05 April 2011

The Arab Spring? Getting Muddy...

Is the Assad regime in Syria serious about talks, or stalling?

Syrian opposition groups leading anti- government protests based in the country on Tuesday said authorities have offered to meet with them.
"High-level security figures gave the green light for mediators to set dates for separate meetings with opposition figures inside the country," an opposition source told the German Press Agency DPA.
Activists said they were ready to take up the offer for talks, provided "it is serious, and not to buy time."
But some activists, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the offer could be a ploy by security forces to find out more about the various opposition groups coordinating the protests.
Opposition groups were holding a series public rallies in honor of those killed in recent crackdowns on demonstrations calling for reform.

Mediation in Yemen? Or is the opposition too skeptical of a government that keeps shooting its citizens?

Yemen accepted an invitation by Gulf Arab states on Tuesday to talks on its weeks-old political crisis as pressure mounted on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to accept a power transition that would end his 32-year rule.
The Gulf Cooperation Council invited government and opposition representatives to talks in Saudi Arabia, at a date yet to be set, as the United States pressed Saleh to negotiate with his opponents.
The initiative may do little to satisfy tens of thousands of protesters who have camped out in cities across Yemen for weeks to demand Saleh's ouster. They have grown increasingly frustrated after initial talks stalled and security forces cracked down on them with escalating violence.
At least 21 people were killed on Monday when security forces and armed men in civilian clothes fired on protesters in Taiz, south of capital Sanaa, and the Red Sea port of Hudaida.
Abubakr al-Qirbi, acting foreign minister after Saleh sacked his government two weeks ago, said the government would agree to talks in Riyadh. Saleh had ignored a proposed power transition plan pitched by the opposition on Saturday.

An airstrike hits a Libyan military convoy racing to fit the rebels.

An airstrike hit a convoy of Libyan military vehicles moving toward rebel lines outside the eastern oil port of Brega on Tuesday, rebels said as they regrouped outside the city. The regime, meanwhile, insisted Moammar Gadhafi won't step down but said it is ready to discuss changes in how the country is governed.
Backed by an international air campaign, the rebels have made inroads in recent days in eastern Libya. They advanced under artillery fire Monday and took part of Brega, an oil town that has changed hands several times since the fighting began last month.
Rebel officer Abdel-Bast Abibi said the two sides battled inside the city until nightfall, then the rebels moved back to the outskirts. It was a quiet night, but an airstrike struck early Tuesday as a convoy of eight Libyan military vehicles advancing toward the rebel positions, he said.
The strike hit two of the vehicles, prompting the others to turn around and race back into the city, carrying the bodies of slain pro-Gadhafi troops, Abibi said, citing surveillance teams. The report could not be independently confirmed.

Can Libya find peace with Gaddafi/Kaddafi/Qaddafi still in charge?

The Libyan government has said it is open to political reform, but Muammar Gaddafi must stay in power to avoid a Somalia- or Iraq-style power vacuum.
Spokesman Moussa Ibrahim described Colonel Gaddafi as a "unifying figure", and insisted his forces only targeted armed rebels, not civilians.
Libyan state TV has showed video of Col Gaddafi rallying supporters in Tripoli.
Meanwhile, his son told the BBC that Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa had not betrayed Libya by leaving for the UK.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi told the BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson that Mr Koussa had travelled to Britain for health reasons and was being pressured into making allegations about Libya's government in an effort to secure immunity from prosecution.
Mr Gaddafi said Moussa Koussa was allowed to leave Libya, and denied that he knew incriminating details about the Lockerbie bombing or other atrocities.

By: Brant

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