See also Bahrain 1st-Hand Special: The Coupled Suffering of Younis and Amina Ashoori br>
Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: UN Envoy Annan Returns to Damascus br>
Syria 1st-Hand: Not Quite Angels --- Making the Free Syrian Army Work as An Institution (Rafeeq) br>
Syria Audio Feature: "Assad's Latest Performance" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24 br>
Syria Video Feature: President Assad's Latest Interview "I Still Have Public Support" br>
2044 GMT: Saudi Arabia. Earlier we posted video reportedly showing large protests in Qatif, a response to a series of clashes between police and activists, the death of a protester, and the imprisonment of a prominent cleric.
Those protests have grown considerably:
2027 GMT: Bahrain. EA's John Horne has published an article detailing the struggles of Younis Ashoori and his wife Amina, after Younis, a medical professional in poor health himself, was arrested for providing medical assistance to protesters. Younis was also allegedly tortured in prison, and his health is rapidly deteriorating. The article is a compelling look into the story of the Ashoori family, one of many stories to emerge since the uprising in Bahrain began.
However, as this piece was going to press, EA received news that Younis Ashoori was taken to Salminayah Medical Complex this afternoon for treatment of kidney and prostate problems. The judge in the case is expected to receive a copy of the medical report; however, the family are concerned that this will lead to a further delay in Younis' trial which resumes tomorrow morning.
2010 GMT: Syria. This news is significant - Thawra street is indeed in the very center of Damascus (map), and we are not aware of any fighting or FSA units stationed there. In other words, to go with the theme of our last update, it's likely that the only side that could be firing here are pro-regime elements.
This video has not yet been verified, but comes from traditionally credible sources.
1915 GMT: Syria. [Editor's Note: James Miller's entry has now been turned into a separate entry, "Syria Opinion: Annan Endorses Assad as the "One Authority, One Gun"]
1716 GMT: Saudi Arabia. Another report from EA's John Horne.
Activist Redha Al-boori reports that in Qatif, thousands have gathered for the funeral of Mohamed Al-felfel, shot by Saudi security forces on Sunday following the arrest of Shi'ite Saudi cleric Nemr AlNemr:
1705 GMT: Bahrain. EA's John Horne reports:
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has made an "urgent appeal" to the "international community and the United Nations", calling on them to "assume their responsibility in protecting the people of Bahrain" in the fact of "massive and continued human rights violations". The appeal continues:
Since February 2011, the brutal repression and arrests of peaceful civilians and other forms of violations of human rights did not stop, despite the "Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry" report which was published in November 2011, instead the human rights situation kept deteriorating and nothing much have changed.
The BCHR have issued a documented report of two parts highlighting the continued violations post Report of the “Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry".
What is happening on the ground since the past two weeks is the return of the martial law, but on an informal basis. The BCHR have monitored and documented the massive violations which are being conducted by the security forces and it is similar to practices which have been used during the so-called National Safety
The appeal cites ten examples of areas where violations are continuing, including random house raids, arbitrary arrests, beatings, excessive use of tear gas and shotguns against civilians, harassment of political societies and prevention of peaceful demonstrations.
The appeal comes a day after BCHR head Nabeel Rajab was imprisoned for three months for tweeting. BCHR founder Abulhadi AlKhawaja is currently serving a life sentence, following his arrest, torture and sentencing before a military court last year.
1700 GMT: Syria. J. David Goodman, of the New York Times, has reached out because he is also following these videos from Anadan. According to activists who have spoken with Goodman, the videos of the two tanks I mentioned do in fact show the same tank. Goodman has also supplied, within a few hundred yards, the reported location of the video (map).
What's interesting about this is that a very long convoy was ambushed along this same highway on Friday, and several military vehicles and supply trucks, including an oil tanker, were captured by the FSA.
There is an idiom in English, "once bitten, twice shy." The Free Syrian Army continues to score hits in areas where they have previously executed ambushes and successful attacks. It is either a sign of the regime's weakness and lack of leadership, or a sign that even when the military comes prepared for a fight, the insurgents are still able to inflict damage.
1602 GMT: Syria. We've been talking a lot about FSA victories in Izaz, north of Aleppo and near the border with Turkey. Victories by insurgents there are surely significant, as it is so close to the border, and is an essential location to set up a supply line from Turkey. However, Izaz is still more than 20 miles away from Aleppo.
However, for those who doubt how important these trends north of Syria's largest city are, take note of a series of videos reportedly taken in Anadan, perhaps only 5 miles out of Aleppo (map). This video reportedly shows the FSA taking control of a damaged tank (and dragging a dead soldier out of the way). Note the amount of smoke in the area, signs of a heavy battle:
A second video appears to show what we think is the same tank, perhaps by a different camera. And this video below, taken in the area, appears to show a large convoy coming under fire, at the very least giving a clear indication of the strength of the Assad military, making the FSA victories even more impressive:
1533 GMT: Bahrain. Leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, jailed yesterday for three months for tweeting, has over 158,000 followers on Twitter. Given his increasingly frequent detentions, activists authorised to use his account often do so in his absence, by way of keeping people informed. Earlier, the following tweets were sent from Nabeel's account with an update from Nabeel himself:
Nabeel Rajab called from Jaw Prison and said he's in a small office turned into a cell with a foreigner and the treatment is harsh #bahrain— Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) July 10, 2012
Nabeel Rajab said that he's in a room isolated from all political detainees and he's there because of his tweets about #Bahrain king &the PM— Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) July 10, 2012
1438 GMT: Syria. We're nearing completion of an article (stay tuned) analyzing the history, and the future, of the Free Syrian Army. The article suggests that the FSA is full of surprises, and is stronger than many anticipated. Today there is more evidence of the FSA's strength, or perhaps more accurately of the regime's weakness, in northern Aleppo, between Syria's largest city* and the border with Turkey.
This video, discovered and translated by The Guardian, reportedly shows a fighter with the Free Syrian Army explaining how the insurgents have destroyed many tanks and armored vehicles in and around Izaz, a key town very close to the border (map).
"It was a great hunt today, they escaped like rabbits," said Sheikh Samier in the clip, brandishing his rifle.
Our colleague Mona Mahmood translates him saying: "We did really very well, we destroyed this tank first and another other two over there. They pulled out but we continue to attack their pickups. We took prisoners and munitions and you see them them later."
According to a Turkish journalist that Guardian has spoken with, the FSA controls the area, though the Syrian military is heavily bombarding it.
This, frankly, is amazing news. The Syrian military does not seem to have won a single objective in Aleppo province in 2 weeks, and yet the FSA not only is retaining territory, but it is advancing and taking out heavy military assets in the process.
The Free Syrian Army is making massive strives, and is being greatly underestimated by many in the media. The regime, on the other hand, is far weaker than many suspect.
The full analysis of the Free Syrian Army will be coming soon.
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us to the afternoon.
The Ministry of Justice accused the society of a "religious ideology that calls for violence", "not holding the association's convention for more than four years", and "violations related to its financial situation by not providing the ministry with reports on its annual budget".
The group's head Mohammed Ali Mahfuz and several of its leading members were sentenced to long prison sentences last year for "plotting to overthrow the regime" and "inciting violence".
Opposiion groups criticised the court decision as a "violation of the Constitution and law".
1401 GMT: Mali. Residents said members of the Islamist Ansar Dine group have destroyed two more tombs at the famous 14th century Djingareyber mosque in Timbuktu, classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
The witnesses said about a dozen militants arrived in an armoured four-wheel drive truck, armed with pickaxes and hoes. They fired in the air to intimidate people and started smashing the tombs.
The Ansar Dine group, which controls two-thirds of Mali's desert north, says the centuries-old shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam are idolatrous. They have destroyed at least eight of 16 listed mausoleums in Timbuktu, together with a number of tombs and a sacred door at Sidi Yahya mosque.
[President Assad] made a suggestion of building an approach from the ground up in some of the districts where we have extreme violence --- to try and contain the violence in those districts and, step by step, build up and end the violence across the country.
Annan did not give details, saying the plan needed to be discussed with the Syrian opposition. He reiterated his view that Iran could play a positive role in a political solution.
I'm sure...very serious plans will have to be made to collect arms that are in the wrong hands and ensure that the government --- or the government that emerges or the government of the day --- will have control of the use of firearms and weapons. In other words, one authority, one gun..
Hearings will now be held on 17 July.
Understand that we cannot continue to function as a country with our institutions being so corrupt that they cannot be trusted to run an honest free and fair election where the results are announced instead of negotiated.
Rage against them because it’s not acceptable for any self-respecting human being to live this way, under the mercy of the institutions created to serve him, to be manipulated, terrorised or cast aside by them when they choose to.
This is not a life, this is no way to build a future, and it has to stop. We need you to help us stop it. We are either the masters of our fate and country, or we are nothing.
1330 GMT: Syria. The opposition Syrian National Council has reiterated that there can be no transition in Syria until President Assad gives up power: "Our main goal is to continue on the path of the revolution and the demands of the Syrian people...[through] the fall of the Assad regime and all its symbols."
The statement was issued a day before SNNC leader Abdel Basset Sayda was due to travel to Moscow at the invitation of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
1320 GMT: Syria. Back from an academic break to find Iranian State media's account of the meeting between United Nations envoy Kofi Annan and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Press TV claims:
During the meeting, Annan expressed his opposition to any further militarization of the situation in Syria.
The UN-Arab League envoy also stressed that Iran must play a part in working out a solution to Syria’s crisis, as it can play a positive role in ending the violence in the Arab country.
The headline is reserved for Salehi, however, and his declaration, “We should not allow the situation to become worse, which would not be to anyone’s benefit," with this summary:
The Iranian foreign minister advised all countries in the region, as well as regional mass media, to act prudently, warning that one wrong step or decision might lead to a catastrophe and would be to the detriment of the region or the international community.
Iran’s top diplomat also said Tehran's stance on Syria is clear, and the Syrian people are entitled to enjoy the basic civil rights such as the right to free elections, multiple parties, freedom, democracy and independence.
Salehi lauded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s steps towards implementing reforms in Syria and meeting people’s legitimate demands, adding that the Syrian president’s efforts were undermined by the foreign interference that has led to an escalation of the country’s situation.
1050 GMT: Egypt. The re-convened Parliament met for about five minutes today, with Speaker Saad El-Katatni saying it would find ways to implement the High Constitutional Court's recent ruling on the validity of elections, rather than debate it, out of respect for the principle of "the supremacy of the law and separation of authorities".
The lawmakers approved el-Katatni's proposal that Parliament seek legal advice from an appeals court on how to implement the HCC's ruling. He then adjourned the session.
The residents said they had been under fire for five hours overnight. One Lebanese man was killed by the shelling, and two Syrians living in Lebanon died when they were hit by a car speeding away from an area under fire.
Syrian State media claimed troops had foiled attempts by "armed terrorist groups" to infiltrate the border from Lebanon during the night.
0610 GMT: Egypt. Responding to President Morsi's surprise reinstatement of Parliament a day earlier, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces declared on Monday that it never resorted to taking "exceptional" measures while in power.
The SCAF insisted that its decision last month to dissolve the People's Assembly, the lower house of Egypt's Parliament, was based on a ruling by the High Constitutional Court.
The statement asserted, "The SCAF since assuming responsibility has always been on the side of the people, and has never resorted to any exceptional measures, and has improved the institutional work of all state institutions, stressing the importance of the legitimacy of law and the constitution to preserve the status of the Egyptian state, and out of respect for its great people."
On Morsi's orders, the Speaker has convened a Parliamentary session this morning.
0555 GMT: Bahrain. A reaction to Monday's three-month sentence handed down on Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Center of Human Right, for his "insulting" messages on Twitter --- an official finds himself pursued by the tweets of the detained activist:
0525 GMT: Syria. This morning's headlines centre on Monday's talks between United Nations envoy Kofi Annan and President Assad on a proposal to put to the insurgency.
Both Annan and Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi called the discussion "constructive", with the envoy explaining: "We discussed the need to end the violence and ways and means of doing so. We agreed on an approach which I will share with the armed opposition."
However, details were scarce on the proposal, especially on how it would move beyond Annan's failed six-point peace plan from April, and more questions than answers were raised, especially as it emerged that Annan was travelling immediately from Damascus to Tehran.
Assad appears to benefit from a win-win situation: win if the insurgency accept a plan which likely leaves him in power during a "transition", win if they reject it. Indeed, the emergence of an Annan-backed diplomatic alliance of Syria-Iran-Russia is not beyond imagination.
It is hard to see, however, any acceptance of this by the US, European allies, and Arab States opposed to the Assad regime.
Or am I missing something? One opposition faction was in Moscow yesterday for talks, and the head of the main opposition in exile, the Syrian National Council, arrives tomorrow. Are the Russians putting out the Annan-Assad proposal that cannot be refused?