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Old 05-18-2011, 08:31 PM   #1
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Default Obama to pressure Assad, offer aid to reformers

AP - President Barack Obama will use a sweeping Middle East speech on Thursday to sharply defend new sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad as the U.S. government toughened its message for the repressive leader: Embrace democracy or get out. In a primary thrust of his address, Obama will also announce aid to countries that embrace reforms, hoping to steer a region roiling in violence toward democratic change that lasts.

Obama to pressure Assad, offer aid to reformers
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:39 PM   #2
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With Assad out of the way, the Syrians could go about with a lot more peaceful society...

Barak: Fall of Assad would be a 'blessing' for ME
12/11/2011 : Defense minister says Syrian regime could fall "within weeks," would be a "blow to the Iran-Hezbollah axis"; threatens that Gaza situation "can not continue"; calls for new international sanctions on Iranian regime.
The regime in Syria is doomed to fall “within weeks,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday. Speaking at the World Policy Conference in Vienna, Barak added that Bashar Assad’s fall would be a “blessing for the Middle East” and a “blow to the Iran-Hezbollah axis.” “We are witnesses these days to battles between Assad-family loyalists and rebel forces. This is a continuation of the deterioration of the regime’s hold on power. Assad has already killed over 4,000 people in the streets of Syria, and his regime is heading towards its end,” the defense minister said. Barak reiterated his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and declared his and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s willingness to immediately engage in direct negotiations, without conditions, with the Palestinian leadership. However, he questioned the Palestinian commitment to compromise, saying that “Netanyahu declared a moratorium on settlement building for 10 months, and Israel does not build new settlements...

Altogether settlements take up only 2 percent of the West Bank, and therefore I don’t accept the Palestinian claim that settlements are the obstacle to negotiations.” Barak also spoke about the recent surge in attacks from the Gaza Strip. “Since Friday, 36 rockets have been fired at Israeli towns. Israel will defend its citizens and will not allow the situation to continue,” he said. The defense minister added that even though Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip under prime minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan in 2005, “Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets at Israel.” He said that extremist forces are actively working in Sinai, giving credence to a Jerusalem Post exclusive on Sunday that stated that Hamas has established forward bases and rocket production facilities in the peninsula, in an effort to protect them from Israeli air strikes. Expressing his concern about Iran, Barak said the Islamic Republic is “the entire world’s problem” and called for an international effort to impose sanctions on the regime. “An Iranian nuclear weapon would change the entire Middle East and would start a regional nuclear arms race,” he said.

Speaking about Israel- Turkey relations, Barak said he regretted the loss of life in the Mavi Marmara incident, but did not regret the siege of Gaza. According to Turkish media reports, President Abdullah Gul avoided entering the conference in Vienna at the same time as Barak. He also refused to attend a luncheon hosted by Austrian President Heinz Fisher, or take part in a group picture of leaders at the conference, because of Barak’s participation. Barak responded by leaving the conference hall after Fisher delivered the opening address to the group, and before Gul spoke. The incidents indicate that there is still a diplomatic crisis with Turkey.

Barak: Fall of Assad would be a '... JPost - Diplomacy & Politics
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'18 killed' in fresh Syria clashes, say opposition
11 December 2011 - The uprising against Syria's regime shows no sign of abating
At least 18 people are reported to have died in clashes in Syria as opposition activists called a general strike. 11 of the deaths were in the cities of Homs and Hama, the opposition Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC) said. Two people also died in clashes between troops and deserters in the northern Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Authorities in Idlib confronted members of "an armed terrorist group", said Syrian state news agency SANA. The UN estimates more than 4,000 people have died in the nine-month uprising, including 307 children.

Syria severely restricts access to foreign media so reports of unrest cannot be verified. The LCC said the casualties it had recorded on Sunday included two children. There were also reports of clashes between defectors and troops in the south, near the border with Jordan. In Jordan itself, protests at the Syrian embassy in the capital Amman turned violent for the first time. The embassy said protesters stormed the building and attacked staff, but the brother of one of the protesters told the BBC that they were assaulted when they went into the embassy wearing opposition flags.

'Burned shops'

Heavy machine-gun fire was heard and two armoured carriers were burned in pre-dawn clashes in Kfar Takharim town in Idlib province, the British-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said. Reuters news agency quoted residents and activists as saying army defectors had also clashed with loyalist forces backed by tanks in the town of Busra al-Harir, not far from the border with Jordan. The Observatory said that a general strike called by opposition activists was being "very widely observed" in southern Syria's Daraa province on Sunday, the start of the working week. And schoolchildren and civil servants stayed at home in some parts of Damascus, although central districts opened as normal, the activist group said. Fear of pro-government militias prevented some shopkeepers from joining the strike, one Damascus resident told the BBC.

Shopkeepers who kept the shutters down in Idlib province had their property burned by troops who issued a warning via loudspeakers from a nearby mosque, the LCC said. The LCC also said the strike was being well observed by students at Aleppo University and by residents of the town of Douma near Damascus, where it said casualties had been reported. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is under international pressure to end the continuing crackdown on anti-government protesters. The Arab League is reported to be holding two emergency meetings in the coming days, to discuss Damascus's response to the League's plan to send in monitors. Last month the League suspended Syria's membership in protest at the continuing crackdown and also imposed economic sanctions.

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