Arab States Weekly Review 18th – 24th June 2011

Demonstrations and killings continued in Syria after a speech by president Bashar Assad, who called for a national dialogue and promised reform. Assad said an election would be held in August but with no hint that his ruling Baath party would allow any opposition to compete.

Tunisia’s ousted president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and his wife were sentenced in absentia to 35 years for corruption and fined US$ 66m.

Dozens of Al-Qaeda members escaped from a prison in the port city of Mukalla in Yemen.

In Bahrain, eight pro-democracy campaigners, all Shias, were given life sentences for “plotting to overthrow the government”.

A series of bombings in Iraq killed at least 35 people, predominantly in Diwaniya, south of Baghdad. The attacks were presumed to have been carried out by Sunni extremists linked to Al-Qaeda.

Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshal, leaders of respectively Fatah and Hamas, cancelled a meeting at which they were meant to select a prime minister. The news came as a blow to Palestinian hopes of unity.

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