SYRIA: Call in Damascus for ouster of Assad
Syrian opposition figures who reject foreign intervention in the 18-month conflict called for the ouster of President Bashar Assad at a rare meeting Sunday in the nation's capital. The gathering was tolerated by the regime in an apparent attempt to lend credibility to its claims that it remains open to political reform, despite its bloody crackdown on dissent. A former Assad ally, meanwhile, said Iran is providing massive support for the embattled regime. "Iranians are active in leading positions in the military," former Prime Minister Riad Hijab, who defected to the opposition last month, told the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Sunday's opposition conference was attended by diplomats from Iran, Russia and China, Assad's main allies, but it was likely to be viewed as a cosmetic gesture by Syrian rebels and their many backers in the international community.
IRAN: Warning of a threat to U.S. bases
A senior commander in Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard warned that Iran will target U.S. bases in the region in the event of war with Israel, raising the prospect of a broader conflict that would force other countries to get involved, Iranian state television reported Sunday. The comments by Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who heads the Guard's aerospace division, came as Israel has suggested it might unilaterally strike Iranian nuclear facilities to scuttle what the United States and its allies believe are efforts to build a bomb. Hajizadeh said no Israeli attack can happen without the support of its most important ally, the United States, making all U.S. military bases a legitimate target.
PAKISTAN: Bounty suggestion discounted
The Awami National Party, a central government coalition partner, distanced itself from a minister who promised a bounty to kill the U.S. maker of an anti-Islam film that has sparked protests in the Muslim world. The threat isn't in keeping with the party's policy of nonviolence, Zahid Khan, a party spokesman, said Sunday in Peshawar. Federal Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour had told reporters he would pay $100,000 to have the movie producer killed, according to local media outlets. The film, "Innocence of Muslims," has been responsible for deadly attacks on U.S. and European targets from the Middle East to Southeast Asia.