(CBS News) CAIRO - In spite of opposition claims that Egypt's cadre of ruling generals is setting up what they say amounts to a military dictatorship, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) announced Monday that it will "hand over power to the elected president" at the end of this month.
"The army will hand over power to the elected president in a big ceremony end-month that the entire world will witness," the official news agency MENA quoted Major-General Mohamed El Assar, a member of the ruling army council, as saying.
"Egypt is a modern democratic country that upholds all democratic values," the statement went on.
The Muslim Brotherhood claimed victory early Monday in Egypt's first freely-contested presidential election, saying their candidate Mohammed Morsi had enough votes to become the first Islamist head of state in the Middle East to be elected in the wake of the tumult of the "Arab Spring".Continue »
(CBS News) CAIRO - Sixteen months after it started, Egypt's transition to democracy is back where it began. The activists whose determination and mass rallies threw out the old order, are wondering how - even if - they can do it again.
The politicians who hoped to reap the legacy of the revolution by winning power are, again, at the mercy of the military generals who have ruled the nation since President Hosni Mubarak's ouster, and the streets are (by Cairo standards at any rate) their usual Friday holiday tranquil.
The hiatus is the result of yesterday's court ruling that new elections must be held to choose a lower chamber of parliament. The lower house was supposed to elect an assembly to draft a new constitution, but wrangling and jostling for power by the political parties meant the task had not even begun.
Now, that task will be back in the hands of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which said following the court's ruling that they would soon hold their first meeting to start hand-picking the members of a constitutional assembly.Continue »
(CBS News) AMMAN - One rebel leader in Syria has issued a 48-hour "ultimatum" to the government to abide by the U.N.-backed peace plan or "face the consequences." Another says there is no such demand.
Meanwhile the fighting goes on, with reports of more shelling in the city of Homs and in Houla - the site of a weekend massacre that saw 108 civilians killed and prompted the latest and perhaps most vocal round of international condemnation.
The reality is that neither the diffuse collection of rebels nor the government nor the outside world can force the endgame in the foreseeable future. The danger, apart from the obvious continued suffering of civilians, is that the conflict threatens to draw in allies and enemies across the region.
The Israelis fear that a collapse into all-out civil war in Syria will leave its stocks of Russian-made weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, and even chemical weapons in what would amount to an "open warehouse" for terrorist groups to pilfer and pillage.Continue »
SIRTE, Libya - Being assigned to cover the fall of Sirte is beginning to have a "Waiting for Godot" feel about it. Predictions range from "a few days" to "any moment," neither of which can be relied upon, or discounted. So, every day, journalists make the run from wherever they are staying and try to get as far into Sirte as possible and not get killed.Continue »
TRIPOLI - The rush by Western governments to embrace Libya's new "interim" rulers is beginning to seem more than a little premature, not least because the Libyans themselves are in dangerous disarray.
At first glance, Tripoli looks exactly like a capital newly-liberated from years of dictatorship ought. Traffic flows, people smile a lot. Food stalls, impromptu theater and even bouncy castles for kids fill the square where once people gathered to cheer and chant for Colonel Muammar Qaddafi whether they liked it or not.Continue »
CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey files a behind the scene's look at maneuvering through Libya.
TRIPOLI, Libya -- Travel around enough as a foreign correspondent and you encounter so many eccentric and downright crazy things that after a while no matter what comes up it seems to be variations on a theme.
And then you come to Libya.
This is a county that adds a new level of meaning to anomaly.
It started at the border. It is several hundred yards from the place where the enterprising little Tunisian man with a half-broken porter's trolley had to dump our gear to where we'd be picked up by our Libyan minders. Given that we're a TV crew from a country that is part of the coalition bombing them, and the regime they have grown up under and serve constantly preaches that we lie, it's reasonable to expect if not harsh, at least stern treatment from the border guards.
Instead, the AK-47 toting men who greeted us commandeered a pickup truck passing through customs to transport us.Continue »
TRIPOLI - In a sign of just how isolated it is becoming, the Libyan government has embarked on what might kindly be described as a Quixotic quest: To take NATO and its leading political figures to a court they hope will be set up somewhere in South America to face charges of "war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression."
The case will be pursued by Roland Dumas, a former French foreign minister whose career ended under a cloud of unproven allegations of corruption; and Jacques Verges, most famous as the lawyer who defended Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and the infamous terrorist "Carlos the Jackal." The legal team might be described as going some way towards validating the adage "With friends like these ..."
The African Union delegation didn't even have to meet with rebel leaders here to get the message that their peace mission wasn't going to end in total success.
Their official cars had to run a gauntlet of thousands of demonstrators chanting "Libya free, Qaddafi go away" just to reach the entrance to the hotel where talks on the "road map" to end the conflict here were to be held.
One of the four provisions already accepted last night by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi calls for negotiations with him and his regime to create a new political dispensation.
The reception in Benghazi pretty much mirrored the overall situation. The scattered motorcade of notables was nearly swamped in the street outside the once-luxury hotel. And when the luminaries, who are more used to adoration than approbation, arrived at the front entrance, neither the local security men nor the black-suited - and in one case black body-armored - personal security detail for the African leaders could do more than squeeze their charges through a gaggle of journalists.Continue »
The camera was looking for debris on the seabed at depths reaching more than 650 feet, according to Italian Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Massimo Maccheroni. There is no hope the pair survived.
The last message from Abruzzo, 47, and Davis, 65, came three days into their attempt to win the world's oldest long-distance balloon race, the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett.
Picked up by the Italian coast guard at 8:15 a.m. local time (2:15 a.m. EDT), the radio transmission indicated the balloonists had suffered what was described as, "a sudden and unexpected failure."
"The pilot said in English that they were going down very fast toward the sea," Rear Admiral Salvatore Giuffre told the Associated Press Television News agency. "Those were the last words he said."
Based on data from tracking units in the Adriatic, race organizers said the balloon had begun a moderate descent, which increased to about 50 miles and hour before contact was lost.
The chances of surviving the impact when hurtling down that fast were deemed to be "unlikely".
Search and rescue teams from the Italian coast guard, the U.S. Navy -- including two U.S. Air Force C-130 planes flying out of Ramstein, Germany -- along with Croatian coastal aircraft crews, scoured the Adriatic Sea, concentrating on an area about twelve miles off the Italian coast where the last transmissions were pinpointed.
At one point, eight Italian divers using underwater cameras were involved. Searches were also made on land in Italy and Croatia.
Debris was found floating in the area late on Friday, but officials couldn't initially say whether it came from the missing balloon.
No trace of the two pilots has been found. They were equipped with survival suits, flotation devices and electronic beacons.
Abruzzo, who worked in a prominent family business in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Davis, a radiologist specializing in reading mammograms, were both experienced and highly regarded balloonists.
They won the Gordon Bennett Cup in 2004. Started in 1906, the competition is the oldest and one of the most prestigious air balloon races of its kind.
The rules are simple: take off from a fixed point - in this case, Bristol, England - and fly as far as possible on one fill of hydrogen. Twenty teams took part, nineteen of them landing in Croatia.
Crammed into a basket only about five feet wide, the balloonists endure freezing temperatures, high winds and other untold perils. They can only control their craft by releasing gas to descend, or throwing out sand to go up.
A 262-page secret government report first obtained by the respected daily paper Ha'aretz shows that the military has turned a blind eye to the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian-owned land, reports CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey.
Changing that may well hold the key to the resolution of, or at least significant progress on, a foreign policy issue that has bedeviled and frustrated successive administrations in Washington for decades.
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