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Arab League's mission in Syria faces growing criticism, thousands in need of aid after South Sudan violence, Saudi Arabia issues arrest warrants for 23 Qatif protestors, and more.
Al Jazeera English | Apr 18
Nigerian drug lords have been importing South American experts to build the country's first known large-scale methamphetamine labs, Al Jazeera repo...
Arab League's mission in Syria faces growing criticism [New TV, Lebanon]
Presenter, Female #1
The Syrian opposition has criticized the work of the Arab observers and called for internationalizing the Syrian crisis.
Reporter, Female #2
Once again, a war of words erupts between the spokespeople for the Syrian Foreign Ministry and the US State Department, which is closely watching the Syrian scene. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday that she has serious concerns and does not believe that Damascus is ready to implement the provisions of the peace agreement backed by the Arab League. The spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Jihad al-Makdisi, responded by describing Nuland's accusations as false and harmful to the Arab League's mission that Nuland claims to support. He added that the accusations are a blatant interference in the heart of the Arab League's work and the sovereignty of its member states. Al-Makdisi said in his statement that Nuland's statements are a deliberate and unjustified attempt to internationalize the situation in Syria and an anticipatory stance that harms the performance of the Arab monitors before issuing their preliminary report. He added that "Syria is not interested in presenting an account on compliance or noncompliance with a protocol to the US, which is not a party to the protocol in the first place, but a party in inflaming and instigating violence." At a press conference in Cairo, the Syrian opposition called for internationalizing the Syrian crisis and criticized the observers' work.
Guest, Male #1
Frankly, there is criticism of the work of this committee, even criticism of the Arab League for noticeable procrastination and unprofessionalism. Statements by the delegation's members contradict those of its chief. We ask that the report by the delegation and its chief be issued quickly, and that the issue be internationalized and referred to the UN Security Council because with a regime like Assad's, I do not believe that Arabs can deal with it.
Reporter, Female #2
For his part, Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi rejected calls for withdrawing the team of Arab observers from Syria. In a statement, he said the League has a mission and is committed to it with the Syrian government, saying it will continue its work for a month. He said that in that time, many achievements will be fulfilled but that assessing the situation is the delegation's current goal. And while the protocol stipulates the release of thousands of people, the latest arrest campaign targeted activist Faten Rajab Fawaz, who was arrested in the city of Douma near Damascus, and whose fate and current detention site remain unknown. Her situation parallels that of Syrian blogger and high school student in Homs, Tal Khaled al-Mallouhi, who was arrested by the state security apparatus on December 27, 2009 for discussing political issues on her blog. On the ground, pro-regime protests continue as a demonstration was held today at al- Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus in support of the role the of Syrian Arab Army in defending the country and fending off armed terrorist groups. On the other hand, demonstrations in Idlib, Ain al-Hasakah, and the neighborhood of al- Khalidiya in Homs called for the downfall of the regime.
Woman dies of tear gas inhalation during Bahrain demonstrations [Press TV, Iran]
People in Bahrain have laid to rest a woman who died while in clashes in an anti-regime demonstration near the capital Manama. Fifty-five-year-old Fakhria Jassim lost her life just after inhaling tear gas fired by regime forces. Bahrain has been gripped by a revolution since February of last year. Regime forces, backed by troops from Saudi Arabia, have killed dozens and have detained thousands more protest. Many have been fired from their jobs for involvement in demonstrations.
Muslim Brotherhood poised to win final round of Egypt elections [Press TV, Iran]
In Egypt, people are going to the polls of the first parliamentary elections after the downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak. This is the second day of the final round of the elections. The previous rounds saw the Islamic parties with the majority of votes. The Muslim Brotherhood is expected to be the biggest bloc in the next parliament. Brotherhood also dominated the first two rounds of the vote held since November.
Thousands in need of aid after South Sudan violence [Press TV, Iran]
The UN has expressed concern about the conditions of thousands of South Sudanese who have fled tribal violence in Jonglei state. A statement by the UN humanitarian coordinator has called for emergency aid, saying refugees remain without food and shelter. According to a UN estimate, up to 50,000 people have fled to a remote a border area. This after clashes between rival tribes over cattle raids in the town of Pibor. Gunmen set ablaze huts and looted a charitable hospital. Days of fighting have claimed hundreds of lives, mostly women and children.
Nigerians vent anger over fuel price hike [Press TV, Iran]
Staying in Africa, protests across Nigerian cities have continued against the removal of a gasoline subsidy by Abuja. Angry protests have continued in cities across Nigeria following the removal of oil subsidies. This has led to a sharp rise in petrol prices which have increased from 65 naira, which is 40 cents, to at least 140 naira in petrol stations. The protest in Abuja was coordinated by a group of youths who called for the immediate reversal of the decision.
Saudi Arabia issues arrest warrants for 23 Qatif protestors [Al-Alam, Iran]
Presenter, Female # 1
The Institute for Persian Gulf Affairs in Washington announced its intention to form a committee to pursue high-ranking Saudi officials for human rights violations. Meanwhile, some Saudi opposition members criticized the authorities' decision to prosecute 23 people who participated in peaceful protests in the Eastern Province and the arrest of two of them.
Reporter, Female # 2
These are Saudi attempts to go back in time to the period before protestors took to the streets of the Eastern Province. But it seems the authorities' attempts are counter-productive and fueling more demonstrations. In the latest episode of the Saudi series aimed at breaking down any popular mobilization, the Interior Ministry issued arrest warrants for 23 people accused of what it described as riots in the Eastern Province. The authorities then quickly arrested individuals saying they are wanted, as official sources said three others turned themselves in. However, the Saudi opposition is saying it won't stand idly by, as the coalition of the Free Youth of Qatif called for a massive demonstration on Friday in al-Qatif under the banner "the earthquake of the free." The coalition confirmed the mobilization is ongoing and will not be stopped by arrests. It described the Interior Ministry's accusations as unjust and as false fabrications. Observers believe that Saudi Arabia, which is not expected to last long in the face of the winds of change that have erupted in the region, is now finding itself encircled by more reports of its human rights violations. The latest was announced by the Institute for Persian Gulf Affairs in Washington. It said it intends to create a committee to pursue high-ranking Saudi officials for these violations. The institute confirmed the committee will issue a list of the names and photos of those responsible for the violations, and their full information in order to pursue them internationally. It also called on Saudis to participate in gathering information and documenting these crimes, which include killing, torture, imprisonment of dissenters, attacks on protestors, and firing bullets at them. In addition to ethnic, religious, and sectarian discrimination, other actions have been added to the list of violations that always find someone to uncover them.
Chinese Muslims clash with police over mosque demolition [BBC Arabic, UK]
Presenter, Female #1
Two Muslims of Hui descent were killed in clashes with security forces in Ningxia Province in northern China. This came as a result of the security forces' continued attempts to demolition a mosque that was renovated by Muslim residents, who say they suffer organized persecution by the Chinese government.
Reporter, Male #1
No media network was able to report on these clashes. According to a number of human rights organizations, the media blackout imposed by Chinese authorities on the Muslim ethnic groups is beyond description. The Chinese state news agency says four people, including two soldiers, were wounded in clashes that erupted between hundreds of Muslim farmers and over 1,000 Chinese soldiers in Taoshan village of Ningxia Province.
However, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy asserts that at least two protestors were killed, dozens were wounded by teargas, and over 100 people were arrested. Ningxia Province is an autonomous region, however, the central authority in Beijing, which is mostly made up of Han residents, decided to demolish the village's mosque under the pretext that it was built without a license. This prompted the Hui Muslims to rise up. There are ten Muslim ethnicities in China: Hui, Uighur, Huizu, Kazak, Tatar, Kirgiz, Tajik, Uzbek, Dongxiang, and Salar. The population of these ethnic groups exceeds 120 million, accounting for nearly ten percent of the total Chinese population. Islam is considered the most wide-spread monotheistic religion in the country and the third largest religion in general after Buddhism and Taoism. East Turkestan is considered one of the most important regions inhabited by Chinese Muslims. It used to be an independent country. The communist regime in China occupied the region in 1949 and changed its name to Xinjiang, meaning "the new territory." In the last several decades, the Chinese government tried to change its ethnic composition by bringing the Buddhist Han people to replace its original residents of Muslim Uighur descent. Muslims in China say they are suffering severe persecution in a country that is essentially established on the rejection of religion. This allegation is supported by thousands of human rights organizations and groups throughout the world. Ehab al-Alfi, BBC.
Iraqi authorities release confessions of armed group responsible for 300 attacks [Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq]
Presenter, Male #1
The Iraqi Interior Ministry broadcast confessions of a 21-member terrorist group affiliated with the so-called "Tariqah Naqishbandiya."
Presenter, Female #1
The group admitted to carrying out more than 300 terrorist attacks.
Reporter, Male #2
Over 300 terrorist attacks, including 191 assassinations, were carried out by a 21-member terrorist group affiliated with the so-called "Tariqah Naqishbandiya army." All of the suspects, including the group's emir, Abed Khaliq Abd Sattar al-Samarrai, served as commanders of the brigades. The group operated under the command of fugitive Izzat al-Duri who disappeared in 1998.
Guest, Male #3 (Criminal Abed Khaliq Abd Sattar, Terrorist)
By the order Izzat al-Duri, I was appointed in 2008 by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Naqshbandi as the commander of Baghdad. The group was instructed to plant bombs, attack government forces, including the army, police and security agencies, launch rocket attacks on the Green Zone, in addition to carrying out assassinations, as instructed by Sheikh Abdul Rahman and his deputy Qassem al-Azzawi from the Baghdad command center.
Reporter, Male #2
The group, which is an offshoot of the deposed Baath Party, committed many crimes, including planting bombs, carrying out assassinations with silenced guns, setting up ambushes, launching missiles, murdering clergymen, judges, and doctors, as well as targeting state employees, particularly security officers.
Guest, Male #4 (Adnan al-Asadi, Senior Interior Ministry Official)
The number of armed movements and groups working against Iraq is 57, which poses a major challenge. However, we are up to the challenge, and God willing we will defeat these criminal gangs.
Guest, Male #5 (Major General Adel Daham, Interior Ministry Spokesman)
We have all the documents, including information on the traders and sponsors who helped finance operations in areas across Baghdad. They collected donations from mosques. They were also charging a monthly membership fee, ranging between 5,000 and one million Iraqi dinars. All the money was used to finance terrorist operations. They also collected money through other channels, which we will later disclose in detail, God wiling.
Reporter, Male #2
Now that the preliminary and judicial review of the defendants' confessions and testimonies is complete, the Baghdad police are urging anyone who may have a claim against the suspects to come forward. Another chapter in the fight against terrorism has ended due to the successful gathering of intelligence and preemptive security operations. Meanwhile, more confessions are expected to be released over the next few days by those who seek to disrupt Iraq's security. From the interior ministry in Baghdad, Zaid al-Taii, Iraqiya.
Hamas launches military drills in Gaza [Al Jazeera, Qatar]
Presenter, Female #1
Dozens of family members of Jordanian prisoners detained by the Israeli occupation requested that the Egyptian government include Jordanian prisoners in any deal with Israel to exchange Egyptian detainees for Israeli spies in Cairo's custody. This came during a sit-in organized by the prisoners' families in front of the headquarters of the Egyptian embassy in Amman. During the sit-in, the protestors accused the Jordanian government of failing to work for the release of prisoners. The number of Jordanian prisoners held by Israel is estimated at 27. Israeli Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin expressed his pessimism about the ongoing meetings in Jordan between Palestinians and Israelis, and excluded the possibility that any tangible results would be produced. Former leader of the Meretz party Yossi Beilin said the Amman talks, which began yesterday, are not serious and are doomed to fail. The Interior Ministry of the ousted Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip conducted broad trainings to test the readiness of its civil defense forces and security institutions in anticipation of an Israeli escalation. These trainings coincided with maneuvers by the Israeli air force and navy in Gaza's sea and airspace.
Reporter, Male #1
This is an operation to evacuate the wounded from a building shelled by Israel in Palestine Square in central Gaza City. The event was only a simulation of a scenario as part of a large drill launched by the civil defense forces and security institutions subordinate to the ousted government in Gaza. This drill was meant to test the forces' capabilities and to prepare them in case of an emergency. The trainings demonstrated the major capabilities of the participating security forces to mobilize. Organizers say this capability is evidence of the forces' victory over their weaknesses resulting from the siege.
Guest, Male #2 (Yousef al-Zahar, Civil Defense Chief in Gaza)
We have fire trucks manufactured in 1988 or 1989. Nearly 50 percent of emergency vehicles have been destroyed in the war imposed on us in the Gaza Strip. Despite this, we are a people who will not break down and will live with dignity and pride, as we are proud Gazans.
Reporter, Male #1
Perhaps the significance of this large drill is that it coincides with a wave of Israeli threats and vows to launch new military attacks on Gaza. Meanwhile, Palestinians are living the memory of the painful war as they commemorate its third anniversary. The proof of this tense atmosphere is the Israeli army's air force and navy drills in Gaza's sea and airspace. This coincided with the Palestinian drill in the Gaza Strip.
Guest, Male #3 (Jamal al-Jarrah, Gaza Security Chief)
We believe these threats at this time prove the Zionist enemy's psychological status and confusion due to the victories achieved by the resistance.
Reporter, Male #1
Despite their confidence, officials in Gaza did not hesitate to raise the alert level and intensify preparations. As they say, the occupation, for its part, cannot be trusted in any case. Tamir Mis'hal, al-Jazeera, Gaza, Palestine.
Jordan FM says Israeli-Palestinian peace meeting was 'constructive' [IBA, Israel]
The first face-to-face Israeli-Palestinian meeting in more than 16 months took place yesterday. While there were no headlines coming out of the talks, the fact that it took place was positive enough for the parties to schedule a second session. Just sitting down together was encouragement enough for all the parties to call for a second meeting this Friday. Jordanian Foreign Minster Nasser Judeh, who hosted the meeting, said the first face-to-face Israeli Palestinian meeting since September 2010 had been constructive.
'Price Tag' attacks continue in Jerusalem [IBA, Israel]
So-called "price tag" acts of violence by far-right Jewish extremists reared its head in Jerusalem today. At dawn, two Arab-owned vehicles were found burned at a car wash in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo that borders on the Arab village of Beit Safafa. The spray painted words "revenge" and "price tag" were discovered near the scene. No injuries were reported. One of the vehicles was completely destroyed in the fire, the other severely damaged.