Tag Archives: revolution

Turkey, EU nations criticize veto of UN resolution vs Syria, call for more sanctions

By Suzan Fraser, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

ANKARA, Turkey – European countries criticized Russia and China on Wednesday for vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution that threatened sanctions against Syria if it didn’t halt its crackdown on civilians.

Turkey’s prime minister said his nation and others would respond by imposing more sanctions of their own against Syria.

Russia and China on Tuesday vetoed what would have been the first legally binding Security Council resolution against Syria since President Bashar Assad‘s military began using tanks and soldiers to attack pro-democracy protesters in mid-March. The U.N. estimates the crackdown has led to more than 2,700 deaths.

Russia and China both said they oppose the crackdown but that sanctions wouldn’t help resolve the crisis. The U.N. vote was 9-2 with four abstentions — India, South Africa, Brazil and Lebanon.

On Wednesday, Germany, France, Britain, Denmark and the EU joined Turkey in denouncing the veto, with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe sounding outraged.

Juppe denounced Assad as a “dictator who is massacring his people” and vowed support for Syrians trying to overthrow the head of the former French colony. Juppe’s strongly worded English-language statement was highly unusual.

The EU and the U.S. have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Assad and his regime, including a ban on the import of Syrian oil. Most of Syria’s oil exports had gone to Europe. Now Damascus is forced to look for buyers in the east.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used a speech in South Africa on Wednesday to say that Turkey and other nations would press ahead with sanctions.

“Turkey and either some or all of the European Union nations, and who knows which others, will take steps,” the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Erdogan as saying. “It won’t stop our sanctions.”

Germany sharply criticized the veto by Russia and China, with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle saying it was a “really sad day for international law and for human rights, too.”

Westerwelle said Western nations would maintain pressure on Assad and that European countries are preparing an eighth package of sanctions against Syria.

At the U.N. on Tuesday, the European sponsors of the resolution tried to avoid a veto by watering down the language on sanctions three times, to the point where the word “sanctions” was taken out entirely. But that failed.

“We have absolutely no understanding for the fact the U.N. Security Council was unable to agree in New York, even on a very much weakened statement,” Westerwelle said in Berlin.

“We will — not just in Europe, but also with our partners — not only keep up the pressure on the Assad regime, but increase it further if the killing and violence against peaceful demonstrators continues,” he said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told a rally of his governing Conservative Party in that Beijing and Moscow were wrong to oppose the proposed resolution.

“The decision of Russia and China to veto this resolution and to side with a brutal regime rather than the people of Syria is deeply mistaken,” Hague said in England.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said through her spokesman that the bloc would now work to increase international pressure on Assad’s regime.

Denmark’s new foreign minister, Villy Soevndahl, said: “The Assad regime’s assault on civilians and brutal violation of basic human rights is utterly unacceptable.” He said the international community must find a way to speak in a single voice to maintain pressure on Assad and his government.

Turkey already has imposed an arms embargo on Syria, and Erdogan is expected to announce new sanctions on the neighbour country later this week when he visits camps near the border where some 7,500 Syrians have sought refuge from Assad’s brutal crackdown.

“Out of necessity our package of sanctions will come into effect,” Erdogan said. He did not provide details, but Turkish leaders have said that the measures would punish Syria’s leadership, not its people.

Turkey is an important trade partner for Syria, and Erdogan had cultivated a close friendship with Assad. But Turkish leaders have grown increasingly frustrated with Damascus over its refusal to halt the crackdown on the opposition protests.

The military has announced eight days of exercises in Hatay province, which borders Syria, starting Wednesday, to test the armed forces’ mobilization capability and communication among various state organizations. The military has described the drills as routine, but analysts said they were intended to increase pressure on Syria.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/russia-china-veto-security-council-resolution-threatening-un-223526752.html

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Europe and U.S. step up pressure on Gaddafi to go

By Michael Georgy and James Mackenzie | Reuters

TRIPOLI/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe and the United States stepped up diplomatic pressure on Muammar Gaddafi to quit, while on the ground his forces used their superior strength to press their advantage against rebels.

President Barack Obama said on Friday the United States and its allies were “tightening the noose” around Gaddafi and European Union leaders meeting in Brussels said they would consider all options to force the Libyan leader to step down.

However, the 27 leaders meeting in Brussels stopped short of endorsing air strikes, a no-fly zone or other military-backed means to achieve that goal. Libyan rebels said their three-week-old insurrection could fail without a no-fly zone.

The summit sidestepped a British and French initiative for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize a no-fly zone.

They also would not back French President Nicolas Sarkozy‘s call to follow his lead and recognize the National Libyan Council as the country’s legitimate authority, or his call for “defensive” air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces if they used chemical weapons or warplanes against civilians.

Libya suspended diplomatic relations with France.

Obama, accused by critics of reacting too slowly, told a news conference he believed international sanctions, an arms embargo and other measures already in place were having an impact but also said a no-fly zone remained an option.

“Across the board we are slowly tightening the noose on Gaddafi. He is more and more isolated internationally,” he said. “I have not taken any options off the table.”

Soon after he spoke, the Treasury Department said it had extended a freeze on assets to Gaddafi’s wife, four of his sons and four senior officials in his government.

TANKS AND AIR POWER

Gaddafi’s forces, with air supremacy and a big advantage in tanks, appeared to be maintaining the momentum on the ground.

The sound of explosions and small arms fire came from the oil port of Ras Lanuf on Friday as government troops landed from the sea, backed by tanks and air power.

Rebels had advanced to the town of Bin Jawad about 60 km (38 miles) west of Ras Lanuf a week ago, but have been driven back across the strip of desert and scrub. Though out-gunned, they have kept up stiff resistance.

“Ras Lanuf is a ghost town. There are skirmishes between rebels and Gaddafi forces going back and forth,” said rebel captain Mustafa al-Agoury, adding that rebels were positioned on the east and Gaddafi’s forces on the west of the town.

Neither side had full control. Libyan state television said the town was cleared of “armed gangs” opposed to Gaddafi and a spokesman for the rebel movement, Hamid al-Hasi, told Al Arabiya that Ras Lanuf was back in rebel hands.

Gaddafi’s warplanes were carrying out air strikes seemingly unhindered by insurgent anti-aircraft guns mounted on pick-up trucks.

Many rebels were angry at international inaction.

“Where is the West? How are they helping? What are they doing,” shouted one angry fighter.

In Tripoli, Libyan security forces used teargas and fired in the air to disperse worshippers near a mosque before they could even attempt any protest, a Libyan man said, citing witnesses.

It was impossible to verify reports about what was happening in the Tajoura district of Tripoli because foreign journalists were prevented from reporting from the area and local anti-Gaddafi activists were not answering phone calls.

The revolt in Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli and held by rebels for days against fierce attacks, appeared to have been crushed.

Foreign journalists brought to the city center by government forces on Friday saw buildings scorched, patches of fresh paint and loyalists chanting “I love Gaddafi.”

HOTEL BURNED OUT

A hotel on the square that had been the rebel command center stood burned out, now guarded by Gaddafi militiamen. Facades not covered by large cloths were pockmarked by bullets from days of battles around the space the rebels called Martyrs’ Square.

“There were bad guys inside. There were 35-40 guys there yesterday with Kalashnikovs and big guns,” said Waleed, one militiaman, pointing toward the building’s ruined facade.

“We cannot live without Gaddafi. He is the king of Africa, not just Libya.”

The only town holding out in western Libya was Misrata, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Tripoli. It was calm on Friday, but rebels said they were expecting an attack in the near future.

Libya’s insurgent leader said any delay in imposing a no-fly zone could let Gaddafi regain control.

“We ask the international community to shoulder their responsibilities,” Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, head of the rebels’ National Libyan Council, told the BBC.

“The Libyans are being cleansed by Gaddafi’s air force. We asked for a no-fly zone to be imposed from day one, we also want a sea embargo,” he said.

About 15,000 worshippers gathered outside the courthouse that has become the council’s headquarters in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

“Help us to become a democratic country,” said one banner strung between lampposts and written in English and Arabic.

The Arab League will discuss the no-fly zone and the idea of extending formal recognition to the rebels at a meeting on Saturday, but experts said divisions among them will likely preclude agreement, disappointing the EU which had been looking to the grouping to help guide their next steps.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/million-libyans-aid-uk-france-seek-no-fly-20110307-195811-643.html

 


Gaddafi launches counter-offensive on Libyan rebels

By Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy | Reuters

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Muammar Gaddafi vowed to die in Libya as a martyr in an angry television address on Tuesday, as rebel troops said eastern regions had broken free from his rule in a burgeoning revolt.

“I am not going to leave this land, I will die here as a martyr,” Gaddafi said on state television, refusing to bow to calls from his own diplomats, soldiers and protesters clamoring in the streets for an end to his four decades at the helm.

“I shall remain here defiant,” said Gaddafi.

Earlier, witnesses streaming across the Libyan border into Egypt said Gaddafi was using tanks, warplanes and mercenaries in an effort to stamp out the growing rebellion.

In the eastern city of Tobruk, a Reuters correspondent there said sporadic blasts could be heard, the latest sign that Gaddafi’s grip on the oil and gas exporting nation was weakening.

“All the eastern regions are out of Gaddafi’s control now … The people and the army are hand-in-hand here,” said the now former army major Hany Saad Marjaa.

The White House offered its condolences for the “appalling violence” in Libya and said the international community had to speak with one voice on the crisis.

The U.N. refugee agency meanwhile urged Libya’s neighbors to grant refuge to those fleeing the unrest, which was triggered by decades of repression and popular revolts that toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.

On the Libyan side of the border with Egypt, anti-Gaddafi rebels armed with clubs and Kalashnikov rifles welcomed visitors. One man held an upside-down picture of Gaddafi defaced with the words “the butcher tyrant, murderer of Libyans,” a Reuters correspondent who crossed into Libya reported.

Hundreds of Egyptians flowed in the opposite direction on tractors and trucks, taking with them harrowing tales of state violence and banditry.

In the eastern town of Al Bayda, resident Marai Al Mahry told Reuters by telephone that 26 people including his brother Ahmed had been shot dead overnight by Gaddafi loyalists.

“They shoot you just for walking on the street,” he said, sobbing uncontrollably as he appealed for help.

Protesters were attacked with tanks and warplanes, he said.

“The only thing we can do now is not give up, no surrender, no going back. We will die anyways, whether we like it or not. It is clear that they don’t care whether we live or not. This is genocide,” said Mahry, 42.

Human Rights Watch said 62 people had died in clashes in Tripoli in the past two days, on top of its previous toll of 233 dead. Opposition groups put the figure far much higher. U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay said the killing could amount to crimes against humanity and demanded an international probe.

The revolt in Libya, the third largest oil producer in Africa, has driven oil prices to a 2 1/2 year high above $108 a barrel, and OPEC said it would produce more crude if supplies from member Libya were disrupted.

With no end in sight to the crisis, refugees fled to Egypt.

“Five people died on the street where I live,” Mohamed Jalaly, 40, told Reuters at Salum on his way to Cairo from Benghazi. “You leave Benghazi and then you have … nothing but gangs and youths with weapons,” he added. “The way from Benghazi is extremely dangerous,” he said.

Libyan guards have withdrawn from their side of the border and Egypt’s new military rulers — who took power following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak on February11 — said the main crossing would be kept open round-the-clock to allow the sick and wounded to enter.

Groups of rebels with assault rifles and shotguns, waved cheerily at the passing cars on a stretch of desert road, flicking the V-for-victory sign and posing with their guns, a Reuters correspondent reported.

Libyan security forces have cracked down fiercely on demonstrators across the country, with fighting spreading to Tripoli after erupting in Libya’s oil-producing east last week, in a reaction to decades of

As the fighting has intensified some supporters have abandoned Gaddafi. Tripoli’s envoy to India, Ali al-Essawi, resigned and told Reuters that African mercenaries had been recruited to help put down protests.

“The fall of Gaddafi is the imperative of the people in streets,” he said. The justice minister also quit and a group of army officers urged soldiers to “join the people.” Two pilots flew their warplanes to nearby Malta.

DEFIANCE AND CONDEMNATION

Gaddafi’s son Saif on Sunday vowed his father would keep fighting “until the last man standing” and the Libyan leader appeared on television after days of seclusion to dismiss reports he had fled to the Venezuela of his ally Hugo Chavez.

“I want to show that I’m in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs,” said Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya with a mixture of populism and tight control since taking power in a military coup in 1969.

World powers have condemned the use of force against protesters, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accusing Libya of firing on civilians from warplanes and helicopters. The Security Council met in closed session to discuss Libya.

Washington and Europe have demanded an end to the violence and Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: “A ruling family, threatening its people with civil war, has reached the end of the line.”

Demonstrations spread to Tripoli from the second city Benghazi, cradle of the revolt that has engulfed a number of towns and which residents say is now in the hands of protestors.

Residents said anxious shoppers were queuing outside stores to try to stock up on food and drink. Some shops were closed.

Spain’s Repsol suspended all operations in Libya and sources said operations at cargo ports at Benghazi, Tripoli and Misurata had shut due to the violence.

Trade sources said Libyan oil port operations had also been disrupted and others said gas supplies from Libya to Italy had slowed since Late Monday, though Italy said they had not yet been interrupted..

Shell said it was pulling out its expatriate staff from Libya temporarily and a number of states were seeking to evacuate their nationals.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/libyan-online-protesters-prepare-day-rage-20110216-164747-420.html


U.S. tells Gaddafi it is time to go as revolt closes in

By Maria Golovnina and Ahmed Jadallah | Reuters

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Muammar Gaddafi vowed to die in Libya as a martyr in an angry television address on Tuesday, as rebel troops said eastern regions had broken free from his rule in a burgeoning revolt.

“I am not going to leave this land, I will die here as a martyr,” Gaddafi said on state television, refusing to bow to calls from his own diplomats, soldiers and protesters clamoring in the streets for an end to his four decades at the helm.

“I shall remain here defiant,” said Gaddafi.

Earlier, witnesses streaming across the Libyan border into Egypt said Gaddafi was using tanks, warplanes and mercenaries in an effort to stamp out the growing rebellion.

In the eastern city of Tobruk, a Reuters correspondent there said sporadic blasts could be heard, the latest sign that Gaddafi’s grip on the oil and gas exporting nation was weakening.

“All the eastern regions are out of Gaddafi’s control now … The people and the army are hand-in-hand here,” said the now former army major Hany Saad Marjaa.

The White House offered its condolences for the “appalling violence” in Libya and said the international community had to speak with one voice on the crisis.

The U.N. refugee agency meanwhile urged Libya’s neighbors to grant refuge to those fleeing the unrest, which was triggered by decades of repression and popular revolts that toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.

On the Libyan side of the border with Egypt, anti-Gaddafi rebels armed with clubs and Kalashnikov rifles welcomed visitors. One man held an upside-down picture of Gaddafi defaced with the words “the butcher tyrant, murderer of Libyans,” a Reuters correspondent who crossed into Libya reported.

Hundreds of Egyptians flowed in the opposite direction on tractors and trucks, taking with them harrowing tales of state violence and banditry.

In the eastern town of Al Bayda, resident Marai Al Mahry told Reuters by telephone that 26 people including his brother Ahmed had been shot dead overnight by Gaddafi loyalists.

“They shoot you just for walking on the street,” he said, sobbing uncontrollably as he appealed for help.

Protesters were attacked with tanks and warplanes, he said.

“The only thing we can do now is not give up, no surrender, no going back. We will die anyways, whether we like it or not. It is clear that they don’t care whether we live or not. This is genocide,” said Mahry, 42.

Human Rights Watch said 62 people had died in clashes in Tripoli in the past two days, on top of its previous toll of 233 dead. Opposition groups put the figure far much higher. U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay said the killing could amount to crimes against humanity and demanded an international probe.

The revolt in Libya, the third largest oil producer in Africa, has driven oil prices to a 2 1/2 year high above $108 a barrel, and OPEC said it would produce more crude if supplies from member Libya were disrupted.

With no end in sight to the crisis, refugees fled to Egypt.

“Five people died on the street where I live,” Mohamed Jalaly, 40, told Reuters at Salum on his way to Cairo from Benghazi. “You leave Benghazi and then you have … nothing but gangs and youths with weapons,” he added. “The way from Benghazi is extremely dangerous,” he said.

Libyan guards have withdrawn from their side of the border and Egypt’s new military rulers — who took power following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak on February11 — said the main crossing would be kept open round-the-clock to allow the sick and wounded to enter.

Groups of rebels with assault rifles and shotguns, waved cheerily at the passing cars on a stretch of desert road, flicking the V-for-victory sign and posing with their guns, a Reuters correspondent reported.

Libyan security forces have cracked down fiercely on demonstrators across the country, with fighting spreading to Tripoli after erupting in Libya’s oil-producing east last week, in a reaction to decades of

As the fighting has intensified some supporters have abandoned Gaddafi. Tripoli’s envoy to India, Ali al-Essawi, resigned and told Reuters that African mercenaries had been recruited to help put down protests.

“The fall of Gaddafi is the imperative of the people in streets,” he said. The justice minister also quit and a group of army officers urged soldiers to “join the people.” Two pilots flew their warplanes to nearby Malta.

DEFIANCE AND CONDEMNATION

Gaddafi’s son Saif on Sunday vowed his father would keep fighting “until the last man standing” and the Libyan leader appeared on television after days of seclusion to dismiss reports he had fled to the Venezuela of his ally Hugo Chavez.

“I want to show that I’m in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Do not believe the channels belonging to stray dogs,” said Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya with a mixture of populism and tight control since taking power in a military coup in 1969.

World powers have condemned the use of force against protesters, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accusing Libya of firing on civilians from warplanes and helicopters. The Security Council met in closed session to discuss Libya.

Washington and Europe have demanded an end to the violence and Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: “A ruling family, threatening its people with civil war, has reached the end of the line.”

Demonstrations spread to Tripoli from the second city Benghazi, cradle of the revolt that has engulfed a number of towns and which residents say is now in the hands of protestors.

Residents said anxious shoppers were queuing outside stores to try to stock up on food and drink. Some shops were closed.

Spain’s Repsol suspended all operations in Libya and sources said operations at cargo ports at Benghazi, Tripoli and Misurata had shut due to the violence.

Trade sources said Libyan oil port operations had also been disrupted and others said gas supplies from Libya to Italy had slowed since Late Monday, though Italy said they had not yet been interrupted..

Shell said it was pulling out its expatriate staff from Libya temporarily and a number of states were seeking to evacuate their nationals.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/libyan-online-protesters-prepare-day-rage-20110216-164747-420.html

 


Arab Awakening

Citizens, ex-soldiers, labourers protest across Arab world

By: Associated Press

Protests in Tunisia and Egypt have inspired others around the world. Here is a look at the latest.

LIBYA

Egypt-inspired unrest spread against Libya’s longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi on Wednesday, with riot police clashing with protesters in the second-largest city of Benghazi and marchers setting fire to security headquarters and a police station in the city of Zentan, witnesses said.

Gadhafi’s government sought to allay further unrest by proposing the doubling of government employees’ salaries and releasing 110 suspected Islamic militants who oppose him — tactics similar to those used by other Arab regimes in the recent wave of protests.

Activists using Facebook and Twitter have called for nationwide demonstrations on Thursday to demand the ouster of Gadhafi, establishment of a constitution and comprehensive political and economic reforms. Gadhafi came to power in 1969 through a military coup and has ruled the country without an elected parliament or constitution.

The Benghazi protest began Tuesday and lasted until around 4 a.m. Wednesday. It was triggered by the arrest of an activist but quickly took on an anti-government tone, according to witnesses and other activists. The protest was relatively small, but it signalled that anti-government activists have been emboldened by uprisings elsewhere.

It started at the local security headquarters after troops raided the home of rights advocate Fathi Tarbel and took him away, according to Switzerland-based activist Fathi al-Warfali.

Tarbel was released after meeting with security official Abdullah al-Sanousi, but the protesters proceeded to march through the coastal city to the main downtown plaza, he said.

Families of other prisoners marched to security headquarters to protest the detention of Tarbel and another activist, writer Idris al-Mesmari, who remained in jail, al-Warfali reported, citing witnesses.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said a total of nine activists have been arrested in Tripoli and Benghazi in an effort to prevent people from joining Thursday’s rallies. Those protests were called to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the killing of nine people demonstrating in front of the Italian Consulate against a cartoon depicting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Independent confirmation was not possible because the government tightly controls the media, but video clips posted on the Internet showed protesters carrying signs and chanting: “No God but Allah. Moammar is the enemy of Allah,” and “Down, down to corruption and to the corrupt.”

Libya’s official news agency did not carry any reports of the anti-government protests. It reported only that supporters of Gadhafi demonstrated Wednesday in the capital, Tripoli, as well as Benghazi and other cities.

BAHRAIN

A crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people joined a long and winding Shi’ite funeral procession for the man, shot dead on Tuesday when fighting erupted at the burial of another protester.

Around 2,000 others were camped out at a junction in the centre of the Gulf island kingdom’s capital, hoping to emulate the rallies on Cairo’s Tahrir Square. They demanded a change of government in Bahrain, where a Sunni family rules over a Shi’ite majority.

The protests, in their third day, are some of the most serious since widespread Shi’ite unrest of the 1990s, and appear to be driven by familiar complaints of economic hardship, lack of political freedom and sectarian discrimination.

“The people demand the fall of the regime!” protesters chanted as men pounded their chests in rhythm, a mourning gesture which is distinctive to the Shi’ite branch of Islam.

One demonstrator used a bullhorn to urge protesters to remain until their demands are met, as the Arab wave for change takes hold in the Gulf.

Near the protest site at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout, police kept their distance, massing on a nearby dirt lot in dozens of cars.

BOSNIA

Hundreds of former soldiers who once fought against each other have gathered in front of country’s Parliament to demand pensions promised to them by the authorities.

They were among the group of some 1,500 soldiers demobilized by government last year, and promised pensions in return for an early retirement.

Many of those protesting on Wednesday fought against each during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, when Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs of this country had their own armed forces.

The government said it will look for ways to meet their demands.

YEMEN

A 21-year old protester was shot dead after clashes broke out between police and demonstrators in south Yemen on Wednesday, his father said, as unrest spread across the Arabian Peninsula state.

It is the first known fatality of the demonstrations.

Mohammed Ali Alwani was among two people hit as police fired shots into the air to try to break up around 500 protesters gathered in the southern port town of Aden.

Yemen sent 2,000 policemen into the streets of the capital on Wednesday to try to put down days of protests against the president of 32 years, a key U.S. ally in battling Al Qaeda.

The policemen, including plainclothes officers, fired in the air and blocked thousands of students at Sanaa University from joining thousands of other protesters elsewhere in the capital who were holding a sixth straight day of demonstrations.

Taking inspiration from the toppling of autocratic leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, Yemen’s protesters are demanding political reforms and the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Their central complaints are poverty, unemployment and corruption.

Witnesses said police chained the university’s iron gates in order to prevent students from pouring into adjacent streets.

They said at least four protesters were wounded in scuffles with police.

EGYPT

Hundreds of airport employees protested inside the arrivals terminal at Cairo International Airport to press demands for better wages and health coverage. The protest did not disrupt flights.

In the industrial Nile Delta city of Mahallah al-Koubra, workers from Egypt’s largest textile factory went on strike over pay and calls for an investigation into alleged corruption at the factory, according to labour rights activist Mustafa Bassiouni.

The new warning Wednesday raised expectations of an outright ban on protests and strikes that could raise the tension level in a country already growing more nervous by the day over uncertainties about the future.

In Port Said, a coastal city at the northern tip of the Suez canal, about 1,000 people demonstrated to demand that a chemical factory be closed because it was dumping waste in a lake near the city.

IRAQ

Three people were killed and dozens wounded in the southern Iraqi city of Kut on Wednesday in clashes between security forces and protesters demanding better basic services, police and hospital sources said.

Protesters calling for the removal of corrupt officials and an improvement in basic services threw bricks and stones at Iraqi security forces and took over the city’s provincial and government buildings, the sources said.

“The toll from the violent actions of the demonstrations is three protesters killed and about 30 wounded, including 15 policemen from the facilities protection service,” a police source in Kut said.

A spokeswoman for a southern Iraqi province says around 2,000 people attacked government offices and tried to set fire to the governor’s house to protest often shoddy public services.

Following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Iraqis have staged small-scale protests demanding better services, such as electricity.

SOUTH AFRICA

A South African resident says his son was killed during three days of protests in an area where residents say they lack basic services such as running water.

The man said Wednesday he was mourning his adult son who was killed Tuesday. He says the community would be better if people had job opportunities. Police say they are investigating the death.

Police fired rubber bullets Wednesday to disperse protesters in a third day of demonstrations in the eastern town of Ermelo. Police did not say if there were new injuries reported Wednesday.

Protests over poor government services are common in South Africa, where the gap between rich and poor is among the widest in the world.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/939621–citizens-ex-soldiers-labourers-protest-across-arab-world?bn=1

 


Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador

Colombia moves to calm tensions with Venezuela

By Hugh Bronstein

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia captured four members of the Venezuelan National Guard on Colombian soil and said on Saturday it would send them home in a gesture aimed at lowering diplomatic tensions between the neighboring countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week ordered his army to prepare for war, warning that a new U.S.-Colombia military cooperation agreement could set the stage for an invasion of Venezuela. Bogota and Washington dismiss the claim, saying their pact is limited to fighting drug-runners and rebels in Colombia.

“They should carry back the message that here there is brotherly affection for Venezuela and that affection is unbreakable,” said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, referring to the Venezuelans captured on Friday.

The four were stopped by the Colombian Navy while traveling by boat on a river in the border province of Vichada.

The long-simmering spat between conservative Uribe and leftist Chavez has reduced bi-lateral trade, which amounted to more than $7 billion last year, and increased tension along a border already beset by the smuggling of drugs and other contraband. But analysts are not predicting war.

The Colombian government issued a statement calling for the release of an officer of its DAS intelligence service being held in Venezuela. Chavez has also accused Colombia of spying.

“By sending the four Venezuelans back, Uribe is trying to mark a contrast between himself and Chavez, who looks belligerent by comparison,” said Mauricio Romero, political science professor at Bogota’s Javeriana University.

“This is meant for consumption in Colombia, in the international community and it could help the Venezuelan opposition as well,” Romero said.

“Uribe is playing to three audiences.”

Washington sees Uribe as a buffer against Chavez and Rafael Correa, the socialist President of Ecuador.

On Friday, Ecuador and Colombia exchanged charges d’affaires in a step toward normalizing diplomatic ties cut by Correa after Colombia bombed a rebel camp set up on Ecuador’s side of the border in 2008.

In another good-will gesture, Uribe said on Saturday Colombia would keep sending electric energy to Ecuador despite shortages in Colombia caused by lighter-than usual rains.

 (Editing by Todd Eastham)

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/091115/world/international_us_colombia_venezuela