Middle East news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 1 June, 2011 - 10:46

The Rafah crossing, the only entry point to Gaza not controlled by Israel, was opened by Egypt on 28 May.

The opening will mean a great deal to the people of Gaza. A Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions activist and socialist based in Nablus, in the West Bank, told Solidarity:

“The opening of the border represents the end of the siege, and proof that the corrupt Arab dictatorships were partners in this siege.

“Meanwhile, the recent Palestinian protests on Israel’s borders were part of the non-violent resistance and revolution across the Arab world.”

Meanwhile the Damascus-based Hamas boss Khaled Meshal has been weakened by the Syrian uprising and the opening of the Rafah crossing.

Splits are emerging in the leadership of Hamas, the Islamist organisation which runs Gaza as a single-party clerical state.

Meshal is more enthusiastic than the Gaza leaders about reconciliation with the secular nationalists of Fatah, who run the West Bank.

The unpleasant reality of authoritarian rule in Gaza now clashes with the democratic pose of Muslim Brotherhood parties elsewhere in the Arab world.

Syria

The heroic Syrian uprising which began on 15 March continues, despite the murderous violence of the state which has killed more than 1,000 people and jailed and tortured many more.

The inability of the regime to end the protests underlines the depth of feeling among ordinary Syrians, who continue to come out onto the streets, defying tanks and the secret police.

Opposition groups, including members of the Damascus Centre for Human Rights and the Damascus Declaration, meet in Turkey for a three-day conference beginning on 1 June. The event is being funded by several prominent Syrian businessmen.

The organisers say they want to mobilise international support against the regime.

Syria continues to receive backing from Russia and China at the UN.

Libya

Qaddafi’s beleaguered forces continue to be pounded by NATO airpower.

The pressure is showing: more senior figures have defected, including five generals who were presented to the media at an Italian government-organised press conference.

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