19 Mar 2012 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy

Articles

Syria email hack points to new 'information war'
By Peter Apps, Reuters, 19 Mar 2012

Whether Syrian rebels hacked President Bashar al-Assad's emails themselves or with the help of Western spy agencies or "hactivists," the release of dozens of revealing messages points to a new era of information warfare.
 
Britain's Guardian newspaper began on Thursday to publish details from the material, which it said members of Syria's opposition had secretly intercepted between June and February. 

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Peace March in Damascus Is Cut Short by Authorities
By Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad, New York Times, 18 Mar 2012

The Syrian authorities briefly detained 11 members of one of Syria’s most moderate opposition groups during a demonstration in central Damascus on Sunday. The move signaled an expanded crackdown and dismayed the protesters, who have called for dialogue with the government and, unlike many other activists, have opposed the use of violence in the yearlong uprising. 

More than 150 protesters carrying signs calling for nonviolence and the rule of law began their march on Sunday shouting “God, Syria and freedom only.” But when some started to chant the slogan that has echoed throughout the Arab revolts — “The people want the fall of the regime” — uniformed officers and men in plain clothes beat them with sticks and began making arrests, activists and witnesses said.
 
Also on Sunday, a car bomb exploded in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, a day after two similar bombings struck the capital, Damascus, fueling fears that the conflict was becoming increasingly violent, with attacks on relatively quiet cities that are centers of support for President Bashar al-Assad. The Aleppo bomb exploded near a state security office in a residential neighborhood, activists said. SANA, Syria’s official news agency, said two people were killed and 30 were wounded.

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In Yemen, New Leader Faces Threats in the South
By Laura Kasinof, New York Times, 17 Mar 2012

For all the challenges that Yemen’s new president faces, none may be more imperative than the unsettled state of the south, where many are eager for secession and a security breach has allowed an Al Qaeda affiliate to grow strong.
 
The president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has moved quickly to try to shore up the south amid rising violence and political uncertainty. He appointed a new head of security and a new governor for the southern province of Aden, as well as a new commander of the southern military force. But residents of the south say that while shifting personnel may help in the long term, the crisis needs to be addressed more aggressively now.
 
“It couldn’t be worse,” said Sheikh Tariq Abdullah, who has practiced law in Aden since British colonialists were here over 50 years ago. “A very, very large majority of southern Yemenis of almost every class, they just don’t want unity. What the street is saying is that they are absolutely fed up.” 

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Power to some other people: Morocco’s king lets an Islamist government make real changes
By The Economist, 17 Mar 2012

On his drive home from work Morocco’s prime minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, stopped by a mob of angry graduates demanding jobs. “We voted for you, and you send the police to beat and arrest us,” they cried. Mr Benkirane apologised and promised that any police officers who broke the law would be punished. Some of the graduates clapped.
 
Something is changing in Morocco. The stuffy feudalism that made the kingdom a museum piece is lifting. New construction includes a web of motorways, double-decker trains that run on time and the Mediterranean’s largest port. Unlike other Arab autocrats who dithered when uprisings erupted last spring, King Mohammed VI unveiled a new constitution within weeks. This promised to transfer real (though not all) powers to a freely and fairly elected government. Within a year he accepted an electoral triumph by the Justice and Development Party (or PJD, after its French initials), a mildly Islamist group. 

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Libya gunmen attack Benghazi autonomy rally
By Al Jazeera, Agencies, 16 Mar 2012

Thousands of Libyan protesters rallying in the eastern city of Benghazi to press for an autonomous region came under attack by armed men wielding rifles and knifes, witnesses said.
 
"One person was killed and at least five others were wounded," Basma Mohammed, a local medical official, told the AFP news agency.

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75 Charged in Deaths at Soccer Riot in Egypt
By Kareem Fahim and Mayy El Sheikh, New York Times, 15 Mar 2012

Egypt’s general prosecutor charged 75 people on Thursday in connection with a deadly soccer melee in Port Said last month, including the city’s top police official. Though he and other officers knew that violence was likely at the match, they let the perpetrators into the stadium without searching for weapons, then stood by and watched as they attacked, he said.
 
At least 74 people were killed during the riot that unfolded as fans of the local El Masry soccer club attacked supporters of the rival Al Ahly club. It was the worst episode of soccer violence anywhere in years and crystallized a growing anger at Egypt’s inscrutable military rulers, who were accused of failing to keep the country safe. 

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Human rights: Bahrain, Sinai and Israeli raids on Palestinian TV stations
By European Parliament, Plenary Session, 15 Mar 2012

Parliament urges the Egyptian authorities to investigate and put an end to human smuggling and trafficking in Sinai, in a resolution adopted on Thursday. In two further resolutions, MEPs express their deep concern over the raids by Israeli forces on Palestinian TV stations and condemn human rights violations in Bahrain. 

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Human rights: Bahrain, Sinai and Israeli raids on Palestinian TV stations
By European Parliament, Plenary Session, 15 Mar 2012

Parliament urges the Egyptian authorities to investigate and put an end to human smuggling and trafficking in Sinai, in a resolution adopted on Thursday. In two further resolutions, MEPs express their deep concern over the raids by Israeli forces on Palestinian TV stations and condemn human rights violations in Bahrain. 

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Despite Rights Concerns, U.S. Plans to Resume Egypt Aid
By Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, 15 Mar 2012

The Obama administration plans to resume military aid to Egypt, American officials said on Thursday, signaling its willingness to remain deeply engaged with the generals now running the country despite concerns over abuses and a still-uncertain transition to democracy.
 
To restart the aid, which has been a cornerstone of American relations with Egypt for more than three decades, the administration plans on sidestepping a new Congressional requirement that for the first time directly links military assistance to the protection of basic freedoms.

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