“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

African leaders refuse to recognize the rebel authority in Libya

Deutsche Welle, 31 Aug 2011  

Gadhafi was an important donor
to the African Union
The list of countries recognizing the rebel National Transitional Council as Libya's legitimate governing body is growing. But African Union leaders have remained loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, and for good reason.

All Arabs are Africans at heart - that was one of Colonel Gadhafi's famously wild theories. The man who ruled Libya for 42 years may not have discovered his enthusiasm for Africa until late in the day - but he embraced it wholeheartedly. Gadhafi's fondness for his continent is reciprocated by many African leaders, who remain staunchly loyal to the veteran dictator, even in the dying days of his regime.

The African Union, a federation of 54 African states, has not recognized the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate body governing the Libyan people, unlike most European states, and even the often hesitant Arab League.

Adams Oloo from the University of Nairobi, explained why the African Union is so reluctant to let go of Gadhafi.

"Gadhafi was a driver of the AU process," Oloo said. "He not only championed the idea of having a United States of Africa, but he was also a chief financier of the African Union. And therefore like many African leaders, the AU always waits until the last minute. Maybe some in the AU think that Gadhafi could still come back, and they don't want to be counted as the anti-Gadhafi forces."

Gadhafi stood shoulder to shoulder with the African Union

Generous investor

It's unclear exactly how much money Gadhafi has invested in the African Union, but his contributions are said to amount to around 20 percent of its annual budget ($260 million for 2011). Libyan state-owned companies also contribute millions to the continent - Gadhafi owns real estate in Zimbabwe, and has stakes in hotel chains in Kenya and South Africa.

The dictator always had money left over to support the fight against colonial powers in Africa, and to supply weapons. Without him, the rebels in Darfur probably wouldn't have been able to continue fighting. Observers believe he may even have helped finance the notorious al-Shabab militia in Somalia. As Adams Oloo pointed out, there are a lot of people relying on him.

"I think AU is headed for crisis to the extent that there is no guarantee that the successor to Moammar Gadhafi will have the same enthusiasm to support the AU financially," Oloo believes. "And the problem surely is that most of the heads of state in Africa pay more lip service to the AU." 

Jacob Zuma has criticized the NATO
mission in Libya
The reaction of Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills shows that the African Union is biding its time.

"Ghana is studying the situation and will take an appropriate decision that is in the best interests of our dear nation," he said last week.

Much at stake

In South Africa, the continent's economic powerhouse, President Jacob Zuma has come under fire for his handling of the Libya conflict. Zuma has refused to recognize the rebel authority, and he has repeatedly condemned NATO's military intervention in Libya, despite supporting a UN Security Council resolution in March, authorizing a no-fly zone to "protect civilians."

"We've found ourselves in a situation where the developed world has decided to intervene in Africa in a manner that was not agreed to," Zuma said. "We've found this resolution being abused in a manner that is totally unacceptable."

When NATO used the mandate to protect the Libyan rebels, South Africa and the African Union tried belatedly - and in vain - to propose a ceasefire plan and reconciliation talks between Gadhafi and his enemies. Neither side seemed interested.

The AU is made up of 54 African
"As South Africa, we definitely will be learning from this experience, where people abused the UN Security Council resolution, which had a very specific mandate," Clayson Monyela, the foreign ministry spokesman told the news agency dpa.

South African opposition parties - and many western powers - were unhappy that the president seemed to be siding with the Libyan strongman. Some say Gadhafi helped finance Zuma's own rise to power.

"South Africa will find itself on wrong side of history with continued support for Gadhafi," Peter Bouckaert, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said last week.

"They wanted the world at one point to stand with them against apartheid. I think they now need to stand with the Libyan people," taunted Liam Fox, the British defense secretary.

Zuma's stance on Libya was based in no small part on the support his party received from Gadhafi in the long sturggle against the racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

Having supported the UN Security Council resolution in March, South Africa may yet be able to cobble together diplomatic relations with the new government in Libya. But the role the African Union will play in post-Gadhafi Libya is uncertain. Once the NTC assumes power in Tripoli, the African Union may find itself cut adrift.

Author: Joanna Impey, Bettina Rühl
Editor: Rob Mudge

Bahrain unrest: Teenager dies after protest

BBC News, 31 August 2011

Bahrain Protests 

A teenage boy has died after being hit by a tear-gas canister fired by Bahraini security forces trying to disperse a protest, activists say.

Small-scale clashes between security forces and
demonstrators have become a near nightly event
Ali Jawad Ahmed, 14, was among a small crowd who had gathered overnight in the village of Sitra, said the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.

The group said security forces personnel had used "excessive force".

A police official told the state news agency that the incident was being investigated but gave no other details.

"There was no reported police action against law-breakers... at the time the boy's death was reported, except dispersing a small group of around 10 people at 01:15," BNA quoted the official as saying.

Isa Hassan, the teenager's uncle, said police officers had overreacted when confronted by a small group of protesters. He said the tear gas canister was fired from about 7m (21ft) away, directly at the crowd.

"They are supposed to lob the canisters of gas, not shoot them at people," he said at the funeral, according to the Associated Press. "Police used it as a weapon."

One activist told the BBC that Ahmed was hit in the face by the canister. The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights published a photograph showing the boy with blood seeping from his mouth.

More than 30 people have been killed in Bahrain since protests began in February, with the island's Shia majority demanding political, social and economic reforms from the Sunni royal family.

In mid-March, King Hamad Al Khalifa called in troops from neighbouring Sunni Gulf states to crush the dissent and imposed a state of emergency.

Small-scale clashes between security forces and demonstrators have become a near nightly event since emergency rule was lifted in June.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gaddafi to be handed over if he attempts to enter Algeria: media

English.news.cn   2011-08-30

ALGIERS, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Algeria would hand over Muammar Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court if the embattled Libyan leader attempted to enter the North African country, Algerian local media reported Tuesday.

Local Arabic-language daily Echorouk quoted well-informed sources as saying that the government made the decision according to the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court for Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gaddafi and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.

Algeria would be committed to all international regulations issued regarding the situation in Libya, it said.

The Algerian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Gaddafi's wife and three children entered Algeria Monday morning, the nation's official news agency APS reported. However, it did not mention the whereabouts of Gaddafi himself.

The Algerian government has informed the United Nations and the Libyan rebel National Transitional Council about the Gaddafis' arrival, the statement said.

Algerian security services will receive an instruction to close the southern border with Libya in view of the fragile security situation in the Sahel region and Libya, Algeria's French-language newspaper El Watan reported on its website, quoting a government source as saying.

Algeria has hundreds of kilometers of borderline with Libya, stretching through vast expanses of sparsely peopled desert.

Related Article:

Libya conflict: Zimbabwe expels envoy Taher Elmagrahi

BBC News, 30 August 2011

Libya Crisis 

Zimbabwe has expelled Libya's ambassador who last week abandoned Col Muammar Gaddafi and backed the rebels.

The Libyan embassy in Harare was stormed
on 24 August
Taher Elmagrahi joined protesters who stormed the embassy and raised the pre-Gaddafi flag.

Zimbabwe's foreign minister said it did not recognise the rebel National Transitional Council.

President Robert Mugabe is a close ally of Col Gaddafi, who bankrolled the African Union. Only a few African countries have recognised the NTC.

Last week South Africa blocked moves at the UN to give the NTC access to Libyan government funds.

Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, from Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, said Mr Elmagrahi and all his staff now had 72 hours to leave the country.

"Once you renounce the authority that gave you the letter of credence and then proceed to pledge allegiance to another authority... it means that act deprives you of your diplomatic standing," he said.

When he switched sides last week, Mr Elmagrahi said: "I am not Gaddafi's ambassador. I represent the Libyan people."

Correspondents say Mr Mugabe and his allies are wary of the revolutions which have toppled three long-serving North African leaders this year.

More than 40 activists were arrested in February after watching videos about the Egypt uprising.

Mr Mugabe has condemned Nato's intervention in Libya and says the conflict is really about oil.

Monday, August 29, 2011

EU agrees on Syrian oil ban as Assad continues brutal crackdown on protesters

Al Arabiya, By Mustapha Ajbaili, Al Arabiya and Agencies, Monday, 29 August 2011

Anti-regime protesters carry banners during a rally in Talbiseh, in the
central province of Homs, Syria. (File Photo)
The European Union reached an agreement in principle Monday to ban oil imports from Syria, tightening the noose on President Bashar al-Assad, who has refused to heed international and regional calls for an end to his brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters.

“There is a political consensus on a European embargo of imports of Syrian petroleum products,” a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The new sanctions were backed by all representatives at a meeting of experts from the 27-nation bloc in Brussels, another diplomat said.

Individual EU governments are expected to give their final approval by the end of the week, the diplomat said.

The EU buys 95 percent of the oil Syria exports, representing nearly one-third of government receipts, according to diplomats.

The latest move by the European Union came as Syrian security forces in armored vehicles besieged the town of Ruston, outside of Homs, on Monday in response to reports that a military unit defected in the area, Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.

At least 40 light tanks and armored vehicles, and 20 buses of troops and military intelligence, deployed at 5:30 a.m. at the highway entrance to Ruston, 20 km (12 miles) north of the city of Homs, and began firing heavy machine guns at the town,
two residents said, according to Reuters.

“The tanks deployed at both banks of the highway, which remained open, and fired long bursts from their machine guns at Ruston,” one of the residents, who gave his name as Raed, told Reuters by phone.

He said defections began in the town when it was stormed by tanks three months ago to crush large street protests against Assad in an assault that killed dozens of civilians.

Ruston, situated near the main highway leading to Turkey, is traditionally a reservoir of recruits for the mostly Sunni rank-and-file army dominated by officers from Syria’s Alawite minority sect and effectively commanded by Assad's younger brother Maher.

Mustafa Tlas, who was Syria’s defense minister for three decades before retiring in 2006, hails from Ruston.

In Damascus, dozens of soldiers also defected and fled into al-Ghouta, an area of farmland, after pro-Assad forces fired at a large crowd of demonstrators near the suburb of Harasta to prevent them from marching on the centre of the capital, residents said.

“The army has been firing heavy machine guns throughout the night at al-Ghouta and they were being met with response from smaller rifles,” a resident of Harasta told Reuters by phone.

A statement published on the internet by the Free Officers, a group that says it represents defectors, said “large defections” occurred in Harasta and that security forces and shabbiha loyal to Assad were chasing the defectors.

It was the first reported defection near the capital, where Assad’s core forces are based.

“The younger conscripts who defect mainly go back to their town and villages and hide. We have seen more experienced defectors fighting back in the south, in Idlib, and around Damascus,” said an activist, who gave his name as Abu Khaled.

Meanwhile, security forces broke up a sit-in by hundreds of people in front of the Badr Mosque in Malki, near the presidential palace in the center of Damascus, overnight on Monday.

In other regions, military and security forces stormed the villages of Deir Ezzor and Bokamal, killing one child and wounding dozens of residents, the coordination committees said. The forces also shot at protesters in the Daraa’s cities of Inkhel, Nawa and Daeel, in Damascus suburbs including Douma and Kesweh, and in Deir Ezzor, Idlib and several neighborhoods in Homs.

The latest demonstrations in Damascus were triggered in part by an attack on Saturday by Assad's forces on a popular cleric, Osama al-Rifai. He was treated with several stitches to his head after the forces stormed al-Rifai mosque complex in the Kfar Sousa district of the capital, home to the secret police headquarters, to prevent protesters from assembling.

Related Article:

Wife of Gaddafi and three children flee Libya for Algeria

Algerian foreign ministry confirms wife Safia, daughter Aisha, and sons Mohammed and Hannibal have arrived in country

guardian.co.uk, Martin Chulov in Tripoli, Monday 29 August 2011

Gaddafi's wife, Safia, who has arrived in Algeria with his sons Mohammed
and Hannibal and daughter Aisha. Photograph: Khaled El-Fiqi/EPA

Efforts by Libya's new rulers to bring the Gaddafi clan to justice have received a blow this evening after it emerged that several family members had managed to flee the country for neighbouring Algeria.

The Algerian foreign ministry said Gaddafi's wife Safia, daughter Aisha and sons Hannibal and Mohammed and their children had entered Algeria at 8.45am on Monday, according to the state-run APS news agency.

Their fate remains unclear. Rebels have said that if any Gaddafi relatives escape to Algeria they will seek their extradition, but the outcome of such a move would be uncertain.

Algeria has refused to recognise the authority of Libya's new governing authority and has watched with alarm as autocratic regimes have fallen across the region over the past six months. Algerian authorities earlier in the year crushed an attempt to mimic a Tunisian style uprising in Algiers.

Libya's new governing authority says it has no credible information about Gaddafi's whereabouts. Several of his sons are thought to still be in Tripoli. There were reports on Monday night that another of his sons, Khamis, had been killed in an air strike south of Tripoli, but these could not be immediately confirmed.

Earlier the National Transitional Council justice minister, Mohammed al-Alagi, said the new leadership in Tripoli wanted to try Gaddafi in Libya if and when he is caught, rather than hand him over to the International Criminal Court. Alagi said the demands of national justice took precedence over the indictment issued at the end of June by the Hague-based court, seeking the arrest of Gaddafi for crimes against humanity.

The court also issued warrants for two of Gaddafi's top aides – his son and heir apparent Saif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi. The warrant refers to the early weeks of the conflict in February. "We consider that the national court and justice system has priority over international justice," the minister said.

Asked if he knew where Gaddafi might be hiding, he replied: "We don't comment on security issues, or where he might be."

The whereabouts of Gaddafi's other sons, Saif al-Islam, Mutassim and Saadi remain unknown, along with his second daughter Hannah, who was thought to have been killed in a US air strike in 1986, but was last week found to be working in a Tripoli hospital.

The director of the Sharwa Zarwa hospital in the centre of the capital has told the Guardian that Hannah Gaddafi had ordered staff not to treat wounded rebels during the past six months. "She also stayed here sometimes during the night," said Dr Ghassem Barouni.

Gaddafi's other son, Saif al-Arab, is thought to have been killed by a Nato strike in April. However, the reappearance of his second daughter after 25 years has left some members of the NTC sceptical of the claim.

Wife of Gaddafi, Safia, daughter Aisha, and sons Mohammed and
Hannibal have arrived in Algeria

Shwygar Mullah, a nanny for Hannibal and Aline Gadhafi,
says Aline burned her with boiling water

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Luxury, horror lurk in Gadhafi family compound

CNN News, By Dan Rivers, CNN Correspondent, August 28, 2011

Shwygar Mullah, a nanny for Hannibal and Aline Gadhafi, says Aline
burned her with boiling water.

  • CNN visits the seaside homes of the Gadhafi family
  • A horribly scarred family nanny recounts being scalded by Gadhafi's daughter-in-law
  • A colleague corroborates the account and says he, too, was regularly tortured
  • Gadhafi family seaside villas are packed with high-end liquor and electronics

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Moammar Gadhafi told his people he lived modestly during his nearly 42-year rule over Libya, often sleeping in a Bedouin tent.

Even if that was true for the leader, it certainly wasn't for his sons.

At a seaside compound in western Tripoli, the Gadhafi boys enjoyed a decadent lifestyle that his people could only dream about, while perpetrating unspeakable horrors on the staff that served their every whim.

CNN visited the seaside homes Sunday.

The first house we entered was apparently the "party" beach condo with an oversized door that led into sleek, modern, black-and-white rooms. It had been ransacked by the rebels, but still it was spectacular, with panoramic ocean views and plenty of evidence of the hedonism for which Hannibal Gadhafi -- one of Moammar Gadhafi's sons -- is famous.

Discarded bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label Scotch and Laurent Perrier pink champagne cases littered the floor. Much of the electronic equipment had been plundered, but instruction manuals remained for high end Harman/Kardon stereo components. Cabinets designed to hold two huge TV screens could still be seen.

The bedroom held a circular bed, while the in-suite bathroom was complete with sunken Jacuzzi tub lined with plastic white flowers. Outside, a hot tub, a bar and a barbecue area adjoined the private beach.

Another villa contained a white baby grand piano and more expensive stereo equipment. Next door was a huge swimming pool and diving complex, a gym, a steam room and a sauna faced in white marble. In other house.

We came upon rebels furtively dividing up a huge stash of alcohol. They seemed edgy and tense -- this is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and alcohol was supposedly banned under the Gadhafi regime.

We filmed them quixotically studying the labels of Cristal champagne and fine St. Emilion Bordeaux, apparently not realizing each bottle is worth hundreds of dollars.

Sadistic brutality in Libya
As we were about to leave, one of the staff told us there was a nanny who worked for Hannibal Gadhafi who might speak to us. He said she'd been burnt by Hannibal's wife, Aline.

I thought he meant perhaps a cigarette stubbed out on her arm. Nothing prepared me for the moment I walked into the room to see Shwygar Mullah.

At first I thought she was wearing a hat and something over her face. Then the awful realization dawned that her entire scalp and face were covered in red wounds and scabs, a mosaic of injuries that rendered her face into a grotesque patchwork.

Even though the burns were inflicted three months ago, she was clearly still in considerable pain. But she told us her story calmly.

She'd been the nanny to Hannibal's little son and daughter.

The 30-year-old came to Libya from her native Ethiopia a year ago. At first things seemed OK, but then six months into her employment she said she was burned by Aline.

Three months later the same thing happened again, this time much more seriously.

In soft tones, she explained how Aline lost her temper when her daughter wouldn't stop crying and Mullah refused to beat the child.

"She took me to a bathroom. She tied my hands behind my back, and tied my feet. She taped my mouth, and she started pouring the boiling water on my head like this," she said, imitating the vessel of scalding hot water being poured over her head.

She peeled back the garment draped carefully over her body. Her chest, torso and legs are all mottled with scars -- some old, some still red, raw and weeping. As she spoke, clear liquid oozed from one nasty open wound on her head.

After one attack, "There were maggots coming out of my head, because she had hidden me and no one had seen me," Mullah said.

Eventually, a guard found her and took her to a hospital, where she received some treatment. But when Aline Gadhafi found out about the kind actions of her co-worker, he was threatened with imprisonment if he dared to help her again.

"When she did all this to me, for three days, she wouldn't let me sleep," Mullah said. "I stood outside in the cold, with no food. She would say to staff, 'If anyone gives her food, I'll do the same to you.' I had no water -- nothing."

Her colleague, a man from Bangladesh who didn't want to give his name, says he was also regularly beaten and slashed with knives. He corroborated Mullah's account and says the family's dogs were treated considerably better than the staff.

Mullah was forced to watch as the dogs ate and she was left to go hungry, he said.

It seems to sum up how the workers at the beach-side complex were viewed by the Gadhafi family.

"I worked a whole year they didn't give me one penny," Mullah said. "Now I want to go to the hospital. I have no money. I have nothing."

She starts sobbing gently -- an utterly pitiful scene.

Wife of Gaddafi, Safia, daughter Aisha, and sons Mohammed and
Hannibal have arrived in Algeria

Indonesian migrant worker Sumiati binti Salan Mustapa
 after she was brutalized by her Saudi Arabian employers.
 (Photo courtesy of the Saudi Gazette)

Syrian businessmen signal revulsion with President Assad's regime

Many businessmen in Syria are scared of President Assad, but they are also worried about the effects of economic sanctions

guardian.co.uk, Nour Ali, Sunday 28 August 2011 

A Syrian in Istanbul registers his protest against President Assad of Syria.
Dozens of Syrians living in Turkey demonstrated.
Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Syrian businessmen are reaching out to western diplomats, expressing revulsion for the Assad regime but also concern at the crippling effect of sanctions.

Diplomats say several businessmen from the merchant elite have approached western embassies to register their unease. "There are many businessmen coming to us to tell us how much they hate the regime," said one senior western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Protesters continue to take to the streets in large numbers but have so far been unable to dislodge those in power, prompting them to look for any splits within the regime's political, military and economic base. While the international community has targeted the economy with sanctions, protesters have circulated lists of companies to boycott. The US and EU have accompanied their calls for President Basher al-Assad to resign with economic sanctions.

"Business leaders are definitely moving because they are realising the regime may not be around forever," said Adib Shishakly, a Saudi-based businessman.

Almost six months of protests against Assad have all but wiped out the tourist industry, which accounts for 12% of GDP, while the International Institute of Finance forecasts that the economy will shrink by 3% this year.

Neighbouring countries, including Turkey, have until now called on Bashar al-Assad to reform rather than resign. But in a sign of rising tensions, Turkey's president, Abdullah Gül, told Anatolia news agency on Sundaythat Turkey has lost confidence. His comments came a day after Iran warned the regime to heed protesters' demands and the Arab League sent its leader to Damascus.

More than 2,200 people have been killed in the unrest since March, according to the UN, with thousands more detained. At least 10 more protesters were shot dead over the weekend, activists claim. An attack on a Damascus mosque on Saturday left its prominent sheikh, Osama al-Rifai, in hospital.

Businessmen have helped finance the regime and prop up the economy by keeping their funds in the Syrian currency. But it is unclear how much any shift within the business community would affect the uprising, which some claim has moved into stalemate.

Syrian economist Samir Aita said many businessmen had long deplored Syria's "crony capitalism". Exiled businessmen Ali and Waseem Sanqar funded an opposition conference in Antalya in south-west Turkey, but other businessmen inside Syria have ignored direct politics, opting to donate money, food and medical supplies covertly or grant time off to protesters.

One businessman in Homs said: "I have sent food to Rastan and Telbiseh, but cannot do more than that."

A second diplomat from a different embassy said the leading businessmen who came to talk to him appeared more concerned about being targeted by EU sanctions than abandoning the regime. The US and EU have targeted businessmen, such as Rami Makhlouf, the president's cousin, who side with the regime.

The majority of unhappy businessmen, either those trapped in partnerships with regime figures or fearful of crossing Assad, may simply leave Syria or remain silent.

Assessments of the effect of the economy on the regime is unclear and will be slow, according to analysts. The EU is still considering sanctions on oil, which accounts for around a third of GDP.

The central bank has taken steps to limit foreign currency exchanges, but the regime says it will explore other markets. The Syrian economy was weakening long before the uprising started, but with its oil and agriculture, it is largely self-sufficient.

"Businessmen think of their business first and do the best for that," said one economist in Damascus. "To get a real split, the opposition needs to prove it can provide a stable alternative."

Nour Ali is the pseudonym for a journalist based in Damascus

Tunisian police arrests pro-Gaddafi ring south of the country

English.news.cn   2011-08-28

TUNIS, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Tunisian police arrested a Libyan agent and his Tunisian accomplices in southern Tunisia, Radio Express FM reported Sunday.

The man who recruited and paid Tunisian nationals an initial amount of 600 dinars (about 450 U.S. dollars) to abduct Libyan rebels and plan attacks on fuel trucks headed for the Libyan capital, was arrested along with two Tunisians, following a tip off, the radio said.

Last week, a Libyan army officer turned himself to Tunisian military authorities, after refusing to bomb an Arab embassy in the capital, a military spokesman reported. The attack had been planned by Gaddafi himself, the officer said.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Swazi king wants $57 million cut from rescue loan: report

Google/AFP,  28 Aug 2011 

Swaziland's King Mswati III, pictured on August 17, wants a $57 million
cut from a rescue loan (AFP/File, Stephane de Sakutin)

JOHANNESBURG — The King of Swaziland wants a $57 million cut from a rescue loan South Africa has extended to his country in exchange for his efforts to secure the funds, media reported Saturday.

King Mswati III wants the money from a $330 million loan that Pretoria has offered in order to save the financially troubled kingdom, according to South Africa's Saturday Star.

At a Tuesday cabinet meeting, the king claimed he was entitled to the commission because he convinced South Africa to provide the loan after the country was turned down by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the report said.

"This is like a mafia. (The king) loves money and it is destroying the country," Lucky Lukhele, spokesman for the South Africa-based Swaziland Solidarity Network advocacy group was quoted as saying.

Lukhele told the paper his sources on the issue were "impeccable."

The rescue loan, announced earlier this month, has been widely criticised by activists who insist any aid should be directly tied to governance reform in a kingdom where political parties have been banned since 1973 and where pro-democracy demonstrations were violently crushed in April.

A World Bank assessment team is currently visiting Swaziland and their assessment will likely be key in determining whether the kingdom can access international financing.

The king, whose fortune is estimated at 100 million dollars, has called on his people to make sacrifices amid tough economic times.

While the national budget faces drastic cuts, the king's budget was boosted in March from $24 million to $30 million.

More than 70 percent of the population lives on less than one dollar a day.

None of the king's representatives were available to comment, the report said.

Arab League to increase pressure on Syria-official

Reuters Africa, Sat Aug 27, 2011

  • Arab League council to meet at night to discuss Syria 
  • League council member says Arab silence unacceptable 
  • Meeting to discuss sending Arab ministers to Syria (Adds protests outside the league's headquarters, details paragraphs 6-8)

CAIRO, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Arab governments will step up pressure on Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at the Arab League on Saturday with a demand he end the bloody crackdown on protesters trying to remove him, a delegate to the League said ahead of the meeting.

The Syrian government has spent five months trying to crush street unrest using troops and tanks, killing at least 2,200 protesters according to the United Nations.

"There has been an agreement in talks held between the Arab states on ... pressuring the Syrian regime to completely stop the military operations and withdraw its forces," the delegate to the 22-member Arab League's council told Reuters.

"A clear message (will be sent) to the Syrian president that it has become unacceptable for the Arab states to stay silent on what is happening in Syria, especially following the Security Council's move to impose sanctions on Syrian officials and the condemnation from the United Nations Human Rights Council," said the delegate, who asked not to be named.

He said Arab foreign ministers would also discuss a proposal to send a ministerial delegation to Damascus to "directly inform the Syrian leader of the Arab position".

Hundreds of supporters of pro-democracy activists in both Syria and Yemen were demonstrating outside the league's headquarters in Cairo shortly before the arrival of the Arab ministers.

The protesters called on the leaders of both states to step down. Yemen has seen months of mass protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule.

Inside the meeting hall, TV screens were showing dead bodies in the Syrian cities of Hama and Deir al-Zor.

International condemnation of the repression escalated this month after Assad sent the army into several cities including Hama, Deir al-Zor and Latakia. Some Arab states have broken months of silence to call for an end to the violence.

It will be the first official Arab League meeting on Syria since the start of the uprising. The meeting was due to begin at 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT).

The delegate said it was unlikely the Cairo-based body would suspend Syria's membership, as it did with Libya after the start of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in February.

In March, the League backed a U.N. Security Council resolution allowing NATO warplanes to patrol Libyan airspace and bomb Gaddafi's forces to protect civilians. Its approval was seen as necessary for that operation to go ahead.

Many Arab commentators have criticised the League for its timid reaction to the violence in Syria. It spent months only voicing "concern", suggesting divisions among its members, some of which are facing their own public protests.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah issued a rare condemnation of a powerful Arab neighbour on Aug. 8, demanding an end to the bloodshed and recalling his ambassador from Damascus.

Bahrain and Kuwait recalled their ambassadors hours after the Saudi king's decision and the Sunni Islam's most venerable institution of learning, al-Azhar in Cairo, called the Syrian assault on protesters an unacceptable "human tragedy."    

(Reporting by Ayman Samir, writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Rosalind Russell)

The fall of Gaddafi won't guarantee a free press

RNW, 27 August 2011, By Jannie Schipper

There has been a huge increase in the number of different media outlets in Libya since the fight against Gaddafi. The country used to have eleven daily newspapers, but there are now around 120, in addition to new radio stations, TV channels and countless websites. But experts warn that 40 years of censorship is a bad recipe for independent journalism.

Leon Willems, Director of Free Press Unlimited, a Dutch organisation with projects in over forty countries that suffer from repression and conflict, sees three challenges for journalists in the 'new' Libya:

"The existing reporters are often corrupted by working for so long under a dictator. You also often make infrastructural problems - including things like electricity. And you have to deal with new legislation to ensure that more is possible in the future."

Gaddafi's Libya hung for years at the bottom of the journalistic freedom indexes of organisations such as the US Freedom House and the French-based Reporters without Borders. "Libya has by far the worst starting position of those Arab countries where the regime has fallen," says Courtney Radsch from Freedom House. "After such a long time under a dictator, journalists no longer know what it's like to be independent," says Mr Willems.

Reporters without Borders

The fighting hasn't exactly improved the position of journalism. "In contrast to Egypt or Tunisia, a real war has taken place," says Mr Willems. "Relationships between people are on edge." In a recent report by Reporters without Borders more problems were identified: censorship was noticeable, both by the National Transitional Council and by journalists themselves.

"There must be no talk about civil war, the tribal issue, Islamist extremism and supporters of Gaddafi," said the report by Reporters sans Frontières. Also, the state of Qatar played a very prominent role in supporting new TV stations. "In addition, the was a break in regulatory and structural control, and journalists were victims of violence, as in virtually every armed conflict," says Soazig Dollet, Middle East spokesman for the organisation.

Better scores?

Therefore it's not a foregone conlusion that Libya, after the ouster of the dictator, will automatically move up in the press freedom indexes.

Courtney Radsch of Freedom House says:

"You'll have to wait and see what laws there are, how the authorities react to attempts by the media to report on the transitional period. There are many problematic developments. It's too early to say whether the revolution and transition will lead to an immediate improvement in the scores."

Mr Radsch cites as a negative example the restrictions that the military rulers in Egypt instituted immediately for bloggers and other journalists.

New legislation

Press freedom means more than "no attacks on journalists," says Freedom House. "Our index also takes into account economic dependency and political pressure." The most important thing, according to the press freedom organization, is that the new authorities in Libya enshrine the protection of journalists in the new legislation.

Yet there is optimism. "In a violent struggle the media are always manipulated," says Leon Willems. "That can change if the situation normalises." There are already many initiatives in Libya to assist the journalists of tomorrow. Thus colleagues in the diaspora are flocking in to join the new Libyan media. One example is a former RNW employee, Omar Elkeddi. He went to the opposition TV station Libya Al-Ahrar in Qatar with, amongst others, the well-known cartoonist Al-Saatour.

Soazig Dollet of Reporters without Borders looks positively to the future despite the numerous obstacles: "It's a learning curve and a challenge for the new Libyan authorities. But you must also have some confidence in the future. The same goes for Egypt and Tunisia. These are real revolutions. The Libyans themselves have to become conscious of how important it is to have press freedom and freedom of expression."