Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sanctions against Syria, and other news from Yemen, Morocco and Saudi Arabia

Nabil Al-Arabi and Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim
SYRIA - Sanctions - Arab foreign ministers on Sunday agreed sweeping sanctions against Damascus to punish President Bashar al-Assad's regime for failing to halt a deadly crackdown on protests, as the death toll in Syria kept on climbing, AFP reported from Cairo.
As another 23 civilians were reported dead in Syria, the 22-member Arab League announced an immediate ban on transactions with the Syrian government and central bank and a freeze on Syrian government assets in Arab countries.
Further measures including a ban on Syrian officials visiting any Arab country and the suspension of flights are to be implemented at a date fixed at a meeting next week.
Syrian state television reacted with a terse statement saying the Arab League's action against a member state was "an unprecedented measure" as hundreds of people gathered in Damascus to protest against the measures.

Nineteen Arab League members voted for the sanctions, but Iraq abstained and said it would refuse to implement them, while Lebanon "disassociated itself," Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Hamad said. Syria is a suspended member. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zeybari, whose country thrives on trade with Syria, said ahead of Sunday's vote it was "not possible" to impose sanctions on Assad's regime.
According to Syria's bureau of statistics, 52.5 percent of all Syrian exports went to Arab countries in 2009 while 16.4 percent of imports came from Arab nations.
Iraq tops the list of importers, buying up 31.4 percent of outgoing Syrian goods.
Nasser Judeh, the foreign minister of Jordan whose imports travel by land across Syrian territory, also expressed concerns after the vote which his country endorsed.
"The impact of such decisions on Arab countries, particularly neighbours (of Syria)... must be taken into consideration," he said.

Mohamed Basindwah
YEMEN - Government - Vice President Abdu Rabu Hadi  has charged Mohammed Salem Basindwah with forming the national reconciliation council. Also he fixed the date for presidential elections at 21 February.  Basindwah was the candidate of the opposition National Council. He is is a former Foreign Minister and served under President Saleh for more than 20 years. According to the power transfer deal, both the opposition and ruling party will each get 50 percent of cabinet seats in the new government.
Local sources in Dammaj, Sa’ada told the Yemen Post meanwhile that at least 24 civilians were killed in the ongoing Houthi attacks in Dammaj Sa’ada against Sunni Muslims. The injury toll over the last 24 hours is more than 65. Houthis, a Shia movement in Yemen that is expanding quickly with the use of arms, has been able to grow in territory during the 10 months struggle to oust President Saleh from power. Senior members in the movement said that more than 100,000 fighters listen to commands from their spiritual leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi. Houthis control now control strategic border areas with Saudi Arabia.
Humn Rights Watch reported that Yemeni troops appear to have unlawfully killed as many as 35 civilians in the city of Taizz since a United Nations Security Council resolution demanded on October 21, 2011 that Yemen stop attacks on civilians. Most of these civilians were killed in artillery shelling by the Yemeni army that indiscriminately struck homes, a hospital, and a public square filled with protesters, witnesses told Human Rights Watch.

Abdelilah Benkiran
MOROCCO- Elections - The moderate islamist Parti Justice et Development (PJD) has won the Moroccan parliamentary elections of 25 November, the interior Ministry in Rabat has announced. The party got 107 out of 395 seats (was 47 in a parliament of 325 seats). Second came the Istiqlal (Independence) party of the outgoing Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi (60 seats), and third the Rassemblement national des indépendants (RNI) of  minister of Finances and Economy, Salaheddine Mezouar, (52 seats). It is expected that king Mohamed VI will ask Abdelilah Benkirane, the secretary general of the PJD, to form a new government. 
 The elections took place against the background of a referendum in July about reforms of the constitution that gave some more powers to the parties, but that most people did not take very seriously.  The pro democracy 20 February Movement for that reasons had issued calls to boycot the elections. AP reports that there was only a 45 percent turnout on Friday, and that many of those who went to vote turned in blank ballots or crossed out every party listed to show their dissatisfaction with the system.Election observers from the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute estimated that up to a fifth of the ballots they saw counted had been defaced in such a way.

SAUDI ARABIA - Unrest. Qush Qatif in the Easter province of Saudi Arabia, where the population is mainly Shiite, has seen riots several times since March of this year. Eralier this week security forces shot dead a 19-year old in te city, which led to new riots. An official statement by the Interior Ministry Thursday (24 November) reported that a number of security check points, vehicles, and personnel had come under fire in Al-Qatif by riot makers in several areas of Ash-Sharqiyah region and in an accelerating manner since Monday.

The shootings left two citizens dead, and six others were injured including a woman and two security officers. There was also an exchange of fire at the funeral procession of one of the victims, according to the statement. Under is a video which circulated on the internet, in which can be seen that a vehicle of the security forces tries to run over some citizens.

No comments: