As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits down with his Russian counterpart Friday for a second day of talks about a possible diplomatic solution on Syria, he faces a proverbial standoff with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Imagine two men facing one another holding guns. One says: You drop yours first, then I'll drop mine. The second answers: No, you drop yours first.
Al-Assad demanded on Thursday that the United States call off any potential strike on Syrian government forces before he gives up his large chemical weapons arsenal.
But Kerry made it clear that the threat of a U.S. military strike remains on the table, if Syria does not hand over its stockpiles.
The use chemical weapons is a crime against humanity and must be punished, United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon told journalists Monday in Seoul, South Korea.
Washington may be preparing to take on the role of the punisher, if reports the Syrian government used poison gas against civilians are verified.
U.N. inspectors on the ground in Syria may be close to doing that.
[Update 7:00 a.m. ET, 1:00 p.m. in Egypt] ...250...the number of arrest warrants for Muslim Brotherhood members in connection with killings in front of MB headquarters, which came under attack days ago. Egypt's new prosecutor general, who Morsy had deposed, issued the warrants.
[Updated at 6:50 a.m. ET, 12:50 p.m. in Egypt] Bahrain's King al-Khalifa, who has had to deal with his own popular uprising, enthusiastically congratulated interim President Adly Mansour "on taking over the reins of power in Egypt at this important time in history." Iran's state-run Mehr News Agency gave Morsy a kick over his religious orientation on his way out: "Sunni Morsi immediately turned into a critical figure against the Iranian Shia government and has not allowed Iran to appoint an ambassador in Cairo."
[Updated at 5:28 a.m. ET, 11:28 a.m. in Egypt] Mansour says the Egyptian people have empowered him to "amend and correct" the revolution.
[Updated at 5:28 a.m. ET, 11:28 a.m. in Egypt] Who is interim President Adly Mansour? His low-key demeanor might be the very reason the military picked him, analysts say. CNN's Faith Karimi explains.
[Updated at 5:11 a.m. ET, 11:11 a.m. in Egypt] Mansour appears before Egypt's assembly, prepares to speak.
[Updated at 5:11 a.m. ET, 11:11 a.m. in Egypt] Did Morsy's personal style rub Egyptians the wrong way and contribute to his downfall? Read this portrait of the deposed president by CNN's Laura Smith-Spark.
Also, "coup" or no "coup?" CNN's Christian Amanpour does not mince words:
[Updated at 4:50 a.m. ET, 10:50 a.m. in Egypt] Reactions have been pouring in from world leaders. Most of them are along the same lines: carefully formulated, and express respect for the will of the Egyptian people. Among the countries that have sent in reactions are Morocco, Jordan ....
[Updated at 4:38 a.m. ET, 10:38 a.m. in Egypt] CNN's Ian Lee reporting in front of the high court: This is the same place, where Mosry was installed just a year ago.
[Updated at 4:34 a.m. ET, 10:34 a.m. in Egypt] Mansour remains chief justice, as well, Egyptian state TV reports.
[Updated at 4:28 a.m. ET, 10:28 a.m. in Egypt] Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour was sworn in in Cairo.
[Updated at 4:16 a.m. ET, 10:16 a.m. in Egypt] Two leading figures of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested today, Egytian state radio reports. The former speaker of parliament and a member of the party's executive office were taken to Cairo's Torah prison.
[Updated at 4:10 a.m. ET, 10:10 a.m. in Egypt] Today, the European Union called on Egypt to go down the path of democracy, human rights and non-violence. Its head of foreign affairs and security, Catherine Ashton, said:
"I welcome the peaceful manner in which most demonstrations have been conducted thus far, but I find continuing cases of sexual abuse of female protesters deeply troubling. I urge all sides to show restraint.... Confrontation cannot be a solution."
[Updated at 3:53 a.m. ET, 9:53 a.m. in Egypt] Egypt's military has arrested Morsy and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood. It shut down pro-MB broadcasters and raided al Jazeera's Cairo office after it aired a statement by the deposed president. Then army leaders say today that the military will protect Islamists from attacks and intimidation, state-run Nile TV reports. And they say they will not shut any factions out of political life. That brings up an interesting question:
[Updated at 2:52 a.m. ET, 8:52 a.m. in Egypt] Human Rights Watch weighs in on what the Muslim Brotherhood should do next:
[Updated at 2:41 a.m. ET, 8:41 a.m. in Egypt] Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he is concerned about stability in Egypt but also respects the will of the people. He hopes Egypt will exit the current crisis stronger.
[Updated at 2:28 a.m. ET, 8:28 a.m. in Egypt] Health officials say 32 people were killed in clashes in Egypt yesterday.
[Updated at 2:10 a.m. ET, 8:10 a.m. in Egypt] This is a statement from the UAE, which says it is "following with satisfaction" the developments in Egypt. In the UAE, the Muslim Brotherhood is a banned organization.
"H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said that the UAE has full confidence that the great people of Egypt will be able to overcome the current difficult moments that the country is experiencing in order to reach a safe and prosperous future. ...
"His Highness added that the great Egyptian army proves, once again, that it is the strong shield and the protector that guarantees that the country is a land of institutions and law that embraces all the components of the Egyptian people."
[Updated at 1:52 a.m. ET, 7:52 a.m. in Egypt] Instagram has put together a collection of the best photos and videos by its users. View here.
[Updated at 1:45 a.m. ET, 7:45 a.m. in Egypt] Morsy deprived the opposition of a political process, activist Ahmed El Hawary told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "We don't have - we didn't have any outlets or anyway to be heard unless we go down to the streets and chant our demands, and even though, he ignored us."
[Updated at 1:27 a.m. ET, 7:27 a.m. in Egypt] A popular image on the photo social media site Imgur, allegedly from Egypt.
[Updated at 12:19 a.m. ET Thursday, 6:19 a.m. in Egypt] Welcome to Thursday's Egypt live blog. With Mohamed Morsy out of power, some of his opponents are making plans to clean up Tahrir Square, while his supporters say they will protest until he is reinstated as president. CNN's Ben Wedeman, a veteran journalist, who was long based in Cairo, warns that there will likely be no calm after the storm of recent protests.
[Updated at 6:22 a.m. ET] A car bomb near the Syrian ruling party's headquarters killed 31 people on Thursday, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
[Posted at 5:56 a.m. ET] A car bomb targeting the headquarters of Syria's ruling party killed eight people in central Damascus on Thursday, according to state media and opposition activists.
The explosion burned 17 cars and damaged 40 more, Syrian state TV said.
Eight body bags were brought for charred remains of passengers who were in a taxi, according to state television.FULL STORY
Undeterred by a wave of casualties, Syrian rebels say they will not back down in their quest to seize Aleppo, the country's commercial hub and a crucial city in the Syrian civil war.
After six days of fighting, the seesaw battle with government forces raged again Thursday as helicopter gunships flew over the city, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. At least one rebel fighter was killed, the group said.
The seat of President Bashar al-Assad's power also saw renewed violence Thursday as explosions rocked several Damascus neighborhoods, another opposition group said.
Regime and rebel forces battled in several Damascus neighborhoods, and the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk endured "fierce helicopter shelling with machine guns," the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.
The LCC also reported dozens of dead and wounded in shelling by regime forces in Yalda, in the Damascus suburbs, and in bomb attacks in the Mashtal district of the capital.FULL STORY
Euphoric jubilation spilled into a second day Monday in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where revelers celebrated the election of Egypt's first democratically elected president.
But with the hopes of the Egyptian revolution resting on President-Elect Mohamed Morsi's shoulders, the former Muslim Brotherhood member faces an array of challenges both at home and abroad.
For the moment, the presidency is largely a figurehead position as Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) maintains widespread control over the country - just as it has since Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule succumbed to a popular revolt last year.FULL STORY
In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize last year, Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman thanked women of the Arab world for her medal. Without their struggle to win equal rights, she would not be there, she said.
The greatest challenge in that quest is not religion but the lack of economic and social development and a dearth of perceived security, said a Gallup Poll released Monday.
"The idea that coming in with a secular liberal social program as the solution to fixing how societies view women isn't supported by the evidence," said Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.
She said the women in the Middle East have very much the same priorities as women in America. They want to lead prosperous lives.
"The research shows that human development and overall education and economic empowerment are the most important interventions we can make to help women's rights," Mogahed said.
The Gallup report urged policymakers to allow Arab women's own priorities to guide efforts at gender equality.
Gallup conducted multiple surveys of 1,000 people each time in Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya.FULL STORY
The elusive quest for peace in Syria is now crippled with recent setbacks, as a U.N. observer mission has suspended operations and attempts to rescue civilians trapped in violence have proved futile.
Chaos erupted once again Monday as regime forces shelled the southern town of Tafas, an opposition group said, prompting calls for residents to hunker down in lower floors of houses. The attack came after more than 80 tanks infiltrated the town in Daraa province, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.
Elsewhere in Daraa, warplanes hovered at a low altitude over the city of Daeel as powerful explosion rocked the city, the LCC said.
Violence in the country has escalated in recent days, exacerbating an already risky situation for the about 300 monitors, said Gen. Robert Mood, who heads the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria.
"Civilians continue to be trapped by the escalating violence in Syria," Mood said in a statement Sunday. "In Homs, attempts to extract civilians from the line of fire over the past week have been unsuccessful."
Fifteen months into the Syrian crisis and with no end in sight, a prominent opposition body has elected Kurdish activist Abdul Baset Sieda as its new president in what could reinvigorate a political arm of the uprising.
Dozens of countries have recognized the SNC as a legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition, though many members of the group's leadership are expatriates.
But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - who has received global disdain for lethally cracking down on dissidents seeking his ouster - has said he will not deal with opposition members influenced from the outside.
Meanwhile, renewed attacks on the anti-government bastion of Homs killed at least three people on Sunday, including citizen journalist Khaled Bakr, opposition activists said.
According to the LCC, random shelling tormented the Homs neighborhood of Talbiseh early Sunday, pausing every four minutes only to continue with artillery and mortars.FULL STORY
Human Rights Watch is calling for a boycott of new arms contracts with companies supplying the Syrian regime as the nearly 15-month government crackdown forced the country to the brink of a civil war.
The call comes after U.N. envoy Kofi Annan said Syria is "at a turning point" and that "the specter of all-out civil war, with a worry sectarian dimension, grows by the day."
Human Rights Watch on Sunday singled out Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-owned weapons supplier, for sending arms to the Syrian regime.
"The (U.N.) Security Council should impose a mandatory international arms embargo on Syria, and Russia and China should not block it," the group's executive director, Kenneth Roth, said in a statement. He accused the Syrian regime of crimes against humanity and said "other governments and companies around the world should use whatever leverage they have to stop further arms supplies that could contribute to these crimes."
Rosoboronexport did not immediately respond to the rights group's allegations.FULL STORY
Egypt's emergency law - which was in place for more than 30 years - has been lifted, a spokesman for the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said Thursday.
The unpopular and wide-ranging law became a focal point for demonstrations demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago.
The emergency law gave authorities broad leeway to arrest citizens and hold them indefinitely without charges, according to Human Rights Watch. It was first enacted in 1958.
Although it was suspended during the rule of President Anwar Sadat, it had been in place since Mubarak took power in 1981, according to the group.
Abolishing the emergency law was on top of the lists of demands announced by pro-democracy protesters during the 2011 uprising.
The law was partially suspended by the country's military rulers early this year, but critics said that move didn't go far enough.FULL STORY
U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan has expressed dismay over reports that the Syrian government resumes brutal attacks on cities once U.N. monitors leave - the latest sign that diplomatic efforts are failing to quash the bloodshed in the country.
"I am particularly alarmed by reports that government troops entered Hama (Monday) after observers departed, firing automatic weapons and killing a significant number of people," Kofi Annan told U.N. Security Council members Tuesday. "If confirmed, this is totally unacceptable and reprehensible."
Thirty observers are expected in the country by Monday, and 100 within a month, said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, citing comments by Herve Ladsous of U.N.'s Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
"Mr. Ladsous reported that the Syrian government has refused at least one observer based on his nationality, and that Syrian authorities have stated they will not accept (monitoring mission) staff members from any nations that are members of the 'Friends of Democratic Syria,'" Rice said Tuesday. "He underscored that from the U.N. point of view this is entirely unacceptable."FULL STORY
A detained Bahraini dissident who has been on a hunger strike for more than two months can appeal his life sentence during a hearing Monday, the government said.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was arrested in April 2011 for his role in anti-government protests that began a month earlier with demands for political reform and greater freedoms for Shiites. In June, Bahrain found him and seven other Shiite opposition activists guilty of plotting to overthrow the country's royal family.
Al-Khawaja was in stable condition Sunday, a Bahraini government spokesman said.
Meanwhile, crew members from Britain's Channel 4 News were released Monday after they were arrested while covering the unrest surrounding the Bahrain Grand Prix a day earlier.FULL STORY
The first members of a U.N. observer team will begin their work in Syria on Monday, tasked with monitoring a tenuous cease-fire that is showing signs of collapse.
"They will be liaising with the Syrian government, security forces and the opposition members to establish the monitoring process across the country," said Kieran Dwyer, a spokesman for peacekeeping missions at the United Nations.
But since the deadline for the cease-fire passed on Thursday morning, reports of deadly violence at the hands of the regime continued.
At least 23 people died across Syria on Sunday, including 11 in the besieged city of Homs, opposition activists said. Government helicopters pummeled Homs from the sky, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.
But the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency blamed "armed terrorists" for violating the cease-fire, quoting an unnamed military official's assessment that the groups "have hysterically escalated their aggressions on the army, the law enforcement forces and the civilians."FULL STORY
Government helicopters pounded the besieged city of Homs from the sky, opposition activists said Sunday, three days after a so-called cease-fire in Syria.
In addition, "one bomb is being shelled every 10 minutes from the military academy, aiming at al-Wair neighborhood in Homs," said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.
At least nine people died across Syria on Sunday, including six in Homs, said the opposition Syrian Network for Human Rights. Two died in Aleppo a day after they were injured when regime forces opened fire at a funeral procession, the group said.
The latest reports of violence came three days after a deadline to stop the bloodshed and one day after the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to authorize unarmed observers to travel to Syria to monitor the shaky cease-fire.FULL STORY
A deadline for Syrian troops to withdraw from cities came and went Tuesday morning, but opposition activists say regime's onslaught rages on.
One activist in the besieged city of Homs said fresh shelling rained on two neighborhoods late Tuesday morning.
"Tanks hitting those areas remain in al-Qusoor neighborhood. So there is not a tank that pulled out from there," said the opposition activist, identified only as Omar for safety reasons.
Hours before the deadline, reports of mounting carnage left some world leaders doubtful of the regime's promises.
"Should the Syrian government yet again refuse to implement its commitments, make promises and then break them and continue and escalate the killing, then I think it will be clear to all that there isn't yet prospect for diplomatic solution," Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday. "We still hope that that's possible, we still want to give that a final chance, but I don't think we, or anybody else, are particularly optimistic."FULL STORY
Syrian security forces have summarily executed at least 101 people, including civilians, since late 2011 in attacks on cities and towns, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Monday.
The report "documents the involvement of Syrian forces and pro-government shabeeha militias in summary and extrajudicial executions of defecting soldiers, opposition fighters and opposition supporters, as well as civilians who appeared to have had no part in the confrontation with the authorities other than being residents of opposition strongholds," according to the human rights organization.
The 25-page report, "In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Security Forces and Pro-Goverment Militias," was based on more than 30 interviews with witnesses to the executions, Human Rights Watch said.
While it was not possible to verify the exact numbers of victims of such executions, the organization said it had documented 12 cases in Idlib and Homs governorates involving at least 101 victims since December 2011. Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of other incidents, but only included in its report incidents where eyewitnesses were interviewed.FULL STORY
Fears are growing that a leading human rights activist who entered the 55th day of a hunger strike in Bahrain on Tuesday may not survive the ordeal, his daughter says.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who was arrested last year for his role in anti-government demonstrations, has been on hunger strike for nearly eight weeks in protest at his life prison term.
His daughter, Maryam al-Khawaja, told CNN he "is entering a critical phase where his life is at stake."
She said her father had two doctors accompanying him at all times Monday night and was being moved to a different prison Tuesday which has the necessary medical equipment.
The move is due to fears that he may go into a coma at any time, as his blood sugar and blood pressure have both further dropped, she said.FULL STORY
The Syrian military clashed with defectors in the capital of Damascus on Saturday as regime forces bombarded other towns with heavy gunfire despite the United Nations' call for a cease-fire, opposition activists said.
Gunfire between both sides erupted in the Homs neighborhoods of Baba Amr and Jouret Al-Arayes, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. Early-morning shelling also targeted other various areas in Daraa, Idlib, Hama and the Damascus countryside, opposition activists said.
The latest violence comes after a U.N. special envoy ordered President Bashar al-Assad to implement a peace plan and not await concessions from the opposition.
"The government must stop first and then discuss a cessation of hostilities with the other side and with the mediator," Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for special envoy Kofi Annan said Friday. "We expect him to implement this plan immediately."FULL STORY
A day after news broke that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accepted a plan to forge peace, fresh clashes broke out once again across Syria on Wednesday, opposition activists said.
Three members of the Syrian security forces were killed and four defecting soldiers were injured from intense clashes at an entrance to the western city of Rastan, which security forces have been trying to storm, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group.
And fierce fighting erupted between the Syrian security forces and a group of defectors in the southern Daraa province, the observatory said. The group said clashes began after an army soldier threatened residents in the town of Busr el-Harir to hand over the group of defectors or face a military operation.
Opposition activists have said Busr el-Harir has endured shortages of food and medicine since the Syrian army surrounded the town weeks ago.
The reports of violence come after al-Assad accepted a plan laid out by U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan to help end the bloodshed.FULL STORY