Chavez in stable condition after cancer surgery

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is in stable condition after he had undergone another surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, an official statement from the country’s government says.

The Venezuelan leader is currently in Havana with his family recovering after a 6-hour surgery,according to the  Voice of Russia.

The parliament speaker Diosdado Cabello earlier dismissed rumors about Chavez's death.

Addressing army servicemen in Caracas on Wednesday, he said that some foreign sources were alleging that President Chavez had died.

That’s not true, he said, adding that these rumors were being spread on purpose.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro has been informing Venezuelans regularly about the president’s health, Cabelio said.

Before leaving for Cuba to undergo cancer surgery, Hugo Chavez declared Maduro, 50, his successor, describing him as one of the most capable young leaders.


Crisis in Syria is a conflict between East and west, says Mahathir Mohammad

TEHRAN, (ST) _ The Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammad,sees that the main reason for what is going on in Syria is the Zionist entity which occupied the Arab territories with a US-British support.

In an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Mahathir Mohammad said that the crisis in Syria turned into a conflict between East and West, noting that foreign powers are exerting all possible efforts to overthrow the Syrian government.

He underscored the necessity of disarming the disputed parties and launching a peaceful dialogue to solve the crisis.

On the other hand, the former Malaysian PM said:"The US wants to impose hegemony over the whole world, so everybody must submit to the US. But Iran has not done so that is why they are against Iran."



Mali names new prime minister in abrupt change of leadership

Mali's president has named Diango Cissoko as the country's new interim prime minister, according to state media reports, hours after the abrupt resignation of the former prime minister following his arrest by soldiers.

Cissoko is a former public ombudsman for the republic, according to the state-owned newspaper L'Essor.

In a brief online report, the newspaper states that interim President Dioncounda Traore signed two decrees Tuesday, one removing Diarra from office and the second naming Cissoko as his successor,according to CNN.

Cissoko, 62, is a longtime civil servant, according to public broadcaster ORTM, having served as secretary-general for former President Moussa Traore and his successor, Amadou Toumani Toure, who was deposed in March.

Diarra abruptly resigned Tuesday on state television, a day after he was arrested by soldiers loyal to a former coup leader.

The development was seen as another blow to the stability of a country once hailed as a model of democracy in Africa, but derailed this year by a coup and an uprising of rebels.

It is not yet clear what impact the change in leadership will have on regional and international efforts to tackle advances by the militants in the country's North.

Meanwhile,U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday he was "troubled" by the resignation and called again for a cessation of military interference in politics. He called for Mali to hold elections and restore peace and stability.

The Economic Community of West African States, which appointed the interim president, also expressed concern over the resignation and condemned "any form of interference by the military in the political process."

It urged the Malian president to "take all necessary and immediate measures to form a representative and inclusive government as soon as possible in order to pursue the ongoing efforts to end the crisis."


Russia against any state adopts disorder, sedition-Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured that current international developments require from Russia to take decisive measures, noting that the next years will be turning point years for Russia and the whole world which enters the age of radical changes and the world is strengthening with the variety of its poles.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly quoted by Russia channel as saying: “One of the features of the current age is none-existing a state in the world that has the ability to solve the international issues particularly economic ones.

“Russia stands against any state depends the theory of creative chaos  and sows the seeds of  sedition and disorder, and Russia insists to exert joint efforts to unify the world and the districts, ”Putin assured.


Putin, showing a profound grasp of not only the domestic situation, but the global as well, stressed the entire world is facing momentous challenges that do not exclude Russia.

“The coming years will be decisive and groundbreaking not only for Russia, but for the whole world, as it enters a period of transition and possibly even shocks,” he said.

The Russian leader noted that in the near future nations will be fighting not for natural resources, but for human resources and especially for human intellect. Increasing levels of consumption can be provided only by moving to a new level of production, which requires constant technological upgrades, Putin advised.

Given these new economic realities, “the demand for intellectual resources will only increase,” he added.

In this new world, which has significant implications in the economic and military sectors, “Russia must develop with confidence and maintain its national identity,” the President stated.

Putin told his audience that in order for Russia to remain strong and sovereign, the country must not only improve its demographic situation. It must also provide the basic requirements that allow Russians to excel in terms of their morality, creativity and professionalism.

Russia is standing against any state’s practices that depend on creative chaos and sow the seeds of sedition and disorder. Moscow insists on exerting joint efforts to unify the states and the districts in the world, Putin stressed.

The president said that the experience of the two latest decades proved that, pointing out to the interest of integrity and solidarity found in the US, Europe and Asia.

“This process, he added, is developing and we should not be out of this experience. We should use all our potentials and privileges with our neighbors of the Commonwealth of Independent States which have the same interest in integrity and solidarity.

Putin referred to his plans in the domain of reform and modernization of industry and all branches of economy.

“Our task, he added, is to build the rich and flourishing Russia, the military capability is the guarantee to Russia’s security.  

  Addressing the parliament, Putin said democracy is the only way to develop Russia. However, it should be based on its own traditions rather than implement standards imposed on the country from outside, the President underlined.

“We share precisely the universal democratic principles adopted throughout the world,” he noted. “But Russian democracy – is the power of just Russian people, with their own traditions of self-rule, and it is not at all a fulfillment of standards imposed on us from the outside.”


Mali PM forced to quit by army

 Mali's prime minister was forced to resign on Tuesday by the soldiers who staged a coup in March, complicating international efforts to help push rebels  from the north of the country, according to Reuters.

Once a beacon of democracy in West Africa, Mali has been mired in crisis since Tuareg rebels seized the northern two-thirds of the arid nation in the wake of the coup.

Although the soldiers handed over to a civilian president and prime minister under international pressure, they have remained powerful.

CheickModiboDiarra resigned as prime minister hours after he was arrested trying to leave the country for former colonial power France and was brought to the ex-junta's headquarters at a barracks in Kati, just outside Bamako.

"I, CheickModiboDiarra, hereby resign with my entire government," a nervous-looking Diarra said in a short statement broadcast on state television early on Tuesday. Diarra is a former NASA scientist and Microsoft chief for Africa who was made prime minister in April.

Fearing Mali has become a safe haven for terrorism and organised crime, West African leaders have signed off on a plan to send 3,300 soldiers to Mali to revamp Mali's army and then support operations to retake the north.

Diarra's forced resignation was a clear indication that those behind the coup still maintained considerable control however, a fact that could discourage international partners from backing the plan until civilian rule is strengthened.

A spokesman for the former junta said Tuesday's events did not amount to a new coup and that interim civilian President DiouncoundaTraore remained in place.

Diarra was forced to step down during a meeting with ex-coup leader Captain AmadouSanogo, according to Bakary Mariko, the spokesman.

Mariko accused Diarra of recording two speeches - the contents of which were not disclosed - and of urging his supporters to disrupt talks on the political crisis this week.


"This is not a coup. The president is still in place but the prime minister was no longer working in the interests of the country," Mariko said.

There was no immediate reaction from the president.

Downtown Bamako was calm, but the main road leading to Kati was blocked for security reasons, residents said.

Coup leader Sanogo has been repeatedly accused of meddling in politics since he stepped down and was officially tasked with overseeing reforms of Mali's army.

A senior west African diplomat said Diarra's resignation shows there was a de facto leader orchestrating things in Mali.

"Sanogo is pulling at the strings. Until we have a real transitional government in place, we will keep having these problems," the diplomat said, requesting not to be named.

Even before Diarra's arrest and resignation, support for the military intervention plan was not universal.

Some of Mali's politicians support the idea of a foreign-backed military operation while others, including much of the military, say they need only financial and logistical support.

Mariko said the Malian army was ready to act even without international help.

"We want the help of the international community but if it has to wait until September or until an undefined date, then the Malian army will act to free its territory," he said.

However, tensions became particularly acute in recent weeks, with analysts saying Diarra, a relative newcomer to Malian politics after years abroad, seemed keen to establish a political base of his own ahead of any future elections.


US designates " Jabhat al-Nusra' front a terrorist group

The US State Department has  designated the Jabhat al-Nusra group fighting the Syrian  government a foreign terrorist organization .

The State Department says Jabhat al-Nusra (or the "Nusra Front") is essentially a wing of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the "jihadi" group that flourished in Anbar Province after the US invaded to topple the  regime of Saddam Hussein. During the Iraq war,according to Yahoo.

The terrain, both actual and human, is similar on both sides of that border, and the rat lines that kept foreign terrorists  and money flowing into Iraq from Syria work just as well in reverse. Now, the" jihadis" who fought and largely lost in Iraq are flocking to Syria .

Most of the money or weapons flowing into the country for terrorists  has come from Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and some of that support, of course, has ended up in the hands of "Jabhat al- Nusra".


UNESCO chief voices ‘deep concern’ over continued killing of journalists in Syria

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today voiced deep concern over the killing of both professional and citizen journalists in Syria.

“I am deeply concerned about the continued killings that have decimated the ranks of professional and citizen journalists in Syria in recent weeks,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova.

“The killing of journalists and bloggers is not only a crime against individuals and a breach of their inalienable human right of freedom of expression. It is also a crime against society’s right to access information and engage in democratic debate,” Ms. Bokova added in a UNESCO news release.

Her comments follow the violent deaths of eight journalists since late November: newspaper editor Naji Assaad; TV reporter Bassel Tawfiq Youssef and others.

Mr. Assaad, a retired journalist who continued working for government-run newspaper Tishreen was shot dead outside his home in the capital, Damascus, on 4 December, and Mr. Tawfiq Youssef, a Government television journalist, was killed on 21 November in a Damascus suburb, according to UNESCO.


Russia insists foreign involvement in Crisis in Syria unacceptable

MOSCOW, (ST) -- Any fundamental decisions on changing Syria's political system must be made only by Syrians, Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

According to an online statement published by the ministry, UN special envoy to Syria Lakdhar Brahimi held talks in Geneva on Sunday with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns over the crisis in Syria.

"The Russian decision to take part in the meeting was made on the basis of our deep concern with further aggravation of the situation in Syria," the ministry said.

Participants in the meeting agreed the armed conflict in Syria had become more dangerous, ruining the lives of civilians, infrastructure, and the country's cultural and historical heritage, the statement said.

"Common understanding was shown that there is an urgency to stop further militarization of the conflict and to put it on to a political track," it said.

Bogdanov reiterated Moscow's position there was no alternative to the agreements achieved following the Geneva conference in June.

"Fundamental decisions on reforming Syria's political system as a sovereign, integrated, independent state should be made by Syrians themselves with no outside involvement and no attempts to introduce ready-made recipes to the country's social-political development," the ministry said, adding Russia would support Brahimi's efforts.