News Summary: October 23-30
The four-day ceasefire between government and rebel forces in Syria to mark Eid al-Adha was seen to fail entirely in light of continued attacks after the 26th of October. According to opposition forces the Northern provinces of Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Idlib and some Damascus suburbs were subject to shelling by government forces. A car bomb exploded in a pro-government area of Damascus on Friday killing at least 10 people. The failed truce led UN-Arab League envoy Brahimi to travel to Moscow and Beijing to seek support for a UN Security Council Resolution condemning the Syrian regime’s indiscriminate use of violence. At the same time a conference between 150 members of the Syrian opposition began in Istanbul concerning governance and organisational issues after the (expected) downfall of the Assad regime.
Since the October 19 car bomb assassination of Maj. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, a Lebanese intelligence chief aligned with the Sunni-led bloc opposed to Syrian President Assad, the sectarian divide between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in the country has deepened. Whereas the Shiite militant group and political party Hezbollah supports the Assad regime, its primary source of arms and military support, Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims tend to sympathise with the Syrian rebel forces. Although Hezbollah denies any involvement beyond helping refugees, criticism is growing and Hezbollah’s position as Lebanon’s dominant political party has started to look shaky.
Libya’s new prime minister, Ali Zidan, has nominated a new government today which includes members of the main liberal and Islamist parties in an attempt to strike a geographical balance between different cities and regions. Zidan thereby aims to avoid the fate of his predecessor, Mustafa Abushagur, who was dismissed from his post by Libya’s National Congress earlier this month after his cabinet list had been criticised as insufficiently representative of Libya’s various tribes and regions.