More than 500 protesters in Egypt were injured in clashes with the police in Cairo’s Tahrir square, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported, citing health ministry spokesman Mohammed Sherbini.
Egyptian security forces blocked roads leading to the interior ministry to stop the protesters from advancing to the ministry’s building, and at least nine policemen were injured, MENA said. Security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets, al- Shorouk newspaper reported.
Omar Zuhairi, a photojournalist working for the Egyptian Al-Tahrir newspaper, received a head injury today while he was covering the clashes in Tahrir square, al-Shorouk said on its website.
Political turmoil in Middle Eastern and North African countries, which toppled leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya this year, has resulted in crackdowns on anti-government demonstrations and hurt regional economies.
Egypt may ask the International Monetary Fund for the $3 billion loan it rejected this year, after domestic borrowing costs soared, Deputy Prime Minister Hazem El Beblawi said in an interview yesterday.
Dwindling international reserves and foreign investment after the revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak have forced the government to pay the highest borrowing costs in three years. The yield on Egypt’s one-year Treasury bills jumped 65 basis points, or 0.65 percentage point, on Nov. 17 to 14.725 percent, seven basis points below the peak in September 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.
In Syria, where an Arab League deadline for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to end violence against protesters ends today, Assad’s security forces killed 24 people across the country, Al- Jazeera reported, citing unidentified activists.
Militias of the anti-U.S. Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al- Sadr crossed the border into Syria a few days ago to help the Assad regime in its crackdown on protesters, the Iraqi news agency Al-Sumaria reported, citing an interview today with the governor of Iraq’s Anbar province, Mohamed Qassim Al-Fahdawi.
Soldiers who left Assad’s army and set up an opposition force called for a no-fly zone yesterday, and two buffer areas with international backing while they try to topple the Syrian government.
The group seeks a buffer zone in the north, on the Turkish-Syrian border, and another in the south near the border with Jordan to help them bring the fight closer to Assad, Riad al As’ad, a former Syrian colonel who leads the so-called Free Syrian Army, said in a phone interview from Turkey.
Threat of Sanctions
On Nov. 16, the Arab League gave Syria three days to end a crackdown on protesters seeking to topple Assad and to allow observers into the country. The 22-member league, which suspended Syria’s participation, said it may impose economic sanctions and turned down Assad’s call for a summit.
International pressure on Syria increased this week, with European Union foreign-affairs chief Catherine Ashton reiterating a call for Assad to resign. She made the comment at a news conference in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said reported attacks by military defectors of the Free Syrian Army on government forces indicated a situation similar to a “civil war.”
U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague will meet Syrian opposition leaders in “the near future,” said a London-based spokesman, who declined to be identified in a phone interview today.
Yemen Refinery Halt
In Yemen, Aden Oil Refinery Co. halted its 150,000 barrels- a-day refinery today because of a lack of crude oil after an attack on a pipeline supplying the plant, a company official said.
The refinery was processing about 30,000 barrels a day, and the last crude shipment of 80,000 metric tons was received a month ago, the official said, declining to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak on the matter. The plant typically gets one such consignment every week, and the company’s tanker had sailed twice to Ras Eisa port on the Red Sea without loading any oil, he said.
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