Special Correspondent, Middle East
Alistair's Feed
May 21, 2012

Egypt’s first free presidential vote looks wide open

CAIRO (Reuters) – After six decades under the thumb of men from the military, Egyptians savour the novel experience this week of a presidential election whose outcome no one knows in advance.

They vote on Wednesday and Thursday for a leader to replace Hosni Mubarak, who was swept away 15 months ago by a popular revolt that ushered in a turbulent military-led transition and elections for a parliament now dominated by Islamists.

May 13, 2012

Mubarak’s tainted legacy hangs over Egyptian vote

CAIRO/LONDON (Reuters) – Military police idly guard the gates of Egypt’s presidential palace in Heliopolis, built as a 400-room luxury hotel in 1910 and vacant since a popular uprising deposed Hosni Mubarak 15 months ago.

Egyptians, who never stormed in to gawk and plunder their fallen leader’s home as Tunisians and Libyans did last year, vote on May 23 and 24 for a new president, the latest stage of an uncertain transition guided bumpily by the military.

Apr 13, 2012

Analysis: With echoes of Saddam, Syria’s Assad may endure

LONDON (Reuters) – Having crushed a popular uprising, he rules by force over an Arab land shattered by conflict and sanctions, his people too exhausted and cowed to resist.

Is this the fate awaiting Syria under Bashar al-Assad?

Saddam Hussein lasted for 12 years after his defeat in the 1991 Gulf War until a U.S.-led invasion unleashed chaos and carnage from which Iraq, for all its oil, has yet to recover.

Apr 13, 2012

With echoes of Saddam, Syria’s Assad may endure

LONDON (Reuters) – Having crushed a popular uprising, he rules by force over an Arab land shattered by conflict and sanctions, his people too exhausted and cowed to resist.

Is this the fate awaiting Syria under Bashar al-Assad?

Saddam Hussein lasted for 12 years after his defeat in the 1991 Gulf War until a U.S.-led invasion unleashed chaos and carnage from which Iraq, for all its oil, has yet to recover.

Mar 12, 2012

Annan feels Syria mission “on right track”: spokesman

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan feels his Syria mediation mission is on track even though violence still raged as he held talks with President Bashar al-Assad, his spokesman said on Monday.

Annan twice met Assad in Damascus, as well as opposition figures, at the weekend and saw Qatari leaders in Doha on Monday before heading to Turkey.

Mar 11, 2012

Syria’s Assad meets Annan, but gives little ground

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan held blunt talks with Bashar al-Assad this weekend but appeared to be making little headway, as the Syrian president blamed political bloodshed on “terrorists”.

Annan on Saturday made proposals on stopping the violence between security forces and the opposition in the year-old revolt against Assad, access for humanitarian agencies, release of detainees and the start of political dialogue.

Mar 10, 2012

Annan meets Syria’s Assad to press for ceasefire

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday to press for a political solution to Syria’s year-long uprising and bloody crackdown in which thousands of people have been killed.

Syrian television reported that the two men had begun talks in the presidential palace. Annan met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Cairo before flying to Damascus in a mark of the pivotal part Moscow, one of Assad’s few foreign friends, could play in a solution.

Mar 10, 2012

Annan in Syria to press Assad for ceasefire

BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus on Saturday to press President Bashar al-Assad for a political solution to Syria’s year-long uprising and bloody crackdown in which thousands of people have been killed.

Airport sources said Annan headed for a hotel after Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad met him at the airport.

Mar 2, 2012

Khamenei’s outlook dims hope for Iran nuclear deal

LONDON (Reuters) – As tensions over Iran’s nuclear program ratchet higher once again, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s aversion for the West remains a formidable barrier to any diplomatic solution.

A visit by U.N. nuclear inspectors to Iran last week, a few days after Tehran wrote to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton promising “new initiatives” in negotiations, suggests the door to diplomacy has not slammed shut.

Mar 1, 2012

Syrian forces batter rebels, UN body condemns Syria

BEIRUT, March 1 (Reuters) – Elite Syrian forces trying
to destroy rebels besieged in Homs pounded the shattered
district of Baba Amro on Thursday, despite international alarm
at the plight of civilians trapped there.

Snow blanketed the city, slowing down the military assault,
but also worsening conditions for civilians, activists said.

    • About Alistair

      "I cover the Middle East, with an emphasis on political analysis, region-wide stories and in-depth features. I live in Beirut and have been in my current post since June 2006. Outside my main Middle Eastern beat, I have covered Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan."
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