pivotal year in Morocco's political history. In less than a month, the young Facebook generation achieved what political parties and unions failed to accomplish in five decades. The youth movement erupted for the first time on February 20 in massive demonstrations in various cities demanding an end to corruption and tyranny, and amendments to the constitution. Days later on March 9, the Moroccan king announced his determination to conduct constitutional reforms that would reinforce the legislative and executive institutions, expand freedoms, and strengthen human rights. Despite his announcement, the February 20 Movement continued to protest, considering the constitutional amendments insufficient and unresponsive to the people's demand for a parliamentary monarchy. The movement and its supporters, including left-wing parties, Islamic movements, human rights and civil organizations, considered the parliamentary monarchy to be their top demand, which would not be lowered or replaced with an alternative. Under constant pressure from the street, 96 political prisoners, including Islamist leaders who had been arrested as part of the Belliraj case, were released in mid-April. During the month of May, in addition to the demonstration organized by the February 20 Movement, doctors in the public sector took to the streets marching towards parliament in protest of the deteriorating health situation and the rampant corruption in the ministry and hospitals. Journalists organized protest rallies in front of the local TV station, demanding a lifting of the restrictions on journalists and the removal of the corrupt figureheads in the public media organizations. Contrary to what the state expected, the draft constitution that was proposed for discussion in June fueled anger in the February 20 Movement, which called for boycotting it and challenging its outcome. The mobilization, which lasted through the summer holiday, seemed to have helped to accelerate the announcement of premature elections. The Movement considered these elections an attempt to outmaneuver the masses' demands. The Justice and Development Party warned against interference in the elections. Observers believe that the main beneficiary of the mobilization led by the February 20 Movement was the Justice and Development Party, which will head the next government. The government's capability for change largely remains questionable. Nour al-Din Aujar, Alalam, Rabat.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resume [IBA, Israel]
We open with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators facing each other across the table in Amman today for the first time in 16 months to discuss ways to proceed with diplomatic negotiations. They are meeting in Amman at this hour but it is only a meeting we can call a talk about talks. Both sides are downplaying the significance of this get together, the first between Israelis and Palestinians since September 2010. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that the Palestinians are committed to a serious peace process with Israel but, he said, a serious peace process will depend on clear principles and the halting of settlements. That of course, is a precondition that Israel does not and will not accept.
Iran renews warning to US Navy in Persian Gulf [IBA, Israel]
The commander in chief of Iran's army today issued a stern warning that a US aircraft carrier, currently in the sea of Oman, should not return to the Persian Gulf. General Ayatollah Salehi made his comments upon Iran's conclusion of a ten-day naval drill in the Strait of Hormuz, through which up to forty percent of the world's crude oil supply shipped abroad. Senior officials in the hardline Islamic republic have threatened to close the international waterway if sanctions are imposed by the West, aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear development program. Washington has vowed to prevent such action with the deployment of the US Fifth Fleet, now based in nearby Bahrain.
Israel slams EU report on discrimination against minorities [Palestine TV, Ramallah]
Presenter, Male #1
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized the European Union's recent report on the miserable situation of citizens inside the Green Line, saying it was infested with hypocrisy and stemmed from anti-Jewish sentiment and a refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. Lieberman claimed in an interview with Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot that the Arabs in Israel enjoy freedoms that residents of Arab countries do not. He referred to Arabs being allowed to protest, without mentioning how these protests are dealt with. The Israeli foreign minister claimed that Arab university students enjoy better conditions than their Jewish counterparts. As for the Palestinian plight, Lieberman said it is impossible to resolve in the coming years. Joining us over the phone from occupied Jerusalem to discuss this subject is the chairman of the Arab Movement for Change Dr. Ahmad al-Tibi. Dr. Ahmad, welcome.
Guest, Male #2 (Dr. Ahmad al-Tibi, Chairman of the Arab Movement for Change)
Presenter, Male #1
Do Arab students enjoy better conditions than their Jewish counterparts, Dr. Ahmad, as Lieberman said?
Guest, Male #2
That was nonsense and a ridiculous statement. It's easy for "fascists" to tell lies in order to cover up the truth and mislead the general public. Arab students are suffering from inequality in all aspects. I'll give you an example. In the medical colleges in Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva there's a minimum age requirement for admission. Only people over 21 years old can apply. This stipulation aims at preventing the Arabs from enrolling and being admitted into medical schools or programs when they graduate from high school at the age of 18 because they do not serve in the Israeli army. In addition to that, a majority of Jewish students have special student bodies, which are semi-public or public or official, that support them by giving them scholarships. Therefore, even as a joke, Lieberman's statement was tasteless and absurd and should not be taken seriously. But he was annoyed by this the European Union ambassadors' report to Israel, which was unprecedented because it speaks of inequality and discrimination against 20 percent of residents, the minority and the Arab citizens. This did not appeal to the Israeli foreign ministry and its chief, Avigdor Lieberman. Therefore, they tried to exert strong pressure on the European Union to not publish the report, through the ambassadors of Holland, Chechnya, and Czech.