SYRIA: Kurd tabbed by rebels
The main opposition group picked a secular Kurd on Sunday as its new leader after criticism that the former head was too autocratic and the group was becoming dominated by Islamists. The opposition, hobbled by disorganization and infighting, is trying to pull together and appear more inclusive by choosing a member of an ethnic minority. The opposition's disarray has frustrated Western powers eager to dislodge President Bashar Assad but unwilling or unable to send in their own forces to do it. The choice of Abdulbaset Sieda as head of the Syrian National Council is aimed at achieving several goals for the main opposition group. Under outgoing leader Burhan Ghalioun, criticism had mounted that the group was dominated by Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, government forces shelled rebel-held cities and villages, killing at least 38 people in the rebellious Homs district, activists said.
PERU: Andes copter crash kills 14
A police rescue team recovered the bodies Sunday of all 14 people who died in a fiery helicopter crash high in the snowy Andes, and Quechua Indians from nearby villages helped carry the remains down the steep slopes. Gen. Hector Dulanto said the bodies were first taken to Ocongate, the nearest town, but were being moved by police vans to the morgue in Cuzco, the regional capital. The helicopter exploded when it hit the mountainside and all the bodies were burned, some severely, police said. The search team put the remains in black bags and villagers then hoisted the bags onto their backs and carried them down the mountain. The Sikorsky S-58ET was carrying eight South Koreans and three Peruvians as well as citizens of the Netherlands, Sweden and the Czech Republic when it crashed Wednesday on Mama Rosa mountain at an altitude of about 16,000 feet. The Koreans were exploring sites for a possible hydroelectric plant.
TUNISIA: A demand for Sharia law
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri called on the Tunisian people to rise up against the country's Islamist ruling party for accepting a constitution not based on Shariah law, according to an audio recording released Sunday. In the recording, posted on militant forums, al-Zawahri said the leaders of the Ennahda party, a moderate Islamist group that formed a new government after October elections, are violating Islam's teachings by accepting a constitution that does not consider Shariah the sole source for legislation. Al-Zawahri said Ennahda favors "an Islam accepted by the U.S. State Department, the EU and the sheikdoms of the Gulf, an Islam that accepts gambling clubs and nude beaches."