Source: New York Times
After months of striking a far friendlier tone toward the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, the Iraqi government has joined a chorus of other nations calling on him to step down.
An adviser to the Iraqi prime minister,Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, said in an interview on Tuesday that the Iraqi government had sent messages to Mr. Assad that said he should resign.
“We believe that the Syrian people should have more freedom and have the right to experience democracy,” said the adviser, Ali al-Moussawi. “We are against the one-party rule and the dictatorship that hasn’t allowed for the freedom of expression.”
The statements from Mr. Moussawi mark a significant change for Iraq. When the United States and several of its major allies called in August for Mr. Assad to cede power, the Iraqi government appeared to be more in line with Iran, which has supported Mr. Assad. The same day as the American statement, Mr. Maliki gave a speech warning Arab leaders that Israel would benefit the most from the Arab Spring.
“There is no doubt that there is a country that is waiting for the Arab countries to be ripped and is waiting for internal corrosion,” Mr. Maliki said in that speech. “Zionists and Israel are the first and biggest beneficiaries of this whole process.”
As violence began to spread across Syria in June, Mr. Maliki received a delegation of visiting Syrian businesspeople and government officials, including the foreign minister, to discuss closer economic ties between the two countries. At the time, Mr. Maliki called on Syrians to stick to peaceful protests and rely on the government to enact reforms.
Mr. Moussawi said that the Iraqi government had long wanted Mr. Assad to step down, but he declined to say why the government had not expressed its position publicly until Tuesday. Iraq and Syria have been adversaries in the past, particularly at the height of sectarian conflict here, when many Iraqi leaders, including Mr. Maliki, said the Syrians were allowing foreign fighters and suicide bombers to cross its border into Iraq.
But last year, analysts said, Iran pressed Mr. Assad to support Mr. Maliki for another term as prime minister, and since then Iraq and Syria have strengthened their economic and diplomatic relations.
Mr. Moussawi said Tuesday that the Iraqi government was concerned that if Mr. Assad’s government collapses, violence will spill over the border and further destabilize Iraq, which is still dealing with violent attacks nearly every day. On Tuesday, suicide bombers attacked a government compound in Anbar Province, which borders Syria, killed three policemen and wounded several civilians.
The Iraqi government has asked American officials about the United States’ plans should Mr. Assad resign, Mr. Moussawi said.
“Our goals are the same as the United States has in changing the regime,” he said. “The only difference is the way to achieve these goals. I don’t know how you can guarantee what will happen in Syria if there is a sudden change. I’m sure there will be a civil war and lots of chaos.”
Mr. Moussawi said there was a danger that Syria would plunge into a sectarian conflict similar to the one that engulfed Iraq after the United States-led invasion overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003.
“The sudden change will create lots of chaos, because they have a divided army and a divided people in Syria, and this is going to create a civil war,” he said. An estimated 2,600 people have been killed in Syria as security forces have cracked down on antigovernment protests over the past six months. Leaders of other Arab nations said little about the violence at first, but many have since condemned the killings.
In recent weeks, there has been an apparent recalibration by the Iranian government toward Syria.
Throughout the Arab Spring, the Iranians have remained Syria’s closest ally. But two weeks ago, Iranian leaders called on Mr. Assad to institute some reforms, in part, analysts said, to try to stabilize his presidency and to improve Iran’s image in the Arab world.
Source: BBC News
Liberal Democrats have urged the government to go further in removing the ban on gay men donating blood.
The party conference says a decision this month to lift the lifetime ban - but replace it with a 12 month deferral period - is "a ban by any other name".
The vote was carried although it is not binding on the Lib Dem leadership.
Restrictions were introduced in the 1980s over fears of HIV contamination but had been questioned on both ethical and medical grounds.
Ministers in England, Scotland and Wales have accepted medical advice, that a full ban is not justified.
But men who have had sex with men in the past 12 months will still not be allowed to give blood.
The debate heard that the deferral period effectively meant that sexually active gay men were being equated to men who had sex with prostitutes, and those who have had sex in countries where HIV/Aids is very common.
Lib Dem member Dij Davies, who was prevented from donating blood to his mother when she needed a transfusion because he was gay, told the conference there was no reason why men who practised safe sex, should be prevented from giving blood.
He said the 12-month deferral period was "simply a ban by any other name".
"It stigmatises male same sex contact by perpetuating the myth they can't be trusted in matters of sexual health," he said.
'Not gay disease'
Another party member, Ross Pepper, said the new rules were still an example of "institutionalised homophobia", pointing out that thousands of people had contracted HIV through heterosexual sex.
"It's not just a gay disease," he said.
And Dave Page, a party member from Manchester, told delegates the 12 month deferral period was "not scientific".
"It's not taking into account what is risky sex and what is not," he said.
An announcement was made earlier this month that the full ban on men who have had sex with men ever giving blood would be lifted.
It had been introduced in response to the Aids epidemic and lack of adequate HIV tests in the early 1980s.
But it had been questioned on ethical and medical grounds and was subject to a review by the government's advisory committee on the safety of blood, tissue and organs.
The National Blood Service screens all donations for HIV and other infections but there is a "window period" after infection during which it is impossible to detect the virus.
The advisory committee said advances in testing had reduced the size of the window period and the chance of errors, so the evidence no longer supported the need for a full ban.
The findings were accepted by health ministers and a one-year ban will come into force in England, Scotland and Wales on 7 November.
Homosexuality has a long way to go in the United States, but an even tougher, bleaker road to pass through in other parts of the world. Particularly in Africa and the Middle East where the Islamic law is held in extreme rigor, homosexuality is dealt with as an outright crime and is sometimes even punishable by death. Here are the worst forms of government-mandated punishment for simply being homosexual in different parts of the world.
Believe it or not, there are still countries today (yes, today) that enforce the death penalty for homosexuality.
The following are countries that find homosexuality punishable by death: Mauritania,Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Somalia, United Arab Emirates, Somalia, parts ofNigeria and parts of Malaysia (I know).
According to The Boroumand Foundation, there were at least 107 recorded executions in Iranrelated to homosexuality between 1979 and 1990. However, the execution of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in 2005 drew the most international attention because disturbing photos of their hanging were found distributed across the web (see image). The controversy revolved around the fact that the two individuals were gay teenagers.
Uganda may also soon even add itself to the list of countries that find homosexuality punishable by death. A Ugandan lawmaker explains that "this is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family" (sound familiar?)
This statement was actually given in 2010 after a story ran on October 9 in a newspaper called "Rolling Stone" of Uganda's "100 top homos." The tabloid (cough, government) published pictures, names and address of the alleged "criminals" asking that they be hanged or killed on command.
The headline of the front-page story flat out reads "Hang Them."
For more disturbing images and coverage of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni's hanging, click here.
In May 2008, at the height of persecution in Senegal when gays were being rounded up by policemen, beaten and tortured, many people fled to neighboring countries for safety. However, those who sought freedom in Gambia, the south of Senegal, ran straight into a living nightmare. Instead of offering solace, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh promised "stricter laws than Iran" on homosexuality. He held a political rally telling homosexuals to leave his country within 24 hours or their heads would be cut off.
He said in his speech, "The Gambia is a country of believers...sinful and immoral practices [such] as homosexuality will not be tolerated in this country."
Keep in mind that this is the same guy who has so much authoritative power he's even claimed to have discovered a cure for HIV and AIDS in a mixture of herbs (yet is conveniently just "not using it to help the world.".
The image to the left is a picture of President Jammeh administering his miracle concoction to a dying patient (it didn't work.)
Stoning is a method of capital punishment that is as close to being buried alive as you can get, only without the convenience of suffocation and a LOT more pain.
Sudan is one country that uses stoning as part of their punishment for homosexual behavior, particularly against women. Lesbian women in Sudan are stoned and given thousands of lashes on their very first offense. They are buried up to their neck in the ground while being pelted with stones at the head. Meanwhile, gay men in Sudan are given lashes for the first offence and the death penalty on the third.
Stoning in Nigeria, however, is not only exclusive to homosexual women. Death by stoning is strictly enforced for any married or divorced Muslim man engaged in same-sex sexual activity. International alarm was raised in 2005 when a 50-year-old man in northern Nigeria was stoned to death under Islamic Sharia law after admitting homosexual sex.
Another case backed by media attention is one in Kabul, Afghanistan involving a 84-year-old man charged with homosexual activity.
After a high-tech Taliban version of stoning which consists of a tank pushing a stone wall over the person (take a moment to re-read that), the accused victim actually survived. He was then taken to a hospital because by Islamic law if a person survives the stoning after 30 minutes, they are permitted to continue living.
He was soon talking to reporters and told the "Afghan Daily News" that he was innocent.
The Afghanistan Law of Marriages defines a legal marriage to be between two Muslim adults of the opposite sex. Any other variation outside the Islamic law in Afghanistan is met with the death penalty or up to 15 years of imprisonment.
Saudi Arabia instills a similar form of punishment for homosexuality and cross dressing. The two have long been deemed as immoral acts by the Saudi judicial board, who advised Muslim judges in 1928 to treat "Liwat" (or sodomy, and in this case gay sex) the same way as fornication (premarital sex).
If caught engaging in extramarital sexual activity while being married, one must be stoned to death, which means that if most American celebrities lived in that Saudi government, they would have been stoned (and not the kind of stoned they are right now). If someone is not married and is caught in extramarital affairs, one must be whipped and banished for a year. That's right, they still "banish" people for small offense like that somewhere in the world.
In April 2000 the Saudi government sentenced over 100 men to time in prison and lashings for simply attending a same-sex wedding ceremony or birthday party.
Interestingly enough, the law is not always obeyed by those behind it. Take Saudi Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud who killed his servant Bandar Abdulaziz in London.
Though the prince has denied being gay, several pieces of evidence that surfaced later prove otherwise. A barman at the Sanderson Hotel in which Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud was staying claims the prince hit on him, suggesting they go on a date. Two male escorts also visited the prince's suite and police has proof that he had visited gay escort websites. Lastly, the violence set upon his servant was not only physical but found to be sexual as well.
In the end, Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud got a taste of his own country's medicine and was sentenced to a long prison term -- which goes to show exactly how stringent the law is against homosexuality in Saudi Arabia that even the prince himself is subject to its rule.
Public flogging is yet another way homosexuality is punished in some countries. Iran has an entire system of administering lashes for both male homosexuality and female homosexuality. A non-adult male who engages in consensual sodomy (which the Iranian government considers homosexuality), is met with a punishment of 74 lashes, which means nobody gets to experiment in college.
The punishment for female homosexuality is 100 lashes.
This can be performed a total number of three times before the woman is subjected to the death penalty.
Grown men are also part of the flogging mix. Amir, a 22-year-old gay Iranian, was arrested as part of Iran's massive Internet entrapment campaign targeting gays and was sentenced to 100 lashes. He describes the flogging in the following way:
“I passed out before the 100 lashes were over. When I woke up, my arms and legs were so numb that I fell over when they picked me up from the platform on which I’d been lashed. They had told me that if I screamed, they would beat me even harder—so I was biting my arms so hard, to keep from screaming, that I left deep teeth wounds in my own arms.”
It is not uncommon for flogging to lead to permanent damage of the organs, internal bleeding and even death.
Gays are not only put to death in several countries for their sexual orientation, but are afterward, to add insult to injury, also denied a proper burial.
In 2008, a much-publicized gay wedding in the capital of Senegal and a major international Islamic summit held in Senegal together (at the same time, kind of like CES and that p**n convention every January in Vegas) had so much effect on the government (read: offended the government so much), that the entire country started to crack down on actions deemed un-Islamic.
As you can guess, homosexuality was a no-go.
Homosexuals were targeted and blamed as the cause of difficulties within the country because they were deviating from the Islamic faith. As more and more people sided with this belief, more and more homosexuals were tossed to the wayside. Literally: tossed and left there.
Serigne Mbaye is one example of a recipient of that kind of treatment. After he grew ill and passed away, his children wanted to bury him in his village. However, because of widespread rumors that Mbaye was gay, no cemetery would accept him. His corpse was rejected repeatedly by every cemetery that his children had no choice but to bury him on the side of the road, using their own hands as shovels. In the end, the grave was too shallow and the dirt put over Mbaye's body could not sufficiently cover him.
And get this. When the decomposing body was later discovered, Mbaye's children were arrested and...charged with improperly burying their father. Not ironic, but cruel.
No Political Freedom, No Human Rights:
In 2006, Archbishop Peter Akinola of the Church of Nigeria got behind a new law in Nigeriathat allows the government to prosecute newspapers that publish information about same-sex unions. He also showed his support for prosecuting religious organizations that permit same-sex unions. Now, this goes a beyond not being able to get married, and not being able to repeat the same benefits as heterosexuals. This means that the government is making a concerted effort to track you down.
With one hand controlling the press and the other monitoring religious faith, Akinola's actions are another example of the most basic freedoms stifled by conservative bigotry.
The Gambia also follows suit with little to no freedom of speech for gay media.
Six journalists were arrested in 2009, including a nursing mother of an eight month old baby, for merely running a press release arguing against President Jammeh (a friendly leader mentioned in the second entry, if friendly means cutting people's heads off).
There are also trails of unresolved murder cases, disappearances and forced dismissals of editors of certain media publications.
Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is a Federal Republic and is actually modeled after the United States.
Though they are nowhere near as liberal as a "democratic country" should be, they are farther along with their People's Democratic Party of Nigeria than the other countries.
Even so, there is absolutely no democratic freedom for homosexuals. Nigerian homosexuals are not even allowed to gather together and petition to the government for what they believe are their rights.
Nigeria is just one of many countries that do not give homosexuals a place at all in their political hierarchy, let alone civil rights.
Source: BBC News
State TV reports that the group of six were paid to make secret reports for the Farsi-language service.
The BBC says no-one works for the Persian service inside the country - either formally or informally.
The arrests came a day after the service showed a documentary on Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The BBC's James Reynolds says the channel's signal, which is sometimes accessible inside Iran, was disrupted during the broadcast.
The corporation said the documentary on the ayatollah was an in-house production and none of the six film-makers had been involved with it.
"The individuals in question are independent documentary film-makers whose films have been screened in festivals and other venues internationally," said the statement.
"As is common practice for the channel's documentary showcase programme, BBC Persian television bought the rights to broadcast these films."
The BBC's language service chief Liliane Landor said BBC Persian had done nothing unusual in buying the rights to independent films.
She said the arrests were part of the "ongoing efforts by the Iranian government to put pressure on the BBC" to influence its impartial and balanced coverage of its Farsi-language TV broadcasts.
The corporation said BBC Persian has been subject to increasing and aggressive jamming from within Iran.
The channel has suffered deliberate attempts to interfere with its signal intermittently since its launch in 2009.
Source: VOA News
Syrian rights activists say security forces have killed five people during raids on anti-government protesters in the central Homs province.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say witnesses heard shooting during raids Monday in the city of Houla. Central Homs province has seen anti-regime protests during the past six months and has been raided frequently by government forces.
The killings come a day after dozens of Syrian opposition members convened in the capital, Damascus, and called on President Bashar al-Assad to end his deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters across the country.
The National Democratic Change group organized the weekend meeting, attended by a group of opposition figures, including leading writer Michel Kilo, Arab and Kurdish nationalists, Islamists and secularists.
They called on Syrians to continue their peaceful movement against Mr. Assad's rule and urged the government to stop all acts of repression and violence against citizens.
Most other opposition meetings have taken place outside of Syria.
Inside the country, the U.N. estimates some 2,600 people have died in the bloody government crackdown.
Last week, Syrian security forces shot and killed at least 15 people as they conducted raids and fired on protesters who flooded streets after Friday prayers.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.
Source: New York Times
At least 3,000 people marched through the streets of Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city, on Sunday, chanting slogans against government corruption, as the country’s pro-democracy movement attempted to regain momentum that was lost over the summer.
Like many other Arab nations, Morocco was swept by mass protests starting in February, but in recent months the protests have petered out and at one point stopped altogether.
King Mohammed VI, the head of state, remains popular with much of the country, and appears to have co-opted much of the dissatisfaction by promising reforms. The Constitution has been amended to give more powers to the prime minister and Parliament.
But activists say the amendments changed little and complain that final authority still rests with the king and his court. So the pro-democracy group called the February 20 Movement restarted its protests last week.
The crowd it mustered to march on Sunday through downtown Casablanca was about half the size of those seen earlier in the summer. The march featured activists wearing masks portraying three of the king’s top counselors, riding backwards on donkeys.
“Head of the army, it’s too much — head of the religion, it’s too much,” chanted the crowd, referring to some of the many powers the king keeps under the newly amended Constitution.
Another 2,000 people demonstrated in the port city of Tangier, and the crowds there went as far as chanting for the fall of the government — a common slogan in other Arab countries, but rarely heard in Morocco.
Morocco will hold parliamentary elections on Nov. 25. In the past, political parties in the country have been weak and easily manipulated by the royal court, the Parliament has had little power and the prime minister was selected by the king. Under the new constitutional reforms, the party with the largest number of seats in Parliament will form the new government and name the prime minister.
Source: VOA News
Yemeni security forces shot dead at least 26 people and wounded hundreds more Sunday when they opened fire on tens of thousands of anti-government protesters in the capital, Sana'a - the worst violence in several months.
Government troops fired heavy-caliber machine guns, water cannons and tear gas on the demonstrators when they left Change Square and marched toward the nearby presidential palace. Thousands of protesters have camped out in the square for months.
Medics estimated that about 340 demonstrators suffered gunshot wounds, leaving at least 25 of them in critical condition. The interior ministry accused protesters of throwing gasoline bombs and wielding batons, wounding four government troops.
The rally was the first in months in which protesters ventured outside the area of Sana'a controlled by Major General Ali Moshen al-Ahmar, Yemen's top military officer, who has sided with the opposition. Protesters said they wanted to "escalate" the anti-government rebellion by moving to other districts of the capital.
The country's youth-led protest movement has stepped up demonstrations in the past week, angered after President Ali Abdullah Saleh instructed his deputy to negotiate a power-sharing deal. Many call the move just the latest in a number of Mr. Saleh's delaying tactics.
Yemen's National Council, a protest group, accused Mr. Saleh's troops of committing a "massacre." The council called on the United Nations to "end its silence" and intervene to protect the Yemeni people.
Demonstrations also took place Sunday in other Yemeni cities, including Taiz, Saada, Ibb and Damar.
The recent clashes in Sana'a began late Friday when witnesses said security forces fired at anti-government protesters camped out in a square.
The demonstrators are demanding that Mr. Saleh step down.
He remains in Saudi Arabia, where he has been recovering from injuries sustained in a June attack on his presidential compound. Earlier this month, he authorized Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to negotiate an end to the crisis.
In April, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council proposed a plan designed to end Yemen's anti-government turmoil. Mr. Saleh agreed to the proposal three times, but backed out each time before the deal could be signed.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
Source: BBC News
The meeting, held at a private farm outside the capital, follows months of protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
No arrests were made, although the opposition figures who attended were monitored by security officials.
Saturday's meeting comes two days after opposition parties in exile formed the Syrian National Council in Turkey.
Dr Samir Aita, an opposition figure living abroad who attended the Damascus meeting, said the event was significant.
"The importance of this meeting lies in the fact that it is happening in Damascus, on Syrian soil, in support of the protesters despite all the security difficulties," he said.
Inspired by anti-government protests in Tunisia and Egypt, the opposition movement began more than five months ago as a series of protests against Syria's authorities.
A violent crackdown by security forces has since left more than 2,200 people dead, according to the UN.
The government says hundreds of its personnel have been killed.
Most of the people who attended the opposition meeting were drawn from Syria's established opposition - who have spent years of their life in prison, says the BBC's Lina Sinjab in Damascus.
Representatives of the protesters did not attend, fearing arrest, but they supported the meeting and their demands were read out, she adds.
One activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, denied any involvement with the conference and said it could only form an alliance or coalition with the traditional opposition once the government had been toppled.
The opposition asked for no international intervention, no sectarianism and no violence.
At Thursday's meeting in Istanbul, members of Syria's opposition groups chose 140 people to form a "national council".
Its aim is to organise and give a public face to protests against Mr Assad.
It will also co-ordinate the opposition's policies against the Syrian leadership.
Half of those selected are in Syria, with the remainder drawn from opposition figures in Syria's disapora.
There have been earlier attempts to unite the country's opposition under one banner, but this attempt is being cast as having the full backing of all opposition groups, in effect an embryonic Syrian national assembly.
Speaking on Thursday, an opposition spokeswoman, Basma Qadmani, said: "After completing the first level of consultative meetings, groups of revolutionary youth, political movements and personalities, activists and technocrats decided to found the Syrian National Council."
Yasser Tabbara, another member of the council, said it had not yet elected a president.
"We are in a democratic process. This is an inaugural meeting," he told the AFP news agency.
Source: BBC News
Ministers of United Kindgdom are to launch a consultation next spring on how to open up civil marriage to same-sex couples in Eng ahead of the next general election.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone told the Lib Dem autumn conference that current laws were "simply not fair".
The leadership of both coalition parties back the move but it is likely to anger some Conservative activists.
And gay rights campaigners have urged the government to act immediately, saying existing laws are discriminatory and a consultation is unnecessary.
At the moment, only men and women are permitted to get married while civil partnerships, which became law in 2005, are limited to same-sex couples.
Civil partnerships give same-sex couples the right to the same legal treatment across a range of matters as married couples but the law does not allow such unions to be referred to as marriages.
Ms Featherstone told Lib Dem activists that a public consultation will begin in March 2012 with a view to changing the law ahead of the next general election scheduled for May 2015.
"Britain must not be complacent," she said. "We are a world leader for gay rights but there is still more we must do."
While civil partnerships were a "welcome first step", she said the party was committed to confronting "prejudice and discrimination in all its forms".
Heralding the proposed change as a Lib Dem policy, she added: "To deny one group of people the same opportunities available to another is not simply discriminatory. It is simply not fair."
Ministers have said the government is determined to listen to "all those who have an interest in the area to understand their views".
However, the consultation will not consider whether to allow same-sex couples to have religious marriages or to open up civil partnerships to men and women.
The Lib Dems have long campaigned for reform of the marriage laws, arguing that they are outdated and discriminate against same-sex couples.
Conservative leader David Cameron backed the move while in opposition as part of his modernising drive and the pledge to permit equal marriage was included in the party's 2010 election manifesto.
However, some Conservative MPs and activists are likely to be uncomfortable with the move.
And veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the government had delayed the consultation - which campaigners had expected to start last June.
"I am not convinced that there needs to be any consultation at all," he said. "The ban on same-sex marriage is homophobic discrimination and should be repealed."
And he said same-sex couples should be allowed to wed in churches and other religious buildings, arguing that some faith organisations had expressly asked to be able to conduct same-sex ceremonies.
He added: "It is an insult to people of faith for the equality minister to rule out any repeal of the ban on religious organisations conducting same-sex marriages."
New rules set to come into force early next year will allow religious premises to hold civil partnership ceremonies. The move is voluntary and religious organisations will not be obliged to do so.
A group of British couples are challenging the existing ban on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships and plan to take the case to the European Court of Justice.
New York became the largest US state to date to legalise gay marriage earlier this year. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and Washington DC.
Source: VOA News
Thousands of Yemenis gathered after Friday prayers to demand the resignation of their president, a day after U.S. officials expressed hope a deal to force him from office would soon be signed.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh has remained as leader despite being in Saudi Arabia since June for medical treatment of injuries suffered in an attack on his palace. Army forces in the capital Sana’a formed a protective ring around demonstrators who chanted anti-Saleh slogans.
With the country in political limbo and demonstrations against Saleh continuing, the president this week authorized his deputy to talk with the opposition in an effort to put an end to the crisis that has gone on for months.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council of Yemen's neighbors initially proposed a plan in April to end the anti-government turmoil in Yemen. Saleh agreed to the proposal three times, but each time backed out before the deal could be signed.
The Associated Press reported on Friday that a Saudi official said Saleh will not return to Yemen.
Opposition protesters and tribesmen have been protesting since February for an immediate end to Saleh's 33-year autocratic rule. Yemeni troops and Saleh's loyalists have cracked down on demonstrators and tribesmen who have taken up arms against the government.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday hundreds of people have been killed in six-months of protest-related violence. The commissioner's office also accused the Yemeni government of using excessive lethal force against peaceful activists protesting for greater freedoms.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.