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DAMASCUS: Syrians took to the streets in their thousands on Friday to show their determination to oust President Bashar al-Assad's regime, as the office of envoy Kofi Annan insisted his peace plan was "on track." The demonstrations came as government forces cracking down on dissent reportedly killed at least 10 civilians, only hours after UN peacekeepers urged Damascus to make the first move to end nearly 14 months of bloodshed. "The Annan plan is on track and a crisis that has been going on for over a year is not going to be resolved in a day or a week," the UN-Arab League envoy's spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, told journalists in Geneva. "There are signs on the ground of movement, albeit slow and small. "Some heavy weapons have been withdrawn, some heavy weapons remain. Some violence has receded, some violence continues. And that is not satisfactory, I'm not saying it is," Fawzi said. Major General Robert ...

TEHRAN: Iran will hold a second round of parliamentary elections on Friday to decide 65 seats still outstanding in its 290-member legislature following a March 2 first round. Conservative MPs of various stripes easily dominated in the first round, meaning the parliament's political stance is unlikely to change significantly from the previous legislature. But with half of them new faces, it will take until after the inauguration of the next parliament, at the end of this month, to ...
BAGHDAD: The trial of Iraq's fugitive vice-president, Tareq al-Hashemi, accused of running death squads, was postponed on Thursday after defence lawyers argued it should be held in a special court. The leading Sunni Muslim politician fled Baghdad in December when the Shi'ite-led government issued a warrant for his arrest. He denies all charges and says they are politically motivated. Now in Istanbul, he has refused to stand trial in Baghdad, saying Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki controls the ...
Syria troops, rebels killed in clashes: NGO  BEIRUT: At least 20 Syrian soldiers and two rebel fighters were killed in violent clashes overnight in the provinces of Aleppo and Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday. Fifteen soldiers, including two colonels, died in an ambush by rebels at dawn on Wednesday in northern Aleppo province, the Britain-based watchdog said. The ambush took place near the village of Al-Rai, scene of clashes between opposition fighters and regime forces, the monitor said, adding ...
AMMAN: King Abdullah II of Jordan, which hosts tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, urged Wednesday "a political solution" in the neighbouring country, saying he is "worried" about the violence there. Meeting with a US congressional delegation, the king said he is "worried about the developments in Syria," a palace statement said. "He stressed the need to end violence in Syria and to find a political solution," it added. The UN refugee agency UNHCR has said that the ...
SANAA: Suspected al Qaeda-linked gunmen killed a Yemeni man working for Total on Tuesday and wounded a Frenchman and another Yemeni employee of the French oil group, a Total security official said. The attack took place as they were driving from an oil field in eastern Hadramout province to an airport in the town of Seiyun. "They were on their way to Seiyun airport. They were 2 km (1.2 miles) northeast of Seiyun when the car came ...
BAGHDAD: Some US commanders believe funds available for relief and reconstruction during the country's war in Iraq may have ended up benefiting insurgents, a report released by a US watchdog said. The US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) surveyed officers and officials associated with the Commander's Emergency Response Programme (CERP), a fund used by US military officers for projects to boost rebuilding in their areas of responsibility. The US Congress has allocated nearly $4 billion ...


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Foreign Debt $60.9bn
Per Cap Income $1,368
GDP Growth 3.6%
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WeeklyApril 14, 2014
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