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Tunisian Revolution and the Middle East

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Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, has called for elections next year to end a fragile coalition with the former opposition.

In an address to his ZANU-PF party's annual convention in the city of Bulawayo on Thursday, 87-year-old Mugabe said he was confident his party would win the proposed polls.

"We're saying time has come now to prepare for elections. We just have to have elections next year," he said in a speech that lasted more than two hours. "Let's go to an election so people can choose a government of their liking."

Mugabe also used his address to denounce the so-called Arab Spring protests as a "Western intrusion on the African continent" and said he hoped early elections would ward off his co-ruling party's western backers.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from the conference, said Mugabe played to the crowd with emotive language by making a connection between the western-aided revolution that swept through Egypt, Libya and Tunisia and his own domestic concerns.

Openly frustrated with sharing power with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement For Democratic Change (MDC), Mugabe told a local paper the country's power-sharing deal was “illegitimate, unconstitutional and had outlived its purpose" and had to go.


DR Congo election results postponed

The election commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has postponed announcing the winner of the country's presidential election for one day further, saying not all ballot boxes had been tallied.

The surprise announcement on Thursday came as the country waited with bated breath for results of the controversially contested November 28 elections, as police filled the streets amid fears of unrest.

"We need to compare the figures received on the results sheets with the ones received by satellite transmission. It's a huge job and we need to do it to assure the credibility and compliance of the numbers we're going to announce," said election commission chief Daniel Ngoy Mulunda.

President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, appears to be on track for another five-year term, having run against a divided opposition field of 10 candidates in the single-round race.

Edited by visionary
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One of the main observation missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo says that the results of the presidential election lack credibility.

In a statement released by the Carter Center on Saturday, observers reported that "the quality and integrity of the vote tabulation process has varied across the country, ranging from the proper application of procedures to serious irregularities, including the loss of nearly 2,000 polling station results in Kinshasa".

Observers said they found evidence of possible vote tampering, vote inflation in regions of the country favourable to the incumbent President Joseph Kabila, and instances of vote suppression in areas known to be bastions of support for the opposition.

Detailed province-by-province results show a pattern of ``impossibly high'' rates of voter turnout in places known to be strongholds of support for the 40-year-old Kabila, said a statement released by the Carter Center.

Although voter turnout throughout the country was less than 59 per cent overall, in several constituencies in Katanga province turnout was 99 to 100 per cent, and all, or nearly all, of the votes were cast for Kabila.

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Crazy stuff going on in Egypt right now:


Insane battle at occupycabinet. Have seen live ammo shell. Soldiers throwing huge rocks from 11 stories. Revolutionaries got a fire truck. 4 minutes ago

check this account for more updates and info from earlier about this:


Ministry of Transport Building on fire.

24 minutes ago

Military soldiers continue to throw glass, cement, bricks and rocks from roof of parliament building down on protesters. 15 minutes ago

I am PM building and situation is getting worse. After military beat 2 protesters and one of them is critical in hospital. Gunshots echoing 8 minutes ago

Protesters take over firefighting truck. Ministry of Transport burning. http://yfrog.com/khw4lphj 6 minutes ago

Simply, Ministry of Transport still burning because military threw cement blocks and glass which destroyed firefighting truck and more chaos 3 minutes ago

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A year ago today, a butterfly flapped its wings. His name was Mohamed Bouazazi. 55 minutes ago


A year ago, MohamedBouazizi sacrificed his life to rescue Tunisia from dictatorship. But he and others transformed the region as well. 2 hours ago


A year go, Bouazizi set himself on fire. With him Arab dictators got burned and our imaginations got ignited. RIP. 2 hours ago
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At least nine people have been killed in Egypt and more than 350 injured in the past two days of clashes between protesters and security forces in Cairo.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports on the latest from Cairo:

Burning tents, beating protesters.


There's a massive march going on to Tahrir right now.

Also there are pictures out of a young woman being beaten and stripped by the military.

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Mass March by Cairo Women in Protest Over Abuse by Soldiers

CAIRO — Several thousand women demanding the end of military rule marched through downtown Cairo on Tuesday evening in an extraordinary expression of anger over images of soldiers beating, stripping and kicking female demonstrators in Tahrir Square.

“Drag me, strip me, my brothers’ blood will cover me!” they chanted. “Where is the field marshal?” they demanded of the top military officer, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. “The girls of Egypt are here.”

Historians called the event the biggest women’s demonstration in modern Egyptian history, the most significant since a 1919 march against British colonialism inaugurated women’s activism here, and a rarity in the Arab world. It also added a new and unexpected wave of protesters opposing the ruling military council’s efforts to retain power and its tactics for suppressing public discontent.

Edited by visionary
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Iraq is falling apart just in the last couple of days.

First they accuse the VP of being a terrorist leader and he flees to Kurdistan to seek sanctuary.

And now this:


Good morning Baghdad. Massive lound bang wakes me up. 2 hours ago

Explosion was so powerful it rocked doors, windows, instantly got me out of bed. Must have been a huge car bomb. 1 hour ago

More than a dozen different explosions in Baghdad leave at least 10 killed in vrs neighborhoods this am 29 minutes ago

All main Baghdad streets have been closed.. I am not going to be able to catch my flight to Egypt! 23 minutes ago


massive blast shook our house - 10 IEDs, 4 car bombs in explode within 2hrs in baghdad iraq 35 minutes ago


At least 10 people killed in multiple bomb attacks across Baghdad :10 roadside bombs & 4 car bombs in 2 hrs. 36 minutes ago


AP: At least 18 people killed in series of explosions in Baghdad 22 minutes ago
Edited by visionary
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Well, not too much we can do about it now. Unfortunately, I can't say I'm too surprised.

To be fair, (because I may be taking too much from this event) a bomb attack in Baghdad isn't particularly noteworthy on it's own.

That said, coming on the heels of the issues between Maliki and his Sunni VP and the Kurds...well it doesn't look good.

( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16283562 )

The thing about the bombings today is that it was practically continuous over multiple hours.

Now on the positive side, the death toll seems to be relatively low, especially for the number of explosions.

I suppose it will be telling if over the next few days the political tensions ease and this turns out to be a somewhat random attack like a lot of the other bombings, or if it's just the start of some sort of new phase of devastation.

Damn...I guess I spoke to soon.

And some of the wounded will probably not make it too.



At least 40 killed and 150 injured in Baghdad bombings, medical sources tell Al Jazeera. http://aje.me/sLkO0e 5 minutes ago

(As of 4 am est)

Latest casualty number is 63 dead and 180+ injured.

Edited by visionary
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  • 2 weeks later...


U.N. deploys peacekeepers to protect South Sudan town facing attack

The United Nations is deploying peacekeeping troops to the remote town of Pibor in South Sudan, saying it faces an imminent attack by thousands of fighters engaged in ethnic clashes in the war-torn region.

Ethnic tensions in the South Sudan state of Jonglei have been inflamed by tribes fighting over grazing lands and water rights -- disagreements that have dissolved into a number of cattle raids during which women and children were abducted.

About 6,000 members of the Lou Nuer tribe are marching on Pibor, home to the Murle tribe, said Lise Grande, the U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan. An advance group of about 500 fighters have taken up positions outside the town, she said Friday.

"We deemed that there was a very serious risk to civilians (and) in support of the government of South Sudan's primary responsibility to protect civilians, we have gone ahead and deployed a battalion-size force in Pibor with the aim of deterring violence and helping the government to protect its own people," she said.

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Shabab fighters 'driven out' of Somali city

Ethiopian troops and Somali government forces have taken control of a key Somali city after battling al-Shabab rebels on the outskirts, leaving at least 18 dead, sources have said.

"The fighting started this morning after our forces supported by the Ethiopian military attacked the enemy's positions on the outskirts of Beledweyne," Bare Abdulahi, a Somali government security official, said from the scene on Saturday.

"They lost in the battle and we have penetrated into their barracks, killing nearly 20 of their fighters before taking control of the city.

"The Somali government forces alone entered the city and they are securing it now," he added.

The city, Beledweyne, lies some 30 kilometres from the Ethiopian border.

"We have counted around 18 dead bodies, most of them the combatants, some of them have died outside the city and others are lying in the streets of Beledweyne," Mohamed Moalim Osmail, an elder in the city, confirmed to the AFP news agency.

"I saw some Somali government troops accompanied by armed trucks belonging to the Ethiopian forces, they have entered the city and the fighting has stopped now," Abdirahman Isa, another witness, said.

Ï have seen nearly 20 dead bodies strewn in the streets and outside the town, most of them are combatants but a few civilians were also caught in the crossfire," he added.

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Tens of thousands protest against Hungary government

Tens of thousands of Hungarians protested in Budapest on Monday against the government and its new Basic Law in a show of anxiety over what they see as the ruling Fidesz party's moves to weaken democratic institutions and cement its powers.

Centre-right Fidesz, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, won a two-thirds majority in elections in 2010 and has rewritten a large body of law since, drawing accusations at home and abroad that it has undermined democratic checks and balances.

The Basic Law, which replaced the previous constitution as of January 1, recasts rules governing many walks of life in what Fidesz calls a completion of a democratization process that started in 1989 when communism collapsed.

Parliament forged ahead with the legislation despite a plea from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a rethink and a letter from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso asking Orban to withdraw two key bills.

Critics say the new laws curtail the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court in key matters like the budget, rewrite the electoral system in a way that favors Fidesz, and could erode the independence of the central bank.

A new media law also drew strong criticism and journalist protests recently. [iD:nL6E7NL3O4] The new Basic Law will also allow Fidesz appointees to control key public institutions well beyond the government's electoral term.

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Egypt in last phase of parliamentary poll

Egypt is all set for the third round of a parliamentary election after the uprising that unseated President Hosni Mubarak in February last year.

The run-up to Tuesday's poll has been overshadowed by the deaths of 17 people last month in clashes between the army and protesters demanding the military step aside immediately.

But the ruling generals have insisted the election process will not be derailed by violence.

Islamist groups came late to the uprising but have so far won the biggest share of seats in the first free and fair elections in six decades.

Monitors mostly praised the first two rounds as free of the ballot stuffing, thuggery and vote rigging that once guaranteed landslide wins for Mubarak's party.

But police raids on pro-democracy and rights groups last week have disrupted the work of leading Western-backed election monitors and drew accusations that the army was deliberately trying to weaken oversight of the vote and silence critics.

---------- Post added January-2nd-2012 at 11:04 PM ----------


Iran test-fires missiles in the Gulf

Iran has test-fired two "long-range" missiles during naval exercises near the Strait of Hormuz, state media reported.

"We have test fired a long-range shore-to-sea missile called Ghadr [Capable], which managed to successfully destroy predetermined targets in the Gulf," the official IRNA news agency quoted Deputy Navy Commander Mahmoud Mousavi as saying on Monday.

Later, state television quoted him as saying: "Today our Nour [Light] surface-to-surface long-range missile was also successfully launched."

He said it was the "first time" a Ghadr missile had been tested.

Both the Ghadr and Nour missiles are said to have a range of 200km, which is generally considered medium-range or even short-range for a cruise missile, even though Iran described them as "long-range".

"This is not by any means the longest-range missiles that the Islamic Republic possesses," Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari, who has reported extensively on Iran, said.

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Taliban, allies form leadership council

Pakistani Taliban factions and their allies have set up a council of elders in hopes of coordinating efforts against NATO troops in Afghanistan, a spokesman said Monday.

The five participating factions, including the Taliban branch led by Hakimullah Mehsud and the militant Haqqani network, announced the move in a leaflet circulated in the Pakistani tribal district of North Waziristan over the weekend.

The council's creation was spurred by fugitive Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who urged the Pakistani Taliban and associated jihadist groups to put aside their internal disputes and work together to battle the U.S.-led alliance across the border, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told CNN.

Ihsan told CNN that Omar had sent three of his representatives to Pakistan to urge the jihadist movements there to put aside their differences and work together to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan. Ihsan said the insurgents would start moving across the mountainous border in March.

The leaflet announcing the council calls for an immediate halt to the killings and kidnappings of innocent people. But the Pakistani Taliban will keep fighting Pakistani security forces as long as their attacks on the Taliban continue, Ihsan said.

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Uh...uh oh. Bluffing? Sabre-rattling?


Iran to take action if U.S. carrier returns - Fars agency

Iran's army chief said the Islamic Republic would take action if the U.S. aircraft carrier that recently left the area returned to the Gulf, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Tuesday.

Edited by visionary
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Iran jails former President Rafsanjani's daughter

The daughter of the former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been sentenced to six months in prison for "making propaganda against the ruling system".

Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani's trial took place behind closed doors last month.

According to the conservative website Mashregh News, she has been banned from taking part in political, cultural and media activities for five years.

She has 20 days to appeal against the sentence.

Correspondents say that her punishment may be turned into a suspended jail term on appeal, as often happens with opponents of the Iranian authorities.

Faezah Rafsanjani has given interviews in recent months in which she defended her father's position - and this appears to be her offence. Akbar Rafsanjani has refused to condemn Iran's two most prominent pro-reform leaders.

In 2009, during the protests that followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial re-election, Mr Rafsanjani angered hard-liners by calling for the release of detained opposition members. In March 2011 he lost his position as head of Iran's highest clerical body, the Assembly of Experts.

He now retains only one political position, as head of the Expediency Council, but his term there ends in April and it is unclear whether he will keep that role.

It's sad how well Iran succeeded in getting the opposition leaders out of the spotlight and pretty much shutting down the green revolution.

Edited by visionary
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UN: Hundreds could be dead in S Sudan unrest

Clashes between rival tribes in a South Sudan town may have left hundreds dead, a UN official has said.

South Sudan government troops opened fire to stop about 6,000 armed Lou Nuer tribal youth from entering the town of Pibor which is home to the rival Murle people, Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for South Sudan, said on Tuesday.

Tensions between the two groups over cattle rustling have mounted in recent months.

"I would put the number in the number in the tens, perhaps hundreds, but we don't know," Grande told correspondents at the UN, in a video link from Juba, when asked about the death toll.

Unconfirmed reports based on survivor accounts given to AFP in South Sudan suggested up to 150 people, largely women and children, were hunted and killed after fleeing Pibor.

Grande said she saw five corpses on the southern edge of Pibor when she visited the town in Jonglei state earlier on Tuesday.

Government forces and UN peacekeepers launched a major operation as the column of Lou Nuer fighters arrived at Pibor. The armed youths breached a perimeter of government troops in the south of the town, Grande said.

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CAIRO — With the Muslim Brotherhood pulling within reach of an outright majority in Egypt’s new Parliament, the Obama administration has begun to reverse decades of mistrust and hostility as it seeks to forge closer ties with an organization once viewed as irreconcilably opposed to United States interests.

The administration’s overtures — including high-level meetings in recent weeks — constitute a historic shift in a foreign policy held by successive American administrations that steadfastly supported the autocratic government of President Hosni Mubarak in part out of concern for the Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology and historic ties to militants.

The shift is, on one level, an acknowledgment of the new political reality here, and indeed around the region, as Islamist groups come to power. Having won nearly half the seats contested in the first two rounds of the country’s legislative elections, the Brotherhood on Tuesday entered the third and final round with a chance to extend its lead to a clear majority as the vote moved into districts long considered strongholds.

The reversal also reflects the administration’s growing acceptance of the Brotherhood’s repeated assurances that its lawmakers want to build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt’s treaty with Israel.

And at the same time it underscores Washington’s increasing frustration with Egypt’s military rulers, who have sought to carve out permanent political powers for themselves and used deadly force against protesters seeking an end to their rule.

---------- Post added January-4th-2012 at 12:50 PM ----------


Iran has alternatives in place to let it cope with a threatened European Union embargo on its oil and increased U.S. pressure, and plans to keep up exports of some 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, a senior Iranian oil official said.

EU governments have reached a preliminary agreement to ban imports of Iranian crude to the European Union but have yet to decide when such an embargo would be put in place, EU diplomats said on Wednesday.

Tehran had already considered different routes if that were to happen, S. M. Qamsari, International Director of the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC), told Reuters by telephone from Tehran shortly before the report on the EU stance emerged.

"We could very easily replace those customers," said Qamsari. Some, but not all, of any displaced volume could move into China as well as other Asian countries and Africa, he said. Iran was unlikely just to store crude on tankers as that was only a short-term solution.

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Wave of bombings leaves scores dead in Iraq

At least 70 killed and more than 100 wounded in the latest attacks in mainly Shia areas across the country.

A suicide bomber targeting Shia pilgrims has killed at least 46 people and wounded at least 80 others in southern Iraq, Qusay al-Abadi, head of the provincial council in Nassiriya, told Reuters news agency.

Local security sources said on Thursday the attack occurred at a police checkpoint in al-Badha area west of Nassiriya, 300km southeast of Baghdad, as pilgrims were walking to the shrine city of Karbala for Arbaeen commemorations.

This came hours after explosions in several mainly Shia Muslim neighbourhoods of eastern Baghdad killed at least 24 people and wounded a further 66, according to Iraqi officials.

Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, Baghdad military spokesman, said the aim of the attacks is "to create sedition among the Iraqi people". He said it was too early to say who was behind the bombings.

Thursday's attacks were the worst since a series of explosions across the Iraqi capital on December 22 killed 60 people.

Edited by visionary
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Turkish ex-army chief ordered held in jail for trial

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court ordered a former armed forces chief to be remanded in custody overnight pending trial charged with bidding to overthrow the government, an unprecedented move likely to exacerbate long-running tensions with the military.

General Ilker Basbug, who retired in 2010, is the highest-ranking officer to be caught up in the so-called Ergenekon case, a long-running crackdown on EU candidate Turkey's once all-powerful military and secularist establishment.

Basbug told the court on Thursday he rejected the allegations, according to broadcaster NTV, describing the Turkish Armed Forces as one of the most powerful in the world.

The decision to send Basbug to jail came hours after prominent Turkish journalists on trial over alleged ties to the ultra-nationalist Ergenekon network said the charges against them were politically motivated and "a massacre of justice" in a case that has raised concerns over media freedom in Turkey.

Nicknamed pashas, a title dating back to Ottoman times, Turkey's once untouchable generals have seen their influence decline as Ankara pushes reforms aimed at strengthening civilian rule and winning Turkey's accession to the European Union.

The current investigation centers on allegations that the military set up websites to spread anti-government propaganda to destabilize Turkey.

Turkey's military, NATO's second-largest army, has long seen itself as the guarantor of the country's secular constitution, and had staged three coups between 1960 and 1980 and pressured another government from power in 1997.

The Ergenekon case is seen as part of a power struggle between Erdogan's ruling AK party, which has roots in a banned Islamist party and swept to power in 2002, and an old secularist establishment including military officers, lawyers, journalists and politicians.

I sure hope they have more on them than setting up websites.

Is this a battle against old corruption, or the beggining of a sketchy crackdown on powerful opponents?

(I thought the current main opposition were the socialists...which I don't think the military is part of.

So maybe ths is limited to dealing with corruption and some sort of actual coup planning or maybe they're just overreacting....)

Don't really know enough about the situation to say one way or the other, but it seems like something to keep an eye on.

Edited by visionary
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Haredim throw stones at buses in Beit Shemesh

Police arrest 2 ultra-orthodox protesters, 1 policeman lightly injured; haredi arrested in J'lem for cursing woman.

What's up with Israel lately?

There seems to be a lot of stories about segregation and extremist hardline stuff going on over there.

Kind of disturbing, although at least the authorities seem to be going after some of the crazies.

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French probe exonerates Rwanda leader in genocide

A French probe into what sparked the 1994 Rwandan genocide appears to exonerate current President Paul Kagame and his Tutsi allies after Paris had previously accused him of triggering the killing of 800,000 people in 100 days.

Diplomatic relations between Rwanda and France were broken off in 2006 when a French judge said Kagame, the rebel leader at the time of the killings, had orchestrated the assassination of Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana to trigger the bloodshed.

After Habyarimana's plane was shot down, Hutu extremists slaughtered Tutsis and moderate Hutus in some of the fastest mass killings ever perpetrated. Kagame's Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front seized power in the aftermath of the genocide.

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