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Arabic press review: Assad decided to use chemical weapons in 2009

News site says Syrian government decided to use lethal gas in the event of any protests inside the country
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad personally involved in planning gas attacks, according to Arabic website Noon Post (AFP)

Bashar al-Assad decided to use chemical weapons against Syrians in 2009 - two years before the Arab Spring sparked the uprising in Daraa, the Arabic website Noon Post reported, citing Syrian scientists.

Two years before the unrest started, the government decided to use lethal gas in the event of any protests inside the country, according to the report.

By July 2011, army defections forced the government to safeguard the sites where chemical weapons were produced and stored. Assad also personally ordered officers responsible for these sites to immediately secure the ammunition which carries chemical components, such as artillery shells and anti-tank cannon fire.

In 2009, the Syrian president issued a decree, to fortify seven military air bases and provide them with a large quantity of Sarin gas bombs and chemical shells. "Assad's intention then was to poison his people in case his regime was threatened," the article said.

Algerian president’s brother participates in sit-in

Said Bouteflika, the brother of the Algerian president considered by many to be the real ruler of Algeria, took part in a protest against a television channel which had broadcast a programme that criticised Rashid Boudjedra, one of the country’s most famous writers and intellectuals, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported.

Protestors were astonished to see Said Bouteflika, the president's special counsellor, in a sit-in in front of Al-Nahar local television station in Algeria. The protest was organised after the programme on Boudjedra was aired.

Bouteflika emerged from a car, without his security guards, and went up to the writer, who was in the crowd and told him in French: "What they did to you is really shameful," according to the newspaper report.

Saad Hariri's Saudi company about to go out of business

Saudi Oger Company, a giant Saudi company owned by Lebanese politician Saad Hariri, will close its doors next month, its employees are claiming, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported today.

Saudi Oger employees said they had been told by the company that they had a choice: either to transfer their sponsorship to another company to guarantee their stay in Saudi Arabia, or to cancel their residency and leave the kingdom. There seems to be no other option available because "at the end of July, Oger Company will no longer exist," a company source told Al-Akhbar newspaper.

There are 6,800 employees currently working in Saudi Oger. A large number of workers left the company in the last few months.

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