Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Syrian Tragedies :3 Articles That Are Interconnected

1-Protests erupt as Iran's sanctions-hit currency plummets

Riot police in Tehran fired teargas to disperse demonstrators protesting against the plummeting Iranian currency, which has lost 40% of its value against the dollar in a week as Western sanctions undercut the country's oil export revenues.

 Riot police clashed with demonstrators and foreign exchange dealers in Tehran on Wednesday over the collapse of the Iranian currency, which has lost 40 percent of its value against the dollar in a week, witnesses said.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, angered by the plunge in the value of the rial. Protesters shouted slogans against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying his economic policies had fuelled the economic crisis.
The rial has hit record lows against the U.S. dollar almost daily as Western economic sanctions imposed over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme have slashed Iran’s export earnings from oil, undermining the central bank’s ability to support the currency.
Panicking Iranians have scrambled to buy hard currencies, pushing down the rial. With Iran’s official inflation rate at around 25 percent, the currency’s weakness is hurting living standards and threatening jobs.
The government blames speculators for the rial’s collapse and ordered the security services to take action against them.
“Everyone wants to buy dollars and it’s clear there’s a bit of a bank run,” said a Western diplomat based in Tehran.
“Ahmadinejad’s announcement of using police against exchangers and speculators didn’t help at all. Now people are even more worried.”
Close watchers of Iran say the protests pose a threat to Ahmadinejad rather than the government, but his term will end in June when a presidential election is due and he cannot run for a third time in any case.
They expect the government to stop the foreign exchange dealings and pump in money to stabilise the currency and prevent the protests from spreading.
Tehran’s main bazaar, whose merchants played a major role in Iran’s revolution in 1979, was closed on Wednesday, witnesses said. A shopkeeper who sells household goods there told Reuters that the instability of the rial was preventing merchants from quoting accurate prices.
The protests centred around the bazaar and spread, according to the opposition website Kaleme, to Imam Khomeini Square and Ferdowsi Avenue — scene of bloody protests against Ahmadinejad’s re-election in 2009.
Protesters shouted slogans like “Mahmoud the traitor - you’ve ruined the country” and “Don’t fear, don’t fear - we are all together,” the website said.
Iranian authorities currently do not allow Reuters to report from inside the country.
 The national currency dived to a record low on Tuesday to 37,500 to the U.S. dollar in the free market, from about 34,200 at the close of business on Monday, foreign exchange traders in Tehran said. On Monday last week, it traded at around 24,600.
Ahmadinejad on Tuesday blamed the crisis on the U.S.-led economic sanctions on Iran and insisted the country could ride out the crisis. He urged Iranians not to change their money for dollars and said security forces should act against 22 “ringleaders” in the currency market.

‘Verge of Collapse’

The rial’s slide suggested the Western sanctions were having a serious impact. On Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Iran’s economy was “on the verge of collapse”.
Many businessmen and ordinary citizens say the government is at least partly to blame for the currency crisis, and Ahmadinejad has been criticised by enemies in parliament.
The rial has lost about two-thirds of its value since June 2011. Its losses accelerated in the past week after the government launched an “exchange centre” to supply dollars to importers of basic goods; businessmen say the centre failed to meet demand for dollars.
Parliamentary news agency ICANA quoted Mohammad Bayatian, a member of parliament’s industry and mines committee, as saying enough signatures had been collected to call Ahmadinejad to parliament for questioning over the rial’s fall.
University students protested in front of parliament on Monday over a lack of government-subsidised dollars for their studies abroad, the Iranian Labour News Agency reported.
The impact of sanctions on Iran can be seen across the Gulf in Dubai, a major centre of trade with Iran.
At the Dubai Creek, a crowded waterway from which motorised dhows ship goods to Iran, merchants said Iranian business had fallen off dramatically in the last two weeks.
“Everyone is losing; traders from Iran are losing because of the depreciating rial, and we’re losing here because Iranians can’t afford to buy our products anymore,” said Ahmed Mohammed Amin, 53, an Iranian trader who has lived in Dubai for 40 years.
Websites providing rates for the rial stopped updating on Tuesday, and Dubai money changers said they were not selling the rial because they had lost contact with their Tehran counterparts.

Latest update: 03/10/2012 

Shoot-out in Syria's Corleone exposes threat to Assad

Shoot-out in Syria's Corleone exposes threat to Assad
© Frederick Deknatel

2-The probable death of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s cousin in a mafia-style shoot-out has exposed a rift among Alawites, the Muslim religious sect to which the Assad family belongs and relies on as its power base.

 By Marie Michelet
A mafia-style shoot-out in the traditional home of Syria’s ruling Assad clan - in which an influential cousin of the country’s dictator Bashar al-Assad is thought to have been killed - has exposed a dangerous rift in the country’s Alawite community.
Qardaha, a small town of less than 10,000 inhabitants, is perched in mountains overlooking the coastal town of Latakia.
Its population is overwhelmingly Alawite, the minority Muslim sect to which the Assad family belongs, and is seen as the heart and soul of the regime.
But according to a local Revolutionary Coordination Committee, local strongman Mohammed al-Assad - known as the “Lord of the Mountain” - was killed in a shoot-out on September 28 with rival Alawite clans, putting the Assad stranglehold under unprecedented pressure.
‘Lord of the Mountain’
According to the account published on the Committee’s Facebook page, Mohammed al-Assad was in a town cafĂ© when he overheard a discussion of the country’s plight and fears for the future, especially for Alawite children caught up in Syria’s ongoing civil war.
Al-Assad saw red when a member of the Khayyer clan said that Syria’s ruler should step down and that he had mishandled the situation.
The “Lord of the Mountain” pulled out his gun and started shooting, igniting a prolonged gunbattle between his supporters and members of the rival Khayyer and Othman clans, both of them Alawite families.
According to Syrian writer and opposition figure Samar Yazbek, five members of the Othman family were killed in the shoot-out. The local Revolutionary Coordination Committee claims that Mohammed al-Assad also died.
‘Qardaha is Syria’s Corleone’
“If it’s a scene reminiscent of the film ‘The Godfather’, that’s because this is indeed a town run by a ruthless mafia-style family,” said Syria expert Fabrice Balanche, who is head of the Mediterranean and Orient Research Group at Lyon University.
“Qardaha is Syria’s Corleone,” he said in reference to the Sicilian town immortalised in Francis Ford Coppola’s classic mafia trilogy. “The Assad family has ruled the town mafia-style with impunity for decades.”
Balanche was not surprised that rival clans had started to turn against the Assads, who have maintained a stranglehold over the town since before they changed their family name from al-Wahhish in the 1920s [Wahhish is Arabic for “Monster” – Assad means “Lion”].
“They were originally a minor Alawite family that over time imposed itself on the region by brute force,” Balanche said.
“Many previously powerful clans have been marginalised, and we’ve been hearing for months that Alawite families are fed up of seeing their sons die and are worried for the future.
“But this is the first time we’ve heard of Alawites in Qardaha in anything like open rebellion.”
Terrorising the local population
The story of the shoot-out at Qardaha has also been told by former French diplomat Ignace Leverrier on his Un Oeil sur la Syrie (An Eye on Syria) blog.
Leverrier paints Mohammed al-Assad as a government-sanctioned Mafia lord, making huge profits from business across Syria and of using the Mukhabarat secret intelligence service as a weapon to terrorise the local population.
Al-Assad even made money, according to Leverrier, by taking payments from families with relatives in prison in exchange for information on their health and whereabouts, continuing to give positive reports for cash when some of these prisoners had been long dead.
His killing would prove to be a key turning point in undermining the family’s control of a town with huge Symbolic importance, where former President Hafez al-Assad and Bashar’s brother Basel are buried (see main picture) and whose mosque is named after the Hafez’s mother.
Since September 28, Qardaha has been locked down, according to information from the local Revolutionary Coordination Committee. All roads leading to the town are blocked and no information has been allowed to come out.
Fabrice Balanche said the regime blackout was a desperate gambit by the regime to preserve its image: “The Assads’ biggest fear is that the Alawite community, the cornerstone of their power, starts to split into factions.

“This is why the Assads have historically always resolved any clan feuding in strict secrecy.”

Since the uprising began in March 2011, the Assad regime has relied on the support of the religious minorities – Alawite, Christian and Druze – under its protection. Some 70% of Syrians are Sunni Muslims, who are the vanguard of the rebellion.

According to Balanche, the Assad regime has real cause to fear that these minorities may be starting to turn their backs on it.

3-Turkey bombs Syrian targets after cross-border attack

Turkey has shelled targets in Syria in retaliation for cross-border mortar fire that killed five Turkish nationals in the southeastern border region of Akcakale earlier in the day, the prime minister's office said in a statement.Turkey has shelled targets in Syria in retaliation for cross-border mortar fire that killed five Turkish nationals in the southeastern border region of Akcakale earlier in the day, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office said in a statement on Wednesday.

Syrian shells killed five people in a Turkish town near the border earlier in the day, prompting Ankara to contact the UN over the incursion, which it said went "too far".
"Five people, including a mother and her three children, were killed. We also have nine wounded," said Abdulhakim Ayhan, the mayor of Akcakale, where the shells exploded after being fired from Tall al-Abyad just across the border in Syria.
Although fire from months of Syrian unrest has hit territory inside Turkey on several occasions since the uprising began against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in March 2011, Wednesday's attack marked only the second time that people have died as a result.
Turkey quickly contacted the United Nations over what Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said was an incident that "is very serious and goes too far".

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu contacted UN chief Ban Ki-moon as well as the UN's special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, over the incident.
Davutoglu cleared his schedule and chaired an emergency meeting at the foreign ministry to deal with the incident, it said.
NATO ambassadors are to urgently convene later on Wednesday.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Catitan Sut: 

Semoga kemenangan untuk ummah ini semakin hampir, seakan ianya mengambarkan bagaimana perubahan berlaku , sebahagiannya dijangka sementara yang lain tanpa diduga.

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