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Head of Government:
Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzuri
Chief of State:
Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
Security forces sprayed protesters with water hoses and tear gas outside the presidential palace as Egyptians marked the second anniversary of the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak's with angry demonstrations against his successor, President Mohamed Morsi. Protesters are particularly angry over the continued heavy handedness of security services, claiming little has changed since the Mubarak-era. Many accuse Morsi and the Brotherhood of trying to monopolize power and ignoring the demands of the secular and liberal groups who were the backbone of the uprising.
Egypt has been gripped by political turmoil since Mubarak's ouster, in an uprising driven largely by anger over widespread abuse at the hands of state security agencies. After he stepped down, Mubarak was replaced by a ruling military council that was in power for 17 months. The rule of the generals was marred by violence and criticism that the council mismanaged the transitional period.
Morsi won the first free elections in June. But he and his Muslim Brotherhood, which rose to be Egypt's most powerful political group post-Mubarak, are now facing the wrath of Egyptians who drove the 2011 revolt but who say few of their goals have been realized.
For many in Egypt, the past two years have only increased frustration, with the economy deteriorating as political bickering between a largely secular opposition and a tightly organized and conservative Islamist bloc obstructed progress.
Governed by Hamas since a 2007 military coup
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah
The Syrian government is reportedly using local militias known as Popular Committees to commit mass killings, U.N. human rights investigators said on Monday. The investigators, who cited accounts from witnesses and victims, also said people were being harassed or arrested by the committees because they came from regions perceived as being supportive of the uprising. But both sides in the conflict have committed violations against civilians, the investigators said.
"In a disturbing and dangerous trend, mass killings allegedly perpetrated by Popular Committees have at times taken on sectarian overtones," the U.N. commission of inquiry on Syria, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, said in its latest report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-Khamenei
President Mahmud Ahmadinejad
A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would sharply toughen U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Advocates say the Senate proposal could, at least in theory, block Iran from accessing about one-third of the foreign exchange reserves it relies on to pay for government programs, to finance trade and to prop up its currency.
The United States and its allies already have imposed sanctions on Iran's nuclear and missile programs, its oil and gas industry, insurance and banking, financial sectors and other parts of the economy.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
President Jalal Talabani
The civil war in Syria is testing Iraq’s fragile society and fledgling democracy, worsening sectarian tensions, pushing Iraq closer to Iran and highlighting security shortcomings just nine months after American forces ended their long and costly occupation here, The New York Times reported Tuesday, September 25. Despite nearly nine years of American military engagement, an effort that continues today with a $19 billion weapons sales program, Iraq’s security is uncertain and its alliance with the theocratic government in Tehran is growing. In response, the United States has tried to secure its interests in Iraq. It has unsuccessfully pressed Iraq to halt flights from Iran that traverse Iraqi airspace to ferry weapons and fighters to the Assad government, and is trying to speed up weapons sales to Iraq to secure it as an ally.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
President Shimon Peres
U.S. President Barack Obama's three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories will begin on March 20. Israeli media reports and a Palestinian official have said that it will run from March 20-22 and take in talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
According to the official Israeli program released by Prime Minister Netanyahu's office, Obama’s visit will include a trip to the Israel Museum, a speech at the International Convention Centre in Jerusalem and dinners with Israeli president Shimon Peres and prime minister Netanyahu. He will attend a ceremony at Mount Herzl, where he will lay a wreath on the grave of assassinated former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin before heading to Yad Vashem, Israel’s world-renowned Holocaust museum. Additionally, he will visit the site of a U.S.-funded Iron Dome rocket defense system. He will also travel to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet Palestinian Authority officials.
Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh
King Abdullah II
Jordan has taken precautions along its border against the possibility that Syrian authorities may use chemical weapons in their fight against rebel groups, Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, January 16. “Of course we have to be worried,” Ensour said in an interview. “We cannot take for granted the assertions that Syrian officials are making,” he said, referring to Syrian pledges not to use such weapons to crush the insurgency against President Bashar Assad. Asked whether the U.S., an ally and financial supporter of Jordan, had helped with the preparations, Ensour said that America and other “friendly governments” carried out a training exercise a few months ago. Jordan is one of the main destinations for refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war that began in March 2011. Ensour said there are 293,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, including 63,000 staying in camps.
Prime Minister Najib Miqati
President Michel Sulaiman
Gunmen ambushed the convoy of a Lebanese government minister in the northern city of Tripoli on Friday, January 18, wounding three people and riddling a security patrol car with bullets, Reuters reported. The official, Minister of Sports and Youth Faisal Karami, appeared to be unhurt, medics said. The attack coincided with a weekly protest demanding the release of several Islamists detained in Lebanese prisons. The port city of Tripoli has long been a stronghold of Sunni Islamists in northern Lebanon. But the city has become increasingly volatile in recent months due to the civil war in neighboring Syria, where the Sunni majority is leading a revolt against President Bashar Assad. Supporters of either side have clashed frequently, heightening fears that the war is spilling over into Lebanon.
Republic Under an Authoritarian Regime
Prime Minister Adil Safr
President Bashar Assad
The Obama administration is providing an additional $100 million for humanitarian aid for displaced Syrians, bringing to $510 million the total U.S. aid commitment since the civil war began more than two years ago, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Republican Parliamentary Democracy
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
President Abdullah Gul
Israeli and Turkish officials reached a draft agreement to mend the three-year diplomatic crisis between the two countries following a day-long meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Monday night.
Governed by the Palestinian Authority under the 1993 Oslo Agreement
Prime Minister Salam Fayaad
President Mahmoud Abbas
Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have reached agreement on steps to bridge their years-long divide, including the formation of a unity government of technocrats by month’s end, mediators and officials with the two groups said Thursday, January 17, The Los Angeles Times reported. The two Palestinian factions, which have been at odds since Hamas violently seized the Gaza Strip in 2007, have been holding on-again, off-again reconciliation talks for more than a year. Their goal has been to politically reunite the West Bank, which is under Fatah control, and Gaza, ruled by Hamas. They have previously announced agreements, only to have the arrangements later fall apart. The disrupted talks on reconciliation resumed last week after a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Cairo, during which the two leaders reportedly worked out their differences.