Through solidarity, we can overcome the Palestine problem and end the pain in Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not have to apply at others to help us. Yet, at foremost, we need to establish our own union. We can strengthen stability in Lebanon and prevent terror acts in Egypt. Through solidarity, we can overcome poverty in the region. This is Turkey's goal. We have established high level cooperation mechanisms with certain countries. We have established a cooperation mechanism in the Gulf region. We can establish a better tomorrow together. We do not need others to determine relations between our countries. We can take nice steps together.
There are "moderates" who are against a military strike on Iran and "aggressors" who, at least, want the option on the table. Despite President Shimon Peres's efforts, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whom the premier wants to keep as close as possible, insist Iran should be presented as an "existential threat". However, Mossad, including its new head Tamir Pardo), Shin Bet, and military intelligence are maintaining distance from a war scenario, since it will be their heads off first if objectives cannot be achieved quickly. The Obama Administration is also on the side of the moderates.
As Belarussian diplomats scrambled on Wednesday to assuage European concerns about the sweeping crackdown on dissent in their country, the authorities in Belarus were stepping up their campaign against the family of a former presidential candidate whose three-year-old son they have threatened to seize.
The security services conducted a search of the home of the former candidate, Andrei Sannikov, as well as the apartment of his wife’s mother, who has been caring for the child, Danil.
2125 GMT: Before he left Washington, Prime Minister Saad Hariri got his meeting with President Obama and Washington's supportive words.
Obama and Hariri urged all parties to refrain from causing further instability, and the White House said:
The efforts by the Hezbollah-led coalition to collapse the Lebanese government only demonstrate their own fear and determination to block the government's ability to conduct its business and advance the aspirations of all of the Lebanese people.
Obama also stressed the importance of the UN Special Tribunal on Lebanon "to help end the era of political assassinations with impunity" in the country.
1810 GMT: Prime Minister Hariri has cut short his trip to the US and is returning homes. There are reports that he will stop in Paris for a discussion with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Demonstrators in Sfax -- for full size of the "10,000s" rally, see below --- singing the National Anthem:
A rally in Hammamet in northeast Tunisia:
On Saturday, the Israeli Prime Minister's office issued a statement that Israeli negotiator "Yitzhak Molcho and a Palestinian representative will travel to Washington next week with the aim of advancing the diplomatic process". Ramallah said they were unaware that any Palestinian official was going to the US.
On the eve of the departure to hear “new American ideas”, Palestinian top negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Tuesday that the peace talks with the Israeli government have ended and it is time for his side to make decisions. He reiterated Ramallah's position that there will be no negotiations until Israel agrees to halt all construction activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
It's very clear that most Arab regimes are on edge over the possibility of the spread of the protests in Tunisia and Algeria. Arab columnists and TV shows have been excitedly debating the real causes of the protests and what they might mean, while in country after country warnings are being sounded of a repeat of the "Tunisia scenario."
In this important dialogue about the decency of our politics, an important point may be missed. The heated rhetoric, the hate speech, the shock-jocks, and the vitriolic politicians, have already claimed a prominent victim.
The Greek dramatist Aeschylus wrote that the first casualty of war is truth, and if politics is war "by other means", in the last decade it has moved from a chivalric duel to a scorched-earth campaign.
2120 GMT: On the Border. The Los Angeles Times summarises the fuel dispute between Iran and Afghanistan, with Tehran still holding up to 2500 tankers on the border.
1720 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. There now appears to be a dedicated campaign amongst some Iranian "hard-liners" to force out Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. Stay tuned for an EA exclusive on Thursday, but meanwhile this claim from Mashregh News....
Rahim-Mashai supposedly gave $150 vouchers to clerics who came to his speech at a community meeting.
2215 GMT: Video has been posted claiming to be of a night-time protest in Hammamet in northeastern Tunisia, with a teenager killed by the police.
And this picture claims to be of riot police in Cite Ettadhamen near the capital.
2150 GMT: Reuters reports that hundreds of youths defied the 8 p.m. curfew in Tunis, setting fire to a bank and throwing stones at police, who responded with tear gas.