Nightly News | November 27, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Elsewhere in the region, the Arab League has approved sanctions against Syria in an unprecedented move against a fellow Arab nation. Meantime, Egypt remains a tinder box on the eve of its first election since the Arab Spring . NBC 's Ayman Mohyeldin is in Cairo for us tonight. Ayman , good evening.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN reporting: Good evening, Lester . For months the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has tried to suppress a popular revolt against his rule. The United Nations has estimated 3500 people have been killed. Tonight the strongest attempt to stop that killing is coming from the Arab League here in Cairo . A critical vote in the Arab League , a near unanimous decision by Arab countries to punish one of their own. The Syrian regime, now under sanctions for its deadly crackdown on an eight-month-old protest. Qatar 's prime minister announcing the list of measures. They include, quote, "a ban on Syrian officials traveling to Arab countries , banking restrictions including the freezing of Syrian government accounts and restricting trade with Syria ." Just outside the Arab League headquarters in Cairo where the vote took place, the future of another Arab revolution unfolds. On the eve of Egypt 's first post-revolution parliamentary elections , a warning from the head of its ruling military council .
MOHYELDIN: " Egypt is at a crossroads. Either it succeeds politically, economically and socially or the consequences will be extremely grave," he told journalists. Ten months after Egyptians drove out President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising, tomorrow's vote will be the first true democratic test for the Arab world 's most populous country . Despite security concerns and political upheaval, a record voter turnout is expected. The elections come after a week of deadly clashes between the security forces and protesters, many frustrated by a military counsel that has increasingly tried civilians in military tribunals, suppressed free speech and failed to deliver key political reforms. But if Egypt , once America 's shining example of stability in the Middle East is any indication, the change sweeping their region is bringing with it a great deal of uncertainty. In Libya , where a transitional council is struggling to impose law and order after the death of Moammar Gadhafi , a group of men surrounded a plane from neighboring Tunisia and delayed its takeoff. They were protesting their government's failure to investigate a deadly clash last week in Libya . Lester , back here in Cairo , polls are getting ready to open in seven hours. And international observers, even a US congressional delegation, has arrived in the country to observe this first round. Keep in mind, these elections are going to take place over the course of the next several months. So it's well into 2012 before a fully functioning Parliament is up and running. Back to you, Lester .
HOLT: And, Ayman , as amazing as that scene is behind you, we recognize Tahrir Square , a small part of a very big country . What's the mood in general on the eve of these elections ?
MOHYELDIN: There's no doubt a great deal of anxiety all across the country . Security, primary concern for people and voters. They're expecting a record turnout tomorrow. But there's no doubt there's a great deal of tension and an uneasy calm following a very deadly week here. Lester :
HOLT: Ayman , thank you very much .