Clashes erupt in Egypt's Alexandria, dozens injured

Clashes erupted between pro-Egyptian government and their opponents in Egypt's northern seaside city of Alexandria on Friday, leaving dozens injured, eyewitnesses and local media said.

The pro- and anti-government  protesters hurled stones at each other outside Qaed Ibrahim Mosque in Alexandria, forcing security forces to use tear gas and establish a barrier to disperse the crowd, eyewitnesses told Xinhua.

The clashes erupted as several thousand pro-government gathered outside the mosque chanting statements in support of President Mohamed Morsi, and the draft constitution, while their opponents gathered at the opposite side and shouted anti-government slogans in response.

Relative calmness has been restored to the area around the mosque, as clashes moved to other districts, official MENA news agency reported.

The clashes came one day ahead of the second, also the final round of the country's constitutional referendum that will cover 17 governorates including Giza, Suez and Port Said.

Unofficial results said 56.5 percent of voters agreed with the controversial draft constitution in the first round.


US preparing chemical arms provocation in Syria

Americans are preparing a provocation in Syria, involving chemical weapons, Iranian ambassador to Russia Seyyed Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi has told the Voice of Russia radio station.

Mr. Sajjadi said in his interview Tehran had enough time to acquaint itself with Americans’ mentality. He pointed out that, before Iraq’s 1980 invasion into Iran, American media were hyping Tehran’s alleged plans of aggression against Baghdad, whereas now Washington is speculating about Damascus being ready to use its chemical weapons against opposition forces in order to justify the use of chemical weapons against the Syrians.

 “What is happening in Syria is not a "revolution", it’s an armed uprising, which is backed by invaders,” Mr. Sajjadi said.  

The Syrian Foreign Ministry previously assured the UN Secretary General it would never use chemical weapons against armed groups. Damascus said, however, that it feared some countries might have provided opposition "rebels" with chemical weapons to later accuse the Syrian security forces of using its chemical stockpile.


Al-Maliki Calls for Discarding Extremism in Syria

Baghdad, (ST)_Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki expressed grave concern over the ongoing violence in Syria, calling upon the Syrian opposition groups to work for finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria.

During his meeting on Wednesday with a delegation from the opposition National Coordination Committee headed by Dr. Haitham Manna, al-Maliki said that ''efforts should be synchronized to bolster moderation and discard extremism in Syria, as it creates problems rather than solves them.''

"Iraqi government has offered humanitarian aid which it intends to increase without any political goals, as admitted by international organizations which hailed the Iraqi role that distanced itself from the internal conflict,"underscored al-Maliki.

The delegation's members expressed concern over the increasing violence, underlining the necessity of discarding violence and encouraging moderation, and that the solution be political, not military.

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Roknabadi Urges Regional Figures to Support Iran's Proposed Plan for Syria

TEHRAN (ST)- Iranian Ambassador to Beirut Qazanfar Roknabadi called on political and religious figures in the region to support Tehran's 6-point plan to settle the crisis in Syria.

In a meeting with the new Antakya Orthodox Patriarch, Youhanna Yazigi, in Beirut on Thursday, Roknabadi called for the support of the regional political and religious figures for Iran's 6-point peace plan for the settlement of the crisis in Syria and form a national reconciliation government, according to FARS News Agency.

For his part Patriarch Yazigi, said that national reconciliation is the only solution to the crisis in Syria.

He said regional nations, especially the Syrians, whether Christian or Muslim, should think of dialogue as the only way out of the crisis and resort to wise manners to prevent violence and bloodshed.

Iran's proposed plan calls for an immediate end to violence and a start of the national dialogue. The third step is to create a reconciliation government and provide humanitarian aid to the people of Syria. The next step is the release of prisoners, who have not committed a crime against Syrians. And the final point is to allow media's full access to Syria.

Tehran has recently doubled its efforts to settle the crisis in Syria which has been experiencing unrests since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian security forces and border guards.

On November 18, Iran hosted the Syrian National Dialogue Conference, with the motto "No to Violence, Yes to Democracy".

Over 200 Syrian religious and political figures, leaders of tribes and parties as well as representatives and leaders of the opposition groups took part in the two-day meeting in Tehran.

A number of Syrian parliament members as well as senior political figures from Sudan, Algeria, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Brazil and Zimbabwe also took part in the meeting.

This was the first time that both Syrian opposition figures and the minister of national reconciliation Ali Haidar, as the representative of Syrian government, discussed ways of finding a solution to the crisis in Syria .


Iraq's Jalal Talabani Arrives in Germany for Areatment

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has arrived in Germany for further treatment after a reported stroke, Berlin says.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle wished the 79-year-old Mr Talabani "a quick and full recovery", without providing any further details.

German doctors earlier said Mr Talabani's condition had improved sufficiently to permit travel.

He has struggled with his health and has often been treated abroad.

Mr Talabani was reportedly rushed to the Baghdad Medical City on Monday evening.

Iraqi officials conceded in private that his condition was serious and state television reported that he had suffered a stroke.

In recent weeks, he has been mediating in the dispute triggered by the government's attempt to take greater control of security in oil-rich territory around the city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by both Arabs and Kurds.

Kurdish forces have been deployed in the region since 2003.

A deal brokered by Mr Talabani called on both sides to withdraw troops from the contested areas, though no deadline was set.