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Entries in Guido Westerwelle (11)


Syria Live: International Support for the Insurgency? 

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and US Secretary of State John Kerry at Saturday's Friends of Syria meeting

See also Bahrain (and Beyond) Live: The Protests, the Opposition, and the Grand Prix
Saturday's Syria Live: "Terrorists Eliminated by Army Operations"

1935 GMT: Opposition Criticises Lack of International Action

Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of the Syrian National Opposition Coalition, has confirmed the resignation he announced last month.

A Coalition official said, "Khatib is resigning to denounce the international community's lack of real action on behalf of the Syrian people," after the opposition requested "specific, precise and immediate action to protect Syrian civilians from the use of ballistic missiles and chemical weapons".

Khatib had met US Secretary of State John Kerry before Saturday's Friends of Syria meeting. Kerry announced a doubling of "non-lethal" aid to $120 million from Washington, but it was not enough to satisfy the Coalition.

"The result in Istanbul was less than the Syrian people expected," Hisham Marwa, a senior member of the Coalition, said. "The US said that the use of chemical weapons was a red line for the Assad regime but the regime is using them and nothing has happened. We expected more. Russia sends Assad tonnes of weapons every week."

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Syria Live: G8 Foreign Ministers Say Little of Note After Two-Day Meeting

1842 GMT: Israel Fires Artillery into Syria. According to Al Jazeera English, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) exchanged fire with a target in Syria:

"No soldiers were injured and no damage was caused," the statement said.

"IDF soldiers responded with artillery fire towards the source of the shooting."

The statement said "a direct hit was identified" and that the army had informed UN authorities about the incident.

Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said after a previous incident of a Syrian mortal shell and small-arms fire on the Golan that his nation would respond to any attacks on its territory.

1615 GMT: Qamishli Under Attack. Months ago it appeared that a rebel coalition that included a strong representation of Jabhat al Nusra fighters was set to take Qamishli, a largely-Kurdish city in the northeastern corner of Syria (map). Qamishli city has had a strong presence of anti-Assad protests, but Assad still has outposts in the city, particularly in the south. Also, the Kurdish leadership, both the members of the PYD and others, have reached an agreement with the rebels to govern the city themselves. It's unclear if that agreement has broken down, or whether Kurdish groups have joined this attack. However, heavy clashes are reported near the airport to the south (map) which is reportedly being shelled by rebel fighters. The video below reportedly shows smoke rising over the city as a result of the fighting.

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Syria Live Coverage: The Bodies in Aleppo's "River of Martyrs"

2040 GMT: Large Rockets Fired Towards Central Damascus. In the last video we posted a video that shows the remains of a rocket that landed in Ein Tarma, a district in southern Damascus. Eliot Higgins and I have reviewed the image, and we are in agreement that what we are looking at matches the very unique tail end of a Frog-7 rocket. The picture on the left in the debris in Damascus, and the picture on the right is a Frog-7 on a truck launcher:

The Frog-7 has a range of 70 kilometers, and has an average margin of error of 500-700 meters. Ein Tarma is only 1.2 kilometers by 800 meters, and is situated an alarming-close 2.7-3 kilometers from the very center of Damascus:

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The Latest from Iran (29 November): Regional Interventions

See also Iran Feature: The Regime's Food Problems
Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- Hunger Strikes, Hungry Families, and Ending Violence Against Women
The Latest from Iran (28 November): Supreme Leader Declares, "We're Winning"

2050 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The US has set a March deadline for Iran to fulfil the American vision of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, threatening referral of the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

Speaking to the IAEA board, American diplomat Robert Wood requested that IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano declare in his next quarterly report on Iran, due in late February, whether Tehran has taken "any substantive steps" to address concerns.

Wood continued, "If by March Iran has not begun substantive cooperation with the IAEA, the United States will work with other board members to pursue appropriate board action, and would urge the board to consider reporting this lack of progress to the U.N. Security Council. Iran cannot be allowed to indefinitely ignore its obligations....Iran must act now, in substance."

Amano told the board that there had been no progress in his agency's year-long push to clarify concerns about suspected atom bomb research in Iran, but said he would continue his efforts.

The Director-General had expressed optimism in June, just before the last meeting between Iran and the 5+1 Powers on Tehran's uranium enrichment, over a resolution of the protocol for inspection and supervision of Iran's nuclear facilities. However, the hope receded amid the stalemate in Tehran's talks with the 5+1.

Iranian officials have said discussions will resume with the IAEA on 13 December.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: New Opposition Coalition Gathers International Support

Israeli military video of the airstrike that killed senior Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari

See also Israel-Palestine Opinion: Why Obama's Re-election Offers Renewed Hope for an Agreement
Tuesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Fighting Escalates Near Damascus and in East

Today's live coverage is closed. Follow the story at Thursday's Israel-Palestine Live Coverage: Day 2 of Operation Pillar of Cloud

2228 GMT: Israel-Palestine. The number of rockets fired at Israel may wind up being in the hundreds (it's too early, but clearly many dozens have already been fired), yet the Israel Defense Forces are confident that their missile defense, Iron Dome, is working:

2220 GMT: Israel-Palestine. AlAkhbar reports:

Below are the names of Palestinians in Gaza who have been killed so far in this latest attack by Israel:

1. Ahmed al-Jaabari - Hamas leader - 52 years old

2. Mohammed al-Hams - 28 years old

3. Mohammed Kusaih - 18 years old

4. Esam Abu Meza - 19 years old

5. Heba al-Mashharawi - 19 years old

6. Renan Yousif Arafat - 3 years old

7. Omar al-Mashharawi - 11 months old

8. Mahmoud Abu Sawaween - 62 years old

The death toll is expected to rise even further.

More than 50 have been injured.

Many of the victims appear to be children:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Attacks on President Assad's Air Force

The aftermath of the downing of a Syrian jet fighter near Aleppo on Saturday

See also Syria Interview: Free Syrian Army Commander Riad Al-Asaad "The Revolution is on the Right Track Now"
Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Insurgents Attack in the North

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.

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The Latest from Iran (28 November): The Bank Fraud Expands

The celebration that led to lengthy suspension for two members of Iran's national football team (see 0835 GMT)

2148 GMT: Explosion Watch. An EA correspondent does some checking on the claimed location of today's blast in Isfahan (see 2020 GMT). Not only is it near the Military Academy, but it is just to the east of Darvazeh Shiraz (Shiraz city gate) is the Sepah Badr airbase.

Fars resurfaces, after dropping its original story to report --- from ISNA --- that the head of Isfahan's judiciary heard the sound of an explosion but got no information from officials.

And Tabnak has the latest rationale from Deputy Governor Mohammadi Mehdi Esmaili: "Perhaps a water boiler exploded."

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Bahrain, Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Doctors Go on Trial

2046 GMT: An activist posts this photo online, claiming to show a pharmacist, who fled from Jisr al-Shughour and set up this "clinic."

2024 GMT: In Yemen, hudreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in every major city, calling for the arrest of the family and close advisors of President Saleh (see videos below). There were protests reported in Hadramawt, Hodeida, Ibb, Damar and Saada, as well as Taiz (the second largest city in Yemen) and the nation's capital, Sana'a. 

Tens of thousands of protesters also gathered outside of Vice President Hadi's residence, vowing to stay until he establishes a transitional council.

President Saleh's health is still debatable, but according to one official, he is having an undisclosed problem with his throat. 

1942 GMT: Al Jazeera documents regime thugs beating peaceful protesters in Damascus, and the cries of women and children in Jisr al-Shughour. 

1937 GMT: Liberia is now the latest country to withdraw diplomatic recognition of the Gaddafi regime:

"The Government took the decision after a careful review of the situation in Libya and determined that the Government of Colonel Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to govern Libya."

1929 GMT: As Syrian tanks approach the eastern town of Deir Ezzor, the Arab League has released a statement condemning the violence in Syria. The Assad regime, however, dismisses the condemnation as politically motivated. The Syrian envoy even suggested that outgoing Arab LEague Secretary General, Amr Moussa, was advocating military intervention in Syria:

"Days before leaving his post, Moussa calls for a kind of foreign intervention in the Syrian affairs, when the Libyan blood, shed by Nato air strikes as a result for a [UN] security council resolution, based, regrettably on an Arab demand in which Moussa's efforts immensely contributed, isn't dry yet," he said.

1921 GMT: NATO has stepped up efforts to discourage Gaddafi's soldiers by dropping leaflets to warn them that Apache helicopters will be mowing them down. The problem: they dropped the leaflets over rebel positions near Misurata.

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Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Defections v. A Military Push

2030 GMT: Al Jazeera English's Hoda Abdel-Hamid reports from her position with opposition forces at the western gate of Ajdabiya --- she was stopped by the insurgents from going further towards the front-line near Brega. She notes that Libya's opposition has appointed Abdel Fatah Yunis, the former Minister of Interior who defected in the early days of protests, as the head of military forces.

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Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: A No-Fly Zone....And More

2055 GMT: Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister has said that the regime has asked Turkey, Malta, and China to send observers to monitor a cease-fire, denying reports that attacks on the opposition were continuing: "The armed forces are respecting [the cease-fire] and will protect civilians."

2010 GMT: Al Jazeera English summarises King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia's carrot-and-stick in his televised speech.

The King decreed that media must not criticise clerics and praised security forces for blocking protests, "You are the hitting hand against whoever considers undermining the nation's security and stability." He also thanked Saudis for not taking to the streets: "I am so proud of you. Words are not enough to describe you. You are the safety valve of this nation and you struck at that which is wrong with the truth and at treachery with loyalty."

Sweeteners in the King's speech included $66.7bn would be spent on 500,000 housing units, $4.3bn on more medical facilities, an extra $40m for private hospitals, an additional two months' wages for all government workers, and two extra payments for university students worth around $500.

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