Welcome to Middle East Live.
Here’s a summary of the latest developments:
• The opposition Syrian National Council has urged Barack Obama to take a more aggressive approach to calls for change in Syria, according to al-Jazeera’s Hashem Alhelbarra. And David Cameron said Obama should make a priority of trying to solve the crisis in Syria.
• Obama is likely to take a tougher line on Syria in his second term, according to Bill Clinton’s former defence secretary William Cohen. Speaking to Arabian Business Cohen said:
He [Obama] will take a tougher position with Syria now, I think he will try and work through the UAE, the Saudis and others to bring about a change and I don’t think the United States will continue to sit back and just let the [terror] take place.
• Multiple bomb explosions on Wednesday hit a hilltop district in the Syrian capital Damascus populated by members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect, witnesses said. Smoke was seen rising from Mezze 86, near the presidential palace, from what appeared to be heavy-calibre mortar bombs, several residents of Damascus said by phone. There are breaking unconfirmed reports that rebels from Deraa have bombed the presidential palace.
• Britain is to open talks with armed opposition groups, as ministers acknowledge that militants are increasingly setting the agenda. Foreign secretary William Hague will make clear, when he announces the contacts at a conference in Doha hosted by the Qatari government, that Britain will tell the armed opposition groups they must respect human rights and co-operate with aid agencies to improve access for humanitarian aid.
• David Cameron said he would be prepared to allow Assad, to be given safe passage to a third country if it could end the violent conflict in Syria. Asked on al-Arabiya television what he would say if Assad demanded safe passage, the prime minister said: “Done. Anything, anything to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria.
On the third day of the his trip to the Middle East, Cameron was briefed by the Jordanian military at the border with Syria.
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) November 7, 2012
• A UN official has cautiously welcomed China’s four-point plan for resolving the crisis in Syria that makes no mention of Assad standing down. The UN under secretary general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman said the plan would contribute “to our collective thinking” on how best to use our influence to move toward a political solution for Syria.”
The rich are fleeing in every greater numbers in order not to become targets of the poor. Everyone has a price-tag on his head … The cousin of a friend just went down stairs in Aleppo this morning to find, “You are next. Allahu Akbar,” written on the windshield of his car … The meltdown is well on its way and has a dynamic all its own. There is no stopping it now. Syria is unleashed. Guns rule and the strong will eat the weak. Brahimi speaks of Syria turning into Somalia and a “big catastrophe.” If that happens, it will become a prime target for American and Israeli drones, which will troll the skies in hunting aL-Qaida and those with a long beards, as is the case in Pakistan and Yemen.
• A retired colonel from the Gaddafi-era, Abdel Kareem Warfalli, has been found murdered at his farm in Benghazi, the Libya Herald reports. Warfalli’s body was discovered on Sunday with fatal gunshots to the head and chest, a security office said.