SYRIA'S WAR MACHINE
Al Hayat reports that Syrian forces entered the Bab al-Amr neighborhood of Homs after six straight days of shelling with heavy artillery. Activists say at least 110 people have been killed in the past week in Homs alone. The opposition Syrian National Council is demanding the international community take action to protect the residents of Homs, which it called "a disaster area." The government has cut off water and power to Syria's third-largest city.
SYRIA'S EYE DOCTOR
The Grand Mufti of Syria, the highest Sunni religious authority in the country, says that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would like to return to his previous profession as an opthamologist "after he finishes carrying out reforms in Syria." Mufti Ahmed Badr Hassoun stressed that Assad will remain Syria's president for life, regardless what happens in the country. Reforms promised but not yet implemented include allowing the formation of political parties and free elections. "It was a dream of Bashar al-Assad to open an eye clinic and he wishes to return to the profession he is trained in," Hassoun said. The mufti is the same who threatened to unleash an army of suicide bombers in Europe and America in the event Syria is invaded or bombarded by Western governments.
SYRIA'S LEAGUE OF ITS OWN
Samih Touqan of Jordan tweets: "Another joke: Arab League calls for urgent meeting on Syria after a week."
A group of Ismaili youth have taken to Change Square, the epicenter for anti-government protests in Yemen since February, to demand answers regarding the fate of their spiritual leader, Imam Hussein Makrami. Ismailis in Saudi Arabia and Yemen number in the millions. They have threatened to hold protests in Saudi Arabia and beyond if they are not given the details of Makrami's situation. Saudi Arabia says he died in a Saudi prison in 2005, "but many of his followers around the world did not believe the story of his death," BBC Arabic reports, and insist he was transferred to Yemen, where the trail runs cold. Makrami is a "thorny issue" for Saudi Arabia, the BBC notes, because Ismailis could launch protests that may spread to the population at large.
AQABA FUEL SPILL
The ferry that left the Jordanian port city of Aqaba last Thursday monring carrying more than 1,000 passengers was also transporting 85 tons of fuel, which drained into the Red Sea as the ferry sank on its way to Egypt. A fire broke out on the ferry 10 miles off the coast of Aqaba. Officials say the spill was quickly contained, with a government committee investigating the cause of the fire.
November 8, 2011