A Syrian official has publicly denounced the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and resigned in protest over the government's brutal crackdown of demonstrators. Mohammed Adnan al-Bakkour, the attorney general of Hama, is the highest ranking Syrian official to resign in the last five months of protests. In an internet video released on Wednesday, Bakkour detailed horrific atrocities committed by the Assad government, though the government denies his claims. Owen Bennett-Jones of the BBC reports on the latest from the Syria-Lebanon border.
Hundreds of people are fleeing the northern Syrian city of Jisr al-Shugor, in anticipation of an expected military assault there. The BBC's Owen Bennett Jones speaks with us from the border of Syria and Turkey.
BBC reporter Owen Bennett Jones is in Karachi, Pakistan talking to locals about what they think of Osama bin Laden's death. Many people, he says, don't believe that he has been killed and want more proof. "Once it is proved, then we will accept that Osama has died," says one Karachi resident.
The Syrian army has launched an assault on the southern city of Daraa with reports that troops and tanks have entered the city, which has been the epicenter of the protests. Human rights activists say that more than 300 people have been killed in Syria since the protests began five weeks ago. International journalists are being denied entry the country, but video images are getting out. The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones reports on the violence in the country.
Syria's cabinet passed a draft law on Tuesday lifting the country's 48-year emergency rule, the unfairness of which has been a rallying cry for those in the country who want reform. The cabinet was under pressure to ease the emergency rule, but immediately after the supposed concession, the body passed a law that requires Syrians to seek permission to protest from the Interior ministry. The political upheaval sweeping across North Africa and the Mideast has been compared to a contagious virus, but Syria just may be the most contagious country of all. Syria is centrally located, bordering Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon.
More protests are planned in several cities across Syria. So far protests have led to changes in President Bashar al-Assad's government including a new cabinet. However, Syrian security agents have continued to detain and torture undreds of protesters in the past month, according to Human Rights Watch. The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones is monitoring events from across the border in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
"Bahrainis are asking for their rights," says one artist painting in the center of Pearl Square. She says she is painting for her country. Meanwhile, protesters want to change the name of Pearl Square to "Martyr's Roundabout." The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones visited the area to talk to Bahrainis who have camped out there in hopes of gaining a more democratic government.
Afghan president, Hamid Karzai meets with President Obama in Washington this week. High up on the agenda will be talking about the Taliban, particularly in the Afghan-Pakistan border regions. However, we look deeper into Pakistan with the BBC’s Owen Bennett-Jones. He has just returned from the Punjab, Pakistan’s economic powerhouse, which is a region far away from the border with Afghanistan where the Taliban is gaining in popularity among the poor and disenfranchised.
Two of the men behind an al-Qaida plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet over Detroit on Christmas Day were well known by U.S. and Saudi officials: They had both previously been detained at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. The U.S. later sent those men to Saudi Arabia, where Saudi officials placed them in an “rehabilitation program."
That program, known colloquially as “jihad rehab,” is highly controversial, although it claims a 95% success rate at discouraging further crimes from the people in it. BBC’s Newshour host, Owen Bennett Jones, spent some time observing the program. He joins us this morning from his home in England.
All this week, we’ve been discussing the apparent attempt by a young Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest flight on Christmas Day. Al-Qaida affiliates in Yemen reportedly sent the man on that mission. Our partner, the BBC, just sent Owen Bennett-Jones, the host of “Newshour," to Yemen. He brings us a report on this complex and conflicted country.