The aftermath of the downing of a Syrian jet fighter near Aleppo on Saturday
1959 GMT: Bahrain. Five medics whose convictions were recently upheld have gone on hunger strike, according to their lawyers.
The five were among 20 medical staff who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms by a military court last year after they gave medical treatment to demonstrators. The sentences were reduced this summer; however, after they were reaffirmed by an appeal court last month, the five medics were detained.
Calling their action "The Lost Justice", the medics repeated that the authorities used "harsh and systematic torture" during their detention, which "caused injuries and disabilities whose traces remain on [their] bodies.
The previous Prime Minister, Mustafa Abushagur, was dismissed by the National Congress last week in a vote of no confidence.
A former diplomat, Zidan was an outspoken opponent to Muammar Qaddafi for several decades and mobilised international support for last year’s uprising. He was elected to the National Congress on an independent ticket in August.
Zidan enjoyed the broad support of the National Forces Alliance and a number of independents. Harari was the favoured candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Zidan will have two weeks to submit his Cabinet.
1526 GMT: Syria. In a separate feature today, we posted Al-Jazeera English's interview with Free Syrian Army Commander Riad Al-Asaad. He is asked about Sheikh Adnan Araour, a controversial, but popular, Salafist cleric who recently returned to Syria from Saudi Arabia. Al-Jazeera reports that they "understand Colonel Al-Asaad is signing an agreement to work with Sheikh Araour". This agreement is unconfirmed, although there were other rumours of it in the week. In the interview, however, Al-Asaad is reluctant to comment:
AJE: How do you feel about this religious leader [Sheikh Araour] who has been so instrumental in frightening the Alawites and creating lines of fear and sectarian tension? RA: I can’t answer this question. al-Arour should answer it. AJE: It strikes me that one of the goals of the Free Syria Army is to have a revolution for all Syrians and you have Christian fighters, Druze fighters.. I just wondered if you found al-Arour appearing at this moment helpful, or unhelpful? RA: We can’t answer this question .. we just can’t.
AJE: How do you feel about this religious leader [Sheikh Araour] who has been so instrumental in frightening the Alawites and creating lines of fear and sectarian tension?
RA: I can’t answer this question. al-Arour should answer it.
AJE: It strikes me that one of the goals of the Free Syria Army is to have a revolution for all Syrians and you have Christian fighters, Druze fighters.. I just wondered if you found al-Arour appearing at this moment helpful, or unhelpful?
RA: We can’t answer this question .. we just can’t.
Sheikh Araour, who in exile hosted a weekly television show dedicated to supporting the opposition in Syria, gained particular notoriety after saying last year that Alawites "that stand against us will have their flesh ground in meat grinders and fed to the dogs". However, the extent of his sectarianism was recently questioned by Dr Thomas Pierret, in a response to a blog post on Araour by Joshus Landis.
We express the pain and anguish felt by our peaceful people and their suffering from a misled category of people who have attempted to distort Bahrain's image abroad and to enlist support from those who are not concerned in order to interfere in our domestic affairs.
We stress our resolute rejection of any foreign interference in our domestic affairs. We also reject the dangerous escalation by that group of people on our streets and the acts of violence and terrorism against public and private properties and residents.
It is our duty to protect them from any form of violence in this beloved country....
Hence, we hope that your honourable Assembly will consider enacting the required legal texts that criminalize anything that attempts to erode the unity of our nation and the security of our community.
An EA source in Bahrain comments:
I think we will see more oppression in the coming period. I believe they might start targeting more activists even from the ones related to the official opposition such as AlWefaq.
The summoning of Sheikh Ali Salman [the head of Al Wefaq --- see 1435 GMT] is a trial balloon to test the street reaction and a way to start building their plan of targeting other opposition members.
They did the same with Nabeel [Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who is now in prison]. The first time Nabeel was summoned, people's reaction and anger was great. The second time it was less. Now that he is sentenced to three years, I don't see people reacting strongly at all.
1435 GMT: Bahrain. The Ministry of Interior has summoned the head of the opposition society Al Wefaq, Sheikh Ali Salman, over his recent trip to Egypt.
Authorities asked if Salman "participated in any sectarian activities or if he interfered in any of Egypt's internal affairs...would go against agreements of two brotherly countries".
According to the Ministry, Salman said he had only discussed statistics about deaths and injuries since the mass uprising began against the regime in February 2011. Asked if he spoken about revolution, he supposedly said "he did not mean the overthrow of the government but was instead referring to the demand for freedom, democracy, equality and respect for human rights", adding that "Al Wefaq rejects violence of any kind, whether it is from the public or the government".
Authorities said the shooting was an accident, as "jumpy" military guards at a checkpoint mistook Abdel Aziz, returning to the capital Nouakchott after a trip to the desert, for a security threat.
The President appeared on State TV from his hospital bed, "I want to calm all citizens. I want to reassure everyone about my state of health after this incident committed by error."
The Mauritanian press reported the president spent more than eight hours at the military hospital in Nouakchott, where he was operated on by two doctors, before he was flown to France by a Moroccan air ambulance.
1402 GMT: Iraq. There has been a "staggering rise" in birth defects, as well as miscarriages, with "compelling evidence" linking the increase to Western military action, according to a new study published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. The Independent reports on the scale of the study's findings:
The latest study found that in Fallujah, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010. Before the siege, this figure was more like one in 10. Prior to the turn of the millennium, fewer than 2 per cent of babies were born with a defect. More than 45 per cent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriage in the two years after 2004, up from only 10 per cent before the bombing. Between 2007 and 2010, one in six of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage.
Professor Alastair Hay, a professor of environmental toxicology at Leeds University, said the figures presented in the study were "absolutely extraordinary". He added: "People here would be worried if there was a five or 10 per cent increase [in birth defects]. If there's a fivefold increase in Fallujah, no one could possibly ignore that; it's crying out for an explanation as to what's the cause. A rapid increase in exposure to lead and mercury seems reasonable if lots of ammunition is going off. I would have also thought a major factor would be the extreme stress people are under in that period; we know this can cause major physiological changes."
1347 GMT: Bahrain. An EA correspondent follows up on the report that a Sky News team was detained amid protests last night in Sitra (see 1127 GMT)....
He says the crew came from Sky's bureau in Dubai but points to a video report presented by London-based Stuart Ramsey.
Activist Mohamed Altal, shown in marches and Manama and Sitra, was summoned this morning for questioning Alnoaim police station. Altal was only released from jail last week after he was detained in a peaceful march in Manama at the end of September.
1339 GMT: Bahrain. John Horne writes....
Two days after signing a new UK-Bahrain Defence Treaty, the Crown Prince was a guest at the annual dinner of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, speaking on behalf of Sandhurst graduate King Hamad.
In September, it was revealed that Sandhurst accepted a donation of £3 million from the Bahrain government in January, following negotiations throughout 2011, despite allegations of the brutal crackdown and ongoing human rights abuses committed by the regime.
In the last decade, the academy has trained at least 39 Bahraini military personnel, with the British government subsidising the training at a cost to the taxpayers of £29,600 for each Bahraini officer.
The Crown Prince's son graduated from Sandhurst in July 2011.
1127 GMT: Bahrain. Last night's "We Want Freedom" protest, confronted by police --- an EA source reports that a Sky News Arabia crew was among those detained:
1003 GMT: Syria. Al Monitor explains how NATO radar is now helping Turkey against possible attack by President Assad's forces "by turning the Malatya-Kurecik radar of the NATO missile shield toward Syria":
With the integrated radar system at Kurecik, the missiles that make up Syria’s air-defense and offensive capacities are now under NATO surveillance. In case of a possible missile attack against Turkey, the early warning system of Kurecik radar will be activated, and Turkish F-16s kept on standby will be tasked to thwart the missile attack.
Moreover, depending on the level of threat perception, intelligence obtained from NATO AWACS early-warning aircraft may be utilized and Patriot missile interception systems can be deployed.
0955 GMT: Syria. Outside Aleppo, Dr Abdul Raouf explains his transition from businessman into insurgent commander to the BBC's Ian Pannell: "The question shouldn't be 'Were we tortured?' it should be 'When weren't we?'"
What drives these men is the six months they spent in the hands of the feared Air Force Intelligence unit.
"Let's start with Al Khazouk," says Dr Raouf.
He went on to describe this particular form of torture, which involved having a stick forced into him.
The other men nodded."Every Syrian knows what Al Khazouk is," they agreed.
He then demonstrated having electrical wires attached to his chest and genitals. He talked about the beatings, having his ribs broken.
These methods appear to be so frighteningly common that the way they described them was almost casual.
In fact, between swirls of smoke from the doctor's pipe, the men joked and chuckled while telling the most horrific stories.
But at one point he lost his temper, jabbing the air with his finger, crying, "Wallahi" - "I swear to God".
He was describing being forced to watch a woman prisoner being raped in front of him and being told by the guards, "We'll do this to your wife unless you tell us what we want to know."
0940 GMT: Syria. The aftermath of an overnight explosion in a coffee house in the Mezzeh district of Damascus:
Many of the strikes were near the main highway that runs through Ma`arat al-Numan in Idlib Province, which insurgents took on Tuesday.
0620 GMT: Syria. The insurgent strategy of hindering the regime air force --- and thus limiting its attacks on opposition fighters and shelling of towns and cities --- appears to have scored notable victories in the last 48 hours. At least two airbases have been overrun. Video indicated that a regime jet was downed and the pilot killed near Aleppo; activists claimed two other warplanes had been knocked out of the sky.
Meanwhile, Damascus' conflict with Turkey escalated on Saturday. The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Turkish flights over the country will be banned from Sunday.
The step, "in accordance with the principle of reciprocity", follows Ankara's announcement that it is suspending Syrian flights over Turkey and that it will ground and inspect Syrian-bound planes which it suspects are carrying military equipment. One passenger jet, travelling from Damascus to Moscow, was held for eight hours on Wednesday.
The suspension also follows sporadic cross-border shelling during the week.
On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Davutoglu amet Lakhdar Brahimi, the United-Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Davutoglu and Westerwelle then saw Abdelbaset Sieda, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council.
Sieda declared, "The Syrian government is trying to export the crisis to the neighbouring countries so that the pressure on them will lessen." Davutoglu warned that Turkey was prepared to use force again if it was attacked.