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by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 03:19:04 PM EST
Syrian Attacks Highlight Role of Extremists - WSJ.com
A series of attacks across Syria on Monday has renewed fears among Western officials that the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad is providing a training ground for extremist Islamist groups. Such a development could vastly complicate a United Nations-brokered cease-fire meant to stop the armed conflict from escalating into full-scale civil war.

Two suicide bombings ripped through busy districts in the northern city of Idlib early Monday, killing at least nine people and injuring at least 100, hours after rocket-propelled grenades hit the central bank building in Damascus, the government said.

Including a suicide bombing on Friday that killed at least 10 people, the latest blasts bring to eight the number of suicide attacks reported in Syria since December. Officials and analysts say the trend points to the growing role of al Qaeda and radical Sunni Islamist groups in an uprising that has developed into a bloody armed conflict.

Syrian opposition groups, including the rebel Free Syrian Army, immediately denied any role in the string of attacks on Monday and blamed the government. Dissidents have consistently said they believe Damascus has staged the attacks to prove it is fighting armed terrorists, a blanket term the government has used for its opponents.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:30:59 PM EST
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Syria seals off rebellious neighborhoods | GlobalPost

For Syrians on both sides of the concrete wall that now surrounds this neighborhood, the comparisons to the region's longest running conflict are unavoidable.

"When my wife described the wall to me I immediately thought of the wall built by the Israelis to isolate Palestinian villages and towns in the West Bank," said Abu Annas, formerly a resident of Homs' devastated Baba Amr district.

"I can understand that Israel built a wall to protect Israeli settlers from Palestinians. But I cannot understand how a national government builds a wall to separate its citizens from each other."

Since forcing the retreat of rebel fighters from Baba Amr after a brutal month-long bombardment in February, government forces have constructed a massive concrete wall to seal off the former opposition stronghold.

More from GlobalPost: Syria: Homs attack is a game-changer

A reporter for GlobalPost recently visited Baba Amr and the wall, describing it as up to 10-feet high and made of cement. It's still so new there is no graffiti. Since most residents have long fled, the neighborhood behind the wall has become "a dead land for cats and dogs," as one former resident described it.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:31:56 PM EST
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.:Middle East Online::More than 20 killed in blasts in Syria's Idlib:.

More than 20 people were killed on Monday in blasts targeting security buildings in the city of Idlib, northwest Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The majority of those killed were members of the security forces, the Britain-based group said.

Syrian state television put the death toll at eight, among them civilians, and said scores were also injured in two blasts that took place in Idlib's Hananu Square, on Carlton Street.

It said "terrorists" were behind the attacks.

It showed blood stains on the ground, and groups of angry people denouncing the violence and expressing support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

"Is this the freedom they want?" shouted one man, standing near a woman who was carrying a child with blood running down his forehead.

One apartment block appeared in ruins and cars nearby were flattened by the force of the explosion.

A powerful blast, probably a car bomb, was also reported near the capital Damascus, causing casualties, the Observatory added.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:32:43 PM EST
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BBC News - Hardline Islamists back Aboul Fotouh for Egypt president

Egypt's ultra-conservative Islamist groups have chosen to back Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh in the presidential race, rather than the candidate of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.

The former jihadist group, Gamaat Islamiya, has announced its support after the main Salafi party, Nur made its decision at the weekend.

Experts say it is a serious blow for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The development comes as official campaigning for the presidency begins.

Doctor Aboul Fotouh was expelled from the Brotherhood last year after he announced he would join the contest. At that stage, the mainstream Islamist movement said it did not plan to field a presidential candidate but it later reversed the policy.

It has nominated the head of its political party, Mohammed Mursi. 'Crisis for Brotherhood'

The backing for Dr Aboul Fotouh should bring him many of the votes that took the Salafists, who are highly conservative and draw inspiration from the life of the Prophet Muhammad and the earliest Muslims, into second place behind the Brotherhood in last year's parliamentary elections.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:33:34 PM EST
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In Egypt, Salafist vote could prove decisive - The Washington Post

After Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year, ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafists emerged from the shadows and quickly became a surprising political force. No longer afraid of being detained and tortured for their strict interpretation of Islam, more pious men grew out their beards and more women felt comfortable covering their faces with the black veils favored by Salafists, even at government jobs.

In the winter, Salafists won about 25 percent of the seats in Egypt's new parliament. But though they are far more visible now than they were under Mubarak's secular but autocratic rule, Salafists are once again feeling marginalized as they struggle to translate their new strength into a unified political voice just a few weeks before Egyptians elect a new president.

Their preferred candidate, ultraconservative preacher Hazem Abu Ismail, was disqualified this month over the issue of his late mother's nationality, leaving the voting bloc up for grabs and in disarray.

On Saturday, the largest Salafist political party, Nour, and its founding organization, Dawa Salafiya, backed the progressive Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh. The move could reunify the vote behind an unlikely figure. The progressive Islamist has a much looser interpretation of Islamic law compared with the Salafists. But he is not beholden to the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's most powerful Islamist group, and could be a key ally, analysts said.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:42:40 PM EST
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Sudan declares emergency on border with south - Africa - Al Jazeera English
Sudan has declared a state of emergency along its border with South Sudan, in a move that imposes a trade embargo on the South and suspends the constitution, SUNA, the official news agency, said.

It said President Omar al-Bashir issued a resolution on Sunday declaring the emergency in border districts of South Kordofan state, White Nile and Sennar states.

The measure follows a month of border fighting with South Sudan, which seceded last July after a peace deal ended one of Africa's longest civil wars, which killed about two million people between 1983 and 2005.

An emergency has already been in effect for almost a decade in Darfur, along the western border with South Sudan, while a similar status took effect in Blue Nile state last September when an ethnic insurgency began.

Trade across the border has unofficially been banned since South Sudan's independence, but the emergency formalises that prohibition.

Bashir's resolution "gives the right to the president and anyone with his mandate" to establish special courts, in consultation with the chief justice, SUNA said.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:34:24 PM EST
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Guinea-Bissau hit with Ecowas sanctions - News - Mail & Guardian Online
States (Ecowas) said on Monday it had imposed sanctions on Guinea-Bissau after talks with the ruling junta aimed at restoring constitutional order after a coup broke down.

Guinea-Bissau has been run by soldiers since the April 12 coup, which derailed presidential elections and set back Western efforts to combat drugs cartels using the tiny country as a transit hub for cocaine bound for Europe.

"These are targeted sanctions against junta leaders and diplomatic, economic and financial sanctions against the country," an Ecowas official said. "They went into effect at midnight, last night."

The official said representatives of the junta sent to Gambia's capital Banjul for talks on Sunday had rejected a demand by the West African bloc that elections be set within 12 months, and that interim president Raimundo Pereira, arrested by soldiers during the coup, be reinstated to oversee the transition.

Pereira was released on Friday along with former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, the front-runner in the presidential polls before they were pre-empted. Both left the country for Côte d'Ivoire.
by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:36:20 PM EST
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Bin Laden files show al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in close contact | World news | guardian.co.uk

Documents found in the house where Osama bin Laden was killed a year ago show a close working relationship between top al-Qaida leaders and Mullah Omar, the overall commander of the Taliban, including frequent discussions of joint operations against Nato forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government and targets in Pakistan.

The communications show a three-way conversation between Bin Laden, his then deputy Ayman Zawahiri and Omar, who is believed to have been in Pakistan since fleeing Afghanistan after the collapse of his regime in 2001.

They indicate a "very considerable degree of ideological convergence", a Washington-based source familiar with the documents told the Guardian.

The news will undermine hopes of a negotiated peace in Afghanistan, where the key debate among analysts and policymakers is whether the Taliban - seen by many as following an Afghan nationalist agenda - might once again offer a safe haven to al-Qaida or like-minded militants, or whether they can be persuaded to renounce terrorism.

One possibility, experts say, is that although Omar built a strong relationship with Bin Laden and Zawahiri, other senior Taliban commanders see close alliance or co-operation with al-Qaida as deeply problematic.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:44:22 PM EST
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U.S. drone strikes resume in Pakistan; action may complicate vital negotiations - The Washington Post

CIA drone missiles hit militant targets in Pakistan on Sunday for the first time in a month, as the United States ignored the Pakistani government's insistence that such attacks end as a condition for normalized relations between the two perpetually uneasy allies.

The drone strikes, which have long infuriated the Pakistani public, killed four al-Qaeda-linked fighters in a girls' school they had taken over in the North Waziristan tribal area, security officials there said.

Warning of diplomatic consequences, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attacks, the first since Parliament's unanimous vote this month approving new guidelines for the country's relationship with the United States. Some politicians said the drone strikes might set back already difficult negotiations over the reopening of vital NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that Pakistan blocked five months ago.

Last week, after two days of high-level talks in Islamabad, Pakistan told U.S. negotiators that it would not allow NATO convoys to cross its territory unless the United States unconditionally apologized for November airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border. Although the Obama administration has expressed regret for the killings, which it said were accidental, the Pentagon says both sides share blame.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:44:53 PM EST
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Chavez back to Cuba for more cancer treatment | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Monday he was returning to Cuba for another round of radiation treatment in his battle with cancer, which resurfaced earlier this year.

"I will return in the next few hours to Havana," he told television here. "We are in the home stretch of my radiation treatment."

Chavez's cancer, first detected in his pelvic area in June 2011, was found to have recurred in February.

Since surgery to remove the new lesion, he has undergone repeated rounds of treatment in Cuba, and most recently returned from Havana on Thursday.

The 57-year-old Chavez, who insists he will run for a third six-year term in the October 7 election, never has publicly revealed the kind of cancer from which he suffers or its exact location.

The visible face of the international left in Latin America, he is running for re-election against center-left opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, governor of the state of Miranda.

by Nomad on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 04:45:25 PM EST
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Netanyahu sees unity on Iran crumble

Israeli leaders have spent years calling for international unity to face down the threat posed by Iran's nuclear programme. Now they are seeing this common front crumble in the one place they thought was safe: Israel itself.

Over the past week, Benjamin Netanyahu's government has faced an unprecedented barrage of criticism at home for its stance on Iran, in particular for the implied threat of air strikes. Leading the latest charge was Yuval Diskin, the former director of the Shin Bet internal security service, whose incendiary remarks have dominated the Israeli political debate for days.

Mr Diskin, who left his post amid much praise last year, publicly slammed Mr Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the defence minister, as "messianic" politicians who could not be trusted, especially on Iran. The two men, he said, were "not the people I would like to be holding the steering wheel" during a crisis.

Mr Diskin also warned that an Israeli strike against Iran, contrary to government assurances, was likely to hasten the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

(...)

Speaking in New York on Sunday, Mr Olmert raised a question debated with growing intensity in Israel and abroad: "What has happened," he asked, "that all the leaders of Israel's security services suddenly think in the same way?"

There is strong evidence that the Israeli defence and intelligence establishment is opposed to a strike on Iran, at least for the time being. Mr Dagan, for one, made his position clear last year, when he famously described an Israeli attack on Iran as the "stupidest idea" he had ever encountered.



Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 30th, 2012 at 05:30:33 PM EST
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This has Been the situation for a while.

It is not that the criticism is new, so much as the western media are trying to find a way of excusing their previous enthusiasm for an attack on Iran now that the Obama administration has made it extremely clear that a US-led attack is not going to happen.

"oh look, we don't need to attack, apart from  few hotheads, not even the Israelis really want it"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 1st, 2012 at 03:26:44 AM EST
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kucinich was on RT last night telling us that out of 435 congressmen/women, only 11 are against going to war with iran.

when america gave them nuke power in the first place! under the shah, natch.

it's a rummy business.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 1st, 2012 at 07:01:15 AM EST
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out of 435 congressmen/women, only 11 are against going to war with iran not bought and paid for by AIPAC/Likud

FIFY

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 1st, 2012 at 09:18:14 AM EST
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