A R A B I C A ارابيكا
By Kristen Gillespie
TUNISIA TURNS PAGE
Newly sworn-in Tunisian President Monsef al-Marzouki said his primary task is "building the republic into a pluralistic democracy and tolerant society." The challenges ahead are due largely to the "enormous devastation left by dictatorship," with Marzouki pledging to strive for the "development of women's rights, especially equality."
*@Yemen notes the importance of Marzouki's swearing-in date: "On this same day, December 13th, one year ago, police attacked a produce vendor named Bouazizi in the province of Sidi Bouzid."
*Essam al-Zamal from Saudi Arabia tweets with a similar shout-out to the produce vendor whose act of self-immolation sparked the Tunisian revolution, and set off the snowball effect of the Arab spring. "Exactly one year after Bouazizi's wake-up call, Monsef al-Marzouki assumes the presidency of Tunisia – praise be to Allah."
*"Bless the Tunisian people and Arabs as a whole on the election of Monsef al-Marzouki as president of the Tunisian republic and to more revolutions leading to the free election of presidents," says Tareq al-Mutiry from Kuwait.
SYRIAN MEETING: 1 VERSION
Baladna news published a report out of Doha, Qatar claiming that Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani held a secret meeting in Jeddah with his Syrian counterpart, Walid Mouallem, on the sidelines of the Organization of the Islamic Conference gathering. Citing a Qatari official, al-Thani reportedly offered Mouallem a palace in Doha and $100 million to defect from the Syrian regime. Mouallem turned down the offer, saying he would never defect from the ruling Baath Party.
SYRIAN SHOOTING: 2 VERSIONS
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement that 11 people were shot dead by the civilian-clad militia known as the shabiha in the two villages of Maret Masreen and Kafr Yahmoul, both near the Turkish border. The Syrian official news agency, SANA, had a different version of events, saying that a "terrorist group" tried to infiltrate Syria in an attack originating from Turkey. Two "terrorists' were killed, SANA reported. Turkey denies its territories being used to launch any attacks on Syria. Earlier this month, Turkey imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Syria.