US, the West Interested in Prolonging Status Quo in Syria - Nejad

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad stressed that “the US and the West are interested in prolonging the status quo in Syria because it will lead to the spread of insecurity to other regional countries and on the other hand, it will bring relief to the Zionist regime [of Israel.]”

In a meeting on Monday  with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales on the sidelines of the summit of Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Russia, President Ahmadi Nejad underlined the significance of solidarity among independent nations and governments against “bullying powers”, stressing that Iran  pursues the strategic policy of broadening ties with independent Latin American countries.

“The development and consolidation of ties with independent nations, in particular Latin American ones, is among the definite and strategic policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Ahmadi Nejad said.

Iran and Bolivia enjoy brotherly relations and follow great objectives, which require them to further enhance and strengthen their ties, he added.

He continued  that the Islamic Republic holds deep-rooted and friendly relations with independent countries, noting that these ties cannot be easily undermined.

He said that unity among Latin American nations and governments will abort enemies’ plots against them, and that promotion of all- out cooperation  with Latin American countries has been among  the top priorities of Iran 's foreign policy over the past few years.

Morale, for his part, praised Iran’s support of the Bolivian nation and government and said his country, inspired by the Islamic Republic, remained steadfast in defending Bolivia’s sovereignty and independence.

He also underscored the need for independent nations, including Iran and Bolivia, to stand together in confronting pressures by the US and other affiliated powers.

T. Fateh

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.


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".


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