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Kofi Annan resigns as envoy to Syria

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Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, announced his resignation Thursday, the Washington Post said.

Annan, 74, said he will officially resign at the end of August due to the U.N. Security Council's failure to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the ongoing civil war in Syria, the Washington Post said.

"Without serious, purposeful and united international pressure, including from the powers of the region, it is impossible for me, or anyone, to compel the Syrian government in the first place, and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process," Annan said to the New York Times.

According to the New York Times, Annan also wrote an opinion article that was posted on the Web site of the Financial Times and headlines, "My Departing Advice on How to Save Syria." In the article, Annan criticized all parties involved in the conflict and called the Syrian government "40 years of dictatorship."

Annan's resignation comes nearly two weeks after Russia and China vetoed a resolution that would have enforced sanctions on the Syrian government and strengthened Annan's mediation efforts, the Washington Post said. The veto allowed the Syrian conflict to reach an even more violent stage.

Annan also negotiated a six-point peace plan in March that Syrian President Bahar-al Assad promised to abide by, the New York Times said. However, the Syrian government never implemented the plan.

All of these actions grouped together ultimately frustrated Annan to the point of resignation, the New York Times said.

The U.N. has not announced who will replace Annan when his mandate expires at the end of August, and neither Assad or any Syrian opposition forces have released statements about his departure.

Egypt's president appoints new prime minister

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Egypt's president appointed a new prime minister Tuesday, the Washington Post reported.

President Mohamed Morsi appointed Hesham Kandil, who currently serves as a water and irrigation minister, as prime minister in the midst of forming a new government, the Washington Post said.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Kandil's appointment was consistent with Morsi's earlier statements that he would not appoint someone from the Muslim Brotherhood political party. Morsi was under pressure from secularists and Christians to avoid creating an government controlled entirely by Muslims.

Kandil's appointment surprised many in Egypt because most citizens expected someone with a stronger economic background to be appointed in the wake of a budget crisis, the Washington Post said.

Kandil was educated in he United States, where he received a master's degree from Utah State University in 1988 and a doctorate in irrigation from North Carolina State University in 1993, the Washington Post said.

Kandil, who was born in 1962, is the youngest prime minister in Egypt's history, the Los Angeles Times said.

Violence escalated in Damascus Wednesday as government loyalists sought revenge for a rebel bombing that killed three top Syrian military officials, the Washington Post said.

Residents of several neighborhoods in Damascus reported seeing pro-government militias known as shabiha were attacking civilians with guns and knives, the Washington Post said. There were also reports of firefight between the shabiha and rebel forces in the streets.

According to the Washington Post, 36 people were killed in Damascus along with 32 killed in the city's suburbs.

The attacks were in response to a bombing that killed three of President Bahar al-Assad's security chiefs Wednesday morning, the Chicago Tribune reported. Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, Hassan Turkmani, a former minster of defense, and Assef Shawkat, the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military and Assad's brother-in-law.

According to the Washington Post, the three security chiefs were meeting at the National Security Building when the attack occurred.

Initial reports from the pro-government Al-Dunia TV said the attack was a suicide-bombing, but commanders of the Free Syrian Army said the bomb was placed inside the meeting room and detonated remotely, the Washington Post said.

There were initial rumors that Assad had been killed in the attack as well, but reported indicated that he escaped the city in a helicopter, the Chicago Tribune said. Assad has yet to make a public appearance or statement since the bombing.

U.N. obsevers investigate Syrian massacre

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U.N. observers investigated a reported massacre Sunday in a Syrian village where dozens of people were killed, the USA Today reported.

An 11-vehicle team of U.N. observers entered the Syrian village of Tremseh, located in Western Syria, to investigate reports made by activists of the Syrian government killing approximately 150 opposition supporters and civilians, the USA Today said. The Syrian government said that only 50 people were killed in the attack.

According to the Washington Post, the team found evidence of heavy artillery, mortar shells and small arms use in the attack on the village. The team reported that over 50 houses in the village were destroyed.

The Syrian government has denied the use of heavy weapons in the attack, the Washington Post said. The Official Syrian Arab News Agency blamed terrorists for the attack on Tremseh.

However, activists who reported the attack said that soldiers from the Syrian army shelled the village before entering it with a group of pro-government militiamen, the USA Today said. The activists provided videos that showed tanks entering the village and dozens of dead bodies on the streets.

World leaders have criticized Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime for the attack on Tremseh, the USA Today said, The attack is the latest in a series of reported government attacks in recent months.

17,000 people have been killed since uprisings against Assad's regime began in March, 2011, the USA Today said.

Egypt's new president appointed a committee to investigate the killing of protesters after last year's uprising, the Associated Press said.

President Mohammed Morsi issued a decree Thursday night that created a 16-member committee to investigate the killing of protesters from Jan. 25, 2011, until June 30, 2012, the Associated Press said.

The committee consists of judges, a state prosecutor, a general and a top police commander, the Associated Press reported. Six representatives of victims' families will be included as observers.

According to the New York , Morsi promised during his campaign to investigate the killing of over 800 protesters during and after the revolt that ousted President Hosni Mubarek in February 2011.

The decree appears to be a challenge to the group of generals who took control of Egypt after Mubarek stepped down last year, the New York Times said.

Some, however, question whether Morsi and the newly appointed committee will have the right to investigate the military, the Associated Press said. Heba Morayef, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said only the military itself can prosecute officers in Egypt.

The committee is expected to report its findings to Morsi in two months, the Associated Press said.

European Union makes move to bolster Euro

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European Union leaders took action to increase confidence in the Euro during the latest all-night meeting since the Euro crisis began, reported the New York Times.

According to the New York Times, the leaders moved to increase flexibility with bailout funds, a move meant to save the economies of Spain and Italy, the third and fourth largest European economic zones. Specifically, the leaders have agreed to give surplus cash from the European Central Bank directly to Span and Italy as opposed to loans that would increase national debt.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously disagreed with direct lending by the European Central Bank to banks in Eurozone countries, said the Los Angeles Times. However, following meeting, Merkel altered her stance saying the bailouts were necessary for the collective good of the EU.

Syria shoots down Turkish plane

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Syria shot down a warplane from Turkey on Friday that had violated its airspace, said the Los Angeles Times.

The Turkish warplane was was flying just off the coast of Syria when Syrian military forces shot it down, reported the Los Angeles Times. The plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea about half a mile off the Syrian coast.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the fate of the two Turkish pilots is unknown.

President Abdullah Gul of Turkey said the plane was flying a routine route and its presence over Syria was not intended as a hostile act. reported the New York Times.

The incident is another sign of tense relations between Syria and its neighbors, said the New York Times. Turkey has provided support to refugees and militia groups who oppose Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad.

President Abdullah Gul of Turkey said his country will do "whatever is necessary" to respond to Syria's attack, said the New York Times.

Egypt's constitutional court dissolved the nation's recently elected parliament on Thursday, the New York Times said.

The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court a panel of judges appointed by former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarek, ruled the first democratically elected Parliament invalid because of a misapplication of rules for independent candidates, said the New York Times.

The court's decision comes two days before Egypt's final round of presidential elections on Sunday.

The decision was a setback for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political party that controlled Parliament before the ruling. The Brotherhood had hoped to expand its power with the election of its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, who is running against Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister of the Mubarek regime, in the presidential election, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The Brotherhood is concerned that the constitutional court's decision shows that the remnants of the Mubarek regime have not given up and are trying to reclaim power in Egypt.

According to the New York Times, however, Brotherhood officials expect Parliament to meet for its next weekly meeting in spite of the constitutional court's decision.

The constitutional court does not have the power to dissolve Parliament, and the Brotherhood will continue to compete against any opposition, said Morsi.


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