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Bahraini Security Forces Attack Protesters with Tear Gas

Hundreds of riot police attacked demonstrators to disperse gatherings and protest rallies in different parts of Bahrain, an opposition party said on Monday, according to FNA.

Thousands of people in different Bahraini cities and villages staged protest rallies concurrent with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting with EU in Manama.

The rallies were held upon a call by social network activists for a new round of protests against the al-Khalifa dynasty.

"Different cities and villages witnessed the heavy presence of security forces and vast detention of the people," Bahrain's al-Wefaq National Islamic Society said in a statement, adding that riot police units fired hundreds of tear gas canisters into the crowd.

Several tear gas canisters were fired into people's houses and a mosque, causing severe breathing problems for those inside.

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty.

Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar - were dispatched to the tiny Gulf kingdom on March 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.

So far, tens of protesters have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured.

R.S

Egypt's army gives parties 48 hours to resolve crisis

Egypt's army has given the country's rival parties 48 hours to resolve a deadly political crisis.

The army would offer a "road map" for peace if President Mohammed Morsi and his opponents failed to heed "the will of the people", it said.

Given the inability of politicians from all sides to agree until now, it seems unlikely Morsi can survive in power, says the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Cairo,according to BBC.

On Sunday millions rallied in cities nationwide, urging Mr Morsi to quit.

Protests continued on Monday, and eight people died as activists stormed and ransacked the Cairo headquarters of the" Muslim Brotherhood", to which the president belongs.

The head of the armed forces described Sunday's protests as an "unprecedented" expression of the popular will.

The statement by the minister of defence and army chief, Gen al-Sisi, was worded carefully.

It did not say the president must go. The army, with troops in strategic positions across Cairo, is saying the government and opposition have 48 hours to agree a way forward or it will intervene with its own plan.

The reality is they have never given up their critical role behind the scenes, which includes huge economic power.

No matter which way Egypt goes - and there could be some very rough days ahead - the army will never want its own power diluted.

In a statement read out by a spokesman on state television on Monday evening, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the army would not get involved in politics or government.

The opposition movement behind the protests, Tamarod (Rebel), welcomed the statement, but said it would continue demonstrations to force Mr Morsi out.

There were scenes of flag-waving jubilation in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where Tamarod supporters believed the statement spelt the end for a president they accuse of putting the Brotherhood's interests ahead of the country's as a whole.

As five helicopters flew over the square with huge Egyptian flags hanging below them, the crowds chanted: "The army and the people are one hand."

But a senior member of the' Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)" rejected the military statement.

 The opposition movement had given Morsi until Tuesday afternoon to step down and call fresh presidential elections, or else face a campaign of civil disobedience.

On Saturday, the group said it had collected more than 22 million signatures - more than a quarter of Egypt's population - in support.

Meanwhile, the al-Watan website said the ministers of tourism, environment, communication and legal affairs had resigned in an act of "solidarity with the people's demand to overthrow the regime".

M.D

Maintaining Syria 's Sovereignty Underlined

DOHA, (ST)_ Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi stressed,  during a meeting yesterday with  the new Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the need to maintain  Syria 's national sovereignty and territorial integrity to provide proper  conditions to get out of the current crisis and embark on inter-Syrian  political dialogue.

Salehi, currently visiting Qatar at the head of a political delegation, explained  Iran's principled policy on Syria and the importance of establishing security and stability in the Gulf region, stressing the need to raise the level of cooperation between countries of the region.

Salehi stressed the need to clarify Islamic authentic visions in honoring  all Muslims from different sects by  Muslim scholars to prevent sectarian strife.

He  congratulated the Qatari Emir over his  new responsibilities, calling for strengthening bilateral relations between Iran and Qatar in various fields.

For his part, the Emir of Qatar described  Iran as an influential country in the region's equations , stressing the importance of taking  advantage of its energies to settle  regional problems and the need to strengthen relations between the two countries.

 

T. Fateh

EU, GCC Reiterated Political Settlement of Syrian Conflict

DUBAI,(ST)_ The Gulf  Cooperation Council  GCC  and  the European Union pledged Sunday to pool their efforts to help convene a peace conference on Syria, as they wrapped up a one-day ministerial meeting in Bahrain.

This call came at a time of news on dispatched Saudi and Qatari weapons shipment to the armed terrorist groups in Syria.

The gathering attended by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council "reiterated the utmost urgency of finding a political settlement of the Syrian conflict," said a statement issued at the end of the meeting.

They also pledged to "spare no effort in helping to create the appropriate conditions for a successful convening of the peace conference on Syria" which Russia and the United States have been striving to hold in Geneva.

Ashton told the gathering "we need to work harder together to find the political solution that will bring peace" to Syria and expressed concern about a spillover of the war into neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq.

"We are extremely concerned about the plight of the people and about rising sectarian conflicts in Lebanon and Iraq, and we want to do our utmost to try and defuse tension," she said.

On Iran, the GCC -- whose members also include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates -- and the EU expressed support for diplomatic efforts to end the row over Tehran's nuclear programme.

On the economic front, Ashton said bilateral trade between the EU and the GCC increased by 45 percent since 2010 and was worth 145 billion euros annually ($188 billion).

On Saturday, the European Union said the "promotion of human rights" was among issues Ashton would raise at the meeting to review economic ties and regional developments.

Human Rights Watch issued statement on the occasion of the meeting urging Ashton to press Bahrain to release 13 opposition activists jailed in  this  Gulf state.

 

T. Fateh

Egyptians Pushing for Removing Morsi

CAIRO (ST) _ Hundreds of thousands of opponents of Egypt's Islamist president poured onto the streets in Cairo and across much of the nation Sunday, launching an all-out push to force Mohammed Morsi from office on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration.

In a potentially volatile confrontation, several dozen youths attacked the headquarters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood on a plateau overlooking the capital. They threw stones and firebombs at the building, and people inside the walled villa fired at the attackers with birdshot, according to an Associated Press Television News cameraman at the scene. Earlier in the day, two offices belonging to the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party, were attacked and ransacked in the city of Bani Suef, south of Cairo.

Nationwide, the rallies were among the most gigantic Egypt has seen in nearly 2 ½ years of continuous upheaval, including during the square-packing, 18-day uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, AP reported .

Waving Egyptian flags and carrying posters of Morsi crossed out in red, crowds packed central Cairo's Tahrir square, the birthplace of anti-Mubarak, thunderous chants of "erhal!", or "leave!" rang out.

At the same time, a tidal wave of crowds marched on the Ittihadiya presidential palace, filling a broad boulevard for blocks and spilling over into nearby avenues. "You lied to us in the name of religion," some chanted, and others raised a banner proclaiming, "Morsi=Mubarak. Early presidential elections." The crowds hoisted long banners in the colors of the Egyptian flag and raised red cards — a sign of expulsion in soccer.

Near Ittihadiya palace, thousands of Islamists gathered in a show of support for Morsi outside the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque. Some Morsi backers wore homemade body armor and construction helmets and carried shields and clubs — precautions, they said, against possible violence. Their crowd also swelled as sun went down and summer temperatures became more tolerable

Morsi, who has three years left in his term, has said he will not step down, saying street protests cannot be used to overturn the results of a free election.

Already at least seven people, including an American, have been killed in clashes the past week, mainly in Nile Delta cities and the coastal city of Alexandria.

In Cairo, some marchers carried tents, planning to camp in Tahrir or outside the palace.

"The country is only going backward (under Morsi). He's embarrassing us and making people hate Islam," said Donia Rashad, a 24-year-old unemployed woman who wears the conservative Islamic headscarf. "We need someone who can feel the people and is agreeable to the majority," added Rashad, who wore a tiny tiara in the letters of "erhal."

At the pro-Morsi rally at the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque, the crowd chanted, "God is great," and some held up copies of Islam's holy book, the Quran.

The opposition protests emerge from a petition campaign by a youth activist group known as Tamarod, Arabic for "Rebel." For several months, the group has been collecting signatures on a call for Morsi to step down.

On Saturday the group announced it had more than 22 million signatures — proof, it claims, that a broad sector of the public no longer wants Morsi in office.

It was not possible to verify the claim. If true, it would be nearly twice the around 13 million people who voted for Morsi in last year's presidential run-off election, which he won with around 52 percent of the vote. Tamarod organizers said they discarded about 100,000 signed forms because they were duplicates.

Adding to his troubles, eight lawmakers from the country's interim legislature announced their resignation Saturday to protest Morsi's policies. The 270-seat chamber was elected early last year by less than 10 percent of Egypt's eligible voters, and is dominated by Islamists.A legal adviser to Morsi also announced his resignation late Saturday in protest of what he said was Morsi's insult of judges in his latest speech on Wednesday.

 

T. Fateh