Entries in Arab Spring (15)


More Than One Hundred Injured in Tahrir Square Protests

AFP/GettyImages(CAIRO) -- More than 100 people were injured during protests on the streets of Cairo, as thousands of demonstrators congregated in Tahrir Square.

Supporters of Egypt's new Islamist president Mohammed Morsi have clashed with liberal protesters in Cairo, throwing rocks and setting fires, in the first violent unrest since Morsi took office...

And it's been just over one hundred days in for President Morsi, but problems including a faltering economy and fuel shortages persist and fester.

His supporters say he needs more time and patience from the Egyptian people in order to overcome the mistakes made by former president Hosni Mubarak.

One issue in particular is angering liberal groups. They want more diversity on the panel tasked with writing Egypt's new constitution, which is packed with Brotherhood members, who have proposed provisions that opponents say greatly suppress civil liberties.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egypt’s President-Elect to Be ‘Judged by Actions, Not Religious Affiliation’

AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that he’d heard the criticism that Egypt’s choice to elect a Muslim Brotherhood candidate to the presidency showed that the Arab Spring was a debacle, but he cautioned that, “we judge individuals and parties that are elected in a democratic process by their actions, not by their religious affiliation.”

Critics of the Muslim Brotherhood have pointed out that the group has called Israel an "enemy entity" and has celebrated jihad against the West. The Obama administration has painted the Muslim Brotherhood as a "moderate" group.

“We hope President-Elect (Mohammed) Morsi will take steps to advance national unity, uphold universal values and respect the rights of all Egyptian citizens including women and religious minorities such as Coptic Christians,” Carney said, reading a statement aboard Air Force One Monday.

He said that concerns about relations with Israel being hurt should be tempered by the fact that Morsi acknowledged Egypt would continue to uphold its treaty obligations with the Israelis. As for Iran? Carney wouldn’t say the U.S. would urge or demand that Egypt steer clear of formal relations with Iran but suggested that it’s, "perfectly appropriate for a nation like Egypt to have relations with its neighbors but again we look to Egypt to continue its significant role as a pillar of regional peace and stability."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Deadliest Attack in Syrian Uprising

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HAOULA, Syria) -- More than 90 people have been reported dead in what is being called one of the bloodiest events in the Syrian uprising.

The UN chief monitor, Major General Robert Mood, confirmed the reports of a deadly government crackdown in the town of Haoula on Friday afternoon. The assault started after an anti-regime demonstration which began with artillery shelling. Many more were killed after the town was stormed by “shabiha,” who are known as pro-regime thugs. It is unknown how many people were injured in this assault.

The Syrian uprising started in January of 2011, and the protestors want an end to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Since the spring of 2011, the Syrian Army has been used to quell these uprisings.

In a statement published on Saturday, the United Nations Secretary-General and the Joint Special Envoy for Syria condemn the violent crackdown in Syria. “The Secretary-General and the Joint Special Envoy demand that the Government of Syria immediately cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres. They reiterate that all violence in all its forms in Syria must cease.”

In his own statement, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary of Britain said, “There are credible and horrific reports that a large number of civilians have been massacred at the hands of Syrian forces in the town of Houla, including children. Our urgent priority is to establish a full account of this appalling crime and to move swiftly to ensure that those responsible are identified and held to account.”

The BBC reported that at least 30 of those killed in this attack were children under the age of 10.

Coopyright 2012 ABC News Radio Online


Gadhafi’s Mercenaries Spread Guns and Fighting in Africa

Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- When Libya’s dictator for more than four decades fell victim to the Arab Spring, Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s influence didn’t end.  It is now contributing to increased attacks by rebel groups, the arming of terrorists and a hunger crisis in other parts of Africa.

“This is a setback for the international community which has invested so much money in the past decade in democracy, peace, and security in Africa,” said Dr. Mehari Taddele Maru at the Institute for Security Studies based in Pretoria, South Africa.

After Gadhafi’s fall, thousands of his soldiers left the country with stockpiles of weapons, including machine guns, ammunition and shoulder-fired missiles.  Maru says at least 2,000 of them were mercenaries who returned to their native countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Nigeria.  Many have already returned to fighting.

In the West African country of Mali, when ethnic Taureg fighters returned from Libya well armed, it encouraged Taureg separatists to launch a new rebellion against the government in January.  While Gadhafi’s weapons were no match for the NATO forces that came to the rescue of Libyan revolutionaries, they were far superior to the weapons of the impoverished Malian army.  A mutiny by Mali’s out-gunned and frustrated soldiers turned into a coup d’etat when they stormed the Presidential Palace in March, erasing more than two decades of democratic rule.

In the chaos that has ensued after the coup, Taureg separatists in Mali have had more success than ever before.  On Sunday, they seized the last government holdout in the north, the legendary town of Timbuktu.  There is now concern a Taureg victory in Mali could inspire another rebellion in neighboring Niger.

“The Tauregs in Niger got funding from Gadhafi.  The government of Niger has been able to negotiate with them for peace, but for how long?  That is questionable,” said Maru.

Gadhafi’s fighters and weapons also streamed into other nearby countries in the Sahel region bordering the Sahara desert.  It is an area where a major al Qaeda affiliate has announced it acquired thousands of Gadhafi’s weapons.

“We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” Mokhtar Belmokhar, a leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) told Mauritanian news agency ANI last November.

The proliferation of weapons in the Sahel comes at an especially bad time.  After another year of drought in parts of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, aid agencies say millions of people need urgent food assistance, but violence in the region makes it hard -- in some places impossible -- to help.

“Under these security conditions, we are not able to access the displaced who are living in extremely difficult conditions,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman Fatouma Lejeune-Kabu about trying to help those forced to flee their homes in northern Mali.

The U.N. estimates about 130,000 people in Mali have been displaced by the fighting between Taureg rebels and the government army.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US to Give Tunisia $100 Million in Financial Assistance

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State  Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Thursday that the United States will provide Tunisia with financial assistance to pay their debts.

The U.S. will fund Tunisia $100 million because it owes the World Bank and African Development Bank. Clinton said the assistance will help the North African nation focus on economic development and job growth after more than a year after what was dubbed ‘The Arab Spring” in which Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was removed from power after 23 years in power.

“As Tunisia progresses into the next phase of its historic democratic transition, the United States is working to help accelerate economic growth that benefits all, ensure that democracy delivers for the Tunisian people, and to help Tunisian businesses -- large and small -- become engines of job creation,” said Clinton.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Moroccan Protesters the Latest to Set Themselves on Fire

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(RABAT, Morocco) – The five Moroccan men who set themselves afire this week in the capital of Rabat marked the latest incident of self-immolation that has spread across the Middle East and North Africa in the past year and arguably touched off the so-called Arab Spring in late 2010.

The men acted in protest of soaring unemployment rates, particularly among young university graduates. Amateur video shows the five men standing on a wall Wednesday, dousing themselves with a flammable liquid from white plastic bottles.

The unemployment rate is just above 9 percent in Morocco but almost doubles to 16 percent among university graduates and exceeds 30 percent for people younger than 34. The five men were part of an “unemployed graduates” ongoing protest. About 160 people had occupied the building that belongs to the Ministry of Education.

Morocco hasn’t seen the same scale of unrest and violence as Tunisia and Egypt but it has been far from immune from the Arab Spring. There have been large and sometimes violent protests. King Muhammed VI pushed through reforms and an election was held in late November.

In landmark elections, an Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party, won most of the parliament’s seats and was awarded several of the most powerful seats in the cabinet, including prime minister. But many Moroccans believe the reforms didn’t go far enough, that the king still carries too much power and the government hasn’t responded to the people’s economic needs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bloody 48 Hours in Syria

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS) –- Death tolls are wide-ranging, but several reports say more than 200 people have been killed in Syria in the past two days, with the opposition Syrian National Council saying in a statement that there have been nearly 250 fallen “heroes.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports a “massacre” Tuesday of 111 civilians in the town of Kefer Ouaid in northern Idlib province. Idlib has seen some of the most violence recently with clashes between government troops and defectors. Other groups, like the Local Coordination Committees, say Tuesday’s toll is closer to 80 on top of the more than 100 on Monday.

The clashes seem to be mostly around Zawiya Mountain area of Idlib and with such high numbers, it’s difficult to give a breakdown of civilians, defectors and security forces.

The SNC called for emergency Arab League and U.N. Security Council meetings to discuss the “massacres.” This the day before the Arab League is due to send an advance team to Damascus ahead of its observers. This also comes against the backdrop of live-fire exercises Tuesday by the Syrian Navy and Air Force complete with fighter jets, attack helicopters and missiles, “testing the combat capability…to confront any possible aggression that might target Syria’s land and airspace," officials claim.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Syria Uprising: More than 100 Killed Monday?

Hemera/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS) -- On the same day that Syria signed a deal to allow Arab League observers into the country, activist groups are reporting that more than 100 people were killed. If their estimate proves to be accurate, Monday would be one of the bloodiest days in the nine-month uprising.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – based on one eyewitness account -- said that 60-70 would-be defectors were mowed down by machine gun fire as they fled their posts in the northern Idlib province; another group, the Syrian Revolution General Commission told the BBC that that number was 72. Activists say another 30-40 civilians were killed across the country on Monday.

The Syrian government has not responded to these claims.

Here is the statement from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:

A defected soldier has told the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that dozens of defected soldiers were killed today in gunfire by machine guns. They were killed while trying to run away from their military positions on the way between the villages of Kensafra and Kefer Quaid, in Zawyia Mountain, in Idlib district. He added that the Syrian authorities have dragged the bodies of the soldiers. The defected soldier who was wounded himself said that almost 60-70 soldiers were killed.

The death toll of civilians for today Monday 19 December 2011 has risen to 40 martyrs for whom we have their identity records and circumstances of death. 11 people were killed in Daraa and another 9 in Idlib including 2 children. Also, 3 people were fallen martyrs in the neighbourhood of Al-Meedan in Damascus, 3 martyrs were fallen in Deir Ezzor and 13 in Homs. And a person was killed in Hama under torture.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


North Koreans Stranded Abroad Following Arab Revolts?

Pool/Getty Images(SEOUL) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il may not want his people working in the Arab countries to return home, fearing the spread of the so-called Jasmine Revolution in his own nation, according to analysts and officials in South Korea.

It is estimated that hundreds of North Korean officials, doctors, nurses, and construction workers stranded in Libya, Egypt and Yemen experienced a wave of revolutionary protests this year.

“We can’t confirm whether Pyongyang actually ordered no return, but it’s clear that they must be deeply worried that word will spread if and when these people come back,” said Min-Suk Kim, spokesperson for South Korea’s Ministry of Defense.

South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo, Yonhap News Agency, and anti-North Korean interest groups have reported since May, citing anonymous sources, that these North Korean workers are stuck in Arab countries after orders from Pyongyang to stay.

“North Korean people have no idea that Moammar Gadhafi is dead,” noted Yong-Hyun Kim, professor of North Korean studies at Dongkuk University in Seoul, referring to the fact that Pyongyang’s official mouthpiece Rodong Newspaper and Korean Central News Agency have not mentioned a word yet.

But many North Korea watchers believe chances for Jasmine Revolution taking off there are slim. “Unlike the Arab countries, there is no concept of civil society from the grass roots level in the North,” pointed out Sung-Han Kim, professor of international studies at Korea University.

Internet and mobile phone access is scarce and limited to people with permissions from the regime. The latest number of mobile phones reached 400,000 -- only 1.6 percent of the total population of 24 million.

The question whether North Korea will be the next to carry on the democratic revolutionary waves all depends on “how much and how long its leader Kim Jong-Il will survive,” said Sung-Han Kim. “It may come tomorrow, we never know. But any sort of political unrest will not come from the bottom in North Korea. It will be from a crack in the elite level after Kim is gone.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Insiders Hint Arab Spring Activist Could Get Nobel Peace Prize

(Top L-R) Egyptian Israa Abdel Fattah and Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni (Bottom L-R) Egyptian Google executive Wael Ghonim and Afghan human rights activist Sima Samar who could be potential candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) Who's going to win the Nobel Peace Prize on October 7th? As usual, the names of this year's 241 candidates for the award have been kept secret, but that hasn't stopped the speculation. All the buzz is that one of the activists involved in the Arab Spring will get the phone call from Stockholm a few minutes before the official announcement.

According to insiders, the frontrunners include Israa Abdel Fattah, cofounder of April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni and Egyptian Google executive Wael Ghonim.

If any of them do win, they will be the youngest Peace Laureate ever, with all three in their late 20s or early 30s. The youngest to date is Irish peace campaigner Mairead Corrigan, who was 32 years old when she won in 1976.

Other names said to be in the mix are Afghan human rights campaigner Sima Samar, Burmese opposition leader and previous winner Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and ex-German chancellor (and perennial nominee) Helmut Kohl.

Organizations can also be awarded the prize, and the Russian civil rights group Memorial, and the European Union, are believed to be in the running this year.

Nominations are made by an array of international academics, lawyers, previous winners, the Nobel Committee and others. They are not made public, although some are leaked by those who put their names forward.

A winner is chosen by a committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament, and the prize awarded in a ceremony in Oslo, which this year takes place on December 10.

Incredibly, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Benito Mussolini have all been nominated for the peace prize. Hitler was put forward in 1939 by a member of the Swedish parliament. Wisely, he later withdrew his choice. Stalin was nominated in 1945 for his efforts to end World War II. Mahatma Gandhi was nominated five times but never won the award.

What exactly are the criteria for a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate?

The will of Alfred Nobel states that it should be awarded to the "person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

Inevitably, the Nobel Peace Prize attracts controversy. The most heavily criticized was in 1973 when the award was given to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for their contribution to the peace negotiations in Vietnam.

Eyebrows were raised when President Obama was awarded the prize in 2009, less than a year after his election.

Last year's choice of Chinese dissident Liu Xiobo caused a diplomatic storm. Liu is still imprisoned in China on political charges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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