North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Libya election moves country forward, Syria begins disintegration

Across the restive Arab world, two countries are heading in different directions.

Libya, after its savage dethroning of the dictator Gadaffi (with some estimates of approximately 100,000 lives lost), has held an important election that has resulted in "liberal" secular political forces taking the lead. Perhaps tentative still, these initial results compare favorably to Egypt's continuing turmoil with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood along with other Islamist leanings. We shall see ...

Libya, set along the Mediterranean Sea, is an important oil producing country, and has emerged from 50 years of dictatorship under Colonel Gadaffi.

In the first nationwide free election in more than 50 years approximately 80% of those eligible turned out to vote for candidates filling 80 seats out of the 200 in the National Assembly (or parliament). The election commission said former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril's National Forces Alliance won 39 seats, or nearly half of those allocated for parties. The Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction party came in second with 17 seats. Smaller factions won the other 24 seats set aside for parties. Jibril's party showed particular strength in Libya's two largest cities - Tripoli and Benghazi - and won everywhere across the country.

A positive aspect of the election was the strong support for the liberal alliance across the country, and in particular, the two largest cities Tripoli and Benghazi. Libya's population of just 6.4 million is predominately centered in the north and along the coast, while the desert regions to the south are sparsely settled.

The balance of power lies with the 120 seats set aside for independent candidates, some of whom are likely affiliated unofficially with parties. (Teatree is unsure whether these seats will be filled via a separate election or some other process.) The 200-seat National Assembly is tasked with forming a new government to replace the NTC's Cabinet.

Men preparing to vote

Women in line to vote

Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril's National Forces Alliance is in an initial commanding position for determining the country's future.

Syria, in stark contrast, has by all accounts, drifted into a deepening civil war. These past few days have witnessed sustained clashes in the capitol city, Damascus, the defection of more high ranking officials (a general and an ambassador), and just this morning the assassination of the country's Defense Minister and other inner-circle leaders.

Syrian fighting has now reached the capitol, Damascus, in sustained clashes. The country, with a population of nearly 21 million, is comprised of several tribal and ethnic groupings, with President Assad himself from a minority Alewite tribe.

As CNN reported, "A deadly attack on top Syrian officials Wednesday delivered the harshest blow yet to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, bringing the bloodshed into his inner circle, and even his family.

Four top officials were killed in an explosion at a national security building in Damascus, and some other people were wounded, state TV reported. Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha; Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat -- al-Assad's brother-in-law; Hasan Turkmani, al-Assad's security adviser and assistant vice president, and Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar were killed, the state TV reports said.

The attack, during a meeting of ministers and security officials, was coordinated by several rebel brigades in Damascus, said the deputy head of the opposition Free Syrian Army, Col. Malek al-Kurdi. The government described it as a suicide bombing. But al-Kurdi said a remote control was used to detonate an explosive device planted inside the meeting room."

Syria's Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha, among the top four reported killed.

Smoke hangs over Damascus neighborhoods

Reports state that Bashir al-Assad has pulled units from Syria's border with Israel, back into Damascus to protect the ruling family's power center.

Studied avoidance of public intervention by Western powers, public support from Russia and China, and active quiet support - the proxy war - from Hezbollah and Iran for Assad's regime, has resulted in today's dire picture. The US and others have raised specific concerns over his stockpiles of chemical weapons (don't use them, and keep them secure), and the more general concern over Al-Qaeda's taking advantage of the complex conflict.

Syria reportedly manufactures Sarin, Tabun, VX, and mustard gas types of chemical weapons to the amounts of several hundred tons per year. Syria is one of only 7 nations which is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Like Libya, Syria's population is not equally spread across the country, but concentrated in the west, with heavier populations in the fertile northwest along Turkey's border, and in the Southwest, in Damascus.

1 comment:

Teatree said...

Further reports today say that of the four top inner circle advisors initially stated as killed, Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar was wounded and stable ..