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MIDDLE EAST REPORT [08/2011]

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LIBYA – In Libya the war is now lasting half a year with number of casualties mounting, including civilians killed by NATO air raids. The picture is very foggy with contradicting information, depending on the sources and their political affiliation. Basically the rebels made some territorial gains but are still far from the match point of the war.

While Gaddafi’s leadership suffers from desertion, the rebels’ leadership suffers from lack of coherency. Libyans rebel military commander Gen. Younes was assassinated, on 07/28/2011 night, by a stubborn group within the rebel ranks and the rebel leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, formers Gaddafi’s justice minister, sacked, on 08/08/2011, his entire cabinet including those responsible for finance, defense and information. The stability and consolidation of the rebel’s leadership is now in question. There are indications that both Libyan sides are looking to negotiate a solution for the situation in Tunisia.

SYRIA – the brutal crackdown of opposition in Syria is mounting and so the international pressure on Bashar Assad’s regime with over 2000, officially, killed so far and with larger number of casualties still unreported (see – SYRIAN 08/2011 CATCH). In the recent days, especially from Friday 08/12/2011, violence is focused on the harbor town of Latakia, where, unlike in other places, Palestinian factions are fighting in street battles the Syrian forces. The Syrian navy sieges the Palestinian refugee camp al-Raml from sea but it is not clear whether the navy takes part, actually, in the shelling. More than 5,000 Palestinian refugees have fled the camp, a UN agency said on Monday 08/15/2011.

Until the Latakia attack Palestinian leaders in the West Bank remained silent on the violence in neighboring Syria. So had Israeli-Arab lawmakers and Hamas officials in Gaza and all kinds of so called “Human Rights” groups who support the Palestinian cause against Israel. Following anti-Syrian protest in Ramallah, the Palestinian acting capital, Yasser Abed Rabbo, the PLO secretary general, told Reuters, on Tuesday 08/16/2011, “This is a crime against humanity.”

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued, on Wednesday 08/17/2011, a statement strongly condemning Syrian forces for shelling and raiding a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia. The rift between the Palestinian Authority and Syria, and as a consequence also with Hizbullah, now broadens.

EGYPT – The interior political situation in Egypt remains chaotic (see -Mubarak’s Trial). With the consent of Israel, Egypt launched, on Monday 08/15/2011, a military offensive in the North Eastern part of Sinai Peninsula and El-Arish area  in order to restore their sovereignty on Sinai, to protect the gas pipelines to Jordan and Israel, frequently blown up by pro-Al-Qaeda elements and stubborn Bedouin tribes in Sinai (see -El-Arish 07.29.11). The operation is also aiming to stop the new route of supply of weapon to Gaza from deserted weapon storages of the Libyan Army in East Libya, Cyrenaica, to Gaza Strip and to seal the border with Gaza Strip since some of the Egyptian fugitives found refuge in Gaza Strip.

Citing an unnamed security official, state news agency EgyNews said authorities are targeting 15 more people who participated in attacks at an el-Arish police station -some of whom are members of the extremist Jaish el-Islam (Army of Islam) group, based in Gaza Strip, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda. The Egyptian army is also hunting Dr. Ramzi Mahmoud Al Mowafi, the ‘chemist’, a former doctor of Osama Bin Laden, who escaped from a Cairo prison during  EGYPT’S REVOLUTION, in 01/2011, and has resurfaced in the country’s North Sinai area (see – Egypt’s Mass Jail Breakout). About dozen militants were arrested by the Egyptian Army while others fled to Gaza Strip through Rafah Tunnels.

In other corners of the Middle East – in Iraq and Yemen bloodshed is going on as usual. It seems Israel is no longer the “bad guy” of the Middle East, there are so many other worst “bad guys” in the region..

* Euphoric Libyan rebels have moved, on Sunday 08/21/2011 night, into the centre of the capital, Tripoli, as Muammar Gaddafi’s defenders melted away (see – Gaddafis Collapse )..

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