November 21 to 25, 2011

–          Yemeni President Saleh signs deal on ceding power – BBC– 23/11/2011

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has signed a deal under which he will step down after months of unrest. Under the plan, he will transfer his powers to his deputy ahead of an early election and in return will get immunity from prosecution. But protesters rallying in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, said they would reject any deal giving the president immunity. The demonstrators said the Gulf initiative ignored the « blood of martyrs”. Mr Saleh – who had unified North and South Yemen in 1990 – had long argued that he was the only man who could control his politically and socially divided country, the BBC’s Sebastian Usher says.

–          Bahrain opposition urges government to resign – Financial Times – 24/11/2011

Clashes broke out in Bahrain a day after a damning report was released detailing excessive use of force and systematic torture against pro-democracy protesters earlier this year. Clashes between youths from the majority Shia have become an almost daily occurrence on the island, a US ally, whose government is dominated by members of the minority Sunni community. The continuing cycle of violence highlights the challenges faced in any attempt by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to implement reforms recommended by the report he accepted at a ceremony on Wednesday.

–          Rival Palestinian Leaders Meet but Fail to End Rift – New York Times – 24/11/2011

The meeting, in Cairo, was the first between Mr. Abbas, chief of the mainstream Fatah movement, and his rival, Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, since the two men signed a reconciliation accord in May. Even since then, the leadership of the Palestinian territories has remained divided, with Mr. Abbas’s authority confined to the West Bank while Hamas controls the coastal enclave of Gaza. It remained unclear even after the meeting on Thursday whether the two sides were indeed committed to a further narrowing of their differences, and whether they would take any tangible steps toward power sharing soon or at all. the sides agreed to go ahead with elections in thePalestinian territories next year, according to officials.

–         The Free Syrian Army calls for targeted foreign air strikes ( L’Armée syrienne libre réclame des frappes aériennes étrangères ciblées) – Le Monde –  24/11/2011

The head of the Free Syrian Army , a group of military dissidents, has called,Thursday, November 24 for foreign air strikes against « certain strategic targets  » for the regime. « We do not support the entry of foreign troops, as was the case in Iraq, but we want the international community to provide us with logistical support, » said Colonel Riad Al-Assaad, based in Turkey. « We also want international protection, the establishment of a no-fly zone and a buffer zone, » he added. While they were reluctant to any internationalization of the Syrian issue, Arab leaders now decided to call the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to « take the necessary steps to support the efforts of the Arab League to resolve the crisis in Syria « .

–         The revolution that wasn’t (yet) – Euobserver – 24/11/2011

For the past two days, Egypt’s liberation square has once again turned into a battlefield. Attempts by protesters to give the upheaval a heroic touch calling it a ‘revolution 2.0’ cannot mask the sad truth: what was celebrated so euphorically after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak was not a revolution after all, but a military coup. A revolution replaces old institutions, practices and values of the system by new ones. None of this has happened in Egypt. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that has de facto ruled the country since the fall of Mubarak’s regime soon lost the Egyptian public’s sympathies through its increasing attempts to cement its own rule. Since the January upturn, the Supreme Council, a remnant of the Mubarak era, has mutated from an acclaimed saviour of the revolution to an autocratic brake bloc.

–         Moroccans go to poll on historic day for democracy – Middle East Online – 25/11/2011

Moroccans go to the polls Friday in the first legislative elections since the approval of a reform of the constitution in July which strengthens the role of parliament and the prime Minister. Opinion polls are not allowed but observers said the opposition Justice and Development Party would make strong gains after a similar success by a moderate Islamist party in Tunisia’s first democratic election a month ago. The amended constitution gives parliament a greater role in the legislative process and strengthens the role of prime minister, who now must be appointed by the king from the party which wins the most seats in the assembly.