World Bulletin/News Desk
The United States and France announced increased support for opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday, but there was no sign that the direct military aid the rebels want to create safe havens for civilians is on the way.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a meeting of foreign ministers in New York that the United States would provide an additional $45 million in non-lethal and humanitarian aid to the Syrian opposition.
Of this, $30 million would be for humanitarian assistance and $15 million for non-lethal help, such as radios and training. The new pledges pushed total U.S. humanitarian aid for Syria to more than $130 million, and non-lethal aid to opposition groups to almost $45 million.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the same meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria - an informal group of countries supporting Assad's ouster - that Paris was increasing its contacts with Syria's armed rebels.
"The process is complex but the Syrian people have been waiting for 18 months for the opposition to succeed to move forward," Fabius said. "It is within this perspective that France has increased its contacts with representatives of the armed opposition."
The 18-month-old uprising against Assad has descended into a civil war. More than 30,000 people have been killed, according to opposition activists, and there are fears the conflict could destabilize the wider Middle East.
Clinton blamed Iran for propping up Assad, saying Tehran would do all it could to support him. "Let's be very frank here - the regime's most important lifeline is Iran," she said.
"Last week a senior Iranian official publicly acknowledged that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are operating inside Syria," Clinton said.
"There is no longer any doubt that Tehran will do whatever it takes to protect its proxy and crony in Damascus. Iran will do everything it can to evade international sanctions."
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby told the group, which was meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly's annual gathering of world leaders, that the situation in Syria was becoming "more explosive."
"We need to start a transitional period," he said. "A transitional period means a change to another regime."
The "Friends of Syria" includes the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Russia and China, which have vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Assad's onslaught on the opposition, are not members.
Despite Friday's announcements, foreign assistance to the Syrian rebels has fallen well short of the foreign-protected safe havens the opposition wants and offers little hope of relief to the worsening plight of civilians.
France started channeling aid to rebel-held parts of Syria in August so that these safe havens could administer themselves and help staunch a flow of refugees trying to escape deadly air strikes by Assad's forces.
However, credible protection for "liberated" areas would require no-fly zones patrolled by foreign aircraft and there appears little chance of this happening.
Such an intervention would require a mandate from the U.N. Security Council - something resolutely opposed by veto-wielding members Russia and China. The council's deadlock appears unbreakable at the moment, Western diplomats say.
It is that deadlock that led frustrated Western powers, Turkey and Gulf Arab states to establish the informal group.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who attended the meeting, later told the U.N. General Assembly it was "the inability of the Security Council to act that still encourages the Syrian regime to kill ever more people."
"The situation in Syria has evolved into a real threat to regional peace and security," he said. "The Syrian regime deploys every instrument to turn the legitimate struggle of the Syrian people into a sectarian war, which will engulf the entire region into flames."
Western powers have also said they will not supply weapons to the lightly armed Syrian rebels, who have few answers to attacks by Assad's combat planes and helicopter gunships.
Qatar said it would organize a meeting soon to try and unite all strands of the Syrian opposition in an effort to create a provisional government. Earlier this week, Qatar called for Arab nations to "interfere" in Syria.
The men were arrested during a police raid which saw 24 individuals arrested earlier this month after they were accused of plotting to take over St Mark’s Square in Venice.
The Customs Union, led by Russia, already has Belarus and Kazakhstan as official members. Armenia looks set to also sgn up while Kyrgyzstan has also shown interest.
Its presence was noteworthy as the United States and Iran have been at loggerheads for decades and Iran is subject to certain economic sanctions.
Kazakhstan and Ukraine both agreed to become non-nuclear states in return for the recognition of their independence by Russia and the West following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Murtala Nyako, the governor of Adamawa State, claimed that most of the violence in the northeast region is being committed by "militias" and soldiers engaged by the central government, not by Boko Haram militants.
Sacred Family Foundation is enjoying a popularity boost due to Berlusconi's future community service.
Another strong earthquake hits Solomon islands in the Pacific Ocean.
East Turkestan, otherwise known as China's Xinjiang province, has seen increasing crackdowns on its native Uighur Muslim community as of late.
Ukraine's government, short of effective forces, has shown little sign of trying to recapture the dozen or so town halls, police stations and other sites seized over the past two weeks, despite proclaiming the launch of an "anti-terrorist operation".
Speaking at a press conference in western Cairo on Saturday, Mortada Mansour said that he would throw his weight behind former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi's bid to run for Egypt's president.
Former head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Mustafa Jemilev, who is now a Ukrainian lawmaker based in Kiev, feared that he would not be allowed to enter Crimea after Russia produced a blacklist of individuals barred from the peninsula.
The Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account the explosion was in the village of al-Maqshaa', along the Budayya highway, outside of the capital Manama.
The violence was triggered by a dispute between two motorists – a Muslim and a Christian – over who should pass first in Al-Khusus, a city within the northern Qalioubiya province.
"The government [of North Sudan] has a lot of blood on its hands," Jehanne Henry, HRW's representative in South and North Sudan said.
James Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, was the mastermind behind the program which used methods amounting to torture to extract information from suspected terrorists, including water-boarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation.
Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who attended a ceremony on Yonaguni island to mark the start of construction, suggested the military presence could be enlarged to other islands in the seas southwest of Japan's main islands.