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Developments in the Middle East

Syria: The Syrian regime, besieged by street protests at home and condemnation abroad, on Wednesday lashed out at European governments for threatening a new round of sanctions and accused the West of trying to sow chaos and conflict in the Arab nation that has been wracked by three months of widespread demonstrations. But Foreign Minister Walid Moallem also reiterated President Bashar Assad's call for national dialogue and spoke of democracy over the horizon.

Yemen: Nearly 60 suspected al-Qaida militants tunneled their way out of the Mukalla prison in Hadramout province in the lawless south on Wednesday, deepening the chaos of a nation where protesters are trying to topple the autocratic regime. Yemeni security officials said the escapees on Wednesday included two Syrians, two Saudis and 16 members of an al-Qaida cell blamed for at least 13 terror attacks.

Bahrain: Protesters poured back into the streets Wednesday after a security court sentenced eight Shiite activists to life in prison in the latest blow by the Western-backed kingdom to cripple the biggest Arab Spring opposition movement in the Persian Gulf. Security forces used tear gas to drive back hundreds of Shiite marchers trying to reach a central square in the capital Manama, which was once the hub of their protests for greater rights. In other Shiite areas, protesters gathered in the streets but were held back by riot police. No injuries were reported.

Algeria: Two months of consultations on how to amend Algeria's constitution have been completed, paving the way for this oil-rich country to implement reforms aimed at heading off the wave of pro-democracy unrest sweeping North Africa. Two key opposition parties boycotted the process as a sham and predicted that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has run Algeria for 12 years, will not fulfill his April 16 promise to approve meaningful changes in a new constitution, including laws governing politics.

Developments in the Middle East 06/22/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 9:45pm]
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