The Middle East Channel

Protesters gather for pro-reform rally in Jordan

Thousands of Jordanians have gathered in the capital city of Amman for a pro-reform rally organized by the Islamic Action Front, the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The rally is expected to be the country's biggest demonstration since the start of the Arab Uprisings. Unions and professional associations, however, have not joined the rally. Many members of the opposition feel the pace of reform in Jordan is too slow, and are particularly incensed at an electoral law passed last July which discriminates against Jordanians of Palestinian heritage. Zaki Bani Arshid, the leader of the Brotherhood's political wing in Amman said "In particular we demand certain amendments to the constitution which lead to the formation of a parliamentary government." Opposition members have also called for anti-corruption measures. King Abdullah has made concessions, including dissolving the Parliament and calling for early elections in hopes that the moves would staunch the protest. No date has been set for the election, and a demonstration in support of the King was called off over security fears.

Syria

Tensions between Syria and Turkey continue to increase after five Turkish citizens died from a mortar attack, which Turkey has retaliated against. In a closed-door session, the Turkish parliament authorized its military to carry out cross-border raids. Ankara has also reinforced its naval presence in the Mediterranean. The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved a statement which condemns Syria's attack on Turkey. Meanwhile, Syrian warplanes and artillery have been aggressively bombarding Homs. Opposition activists claim this is the heaviest bombardment of Homs in five months. Opposition fighters have allegedly captured an air defense base with a cache of surface-to-air missiles near Damascus. Meanwhile, the New York Times has reported that members of the opposition, anxious for soldiers to defect from the Syrian army, have relied on more desperate tactics, including cajoling, duping, threatening, drugging, and kidnapping Syrian army soldiers.

Headlines

  • Tehran's merchants have re-opened their shops in the grand bazaar, but police officers are stationed nearby, preparing for more protests.
  • F.B.I. agents have reached the site of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya after being deterred by security concerns. The agents are looking for clues to determine how the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens three weeks ago occurred.
  • Staffers at Haaretz, the liberal Israeli newspaper, went on strike yesterday to protest the upcoming layoff of many of its employees. Maariv, a mainstream newspaper, is also on the verge of collapse.

Arguments and Analysis

Syria's Up-and-Coming Rebels: Who Are the Farouq Brigades?' (Rania Abouzeid, Time Magazine)
"The four men had journeyed for seven hours by bus from the southern Turkish city of Antakya for a meeting they considered crucial. It was about to take place on the patio of a three-star hotel in the southeastern Turkish city of Urfa. The men - two young Free Syrian Army (FSA) commanders from Raqqa province in eastern Syria, a prominent civilian activist from the area and an FSA military adviser from the outskirts of Aleppo - were concerned with just one thing: which rebel group would control the border crossing of Tal Abyad, which had been taken less than two weeks earlier, on Sept. 19, from the forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad."

Better than nothing: A deal between the two Sudans is a first step. But a lot could still go wrong' (The Economist)

"In the next few days chemicals will be pumped at high pressure along the two oil pipelines that run northwards from landlocked, independent South Sudan across its contested border with plain Sudan (which encompassed both countries until a year ago) to Port Sudan on the Red Sea (see map). Known as "warming the pipes", this step should begin to restore life to the two Sudans' clogged economic arteries. Whether it will lead to real peace and harmony is another question."

The Media War in Syria' (Malik Al-Abdeh, The Majalla)

"Exactly a year after the breakout of the Syrian uprising, Al-Arabiya TV did something extraordinary: it broadcast blow-by-blow details of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad's emails that were leaked by opposition hackers. The emails contained sensitive information about the regime's security plans, the state of the Syrian economy and embarrassing revelations about Asma Al-Assad's extravagant online shopping sprees.  Arab media traditionally avoids stories that involve personal attacks on Arab heads of state, but in this instance Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya broke all the taboos. It was as close as you could get to a declaration of war.

The conflict in Syria has exacerbated the media tussle between two opposing camps in the region: the so-called "moderate" Arab states and the "resistance axis." On one side, Syrian opposition satellite channels and Gulf-financed news networks are supportive of the uprising; on the other are the Syrian regime's broadcasters plus those owned or funded by its chief ally, Iran."

--By Jennifer Parker 

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