Hundreds Injured in Renewed Egypt Protests; 24 Killed in Syria

At least one protester was killed and 676 were injured in Egypt in clashes with the police in Cairo’s Tahrir square, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported, citing health ministry spokesman Mohammed Sherbini.

Egyptian security forces yesterday blocked roads leading to the interior ministry to stop the protesters from advancing to the ministry’s building, and at least nine policemen were injured, MENA said. Security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets, al-Shorouk newspaper reported.

Egypt’s cabinet said in a statement posted on Facebook that the protests are “dangerous” and will affect the future of the country and its revolution. The cabinet urged all involved to “think” and “take responsibility for their actions.”

Political turmoil in Middle Eastern and North African countries, which toppled leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya this year, has resulted in crackdowns on anti-government demonstrations and hurt regional economies.

Egypt may ask the International Monetary Fund for the $3 billion loan it rejected this year, after domestic borrowing costs soared, Deputy Prime Minister Hazem El Beblawi said in an interview yesterday. Dwindling international reserves and foreign investment after the revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak have forced the government to pay the highest borrowing costs in three years.

The yield on Egypt’s one-year Treasury bills jumped 65 basis points, or 0.65 percentage point, on Nov. 17 to 14.725 percent, seven basis points below the peak in September 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.

Syrian Deadline

In Syria, where an Arab League deadline for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to end violence against protesters ended yesterday, Assad’s security forces killed 24 people across the country, Al-Jazeera reported, citing unidentified activists.

Militias of the anti-U.S. Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr crossed the into Syria a few days ago to help the Assad regime quell protests, the Iraqi news agency Al-Sumaria reported, citing an interview yesterday with the governor of Iraq’s Anbar province, Mohamed Qassim Al-Fahdawi.

On Nov. 16, the Arab League gave Syria three days to end a crackdown on protesters seeking to topple Assad and to allow observers into the country. The 22-member league, which suspended Syria’s participation, said it may impose economic sanctions and turned down Assad’s call for a summit.

International Pressure

International pressure on Syria increased last week, with European Union foreign-affairs chief Catherine Ashton reiterating a call for Assad to resign. She made the comment at a news conference in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said reported attacks by military defectors of the Free Syrian Army on government forces indicated a situation similar to a “civil war.”

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague will meet Syrian opposition leaders in “the near future,” said a London-based spokesman, who declined to be identified in a phone interview yesterday.

In Yemen, Aden Oil Refinery Co. halted its 150,000 barrels-a-day refinery yesterday because of a lack of crude oil after an attack on a pipeline supplying the plant, a company official said.

The refinery was processing about 30,000 barrels a day, and the last crude shipment of 80,000 metric tons was received a month ago, the official said, declining to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak on the matter. The plant typically gets one such consignment every week, and the company’s tanker had sailed twice to Ras Eisa port on the Red Sea without loading any oil, he said.

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