Iran is evil

The regime in Tehran has to be one of the most evil regime on this planet and it is time to serve it with a vicious military iron fist right into its jaw that should break it into a million pieces. God's willing, this regime should join Nazi Germany and Imperial japan into the dustbin of history. For the sake of Humanity, this cultist regime in Tehran must be crushed and eliminated.



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(When) Will Assad Fall? – The Damascus Test

Like many of its brethren in the Arab world, the country of Syria has been engulfed in protests over its authoritarian leader President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Assad has responded to these protests by offering a mixture of reforms and violent crackdowns, neither of which have assuaged the protesters.

At the moment Syria seems to be in a state of temporary equilibrium; the protests go on, with the government unable to stop them. Yet Mr. Assad still firmly holds the reigns of power. This cannot last forever, of course. Eventually the protests will topple Mr. Assad, or Mr. Assad will break his opposition.

The key seems to be the city of Damascus, the capital and most populous city in Syria. Take an analogy to the Egyptian Revolution. The massive protests in Cairo – the capital and most populous city of Eygpt – were the key to President Hosni Mubarak’s fall. Had there not been protests in Cairo (or only minor ones), it’s very likely that Mr. Mubarak would still be running Eygpt today.

Damascus holds a similar role for Syria; like Cairo, it is the capital and heart of Syria. A similar percentage of Syrians live in Damascus as Egyptians living in Cairo. The protesters desperately desire for another Tahrir Square to happen in Damascus. Mr. Assad will desperately do his best to ensure that this never happens.

If fifty thousand people gathered in Damascus to march against the government, then Mr. Assad’s rule would be shaken like nothing else. It would be a harbinger of the end.

Tens of thousands of people have indeed gathered in the streets of Damascus. But these have been rallies and marches in support of the government (such as the image shown at the top). The protests in Damascus so far have been small and easily dispersed.

The major protests seem to have occurred in more provincial, poorer, and more religious areas of Syria; the areas that have not benefited from Mr. Assad’s rule. Syria’s two largest cities, on the other hand, have done relatively well economically; there is support for Mr. Assad amongst the middle class. Indeed, the perception of the protesters as more provincial may be hurting them greatly in Damascus and Aleppo (the second-largest city in Syria). The New York Times has written a fascinating article about the opposition’s relative lack of success there.

So far major protests numbering thousands or (what is really necessary) tens of thousands of people have not occurred in Damascus. They may never occur. Damascus may remain in Mr. Assad’s camp, and so enable him to stay in power. Or perhaps one day the people of Damascus will decide to cast their lot with the opposition, and an end will come to the rule of Mr. Assad.




Around the World

News from around the globe impacting our world.

Qatar Arming Libyan Rebels. The Guardian reports that officials in Doha confirm Qatar has been secretly supplying French-made missiles to Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

In other Libya related news, NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Berlin on Thursday to discuss how to move forward on Libya. But the alliance against Qaddafi will have to make tough choices if the military stalemate continues. Der Spiegel reports from Berlin.

Protests Spread Across Syria.  Al-Jazeera reports that anti-government discontent is spreading to new towns, as the challenge to President Assad's regime grows. Significantly, protests have been reported in Aleppo, the country's second largest city and an Alawite stronghold.

Bulgaria's Demographic Crisis. Bulgaria has completed its 2011 census. The census results have expectedly revealed the scope of Bulgaria's demographic catastrophe – the country's population is declining rapidly, aging rapidly, and continuing to emigrate at a steady rate. According to Novinite, "Bulgaria's demographic condition is unique as it corresponds to its situation as the poorest country in the "rich countries' club." As the least developed among the developed states, it is exhibiting the worst characteristics of the two worlds. Bulgaria is like the developed countries because its birthrate has declined dramatically and its population is aging; it differs from them in that it is failing to attract skilled young foreign immigrants. Bulgaria resembles the developing states in the sense that its best and brightest are emigrating at a constant rate; it differs from them because its birthrate is nowhere near those of the typical developing countries."

Korea Widens Its Ban of Japanese Food Imports. South Korea will virtually suspend importing agricultural products from areas near the quake-crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan, from next month, a state food regulator said Thursday. Beginning in May, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) will require the Japanese government to provide certificates showing agricultural products harvested in 13 regions in the plant’s vicinity are safe. So far, only India has instituted a total ban on Japanese food imports.

Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman May Face Charges. Israel's Attorney General moved Wednesday to possibly indict Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on fraud and other corruption charges, capping a decade-old investigation into the leader of the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu party. More from the Los Angeles Times.

Around the World

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Egypt Detains Mubarak and Sons. The interim government of Egypt has detained former Hosni Mubarak, who apparently suffered a heart attack, and his two sons. A statement posted on Facebook by Egypt's top prosecutor read "The prosecutor general orders the detention of former President Hosni Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa for 15 days pending investigation after the prosecutor general presented them with the current state of its ongoing investigations." More from Al Jazeera.

UK Unemployment Drops. The latest unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the under-25s and women workers are bearing much of the pain in Britain's jobs market, while average earnings continued to lag behind inflation. But economists were encouraged by an unexpected fall in the total number of people out of work, which cut the UK's jobless rate from 8 percent to 7.8 percent. Still one in five Britons under the age of 25 are unemployed. The full details in The Guardian.

Opposition Leaders Arrested in Uganda. Opposition politicians, including Dr Kizza Besigye and Mr Norbert Mao, were arrested yesterday morning and charged hours later with alleged incitement to cause violence and failure to obey lawful orders. The opposition in Uganda has mounting a walk-to-work campaign every Monday and Thursday in solidarity with Ugandans suffering under the weight of sharply rising fuel and commodity prices. President Yoweri Museven has close ties to the American Christian Right. All Africa has more on the story.

The Gambia Calls on the US to Prosecute Terry Jones. The government of the small West African country of the Gambia has called on US goverment to prosecute as soon as possible, Terry Jones, a pastor in Florida church for recently burning a copy of the Qur'an. In a strongly worded statement indicating the Gambia government's position on Monday, Ebrima O. Camara, the secretary general and head of the civil service on behalf of the Gambia government described the act as heinous, bigotry and provocative. The full text of the protest note can be read at All Africa.

Inflation in India Darkens Outlook. With the latest figures show Indian inflation galloping at 8.31 percent, Kunal Kumar Kundu of the Asia Times looks at the policy options and their implication for the fast growing Indian economy.

Libya Group Calls for Qaddafi's Exit. The newly formed international "contact group" on Libya calls for Colonel Muammar Qaddafi to stand down as the country's leader. The BBC has the full story.

Around the World

News from around the globe impacting your world.

Clashes in Tahir Square. The Egyptian military and police stormed Cairo's Tahir Square to remove protesters who were demanding the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak and the removal of Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi as interim head of state in a pre-dawn raid. Al Jazeera reports that at least one person was killed with scores injured. The violence came after a huge protest drew thousands in the square on Friday. Yolande Knell of the BBC filed this report:

This is the latest worrying sign of tensions between the ruling military and supporters of the 25 January revolution who are becoming increasingly impatient with the pace of change.

There is growing anger that remnants of the former government, including the ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his family, have not been charged with corruption. Some blame the former Defence Minister, Field Marshal Tantawi, who is head of the Supreme Military Council. He was very close to Mr Mubarak.

Reports that the army has arrested and tortured demonstrators that have circulated in recent weeks and the fact that military trials continue add to the mistrust.

The armed forces insist they were simply enforcing a curfew when they moved into Tahrir Square overnight and that they are meeting their promises of reforms and justice.

Protests in Syria Leave 37 Dead. A Syrian rights group said on Saturday that state security forces orces killed at least 37 people during Friday's demonstrations in cities across the country. The National Organization for Human Rights said in a statement that 30 people were killed in the southern city of Deraa, the epicenter of protests. Another three people were killed in the central city of Homs and three others in Harasta, a Damascus suburb, as well as one in Douma. This makes Friday the deadliest day since protests erupted against the iron-fisted dynastic rule of Bashir al-Assad three weeks ago. Syrian activists are now calling for daily protests against the regime. More from Haaretz.

More Protests, More Deaths in Yemen. More clashes erupted in Yemen especially in the flashpoint city of Taez. Agence France Press reports that thousands of protesters massed in Al-Hurriya (Liberty) Square in Taez, south of Sanaa, calling for those behind the deadly shooting of protesters to be held to account and for President Saleh to go. As many as 100,000 people marched. Medics said Yemeni security forces shot dead four protesters and wounded 116 in the flashpoint city in clashes that erupted on Friday and carried on into the next morning. On the regional scene, Yemen recalled its ambassador to Qatar, state news agency Saba announced, after a call from the Gulf state for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

A Dry March Leaves Fear of a Drought in Southern Britain. Southern England and Wales have had their driest March since 1961, with each area having only a quarter of the expected rainfall. The driest region, East Anglia, had only 15 per cent of its normal precipitation in its driest March since 1929, and the second-driest since records began in 1910. Water UK, the umbrella body for the water companies in England and Wales, says there is "currently no concern about water supplies, but we are keeping an eye on things after what was a very dry March". Britain last rationed water in 1976. More from The Independent.

Elections in Djibouti. Djibouti's president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, garnered 80.58 percent of votes cast in the country's elections on Friday, according to provisional results out today. The result would give him a third term in power in the small strategically located Red Sea state, where the opposition initially boycotted the ballot and tried to start Egyptian-style protests in February. The interior Minister, Yacin Elmi Bouh, said that Guelleh's rival, Mohamed Warsama, got 19.42 percent of votes cast in the election, which had a 69.68 percent turnout, according to Reuters. Just over 152,000 people are registered to vote in the small Red Sea state which has the only US military base in Africa and the largest French army camp on the continent. There are approximately 2,200 US troops stationed in Djibouti and the Pentagon hopes to locate the headquarters of AFRICOM there. Human Rights Watch said that the US-funded Democracy International election monitoring organisation was expelled from Djibouti in March. The government said the body had failed to maintain its neutrality in the run-up to the vote.

Bombs Mar Nigeria's Legislative Elections. Nigerians finally went to vote in most areas in the twice-delayed National Assembly elections on Saturday, but the exercise was marred by bombings and violence in at least three states. In one incident, up to 25 people were reportedly killed. Bombings were reported in the northern states of Bauchi, Kaduna and Niger, areas where Christian-Muslim tensions have long simmered. A full round on Nigeria's elections from All Africa.

More Atrocities Reported in the Côte d'Ivoire. Ivoirians who have fled across the border to Liberia have reported incidents of rape, sexual abuse and murder to NGOs and human rights groups working in Grand Geddeh and Nimba counties. Children in villages in Liberia's Nimba County have told field workers at NGO Equip that they were forced to watch as their mothers were raped and then killed. In several cases, the children themselves were then sexually assaulted. A woman told Equip staff she was forced to watch while armed men raped her four-year-old daughter. Most attacks have taken place outside villages as people tried to flee, or at checkpoints, refugees said. Refugees say sexual assaults have been committed by both armed supporters of Laurent Gbagbo and of Alassane Ouattara, as well as militia members at checkpoints, and to a lesser extent, opportunists who have preyed on refugees' vulnerability. Last week, at least 800 people were reportedly killed in inter-communal violence in the western part of the country, as rival forces continue to battle for Abidjan, the country's largest city and commercial capital. There are new reports that hundreds more have been killed in fighting on the outskirts of Abidjan. Gbagbo, who disputed Ouattara’s internationally recognized victory in the Nov. 28 presidential election, remains in a bunker with his family and senior aides but has used a lull in the fighting to mount a counter-offensive against the Republican Army of Alassane Ouattara. According to the BBC, Gbagbo forces launched two mortars and a rocket at the residence of the French ambassador in Abidjan yesterday prompting French helicopter gunships to respond.


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