Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

AP News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2011 4:48 PM
Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

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SYRIA

The Syrian regime, besieged by street protests at home and condemnation abroad,lashes out at European governments for threatening a new round of sanctions and accuses the West of trying to sow chaos and conflict in the Arab nation. Foreign Minister Walid Moallem also reiterates the president's call for national dialogue and talks of democracy over the horizon _ a bold assertion after more than four decades of iron-fisted rule by the Assad family and months of bloody reprisals. It is the regime's latest attempt to blunt three months of widespread demonstrations

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LIBYA

Possible cracks emerge in NATO's Libya air campaign as Italy expresses concern about the accidental killing of civilians and calls for a suspension in hostilities to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. However, Britain insists the alliance is "holding strong." Skepticism over the military campaign is growing as weeks of airstrikes have failed to unseat Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and outrage rises over allegations that airstrikes have caused civilian casualties. The air campaign continues. At least two explosions shake Tripoli before noon as fighter jets soar overhead.

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EGYPT

Several young members from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood launch their own political party rivaling their group's own, exposing cracks in the influential Islamist organization. After years as a banned group and fielding candidates as independents, the Brotherhood has formed its first political party after President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in the face of popular protests in February. The defections reflect differences in approach between traditional leaders of the Brotherhood and younger activists.

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YEMEN

Nearly 60 suspected al-Qaida militants tunnel their way out of a Yemeni prison in the lawless south, deepening the chaos of a nation where protesters are trying to topple the autocratic regime. The escape from the Mukalla prison in Hadramout province is the latest sign that Islamic militants are seizing on the mayhem to operate more freely, something the U.S. fears will become an increasing international threat if the impoverished nation grows even more unstable. Hundreds of Islamic militants have also taken control of two southern towns in recent weeks.

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BAHRAIN

Bahraini protesters pour back to the streets after a security court sentences eight Shiite activists to life in prison in the latest blow by the Western-backed kingdom to cripple the biggest Arab Spring opposition movement in the Gulf. The fast and angry reaction to the verdicts _ the most significant display of unrest in weeks _ underscores the volatility in the island nation after four months of unrest and raises questions about whether any credible pro-reform leaders will heed calls by the Sunni monarchy to open talks next week.

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ALGERIA

Two months of consultations about how to amend Algeria's constitution are completed, paving the way for this oil-rich country to implement reforms aimed at heading off the wave of pro-democracy unrest sweeping North Africa. But two key opposition parties boycott the process as a sham and predict that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has run Algeria for 12 years, will not fulfill his promise to approve meaningful changes in a new constitution, including laws governing politics.

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MOROCCO

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is commending Morocco for conducting a peaceful reform process. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky says Ban welcomes the proposed constitutional reforms announced by King Mohammed VI on June 17. The reforms, to be put to a referendum on July 1, would grant additional powers to the prime minister and the parliament and enshrine respect for human rights, gender equality and judicial independence into the constitution. Some government opponents say that the proposed reforms are superficial and will allow the king to retain his near-absolute power over Moroccan society.