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Thousands take to the streets of Syria chanting "God is with us," Yemeni opposition questions President Saleh's constitutional legitimacy, Israel restricts access to al-Aqsa Mosque on first Friday of Ramadan, and more.
Al Jazeera | Nov 16
Al Jazeera reports that during protests in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Hamas flags were raised, and chants echoed in support of the movement, i...
Thousands take to the streets of Syria chanting "God is with us" [Future TV, Lebanon]
Presenter, Female # 1
The Syrian opposition chose "God is with us" as the slogan of its mobilization on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. As for al-Assad's regime, it is still holding on to its security slogan, rendering the shelling of tanks and gunfire the only dialogue and the only possible reforms.
Reporter, Male # 1
The Friday of "God is with us" is the slogan chosen by the Syrian opposition to revive its mobilization on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. So after Friday prayers, Syrians marched against the regime across Syrian towns and villages, specifically in Deir az-Zour, al-Qamishli, Amouda, Latakia, Aleppo, Hama, Rif Dimashq, Daraa and Homs and most notably in al-Khalidiya, Rastan, Baba Amr and Deir Baalbe. Protestors chanted for freedom and the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad. They also chanted in solidarity with besieged cities and towns. The opposition posted this video on their websites, showing a massive demonstration in al-Midan neighborhood in the center of Damascus. And this is another video showing a demonstration in al-Qadam neighborhood in Damascus, during which protestors chanted for the victory of besieged cities. Faced with the demonstrators' perseverance, Syrian security forces and the shabeha surrounded a number of mosques and prevented prayers as usual. Then, they resorted to using live bullets in a number of areas, which led to the death and injury of dozens, specifically in Arbaeen in Damascus' countryside. In Hama, snipers were deployed on rooftops and convoys of armored vehicles and tanks were spread on the streets as over 1,500 families fled the city. Meanwhile, Syrian state-TV broadcast a report from Hama, indicating that army units are working on reestablishing security and stability in the city by opening roads and removing roadblocks put in place by what the channel called "armed terrorist groups."
Guest, Male # 3
However, images of buildings and mosques in Hama tell the channels inciting chaos and their supporters "die of frustration, die of anger."
Reporter, Male # 1
However, those who worked on this report ignored the scale of destruction it portrays, clearly indicating the scale of destruction in Hama, the result of indiscriminately using machines guns and heavy weapons. In Homs, activists and eyewitnesses reported that a large number of security forces and armed regime loyalists surrounded the city's Baba Amr neighborhood. They added that these forces stormed the neighborhood amid heavy gunfire and shelling. And despite all these measures, some streets in Homs were filled with demonstrators.
Yemeni opposition questions President Saleh's constitutional legitimacy [Al Jazeera English, Qatar]
Presenter, Female #1
In Yemen, the youth of the revolution have gathered in more than 17 provinces on a Friday dubbed "Peaceful revolution until victory," demanding the ouster of those being referred to as "the remnants of the regime." On the other side, supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh gathered at Sabeen Square in a protest rally entitled "Friday of compassion," renewing their allegiance to what they referred to as "constitutional legitimacy." At the political level, a legal debate is taking place in Yemen about the legitimacy of President Saleh in light of his 60-day absence from the country and his failure to perform his duties as claimed by his opponents.
Reporter, Male #1
"Peaceful until victory." It's a new Friday marked by the revolutionaries of Yemen. The protestors stressed the peaceful nature of their struggle, amid a renewed hope of soon toppling the regime. The youths of the revolution, following 25 Fridays, have vowed to remain steadfast across 17 protest squares in the face of what they referred to as "the remnants of the regime." They chanted slogans against what they described as "a collective starvation policy and an interruption of basic services" in an attempt by the regime to sway them from achieving the goals of their revolution. As Saleh's absence enters its 60th day, his supporters gathered at Sabeen Square under the slogan "Friday of compassion." As usual, the regime's supporters renewed their allegiance to what they referred to as "constitutional legitimacy." They also rejected what they described as "attempts of defectors," in reference to the revolution's youths who are demanding the ouster of the regime and the trial of its pillars. Two Friday rallies are being held simultaneously, amid a heated political debate about the legitimacy of President Saleh, who has been absent from the country for 60 days. Saleh is being treated in Riyadh for serious injuries he sustained in an attack on the presidential palace last June. The team in favor of stripping Saleh's presidency has cited legal provisions, mandating the president transfer power to his deputy or to parliament if his position remains unfilled for two months or if he is found permanently incompetent to perform his duties. The team also stressed that Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi must call for presidential elections after running the country's affairs during the transitional period, as mandated by the constitution. However, the ruling Congress Party has totally opposed the argument, saying that Saleh is still legitimate until a new president is elected for the country. The opposing team argues that Saleh was not permanently injured, claiming that he is still performing his duties from abroad, citing his recent meeting with a US representative. They argued that he is on a medical leave of absence due to burns. This legal debate comes amid military escalation across various fronts in Arhab, Taiz, and Abyan, with speculation of resumption of fighting in the Hasaba front in the Yemeni capital, which is home to Sadeq al-Ahmar, the Sheikh of Hashed Tribe. Incoming reports have confirmed that forces loyal to President Saleh were deployed in neighborhoods adjacent to Hasaba. Meanwhile, armed supporters of al-Ahmar are reportedly digging forts in anticipation of possible confrontations. The Sheikh of Hashed vowed that Saleh will not rule Yemen as long as he's alive.
Libya denies death of Gaddafi's son, claims control of Zlitan [BBC Arabic, UK]
Presenter, Male #1
Libyan Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi's government denied the circulating reports about the killing of Khamis, his youngest son and prominent military commander. The Libyan authorities said that these reports are groundless. Earlier today, NATO warplanes bombed targets in a southern suburb of the capital Tripoli. Meanwhile, the Libyan authorities announced that their forces took control of the town of Zlitan, east of the capital. In the outskirts of Misurata, dozens of Gaddafi's solders' bodies were found. Their bodies were tossed onto the shore by waves after their failed attempt to reach the city by sea.
Reporter, Male #2
This is the city of Zlitan, a city still under the control of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi's supporters. It is still a target for NATO warplanes. In this house, a mother and her two children were killed after a rocket hit their home. NATO did not deny launching an airstrike in the area but affirmed that the killing of civilians calls for an investigation. In Misurata, east of Zlitan, a funeral is being held for the people killed by rockets launched by Gaddafi's soldiers. Battles in Misurata are still ferocious between opponents and supporters of Gaddafi. It took the opposition forces months to reach Zlitan, and it would not have been achieved without NATO protecting the revolutionaries by air. The armed opposition fighters are not only launching attacks on land but also began attacks at sea. They seized an oil tanker heading from Malta to regions under the control of Gaddafi's supporters, and rerouted it to Benghazi. Parallel to the military operations, the political process is ongoing as well. The Transitional Council insists that Gaddafi and his children not only relinquish power but leave the country completely. The Council began expanding its activities internationally as more countries recognize it as the only legitimate representative for the Libyan people. As for the regime, it sent its envoy to Latin America to explain the truth of what is happening in Libya and its leader's readiness to conduct elections under the condition that NATO stops its military operations. Meanwhile, Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi says that an alliance with the Islamists is around the corner in order to eliminate the liberal opposition.
Presenter, Male #1
Dozens of people protested in front of Omar Makram Mosque overlooking Tahrir Square after performing prayers for activist Mohamed Mohsen, who died after being wounded in the Abbassia incidents about two weeks ago. The protestors chanted slogans against the military council, while some activists condemned the security measures taken by the army around the area. It is worth mentioning that more than 100 people were injured in the clashes that occurred during the march organized by Tahrir Square protestors towards the Defense Ministry headquarters two weeks ago.
Israel restricts access to al-Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of Ramadan [Al-Alam, Iran]
Presenter, Female #1
The Israeli occupation imposed heightened security measures at the main entrances of occupied Jerusalem on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. The occupation barred anyone under the age of 40 from entering the city to perform Friday prayers in the noble al-Aqsa Mosque.
Reporter, Male #1
During the first hours of dawn, Palestinians came from across the West Bank's cities and villages to the main entrances of Jerusalem to perform prayers on the first Friday of the holy month. In the hot sun, they waited for the Israeli jailors to allow them to enter the city. However, only a small number of elderly people were allowed in, and the majority performed prayers at the occupation's checkpoints that separate them from the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque.
Guest, Female #2
We've been here since 6 a.m., and it's now 8:30 and we're still standing. We're exhausted. I'm sick and feel terrible. I can't believe it.
Guest, Female #3
Once we leave this area, it's possible to enter from here but they make us return to the first or second or third checkpoint. This is happening to a lot of people here.
Guest, Female #4
I tried to go in but they made me return. The first time they said I wasn't the legal age. They made me go back a second and third time. They allowed me to go in on the fourth try. I crossed the first and second checkpoints, but they made me go back at the third checkpoint.
Reporter, Male #1
The scene is not very different in the sacred city. Dozens of checkpoints were set up at the main entrances of the Old Town's gates that lead to the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque. And amid inspections and occupation measures, the city seems to be occupied once again.
Guest, Male #2
The enemy shut down everything. It is waging a war against us on all fronts. It is using all means to fight against us, all means! But believe me, our faith in the almightily God is the only thing that keeps us strong. May God's will be to keep our faith strong and make us love each other.
Guest, Female #5
Old men and women are all standing. They are not allowed to enter in cars or buses. This situation can only be solved by God.
Reporter, Male #1
It is worth mentioning that the occupation's authorities are heavily reinforcing their presence during the holy month. The occupation transformed the city of Jerusalem into a military zone on this day. But despite these occupation's measures, tens of thousands of Palestinians entered the city and performed their prayers at al-Aqsa, also known as the first Muslim Qibla and the third Noble Sanctuary. Khadir Shahin, al-Alam, occupied Jerusalem.
Starvation claims 14 Kenyan lives [Press TV, Iran]
At least 14 people have died of hunger in Kenya's north-eastern Turkana region. They are the first hunger-related deaths reported in Kenya during the current regional drought. The victims are from three remote villages in the drought-hit areas that the government failed to get supplies to. The United Nations says starvation threatens more than four million Kenyans in the region. According to the world body, the drought has been caused by a lack of rainfall over successive years.
Three Palestinians injured in Israeli raids on Gaza [Press TV, Iran]
At least three Palestinians, including a child, have been injured in fresh Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. The air force fired at least five rockets into the Gaza Strip. One of the rockets that hit northern Gaza injured three people including two in serious condition and one child. The two young men who were seriously injured lost both lower limbs. Yesterday, the Israeli air force also fired at least six rockets into the Gaza Strip. So since yesterday, there have been 11 airstrikes on Gaza. This comes amid renewed Israeli threats against the Gaza Stip.
No injuries reported in IDF strikes on Gaza [IBA, Israel]
Israeli air force jets struck several targets in the Gaza Strip early this morning in response to the increased Palestinian firing of rockets into Israel in recent days. The IDF spokesperson confirmed that the IAF hit four tunnels used for terror activity as well as a Hamas training camp in central Gaza. Significant damage was caused to several buildings in the in the Khan Younis refugee camp, but no injuries were reported. The IDF spokesperson added that Israel holds Hamas responsible for maintaining calm inside the Strip.
Israeli activists prepare for "mother of all protests" [IBA, Israel]
Now, to the ongoing wave of social protests sweeping the nation. Organizers of the so-called Tent City demonstrations are preparing for what they are calling "the mother of all protests," slated to be held in Tel Aviv tomorrow night. Demonstrators plan to march from the Rothschild Boulevard tent encampment to the city's Kaplan Street the where a mass rally will be held with over 200,000 other people expected to simultaneously gather for separate demonstrations nationwide.
The revival of the Kurdish independence movement [Alsumaria, Iraq]
Presenter, Female #1
Kurdish activists and intellectuals announced the formation of a civil organization to support the establishment of an independent state of Kurdistan. They confirmed that conditions are ripe for establishing a state in light of the changes in the Arab world; they say that Kurdistan is economically ready because of its resources. Meanwhile, some believe the announcement may collide with regional positions that clearly reject the plan.
Reporter, Male #1
The Kurds' quest to establish an independent Kurdish state is not the consequence of the current political developments in Iraq. Nor is it the result of discrimination, as claimed by some Iraqi provinces over the past few months. That claim was used as a threat to secede as an independent region if the central government did not rush the review of the region's share of funds and jurisdiction. The Kurds' request for an independent state is a renewed old issue that can be traced back to the hardship they faced after the division of the region. In 1916, the Kurds were spread across Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran in accordance with the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the regions in West Asia that were under the French-British mandate. The Kurdish activists' new movement to establish their proposed state may have been encouraged by the developments and changes the Arab region is witnessing. The independence of South Sudan in July has set an example for being a state that seceded from Sudan after holding a referendum on January 9 and receiving UN recognition. There is no doubt that the independence of South Sudan was an important incentive for the leaders of Kurdish parties to reintroduce the proposal for an independent Kurdish state by holding conferences and seminars. Most recently, Kurdish intellectuals and activists, including the editor-in-chief of a newspaper that represents Kurdistan Region President Massoud al-Barzani, announced at a press conference the formation of an organization to support the establishment of an independent Kurdish state. In an interview several years ago, prominent Kurdish leader and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani described such a move as "merely a dream." The political struggle that Iraq is currently witnessing and the requests to establish autonomous regions in most provinces have facilitated the Kurdish parties' mobilization and set the groundwork for calling for the region's independence. Especially since the Iraqi street and politicians seem frustrated with the Kurds' many demands and their ways of dealing with citizens, which have made the region's border seem as though it is the border of a neighboring state. The Arab Iraqi street that opposed any separation proposal submitted by the Kurds is now preoccupied with its security and economic issues and is indifferent about the Kurds' demands. This was clear due to the fact that there was no strong opposition as there has been in the past. Some observers believe the Iraqi street seems ready, more than ever, to agree to the Kurds' right to self-determination since their presence is seen as a political, economic, and security burden. And despite all the domestic circumstances that seem well-suited for the Kurds to announce their state, they will undoubtedly face regional positions that clearly reject the establishment of the state. Among those who oppose the proposal are Iran, and Turkey, where nearly 22 million Kurds live. The two states have repeatedly warned that they won't allow the secession of Kurdistan. On the basis of Tehran and Ankara's former positions on the hypothetical Kurdish state, not only will it be economically besieged but also subject to military attacks since it lacks a sea port. This theory may be the main reason that is preventing Kurdish leaders to take action at the United Nations and demand their right to self-determination. They are aware that any Turkish interference to prevent their quest will not be opposed by the US and its allies, who consider Ankara to be the model for democracy and moderate Islam in the Middle East. In addition, any Iranian interference to abort the Kurdish attempt at statehood will not be opposed. This was made clear by the ongoing Iranian military operations in the Kurdistan Region.