Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

AP News
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Posted: Aug 17, 2011 4:13 PM
Latest developments in Arab world's unrest

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SYRIA

Turkey's prime minister compares Syria's president to Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, as Damascus defies international calls to end the crackdown on a 5-month-old uprising. President Bashar Assad has unleashed tanks, ground troops and snipers in an attempt to retake control in rebellious areas. The military assault has escalated dramatically since the start of the holy month of Ramadan in August. "We made our calls (to Gadhafi) but unfortunately we got no result," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says. "The same thing is happening with Syria at the moment."

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LIBYA

Heavy clashes erupt between rebels and Moammar Gadhafi loyalists fighting for control of Libya's only functioning oil refinery in the western city of Zawiya, as the opposition tries to cut off fuel supplies to the regime's stronghold of Tripoli. A rebel field commander in Zawiya, says the fighting has shut down an oil pipeline to the capital, where a third of Libya's six million people live. The rebels have surrounded the refinery.

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EGYPT

A military tribunal sentences two young Egyptian activists to six-month prison terms after convicting them of insulting the army. The trial of 19-year-old Hassan Mahmoud and 23-year-old Karim Mahmoud adds more tension to the deteriorating relationship between Egyptian democracy advocates and the ruling military council over freedom of expression in Egypt, after a popular revolution that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak in February. Also, Mubarak's chief of staff is charged with corruption and abuse of power,

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YEMEN

Yemeni opposition groups and protest leaders form a national council to step up pressure on Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to relinquish power. Mass protests calling on Saleh to step down have been roiling Yemen for months. In June, Saleh was badly wounded in an attack on his palace compound. Salem Mohammed Bassindwa, a top opposition figure, says youth groups and political parties named 143 council members to represent the people, a rare show of unity.

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LEBANON

A long-awaited international indictment offers no direct evidence linking four Hezbollah suspects to the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, despite years of painstaking investigations. The indictment, which relies heavily on circumstantial evidence such as telephone records to link the men to the crime, plays into efforts by the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah to discredit a case that has consumed and divided Lebanon for more than six years. "The text in our hands now based on analysis and not clear evidence," Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah says in a speech.

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BAHRAIN

The head of Bahrain's main Shiite Muslim opposition party wants a referendum over whether the Gulf kingdom's rulers should retain their wide powers. The appeal by Ali Salman seeks to increase pressure for broader reconciliation efforts. Salman tells reporters the proposed referendum would ask whether the tiny island nation's government should be elected or remain appointed by the leaders. It's seen highly unlikely that Bahrain's Sunni monarchy would allow such a vote, after months of crackdowns against Shiite-led protests demanding greater rights.

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JORDAN

All 98 Islamists on trial in a military court in Jordan plead innocent to charges of terrorism and stabbing policemen with swords in an April protest. The defendants, all with beards and in dark blue prison uniforms, stand in the dock as the charges are read at the military tribunal, which does not have a jury. Another 52 men are being tried in absentia. The indictment charges all the defendants with attempting to undermine Jordan's security. If convicted, the 150 defendants face up to 15 years in prison.