The external conspiracy is clear to everybody. Nobody can be fooled any more. The veil has fallen away.
Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad • Offering up tough words in his first public speech in months, in which he blamed “foreign conspiracies,” mixed with Arab-region meddling for the ten-month crackdown in his country. He says that the country’s enemies will be defeated soon. During the rambling 100-minute speech, he also noted that Syria will hold a referendum on its constitution and, later in the year, parliamentary elections. However … he didn’t say anything about relinquishing his own power. source
Getting touchy: Remember when Mitt Romney touched Rick Perry’s shoulder during a GOP debate a while back, and everybody freaked out? Yeah, that was nothing. During a televised debate about Syria yesterday, two Lebanese politicians became enraged and started throwing things at each other. After one guy chucks what looks like a glass of water across the table, the other guy stands up, grabs his chair, and almost hits his foe with it before the host intervenes. The topic of debate was Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a very polarizing figure in Lebanon. American debates can get heated, but we’d be awfully shocked to see Newt Gingrich chuck his podium at Jon Huntsman while discussing Chinese economic policy. source
Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad • Discussing the situation in Syria, and in the process discouraging Western intervention in the region. While admitting that he expected pressure from the West, he tried in the process to paint a line between his country and other Arab Spring countries. “Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen. The history is different. The politics is different,” he noted. Think he’s right? source
then Elections during the rule of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali generally drew a fairly small number of people, due to the fact that many believed that the results were pre-determined.
now Ten months after the end of Ben Ali’s regime, today’s elections have drawn huge numbers of people, with lines spreading far beyond the polling booths. source
» Not without some controversy: A notable Islamist figure in the country, Rachid Ghannouchi, was heckled as he came out of the voting booth today. “You are a terrorist and an assassin! Go back to London,” one shouted. Ghannouchi, the leader of the moderate Ennahda party, spent over two decades in Britain, exiled from the country where he was once imprisoned for his political views. He returned earlier this year, and his party is expected to do well today.
Now I am happy that my son’s death has given the chance to get beyond fear and injustice. I’m an optimist, I wish success for my country.
Manoubia Bouazizi, mother of notable Tunisian self-immolator Mohamed Bouazizi • Discussing her son’s death and the spark for democracy it provided both in her own country but throughout northern Africa and the Middle East. Tomorrow Tunisia holds its first democratic election after the toppling of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali ten months ago. (Ben Ali is now in exile in Saudi Arabia.) The Islamist Ennahda party, banned while Ben Ali was in power, is expected to garner the most votes, but not without controversy due to the long-encouraged secular culture in the country. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. source
They start working and finish all together. Which means, it’s like a job. They talk about Iran, sectarian warfare — they use common words and they never discuss. They just come to fight.
London-based Bahrain blogger Hussain Yousif • Describing the trolls that have come up on Twitter around Bahrain-related topics; trolls which seem to work on a 9-5 schedule. We’ve noticed a bit of signal-jamming in our day as well — there were a lot of pro-Libya protesters on both Twitter and YouTube who tried to cloud the information actually coming out about Libya, for example — so we totally believe this. Have you guys, especially the ones closely following the news in the Middle East, run into anything like this? source
We have told the world that there is the Arab Spring, but the Palestinian Spring has been born. A popular spring, a populist spring, a spring of peaceful struggle that will reach its goal.
Palestinians President Mahmoud Abbas • Drawing a comparison between his push for a Palestinian role in the United Nations and the Arab Spring movement. Abbas’ popularity has leaped in his home country after he boldly submitted an application to the United Nations for membership, despite loud protests by the U.S. and Israel. The U.S. has promised to veto any opportunity for Palestine to gain full UN membership, but Palestine would be willing to settle for lesser observer status in the general assembly, which would still give them a way to continue to push for their agenda in the United Nations. source
He looked like a wizard recovering from an evening of drinking who had wandered into the picture by mistake.
The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri • In a comedic psuedo-obituary to Muammar Gaddafi’s career. Petri also notes that Gaddafi often “looked like he’d shot a couch and was wearing it on his back as a trophy, after an intense struggle in which the couch nearly prevailed.” There’s more to the article than just ribbing the dictator’s physical appearance, of course, but those descriptors are just too rich to pass up. source
This rebel made out like a bandit, scoring Muammar Gaddafi’s hat during a raid of the likely-soon-to-be-deposed leader’s compound. A pretty good memento, if you ask us. The interview gets bittersweet midway through, when the rebel starts recounting the deaths of his friends. The whole thing is worth watching, if only to hear a first-hand account of the rebel experience. source
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