SYRIA: EU puts sanctions on Assad
The European Union instituted an assets freeze and a visa ban Monday on President Bashar Assad and nine members of his regime over its harsh crackdown on a popular uprising. The United States also has imposed sanctions. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem acknowledged that European sanctions will hurt Syrian interests, but he said Damascus will not allow foreign countries to impose their will on Syria. Meanwhile, the Obama administration claimed a quiet diplomatic victory after a frantic but largely invisible campaign to keep Syria from winning a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, a body charged with policing international human rights.
YEMEN: Street battles kill six
Security forces and opposition tribal fighters battled with automatic weapons, mortars and tanks in the capital Monday in violence that hiked fears of an armed confrontation after the collapse of efforts to negotiate a peaceful exit for President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Six people were killed and nearly 40 wounded.
AFGHANISTAN: Rumors about Mullah Omar
The Afghan intelligence agency said Monday that the reclusive leader of the Taliban has disappeared from a suspected hideout in Pakistan, adding further questions about Mullah Mohammad Omar after a media report said he was killed. The Taliban denied a claim on the Afghan news channel Tolo that Omar was shot dead while being moved inside Pakistan. The Taliban spokesman countered that Omar was alive and was somewhere inside Afghanistan.
SAUDI ARABIA: Woman driver arrested
A woman was arrested for a second time for driving her car in what women's activists said Monday was a move by the rulers of the ultraconservative kingdom to suppress an Internet campaign encouraging women to defy a ban on female driving. Manal al-Sherif, 32, an IT expert, was arrested Sunday and accused of "violating public order."