Posted by Joshua on Monday, July 7th, 2008
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian authorities said on Sunday they had restored order at a military jail near Damascus after a riot, but dissidents said the protest was not over and that dozens of prisoners had been killed.
The riot broke out on Saturday at Sidnaya prison, a huge complex 30 km (19 miles) northwest of the capital Damascus that houses thousands of criminals, political prisoners and soldiers convicted of violating military rules.
"Several prisoners convicted of extremism and terror crimes created chaos… The issue required the interference of anti-riot units to restore calm," the Syrian state news agency said.
The agency did not say whether there were any casualties. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an organisation based in London, said Syrian security forces had killed dozens of prisoners during the riot.
The Observatory said Islamist prisoners, many of whom have been held at Sidnaya for years without trial, started the riot. It quoted witnesses as saying a hospital was filled with the wounded.
Syrian dissidents based in Beirut said prisoners were still rioting and that security forces remained heavily deployed around the prison and the hospital.
The Kurdish Coordination Committee, an umbrella group of Kurdish opposition parties in Syria, said the prisoners were only demanding better living condition.
"Syrian prisons are among the worse in the world. We do not think the demands of the protestors exceeded asking for better conditions and other humanitarian demands," a statement by the group said.
Syria, which has been ruled by the secular Baath Party since 1963, holds thousands of Islamists and other political prisoners, including writers and human rights advocates. International human rights groups say random arrests and torture are common.
The Baath Party, which put down an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982 in the city of Hama, has shown limited tolerance toward Islamists in recent years, with Washington accusing the Damascus government of allowing Islamist fighters to infiltrate into Iraq from Syria.
In The Telegraph, here (Thanks Friday Lunch Club) Adm. Mullen: "Israeli plans Iran attack 'will fail to d…
"The Americans had spies in Iran until they were rounded up in 2003 and now they do not have much by way of humint [human intelligence] on the ground. The Israelis have better information. But the Americans went away from the meetings unconvinced that the Israelis have enough intelligence on where to strike, and with little confidence that they will be able to destroy the nuclear programme."
Lebanon's Premier May Announce New Cabinet as Early as Tomorrow
By Massoud A. Derhally
July 6 (Bloomberg) — Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora may announce the country's new cabinet as early as tomorrow after the country's political factions agreed on the distribution of portfolios in the new government, his top adviser said. "We are now talking about the details of the portfolios and the names'' of the people who will head the ministries, Mohammad Shateh said in a telephone interview from Beirut today. Siniora may form the government “as early as tomorrow or Tuesday,'' he added…..
Nihad Güle, Des êtres de lumière
D’après le critique d’art Ghazi Ana, Nihad Güle a commencé sa carrière en travaillant sur les espaces de « l’abstraction lyrique », s’appuyant sur la mémoire visuelle de l’enfance. Aujourd’hui, Nihad Güle se tourne vers l’expressionnisme et le personnalisme. suite
Israel has been reluctant to withdraw from the Golan [Sunday Telegraph] because of its strategic position above Syria, while many Israelis have been so taken with its wild beauty that they have built wineries and boutique hotels. The Golan front has also been quiet for years, providing little incentive to resolve the conflict.
"The Golan Heights is considered our Tuscany. Israelis fell in love with the Golan – and it's a very easy conflict for us. That's why it's so difficult to convince Israel to withdraw," Mr Liel said.
Syria, which demands the return of all of Golan, has promised to allow Israelis to continue to enter the western part without visas, though the future of Israeli businesses and towns there is uncertain.
More seriously, the Golan provides more than half of Israel's drinking water and in this year of drought, the biblical Sea of Galilee – known in Israel as Lake Kinneret – is already at dangerously low levels, making Israel reluctant to give it up.
But Turkey is already said to have promised to supply more water to Syria, and possibly to the rest of the region, by drawing on the Euphrates, Tigris or Seyhan rivers. Syria has also demanded the building of a desalination plant in exchange for letting Israel continue to draw drinking water from the Golan. …
"…Alon Liel, a former director of Israel's foreign ministry, said the prospect of a peace agreement with Syria was growing, though it might require a new American president before a deal could be agreed…"They are asking not only for the Golan Heights but a change in Washington that will break the Syrian isolation internationally," said Mr Liel. "But I also think they will not do it unless they are assured they have an alternative to Iran."
|Congress Delivers Promised Israel Aid Bump Despite Budget Deadlock|
By Nathan Guttman
While almost all federally financed programs were denied any funding increase for the coming year, aid to Israel from the United States will increase thanks to a legislative loophole and some deft maneuvering by pro-Israel lobbyists.
Syria heads east in effort to boost its foreign investment
By Julien Barnes-Dacey in Damascus
Published: July 7 2008 03:00 | Last updated: July 7 2008 03:00
Western isolation has forced Syria increasingly to look eastwards for its economic future. As the country pushes through much-needed reforms, Bashar al-Assad, the president, is focusing on links with rising economic powers such as India and China."
Even as Syria is looking to restore ties with the west, reflected in improved diplomatic relations with France, a forthcoming Assad trip to Paris and renewed peace talks with Israel, Damascus has been careful to foster its relations with other powers.
Mr Assad travelled to India last month, the first time a Syrian leader has visited the country in 30 years.
Safi Shujaa, director of the Syrian Economic Centre, says that "Syria is going seriously to the east", citing international political isolation from the west and economic advantages from the east as the main motivations for the shift.
This decision has taken place even as the country undergoes urgent economic reform in the face of a -stagnant economy and dwindling oil revenues. In recent years Syria has liberalised foreign trade, dropping tariffs and import restrictions, and introduced a more favourable investment climate seeking greater foreign capital for the budding -private sector.
Liu Bo, a commercial attaché at the Chinese embassy in Damascus, says that these reforms have been directly responsible for the increased Chinese engagement. He says that exports to Syria increased by 37 per cent in 2007, while China has pumped $741.52m (€472.5m, £374m) of investment into the country…..
DAMASCUS, July 3 (Xinhua) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday that his country would intensify efforts to regain the Palestinian unity, the official SANA news agency reported. Assad made the remarks while meeting with the politburo leader of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, Khaled Meshaal. Syria supports the Palestinian negotiating stance and the return of their legitimate rights, on top the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, Assad asserted.
Meshaal thanked Assad for the aid offered by Syria to the Palestinian people and its efforts to regain unity among the Palestinians and lift the siege imposed on Gaza, SANA reported.