Middle East
Latest stories
U.S. Says Assad Has Put Syria, Region on 'Very Dangerous Path'

The United States warned Thursday that President Bashar al-Assad had put Syria and the Middle East on a "very dangerous path," again toughening rhetoric on a crackdown by Damascus.

Washington appears to be moving towards a first direct call for Assad to go, a step it has so far resisted, and is preparing a new round of sanctions against his regime after an escalation of violence in the revolt hub of Hama.

W140 Full Story
EU Says Assad's Reform Offer Must be Put into Effect

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday dubbed Syria's multi-party reform offer "a step in the right direction" but on condition it be put into effect.

"We are still waiting for previously announced reforms to be implemented," Ashton said in a statement issued after President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree allowing opposition political parties.

W140 Full Story
Syria Opposition Says New Parties Law a Political Ploy

Syrian dissidents and activists said Thursday President Bashar al-Assad's decision to allow opposition political parties was a political ploy, and that constitutional change is the only way to democracy.

"The regime is not serious about transforming the country from a dominant party into democracy and pluralism. Instead, it is trying to carry out some cosmetic work to improve its image," Anwar al-Bunni, head of the Syrian Center for Studies and Legal Research, told Agence France Presse.

W140 Full Story
Medvedev Says Assad Risks 'Sad Fate' if He Fails to Reform

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday called the situation in Syria "dramatic" and expressed "enormous concern" over the deadly violence in the country.

"Unfortunately, people die there in large numbers. This arouses enormous concern from us," the Russian leader said in an interview given to Russian media in the southern resort Sochi.

W140 Full Story
Molotovs Hurled at Arab League HQ amid Syrian, Libyan 'Threats'

Saboteurs on Thursday threw two Molotov cocktails at the Arab League headquarters in central Cairo, with no reports of casualties or serious damage, an Arab League source told Agence France Presse.

"At dawn this morning, there were two Molotov cocktails thrown into the Arab League building. There were no casualties, and only minor damage was caused to one of the air conditioning units," the source said.

W140 Full Story
Israel OKs 900 East Jerusalem Settlement Homes

Israel's interior ministry has given final approval for the construction of 900 new homes in the east Jerusalem settlement neighborhood of Har Homa, a ministry spokeswoman told Agence France Presse on Thursday.

"This is a program which was approved by the regional (planning and construction) committee two years ago," spokeswoman Efrat Orbach said.

W140 Full Story
France Says Assad’s Multi-party Proposal a ‘Provocation’, Threatens More U.N. Action

France on Thursday slammed as "provocation" a decree by Syrian President Bashar Assad allowing opposition parties, and said instead he should stop his deadly crackdown on democracy protests.

"In a manner that lacks credibility... the Syrian regime recently announced the authorization of multi-party politics. This is almost a provocation," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told French radio.

W140 Full Story
Israeli Activists Call for Mass Saturday Protests

Representatives of Israel's growing social protest movement have called for massive demonstrations on Saturday night to further press their calls for a reduction in the cost of living.

"All the people who are involved in this wave of protests have called for mass demonstrations against the government this Saturday night in Tel Aviv and other cities," protest leader Stav Shafir told Agence France Presse.

W140 Full Story
Israel Frees Hamas Leader in Mass Prisoner Release

Israel is to free 770 Israeli and Palestinian prisoners, including a founder of the Islamist movement Hamas, due to overcrowding, a prison services spokeswoman told Agence France Presse on Thursday.

Sivan Weizman said that all of the prisoners, among them 200 Palestinians, had almost completed their sentences.

W140 Full Story
France, Norway Withdraw Aircraft Carrier and Fighter Jets from Libya

France said Thursday its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle would return home for maintenance next week from the NATO-led mission over Libya, but insisted there would be no respite for Moammar Gadhafi.

The vessel, France's only aircraft carrier and Europe's biggest warship, will leave on August 10 to head for its home port of Toulon for several weeks of work, defense minister Gerard Longuet told Var-Matin newspaper.

W140 Full Story