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New clashes break out in Sudan's Blue Nile as state authorities say life is "back to normal," Bahraini activists plann "Friday of no concessions" rally, Syria's opposition appeals for international observers, and more.
Associated Press | Mar 21
As a protest raged nearby, President Obama appeared at a West Bank press conference with Mahmoud Abbas to say the US is committed to the creation o...
International court seeks Interpol help to capture Gaddafi [Al Jazeera, Qatar]
Presenter, Male #1
The International Criminal Court announced today that it requested the International Criminal Police Organization, Interpol, to issue an arrest warrant for Muammar al-Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi on charges of committing crimes against humanity. This comes after Gaddafi denied fleeing from Libya to Niger in an audiotape, describing such reports as mere psychological warfare and lies. For its part, the National Transitional Council dispatched additional forces to the town of Bani Walid. A spokesman for the revolutionaries said clashes broke out last night between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi's battalions, which launched attacks from inside the town. The revolutionaries managed to fend off the attack and kill one battalion member. More details in this report by Khalil Ibn el-Dine.
Reporter, Male #2
Gaddafi's battalions are arbitrarily launching rockets everywhere to cover their hurried withdrawal from Wadi al-Ahmar towards Harawa. The revolutionaries are not responding unless it is necessary. They are monitoring the battalions' movements and amassing in new strongholds.
Guest, Male #3 (Mohamed al-Fitouri, Commander)
Of course, despite the truce between the battalions and the revolutionaries in the city, the battalions are still launching rockets at us, but thank God, all the young fighters are advancing. God willing, the entry into Sirte will happen very soon, God willing.
Reporter, Male #2
Not far from the battlefront, another team of revolutionaries are combing and securing the villages from which Gaddafi's battalions withdrew. They are not leaving room for any possible pockets of resistance.
Guest, Male #4
We came now to comb the region again. We are telling the residents of this area that we will secure the area and, God willing, not to be scared of anything.
Guest, Male #5
The whole city has been liberated; we are opening media stations, relief centers, and searching for missing detainees.
Reporter, Male #2
On their way to Sirte, the revolutionaries are combing the villages and farms they capture, paving way for the residents to return to normal life. Gradually, life has started to return to normal in the village of Nufilia. Children are cheerful again, roaming around as they carry the new Libyan flag on their chests. As for the adults, they are also enjoying their summer gatherings. At the end of the main avenue, the village's bakery is fully functioning. Young men volunteered, along with the owner, to provide people with free loaves of bread.
Guest, Male #6 (Ahmed Saleh Ikrim, Bakery Owner)
We are distributing bread for free, God willing. The revolutionaries and the citizens, anyone can come get bread. Whether it's 100, 200, or however much is needed.
Reporter, Male #2
This young child, Zayed, is lucky that the clinic re-opened today after six months. Zayed, whose forehead was injured, came with his father for treatment. The children of the neighborhood also came to thank the doctors for volunteering their services to the village that has been greatly marginalized. The initiative was undertaken by the Libyan Committee for Humanitarian Aid while waiting for other initiatives to be implemented in the villages the revolutionaries have not yet reached. Khalil Ibn el-Dine, al-Jazeera, al-Nufilia.
Syria's opposition appeals for international observers [BBC Arabic, UK]
Presenter, Female #1
Syrian human rights activists reported that military and security forces stormed several towns in the countryside of Idlib this morning amid heavy gunfire. This comes one day after 34 people were killed by security forces, according to the Syrian Revolution General Commission. Meanwhile, security operations continue in the city of Homs for a second day while Syrian state media reported that eight security members were killed by what it referred to as terrorist groups.
Reporter, Male #1
The continuation of security operations in Homs did not prevent these images from spreading, showing defecting soldiers chanting with joy with the residents of the city. Rights groups say that approximately 30 people were killed on Wednesday alone in Homs. The regime's army, security forces, and the shabeha are still massing in several neighborhoods of the city that appear empty of any life, as shown in the few images uploaded by activists there. The constant movements of ambulances reveal the number of wounded people in the city. Syrian state media said that eight security members were killed by what it referred to as terrorist groups. In the north, or more specifically in the village of Ibleen in the Jabal al-Zawiyah region, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that security forces backed by military troops launched a broad campaign, later confirmed to be targeting defecting soldiers. The Observatory says that three defected members of the military were killed and several others arrested in the home of Officer Hussein Harmouche's brother. Harmouche was among the first defectors and a spokesman for what is known as the "Syrian Free Officers Movement". This comes as voices inside Syria are on the rise demanding international protection. The Syrian revolution website, which has around 280,000 participants, decided to name this coming Friday the "Friday of International Protection" as a result of an open referendum. More importantly, the Syrian Revolution General Commission called on the international community to take all measures to protect civilians in Syria according to UN stipulations. The general commission holds the Syrian regime directly responsible for committing massacres and for the cold-blooded killing of unarmed civilians. The Syrian Revolution Coordinators' Union says the heightened security campaign only increases the public's determination to achieve its demand of toppling the regime and trying its symbols. They will not stop protesting until their demands are met. However, it is not clear what direction the crisis will go if the international intervention occurs, as requested by popular demand, although it is not supported by some. The traditional opposition is still searching for an inclusive political framework six months after the movement began. But political observers assert that the crisis started to take a new turn that will open doors to all possibilities. Firas Kidani, BBC.
Bahraini activists planning the 'Friday of no concessions' rally [Al-Alam, Iran]
Presenter, Female #1
Bahraini security forces launched a fierce attack on the celebratory events marking the release of doctors and workers. Residents in the area of al-Aker organized a massive popular protest to welcome Dr. Ali al-Ekri who was released from the regime's jail. Saudi-backed Bahraini security forces fired live ammunition, sound bombs, and tear gas to disperse and pursue the protestors, causing fear and terror among the residents. The Bahraini opposition abroad accused the US and Britain of collaborating with Bahraini authorities in the murder of civilians, and warned the Khalifa regime of continuing its unfair trails of political activists. The opposition also called on Bahrainis to take part in the "Friday of persistence" rally which will be held under the slogan of "No concessions."
Reporter, Male #1
The Bahraini people are continuing with their peaceful mobilization demanding change and reform. This mobilization was met by blatant defiance by the Bahraini regime, which is continuing to turn a deaf ear to the people's demands. Despite the authorities' decision to release 11 medics following months of incarceration for what the Bahraini government referred to as the "medics' role and treatment of the injured during the popular unrests," the Bahraini public continues to mobilize demanding freedom and justice. Meanwhile, more than 100 doctors and workers have gone on hunger strike. Some believe that the release of the Bahraini doctors was due to pressure mounted by Irish medics who went on a hunger strike in solidarity with Bahrain.
Guest, Male #2 (Qasim al-Hashmi, Member of the Global Congress to Help Bahraini Nation)
What forced the Bahraini authorities to release the doctors was the hunger strike observed by the Irish medics. We will continue to rally for our demands. We will not retreat one step. We will continue on this road; we will continue to demand our rights; and God willing we will achieve them.
Reporter, Male #1
Opposition al-Wefaq Society stressed the importance of continuing the popular mobilization. They called for yet another "Friday of persistence" rally under the slogan "No concession." In solidarity with the peaceful mobilization, the Bahraini opposition coalition abroad has accused the US and Britain of collaborating with the Manama authorities in the murder of civilians and warned the latter of continuing its unfair trials of political activists. The Bahraini opposition said in statement that the regime has failed to resolve the country's political crisis, adding that the regime is beyond reform. The opposition also slammed the civilian trials as "illegitimate" because they are held in military courts. In addition, the opposition called on the Bahraini people to take part in the peaceful events in solidarity with the popular movement. In another development, the opposition condemned the US and British administrations for selling internationally-banned arms and ammunitions to the Bahraini regime. Al-Alam has released footage of the type of poisonous tear gas being used against Bahraini civilians. The opposition's statement also condemned the Arab League for ignoring reports of human rights violations in Bahrain. On the ground, the peaceful popular protests have continued across various Bahraini regions despite the swift crackdown by the Saudi-backed regime forces. Nighttime protests were staged in al-Ma'amir, Sitra, Aker, Tubli, and others. In response, the Bahraini authorities' forces fired rounds of the internationally-banned tear gas, amid blatant US and Western support. The West continues to rally behind tyrant regimes in the region in order to dictate its own suspicious agendas at the expense of freedom and democracy.
New clashes break out in Sudan's Blue Nile as state authorities confirm life is 'back to normal' [Dubai TV, UAE]
Presenter, Male # 1
The conflict in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states is forming an obstacle to improving relations between Khartoum and Washington, as confirmed by US Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman following his meeting with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti. The US envoy described the situation there as very dangerous, adding that Khartoum's government must start talks with the People's Liberation Movement, considering the group an important political party. On the ground, the sound of bullets was renewed in the Blue Nile state. The exchange of gunfire between the army and armed groups broke the relative calm that had encouraged some refugees to return to their homes. The renewed battles dispelled the state's military ruler's reassurance that life had returned to normal. He said the security situation will be monitored in the coming days, confirming that the army will remain in the state until security is restored. Our correspondent Sami al-Shanawi reports from Damazin.
Reporter, Male # 2
The refugees' hopes are currently caught up in between the dream of returning home and the concerns that al-Damazin will be pulled into a possible war. And despite the intensive security deployment along the city's streets, the local government is reassuring the refugees that the security situation here is back to normal.
Guest, Male # 3 (Mohamed Hassan Abdurrahman, Head of Blue Nile's legislative body)
We can confirm that, right now, al-Damazin is completely safe and stable. The armed forces concluded the issue of the People's Movement. The popular army is inside the city and no loses were recorded. This confirms that the country is safe and stable.
Reporter, Male # 2
A terrible silence overwhelms the city. It is only shattered by the sound of fighters and the noise of their military vehicles. All parts of the city witnessed the war that was waged here and the catastrophic conditions it left behind. The uninterrupted rainfall only makes life here more difficult in light of the lack of basic necessities.
Guest, Female # 1
We came here; we wanted to return to our families but we didn't find any cars. We came from there and we didn't know. Then, it started to rain and we can't find a place to stay. We have no one to send our message to; we're dying of hunger.
Reporter, Male # 2
Despite the return of calm to the city, the life of residents here has begun a cycle of settling and fleeing. The harsh features of that life are apparent in the eyes of the children. As for the adults, they are apprehensive about what southern regions hold for them with the rumors of a constant war. Despite the repeated appeals of the local government to the residents to return to al- Damazin, they are aware of the reality here and they are concerned about war. In addition, the city has witnessed bloody events. Sami al-Shanawi, Dubai TV, al-Damazin, Blue Nile state, Southern Sudan.
Yemenis stage fresh protests in Taiz and Bayda [Press TV, Iran]
Thousands of people in Yemen have staged fresh anti-regime demonstrations in the cities of Taiz and Bayda. The protestors want the downfall of the regime of Yemen's embattled ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh. Participants chanted slogans in support of the revolution, saying the revolution was peaceful and would continue until victory. Saleh has been in Saudi Arabia since early June being treated for wounds he sustained in a rocket attack on his palace. Meanwhile, there have been ongoing talks with the Saleh regime to negotiate about a power-transfer plan, which is aimed at ending months of anti-regime protests. But the defiant Saleh has refused to give in to popular demands.
Abuse of Iraqi civilian by UK army 'appalling' [Press TV, Iran]
Britain has released a long-awaited report into the death of an Iraqi civilian and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British soldiers. The report has slammed the British troops' conduct and the Ministry of Defense for mistreating an Iraqi civilian that led to his death. The inquiry chairman, Sir William Gage says the probe has found that Baha Mousa's death was caused by a combination of injuries during his time in custody. Gage also found Mousa and other detainees were subjected to "a brutal catalogue of unjustified violence." Baha Mousa, who worked at a hotel in the Iraqi city of Basra, was arrested during a raid by British troops in 2003.
Egyptians rally against military rule as Mubarak trial resumes in Cairo [Press TV, Iran]
Egyptians have called for a mass rally against the military rule as the trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak continues. Mubarak appeared in court for the fifth trial session. This, one day after the judge summoned other top officials to testify through next week. Mubarak is standing trial along with his two sons, his interior minster, and six police officers. He has been charged with ordering the killing of protestors during anti-regime rallies earlier this year that ended his 30-year rule. More than 800 people died and 6,000 were wounded during the revolution.
Palestinians launch official campaign for statehood [IBA, Israel]
We begin with conflicting reports today regarding the drive for Palestinian statehood. Earlier this afternoon, the Palestinian Authority announced it had officially kicked off their campaign for statehood. But the Palestine Liberation Organization denied the official drive had begun, saying the PLO and only the PLO has the mandate to declare such a move. That did not stop the PA, which sponsored a rally of some 100 politicians and local activists, who march on the United Nations offices in the West Bank town of Ramallah. They carryed a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon, urging the UN chief to add his moral voice in support of the Palestinian people. The PA said this is the first of a series of peaceful events held in various international cities and capitals leading up to the September 20 opening of the general-assembly.
No injuries in overnight rocket attack from Gaza [IBA, Israel]
A Qassam rocket was fired from Gaza overnight. It landed in the Eshkol region. There were no injuries and no damage caused. A short time later, Palestinian sources reported that one man was killed in an air force strike by the IAF in Gaza. Palestinians said that an Israeli missile struck the car of an Islamic Jihad terrorist in the Gaza Strip. The dead man was identified as 24-year-old Khaled Samud. Islamic Jihad issued a statement calling the airstrike a clear violation of the ceasefire. The IDF has denied that the attack took place.
Netanyahu: Crisis with Turkey 'not our choice' [IBA, Israel]
The war of words between Turkey and Israel continues as the deepening crisis between the two former allies sees no sign of easing off. Speaking publicly for the first time on the breakdown of diplomatic relations with Ankara, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a graduation class of naval officers last evening that the "deepening crisis with Turkey was not our choice and it is not our choice today. We respect the Turkish people and heritage, and we certainly want to improve ties."
The 'Arab Spring' creating a fertile ground for Western investment opportunities [Alsumaria, Iraq]
Presenter, Female #1
The Arab revolutions in North African countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya created a testing ground for the conflicting international motives on the means to reconcile supporting democratic change in the region and maintaining the balance of power and economic interests.
Reporter, Female #2
International experts currently describe North Africa as a great region to explore and an area that holds abundant resources. The dictatorships that ruled the region for decades were eliminated. And with them, the isolationism that was adopted by these regimes was also eliminated. That policy kept these countries' peoples and economies lagging in development and even in the best case scenario, they stopped developing in the 1960s. As for the West, the elimination of dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, and most recently in Libya, provides not only strategic and security interests but also ensures it with a virgin territory rich with petrol and natural resources. This explains why a number of foreign countries are involved in the development plan of the region, which used to be under either the British or the French mandate. It is safe to say the new situation in North Africa created a new equation for the global economy and opened the door to investments in what can be called the Western camp, represented by the European Union and the United States. At the same time, it closed the door to the traditional Eastern camp, represented by Russia and China. Since US President Barack Obama took office, he has adopted an economic policy that supports this strategy by announcing an economic aid plan to encourage democratic change in the Arab world, following the path taken in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp. The Obama administration hopes its special program to help Egypt and Tunisia will become a catalyst for people in other countries enduring similar regimes, such as Syria. Washington's program includes loans or loan guarantees to sponsor infrastructure development programs in countries that have been witnessing changes. It also includes increasing job opportunities through private investment corporations overseas. As for the European Union, there is no doubt that change in North Africa opened a new oil market and boosted its existing investments in the region that were subject to what can be described as the temperament of rulers, such as that of Muammar al-Gaddafi. However, the biggest beneficiary at the moment is not Britain, which is reducing its involvement. France and its ally Italy, who are taking credit for the downfall of Gaddafi's regime, seem to be benefiting the most. Oil was factored into the equation as revealed by the French Liberation newspaper that published a letter from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya, addressed to Qatar's Emir, in which the transitional council refers to a deal to reserve 35 percent of Libya's total crude oil in exchange for support to topple Gaddafi's regime. However, the Arab Spring that brought with it a Western Spring was transformed into an Eastern Fall with Russia and China losing allies that were used for economic and political pressure and provided a large weapons' market. However, the downfall of North Africa from the Eastern camp is not the end of this story; its fall could turn into a cold winter with the downfall of Syria, considered to be the last remaining dissenter to the West in the Middle East.