The week at a glance...International
Tripoli, Libya Qaddafi son killed: Mobs torched several Western embassies in Tripoli this week after a NATO airstrike killed Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi’s youngest son, Saif al-Arab, and three of Saif’s children. The embassy attacks prompted Britain to expel the Libyan ambassador, and Qaddafi came under increased international pressure to surrender. The International Criminal Court said it had sufficient grounds to charge his forces with crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, and persecution. And his erstwhile ally, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called on him to “immediately step down” because he had brought “blood, tears, oppression, and attacks on his own people.” Qaddafi’s forces nevertheless intensified their attack on the port city of Misurata, shelling the harbor and preventing ships from bringing weapons and aid from the main opposition forces in Benghazi.
CairoHamas, Fatah reconcile: Feuding Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah put aside their differences this week and signed an Egyptian-brokered agreement to form a unity government for the Palestinian territories. Hamas has been isolated since it won 2006 elections and took over the Gaza Strip, leaving Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with control of only the West Bank. Under the agreement, the two factions will support a single prime minister and will hold elections in both territories within a year, although they won’t yet merge security forces. Israel denounced the deal, noting that Hamas has not renounced terrorism. “How is it possible to achieve peace with a government, half of which calls for the destruction of Israel?” asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Khartoum, SudanIslamist leader freed: Hassan al-Turabi, the Sudanese Islamist leader who once sheltered Osama bin Laden, was freed this week, three months after he was jailed for advocating a Tunisia-style revolution in the country. Turabi, a mentor and close adviser to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir throughout the 1990s, helped make Sudan a notorious refuge for militant Islamists, including Osama bin Laden. But for the past 10 years, he’s been locked in a power struggle with Bashir, and he immediately resumed his call for Bashir’s overthrow upon leaving jail. “There are revolutions in many Arab countries, and the Sudanese people are not less than the people of those countries,” he said.
Daraa, SyriaKilling demonstrators: More than 1,000 demonstrators were arrested this week as the Syrian regime again sent tanks and troops to quash the ongoing pro-democracy uprising. At least 560 people are thought to have been killed since protests began in March. The army deployed in force and fired on unarmed demonstrators this week in the southern city of Daraa, a main center of protests. “These are, quite frankly, barbaric measures and they amount to the collective punishment of innocent civilians,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has ruled the country for 41 years, has banned foreign media coverage and accused “armed groups and terrorists” of stirring up the unrest.
Manama, BahrainDoctors arrested: Bahraini authorities have arrested and reportedly tortured dozens of doctors and nurses for treating anti-government protesters and reporting their injuries to the world. Fareeda Dallal, a physician, appeared on Al-Jazeera with a black eye, saying her captors had called her a whore and forced her to dance for them. “They beat me with a hose, a big hose, on the arms and the legs,” she said. Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said “even those people who have been shot and have bullets inside their body” are staying away from hospitals because “they are afraid to be arrested and tortured there.” In March Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa declared martial law and invited in Saudi troops to help quell pro-democracy demonstrations.
Colombo, Sri LankaAnti-U.N. protests: Tens of thousands of Sri Lankans rallied in Colombo this week to protest a U.N. report that says the government committed war crimes in the last months of its long war against a Tamil insurgency. The 26-year civil war ended in 2009 after a major surge by government forces. A U.N. report out last week said that it had found evidence that Sri Lankan troops had killed hundreds of civilians by shelling hospitals and other humanitarian facilities during the surge. It also accused the Tamils of war crimes, including using human shields and child soldiers. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa organized the anti-U.N. protest to coincide with the traditional Labor Day march.