May 20, 2018
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Latest developments in Arab world’s unrest

The Associated Press

Syrian government supporters on Monday smashed windows at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, raised a Syrian flag and scrawled graffiti calling the American ambassador a “dog” in anger over the envoy’s visit to an opposition stronghold.

French Embassy guards in the Syrian capital also fired in the air to hold back loyalists of President Bashar Assad’s regime who attacked that compound to protest the French ambassador’s visit last week to the same rebellious city, Hama.

Egypt’s benchmark stock index dropped almost 3 percent Monday, dragged down by concerns of mounting unrest in the Arab world’s most populous nation. The decline reflected the continuing fears in the country five months after the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Two days after a Friday protest in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square that drew tens of thousands, demonstrators were still camped out there, demanding accountability of former officials and justice for nearly 900 people killed in the popular uprising.

France said Monday it was passing messages to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in liaison with the rebel movement and allies. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said, “There are not direct negotiations between France and Gadhafi’s regime but we are passing him messages.” He said in an online briefing that the messages “are simple and without ambiguity” — a political solution must include Gadhafi leaving power and quitting politics.

The White House counterterrorism chief briefed Yemen’s vice president on Washington’s push for a swift transfer of power. John Brennan met Monday with Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in a bid to revive a power transfer deal proposed by Yemen’s neighbors.

Hadi has headed the government since embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for neighboring Saudi Arabia to be treated for wounds he suffered in a June 3 attack on his compound in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital.

The United States and other Mideast mediators met Monday in Washington, with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in shambles and an upcoming U.N. confrontation over whether to recognize Palestine as an independent country only likely to make the decades-old deadlock even more intractable.

Modest goals have been set by the international diplomatic “quartet” of the U.S., the United Nations, Russia and the European Union. Foremost is getting Israel and the Palestinians back to the table for direct talks after nine months of inaction.

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