File photo of soldiers at an undisclosed location in Israel
With Israel and Iran there seems to be no solution in sight; Iranian President Ahmadinejad called Israel a “cancerous tumour” that will soon be finished off and Israel claims to be “ready as never before” for a clash with the Iranian regime. © AFP/MOD/File
File photo of soldiers at an undisclosed location in Israel
Your Middle East staff
Last updated: August 21, 2012

Weekly Newsbrief 17 August 2012

Syria continues to dominate the news flow; more than 23,000 people have now been killed in the conflict and according to Assad's defected former Prime Minister, Riad Hijab, the regime only controls 30 percent of the country's territory. Yet, it remains difficult to verify information coming out of Syria, as coverage is mainly restricted to two major contesting sources. Concerns have also been raised about spill-over effects into neighbouring Lebanon; tensions in Beirut on Thursday even forced an Air France plane to change route from Beirut to end up landing for refuelling in Damascus. In Jordan, sweltering heat, dust, lack of electricity and at times sexual harassment are some of the hardships faced by refugees in the tent camps.

There have been renewed clashes in Sinai following the attack on a border post with Israel although verifiable information on what goes on in the lawless peninsula seems as elusive as the militants there. Analysts say that a rift among Egypt's top brass and the blow to the army's prestige dealt by the deadly raid in the Sinai gave President Mohamed Morsi the opportunity to sideline his powerful defence minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who ruled Egypt for more than a year after the revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

With Israel and Iran there seems to be no solution in sight; Iranian President Ahmadinejad called Israel a “cancerous tumour” that will soon be finished off and Israel claims to be “ready as never before” for a clash with the Iranian regime.

The prominent Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to three years in jail. Amnesty called it "a dark day for justice in Bahrain."

In Yemen, troops of the elite Republican Guard, led by the son of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, attacked the defence ministry on Tuesday, leaving five people dead and sparking US expressions of concern.

The rich Gulf state of Qatar decided to chip in for Egypt's survival; $2 billion in financial support to be exact.

Tunisia's new constitution will not be adopted until April 2013, six months later than planned, the head of the drafting committee said on Monday, threatening to compound political uncertainties.

Libya's National Transitional Council on Wednesday handed power to a new assembly in a symbolic move marking a peaceful transition following the overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi's 40-year dictatorship. The country's top legislative body elected as its president a veteran opponent of the former regime who is seen as pro-Islamist.

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