Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

South Sudan Shuts Off Oil

The Republic of South Sudan has lots of oil, but no ports. Sudan little oil, but pipelines to a port to export the oil. The two Sudans have “issues.” They have an unresolved border dispute and trade barbs (and bombs and bullets) with relative frequency. Now, the South is putting the squeeze on the north by following through on a long-promised threat to shut down oil production until the border dispute is resolved. “South Sudan has totally shut down oil output in a row with Sudan over export transit fees and will only restart after the two reach a deal covering border security and the disputed Abyei region, its oil minister said on Sunday…To restart pumping, he demanded seized cargoes of oil be released, stolen crude returned and for Sudan to cease support for rebel groups in South Sudan, something Khartoum denies. ‘Oil production will restart when we have a comprehensive agreement and all the deals are signed,’ said Dau, adding that any deal had to be overseen by the international community and linked to the demarcation of the border and control over Abyei.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/yjaJlj)

Syria Launches Massive Attack to Recapture Damascus Suburb

About 2,000 Syrian troops backed by tanks launched a huge assault on Sunday to re-take areas near Damascus that were under the effective control of Syrian rebels. “The forces of President Bashar al-Assad pushed into the Ghouta area on the eastern edge of Damascus to take part in an offensive in the suburbs of Saqba, Hammouriya and Kfar Batna. Tanks advanced into the centre of Saqba and Kfar Batna, the activists said, in a move to flush out fighters who had taken over districts less than eight km (five miles) from Assad’s centre of power. ‘It’s urban war. There are bodies in the street,’ said one activist, speaking from Kfar Batna. Activists said 14 civilians and five insurgents from the rebel Free Syrian Army were killed there and in other suburbs. Residents of central Damascus, which has remained relatively calm throughout Syria’s 10-month crisis, reported seeing soldiers and police deployed around main squares to prevent unrest spreading into the heart of the capital.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/xwG7th)

Ban Ki Moon: African Leaders Must Respect Gay Rights

Good for Ban, but it appears that some African leaders did not take kindly to his remarks.  “UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in an unusually outspoken declaration on Sunday, told African leaders they must respect gay rights, an issue that is controversial in many African states. “One form of discrimination ignored or even sanctioned by many states for too long has been discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Ban said at an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital. “It prompted governments to treat people as second-class citizens or even criminals,” he added. (Yahoo http://yhoo.it/zRkE38)

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