Assad regime to refuse ‘dictate’ at peace meet

Updated 21 May 2013
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Assad regime to refuse ‘dictate’ at peace meet

BEIRUT/DAMASCUS: The Syrian regime and its allies will refuse any “dictate” at an international peace conference, particularly concerning the departure of President Bashar Assad., a minister said.
“Syria will not accept any dictate and its friends will not accept it either,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad said in an interview with Syrian state television Al-Ikhbariya late Tuesday.
The Syrian opposition and several of its allies have repeatedly demanded the departure of Assad in order to end the bloody conflict roiling Syria for more than two years.
Syria’s key allies, Russia and Iran, has backed Damascus’s insistence that Assad’s departure is not on the table. Syrian Information Minister Omran Zohbi also said Assad’s departure was not up for discussion.
Syria is scheduled to hold presidential elections in 2014.
Last week in Moscow, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced plans for a new peace conference aimed at mapping a path toward a political transition in Syria and ending the bloody conflict now in its third year. The war in Syria has so far killed at least 94,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The conflict has also displaced 4.2 million people, while more than 1.2 million are staying as refugees outside of the country.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels detonated two car bombs simultaneously outside the walls of the central prison yesterday morning before trying to storm the facility. Fierce clashes are taking place between President Bashar Assad’s troops and opposition fighters around the detention center, according to Observatory director Rami Abdul-Rahman.
He added that Aleppo’s central prison is believed to be holding about 4,000 prisoners, around 250 of whom are jailed for reasons related to the 26-month-old uprising against Assad’s regime.
There were no immediate reports of casualties. Syrian residents and the the US-based Renesys Corp. said Syria’s Internet went offline yesterday morning at 10:00 a.m. local time.
Meanwhile, Syrian rebels launched a coordinated assault on the main prison in the northern city of Aleppo yesterday in an attempt to free hundreds of regime opponents believed to be held in the facility, activists said, while an Internet blackout engulfed the country for the second time in two weeks.t’s also completely consistent with a decision to use an Internet kill switch,” he said.
Preliminary data from Google Inc.’s Transparency Report website also pointed to a nationwide blackout, with Syria’s online traffic share nose-diving to 0 percent on Wednesday morning.
Syrian government websites, including the SANA state news agency, appeared to be down as well, but SANA reported on its twitter account a technical problem. It said maintenance units were working to restore the Internet as soon as possible. It did not elaborate.
An official at the Syrian communications department said an Internet cable was cut in a Damascus suburb and said it will take up to four hours to fix. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements. He did not say what caused the cut.
Syrian authorities have cut phone and Internet service in select areas in the past to disrupt rebel communications when regime forces were conducting major operations.
Such widespread outages, however, have been rare. The reason for the May 7 outage is still unclear.


Campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

Updated 24 April 2018
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Campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

  • Lebanon's independent Sabaa party talks about exploitation of positions and money.
  • Several young men from the Sabaa party demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior.
BEIRUT: Sectarian and partisan polarization resulting from fierce competition for parliamentary seats in Lebanon has led to the first armed clash between two rival Druze parties.
Machine guns were used in the clash between the Progressive Socialist Party, led by MP Walid Jumblatt, and the Lebanese Democratic Party, led by Talal Arslan, which took place on Sunday evening in the city of Choueifat, about 5 km south of Beirut.
The two parties’ leaders acted quickly to calm their supporters.
“When politicians plant seeds of hatred and grudges among people, they commit a crime against citizens who have been breaking bread together for centuries,” Jumblatt said in a tweet.
In a joint statement, the two parties stressed “the need to avoid any steps that could provoke anger among supporters or disturb citizens who look forward to freely exercising their right to vote in an atmosphere of democratic competition.”
The two parties, alongside other parties with supporters in Choueifat, such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese Forces, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Amal Movement, have agreed on “disowning anyone who breaches security, requesting that the security forces intensify their presence in Choueifat, identifying fixed locations until the elections are over, and restraining from carrying out provocative processions.”
Campaigning lasts 24 hours before polling and has seen various kinds of violations of the electoral law.
Several young men from the Sabaa party — a group of independent activists — demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior, carrying banners questioning the ministry’s role in election-related issues.
“Serious violations are taking place because the country is out of control; many are exploiting their positions and pouring (in) their money, and conflicts are happening at grassroots level — people are tearing down photos of candidates and individuals are fighting with one another,” said Gilbert Hobeish on behalf of the demonstrators.
He added: “This is unacceptable, and the minister of interior must take responsibility.”
Hobeish criticized the Electoral Supervisory Commission, saying “it only oversees the civil society or change candidates.”
“We reject this in toto,” he said.
Ali Al-Amin, a candidate on the Shbaana Haki electoral list (who was assaulted last Sunday by Hezbollah supporters in the town of Shaqra because he hung his photo outside his house), held a press conference in the town of Nabatiyah Al-Fawqa and renewed his protest against “the tyranny that silences voices, oppresses liberties and acts on its own will and temperaments, making us feel as if we were in the law of the jungle era.”
He said that “resistance isn’t anyone’s property nor is it one party’s ownership.”
He also called on “the free people of the south to decide which life they wanted and to which homeland and identity they belonged.”
Campaign fever is rising in Lebanon 48 hours before the elections are held for the first time for Lebanese communities in several Arab countries. These elections are to be held 11 days before parliamentary elections take place inside Lebanon.