Yemen’s Saleh backs out of his promise to step down; NATO refuses Qaddafi’s calls for truce; Uprising continues against Assad in Syria.



 Apr 30, 2011

By Carter Dougherty

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh backed away from an agreement to step down, Al Jazeera television reported as Syria’s newly appointed Prime Minister Adel Safar promised political and economic changes. Saleh refused to sign an accord brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council that includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. Abdel Latif al- Zayyani, the council’s secretary general, returned to Saudi Arabia from Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, Al Jazeera said. In Libya, the government said Muammar Qaddafi’s youngest son and three of his grandchildren were killed in a NATO airstrike on his home in Tripoli. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said yesterday it wouldn’t consider a cease-fire until Qaddafi’s forces stop attacking civilians. Uprisings have spread across the Middle East since January, unseating rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and sparking violent repression in Libya, which has Africa’s biggest proven crude oil reserves, and in Syria. Oil has advanced 25 percent in New York this year. Crude oil for June delivery rose $1.07, or 1 percent, to $113.93 a barrel, the highest settlement since Sept. 22, 2008, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures rose 6.8 percent in April, in an unprecedented eighth consecutive month of gains. Prices are up 34 percent from a year ago. ‘Desired Reforms’ Yemen’s opposition said their delegations wouldn’t go to Saudi Arabia for a signing ceremony if Saleh didn’t sign the accord and accompany them to Riyadh, according to Mohammed al- Qahtan, a member of the opposition and spokesman for the Joint Meeting Parties that represents six opposition groups. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government aims to set up three committees to develop in the coming weeks a “comprehensive plan for desired reforms” focusing on political, security, judiciary, economic, and social policies, Prime Minister Safar said yesterday in a Cabinet meeting, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency. Protesters have defied government warnings against demonstrations. Clashes with security forces during the past week, mostly in the southern province of Daraa, pushed the number of deaths nationwide to more than 550 since the revolt began in mid-March, according to Mahmoud Merhi, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, and Amma Qurabi, head of Syria’s National Organization for Human Rights. Daraa Clash Syrian army units and security forces killed six members of a “terrorist group” in Daraa, captured 149 fugitives and seized arms and ammunition, SANA reported yesterday. One soldier was killed in the operation and seven members of the army and security forces were wounded, it said. NATO’s rejection of Qaddafi’s truce offer came after the Libyan leader said he’ll stay in the North African nation, where his people want “martyrdom or victory” in the face of a rebel insurgency that began in mid-February. He spoke on Libyan state television that was broadcast by Al Arabiya. “Just hours before Colonel Qaddafi spoke of a truce, his forces indiscriminately shelled Misrata, killing many people, including children,” Carmen Romero, NATO deputy spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “All this has to stop, and it has to stop now.” NATO foreign ministers meeting in April made it clear that the alliance will continue operations “until all of Qaddafi’s forces, including his snipers, mercenaries and paramilitary forces, have returned to their bases,” Romero said. “The regime has announced cease-fires several times before and continued attacking cities and civilians,” Romero said.


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