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Jul 3, 2013

Wary of Mursi, Gulf Arabs keen to appear neutral in Egypt crisis

DUBAI/RIYADH, July 3 (Reuters) – Gulf Arab rulers are
resisting the temptation to gloat in public about the political
woes of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a group most of them
mistrust, for fear of deepening unrest in a country that remains
a potential ally in their standoff with Iran.

Officials and analysts said official Gulf Arab silence
reflected a longstanding belief among the mainly small,
U.S.-allied Sunni Muslim-ruled oil producers that their security
is closely linked to that of Egypt, the most populous country in
the Arab World, which is also Sunni.

Jun 24, 2013

Qatar readies new leadership, little policy change expected

DUBAI (Reuters) – Qatar appeared on Monday to be readying its population of nearly 2 million for new leadership that could see the emir and prime minister step down, a move analysts say would not herald big changes in energy, investment or foreign policies.

The tiny country, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is a global investment powerhouse, a growing force in international media and sport, and a financial backer of Arab Spring revolts in alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jun 14, 2013

In Mecca, Saudi cleric urges followers to back Syria rebels

DUBAI (Reuters) – A senior cleric in Islam’s holy city Mecca exhorted followers on Friday to support Syrian rebels by “all means”, the latest in a series of rhetorical attacks on President Bashar al-Assad reflecting rising sectarian tension across the Middle East.

His appeal came at a time when momentum on the battlefield has been shifting in Assad’s favor, just a few months after analysts wrote him off, making the prospect of his swift removal and an end to Syria’s civil war look remote in the near future.

Jun 13, 2013

Saudi Arabia arrests dozens in protest over prisoners: activists

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi security forces arrested dozens of people this week during protests by families seeking freedom for relatives detained on security charges, activists and witnesses said.

Families of security detainees have regularly staged small protests in Riyadh and some other cities over the past two years in defiance of a government ban on demonstrations.

Jun 12, 2013

Gulf Shi’ites fear rising sectarian rhetoric over Syria

DUBAI, June 12 (Reuters) – Shi’ite Muslims in the Gulf,
alarmed by the shrill sectarian rhetoric of some Sunni clerics
after Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia entered Syria’s civil war,
fear they will be blamed and may be victimised for the
bloodshed.

“Hate language is on the rise, in the press, on social media
and even at lectures in mosques. Shi’ites in general are being
blamed for what’s happening in Syria,” said Waleed Sulais, a
researcher at the Saudi Adalah Centre for Human Rights.

Jun 10, 2013

Zawahri steps into row between Syrian and Iraqi al Qaeda wings

DUBAI (Reuters) – Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri has intervened in a dispute between the Iraqi and Syrian branches of his network, telling both to “stop arguing”, Qatar-based Al Jazeera television reported.

Al Qaeda in Iraq announced in April that it had united with Syria’s Nusra Front, which now spearheads the fight against President Bashar al-Assad. This upset Nusra, which affirmed its loyalty to Zawahri but said it had not been told of any merger.

Apr 9, 2013

Iraqi al Qaeda wing merges with Syrian counterpart

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iraq’s al Qaeda wing has united with a kindred Syrian group in the frontline of a struggle to oust President Bashar al-Assad, sharpening a dilemma for nations that back the revolt, but fear rising Islamist militancy.

The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said his group had funded cells of fighters from Syria’s al-Nusra Front – which is blacklisted by the United States – since the early days of the two-year-old uprising.

Apr 9, 2013

Iraqi al Qaeda wing says Nusra Front is its Syria branch: SITE group

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iraq’s al Qaeda wing has united with a kindred Syrian group in the frontline of a struggle to oust President Bashar al-Assad, sharpening a dilemma for nations that back the revolt, but fear rising Islamist militancy.

The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said his group had funded cells of fighters from Syria’s al-Nusra Front – which is blacklisted by the United States – since the early days of the two-year-old uprising.

Mar 27, 2013

In snub to Assad, opposition takes Syria’s Arab summit seat

DOHA (Reuters) – To applause from Arab heads of state, a foe of Bashar al-Assad took Syria’s vacant seat at an Arab summit on Tuesday, deepening the president’s diplomatic isolation and diverting attention from rifts among his opponents.

Speaking at an annual gathering of Arab leaders in the Gulf state of Qatar, Moaz Alkhatib said he had asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for American forces to help defend rebel-controlled northern parts of Syria with Patriot surface-to-air missiles now based in Turkey. NATO swiftly rebuffed the idea.

Mar 26, 2013

Arab leaders set up $1 billion Arab fund for Jerusalem

DOHA, March 26 (Reuters) – The Arab League on Tuesday
approved a Qatari proposal to set up a $1 billion fund for Arab
East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of an
independent state under any peace deal with Israel.

Arabs say that Israeli settlement-building on land captured
in the 1967 Middle East war, including Arab East Jerusalem, has
made a two-state solution backed by the United States
unfeasible.