U.N.: Syrian President Needs to Step Down

The U.N. Security Council this week will take up a draft resolution proposed by Morocco that calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and transfer power.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the draft demands the government end the violence, pull back its heavy weaponry from residential areas, allow monitors to operate freely, release political prisoners and allow the news media to operate.

The proposal comes after the Arab League suspended a mission to monitor whether al-Assad was abiding by an agreement to end the crackdown, which has left thousands of civilians dead. Morocco’s draft resolution calls for al-Assad to step down and supports “full implementation” of the Arab League recommendations on Syria. That would include calling on Syria to form a unity government within two months.

The violence in Syria erupted in Daraa last March, after a number of teenagers and children were arrested for writing political graffiti that opposed the government. The unrest spread into an uprising, part of the “Arab Spring” taking place in several countries across the the Middle East and North Africa.

The United Nations estimated last month that more than 5,000 people have died since March. Opposition groups estimate a higher death toll, with counts near or exceeding 7,000 people.


Source: CNN

Image: Middle East Live


U.S. Tensions Rise With Egypt’s ‘Travel Ban’ on Americans

Six Americans working for publicly funded U.S. organizations promoting democracy in Egypt have been barred from leaving the country, provoking angry demands in Washington that Cairo’s new military rulers stop “endangering American lives.”

Among those hit by travel bans – one of those targeted called it “de facto detention” – is a son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, as well as other foreign staffers of the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute, officials at the two organizations said.

The United States said Egypt should reverse them: “We are urging the government of Egypt to lift these restrictions immediately and allow these folks to come home as soon as possible,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

A month after police raided the Cairo offices of the IRI, NDI and eight other non-governmental organizations, it raises the stakes for Washington, which had already indicated it may review the $1.3 billion it gives the Egyptian military each year if the probe into alleged breaches of local regulations went on.

Sam LaHood told Reuters that a judge had accused him and three other IRI employees with managing an unregistered NGO and being paid employees of an unregistered organization, infractions that carry a penalty of up to five years in jail. Egyptian officials have made no comment on the bans.


Source: Reuters

Image: Mideast Mag