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Middle East braces for more protest after Mubarak resigns

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Rutashubanyuma, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Middle East braces for more protest after Mubarak resigns

    News of Egyptian president's departure spread rapidly through region, where other authoritarian rulers are in power



    • Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, Angelique Chrisafis in Paris, Martin Chulov in Beirut and Hazem Balousha in Gaza City
    • guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 February 2011 20.13 GMT <li class="history">Article history [​IMG] Palestinians in Gaza City wave Egyptian and Palestinian flags to celebrate Hosni Mubarak's resignation. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images Algeria

      In another military dominated north African state with a long-term authoritarian ruler, the Egyptian drama came on the eve of pro-democracy protests that could turn violent. "Even with Mubarak's departure, it's not certain that everything will be immediately resolved," said historian Daho Djerbal. "But a shockwave is running through all the societies of this region, and other despots will go. There is an idea of the birth of a new republic in which sovereignty is being returned to the people. The people are becoming aware of their power. In Algeria it's slower than elsewhere because we only have a very young new middle class, after it was destroyed under colonialism."
      Tunisia

      Four weeks after Tunisia's own revolution, the news from Egypt was received with joy. "There has been an explosion of joy on the streets of Tunis. People are gathering outside the Egyptian embassy to express their happiness," said Abdelraham Hedidhi, a trade unionist. "There has been a great breath of revolution blowing on the wind across the region and Tunisians are very proud to have played their part in starting it. Mubarak's departure will help us in our efforts to set up our own democracy. Because of the power and importance of Egypt in the Arab world, other countries will follow: Yemen, Jordan, Algeria. There is a new power to the people."
      Jordan

      Six weeks of calls for political change have led to a tense truce between Jordan's monarchy and a restless opposition. Central Amman, which has played host to waves of protests in recent weeks, was alive with talk of Egypt and the rapid success of the region's rage against the regimes. Former deputy prime minister Ayman al-Safidi was confident that the people's demands could be addressed through reform rather than revolution. "The old guard has been forceful in protecting their interests," he said. "We have to be much more assertive in pushing for the type of reforms that we are going to have. We cannot stand still in the face of time."
      Israel

      Israel will now be uncertain about future relations with Egypt. The peace treaty between the two countries that has been in place for more than 30 years has not exactly made them warm allies, but the peace has held. Israeli ministers have been warning for almost three weeks that regime change in Egypt could end the "cold peace" between the nations. Their worst fears are that the Muslim Brotherhood will gain in power and influence and Egypt will adopt a hostile attitude towards the Jewish state. There was no immediate reaction to Mubarak's resignation from the prime minister's office. Binyamin Netanyahu has been telling international counterparts that Israel expects any future Egyptian government to honour the peace treaty and that the international community should be making that clear.
      Gaza

      Hamas called on people to rally all over Gaza on Friday night to celebrate Mubarak's resignation. People were raising Egyptian flags, and some Hamas fighters have fired weapons into the air since the announcement. Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, said Hamas hoped to benefit from the developments, calling for improved relations between Egypt and the Islamic movement. The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas's close allies, "are present everywhere", he said. He would not be drawn on whether a new Egyptian regime may wish to review the peace treaty it signed with Israel more than 30 years ago. "There is no clear picture about the new government, but it will be controlled by the army to begin with," he said. "We are hoping to benefit."
      Lebanon

      Guns were fired into the air in the Shia Muslim stronghold suburbs of south Beirut last night as residents celebrated the news. Mubarak had been the subject of regular taunts from Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah, particularly over Egypt's strict control of the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza, which was rarely opened to allow Palestinians to cross. In the predominantly Sunni Muslim west Beirut, the public reaction was muted, although there was keen interest in cafes and bars where television coverage of the momentous events in Cairo was screening continuously.
     
  2. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Algeria prepares for day of protests

    Pro-democracy alliance expected to defy ban on demonstrations as euphoria from Egypt and Tunisia spills over to Algeria



    • Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
    • guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 February 2011 16.47 GMT <li class="history">Article history [​IMG] Riot police use their shields during a demonstration in Algiers last month. Photograph: AP Algeria, the oil-rich, military-dominated north African state, braced itself for a day of pro-democracy protestson Saturday, despite a ban on demonstrations in the capital, Algiers, and a large security presence intent on containing any uprising inspired by Egypt or Tunisia.
      A key energy exporter and the biggest country in the Maghreb, Algeria used its powerful armed forces last month to contain several days of rioting, triggered by price rises for sugar and cooking oil. At least five people died and around 800 were injured in demonstrations against youth unemployment, poor housing and corruption, including several people who set themselves alight.
      Now a hastily formed umbrella group of civil associations, independent trade unionists and small political parties has called for a national day of protest on Saturday , under the slogan "Changing the system". It is calling for an end to 12 years of authoritarian rule by Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his generals.
      In an effort to stop mass protests, Bouteflika said he would use the country's vast oil and gas wealth to lower the prices of key foods. He also promised to allow more democratic freedoms, create jobs and lift a 19-year-old state of emergency that still hangs over the country.
      Despite weeks of strikes, including by academics and paramedics, Algeria has not seen the spontaneous, mass uprisings of Tunisia or Egypt. Analysts say people want change but are wary of chaos in a country still traumatised by its violent recent past. More than a million were killed in the fight for independence from France in 1962, while up to 200,000 died during the civil war of the 1990s after elections were scrapped in 1992.
      As an important exporter of oil and gas, Algeria has around $150bn (£93bn) in foreign currency reserves, almost no external debt, and forecasts economic growth of 4% in 2011. But the energy wealth has not translated into improvements in people's standard of living. The unmodernised economy and a clunking bureaucracy create too few jobs for a country of 35.5 million, where almost half of the population is under 25. Youth unemployment is thought to be over 35%, with a steady flow of desperate young people trying to escape the country on makeshift rafts.
      "Algeria needs a revolution, not just the lifting of the state of emergency," said Hocine Zehouane, chairman of the Algerian League for Human Rights, one of the groups behind the marches.
      Mansouria Mokhefi, Maghreb analyst at the French Institute of International Relations, said: "I don't think the Algeria situation will pop in the same way as Tunisia. There isn't the spontaneity of protest. The Algerians live under a dictatorship, but their case is different. It's a much richer country, able to redistribute those riches to relieve some of the worries, frustration and misery.
      "Also, the army is much stronger. In Algeria, the army is all-powerful, holding the reins of power, both political and economic. The army has a long experience of repression and they didn't hold back during the protests in January."
      She added: "Psychologically, Tunisians were behind an iron curtain, living in fear and terror and with no means of expression: once they took to the street, there was a complete feeling they had had enough.
      "Algeria is still very traumatised by 10 years of civil war. They are able to express themselves more or less freely, they can criticise the government and denounce scandals in the press. Since the food prices went down, there has been a kind of calm."
     
  3. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Africa Algeria moves to stave off unrest
    Opposition groups say thousands of police drafted in to surround capital a day ahead of planned pro-democracy protests.

    Last Modified: 11 Feb 2011 20:35 GMT





    [​IMG] Many demonstrators in Algeria have been inspired by the events unfolding in Egypt and Tunisia [AFP] Thousands of police are reportedly being drafted into the Algerian capital ahead of planned pro-democracy marches, opposition groups have said.
    Said Sadi, the head of the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), said authorities were moving to prevent Saturday's protests in Algiers from taking place.
    "Trains have been stopped and other public transport will be as well," he told the AFP news agency.
    According to Sadi, around 10,000 police officers were coming into reinforce the 20,000 that blocked the last protest staged on January 22, when five people were killed and more than 800 hurt in clashes.

    Attempts to appease

    The latest rally is being organised by the National Co-ordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD), a three-week-old umbrella group of opposition parties, civil society movements and unofficial unions inspired by the mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt.
    Demonstrators in the oil-rich nation have been protesting over the last few months against unemployment, high food costs, poor housing and corruption - similar issues that fuelled the uprisings in other north African nations.
    At least 12 people have set themselves alight in protest against the government since January, four of those dying.
    Earlier this month, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the president, said he would lift emergency powers, address unemployment and allow democratic marches to take place in the country, in a bid to stave off unrest.
    However, protests in Algiers remain banned.
    Financial support
    Bouteflika's attempt to appease protesters is just one of many undertaken by Arab governments concerned about spreading unrest in the region.
    In Bahrain, the king offered each family $2,650 on Friday.
    The small oil producer is considered the most vulnerable of the Gulf Arab countries to unrest, although seen as unlikely to fall in the same way as Tunisia and Egypt.
    The Bahraini government has made several concessions in recent weeks, such as higher social spending and offering to release some minors arrested during a security crackdown against Shia groups last August.
    The official Bahrain news agency released a report saying: "To praise the tenth anniversary of the National Action Charter and in recognition of the people of Bahrain.... His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ... will provide the amount of one thousand dinars for each family of Bahrain after adopting necessary legal procedures."
    Activists have called for protests on February 14, the tenth anniversary of Bahrain's constitution, but it is not yet clear how widespread they will be.

    Source:
    Agencies
     
  4. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Africa Algeria to lift emergency powers
    President says country's 19-year state of emergency will be lifted in near future in apparent bid to stave off unrest.

    Last Modified: 03 Feb 2011 16:40 GMT








    [​IMG] Protesters took to the streets in Algiers, the capital, in January to demand the government overturn the law [EPA] Algeria's 19-year state of emergency will be lifted in the "very near future", state media has quoted Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the president, as saying.

    During a meeting with ministers on Thursday, the president also said Algerian television and radio, which are controlled by the state, should give airtime to all political parties.

    He added that protest marches, banned under the state of emergency, would be permitted across the country of 35 million except in the capital.

    His comments come as anti-government protests escalate in Egypt and follows a wave of similar uprisings in other Arab states including Tunisia and Yemen.

    Opposition groups in Algeria had recently made the repeal of emergency powers one of their main demands, ahead of a protest planned for February 12.

    Last month several hundred pro-democracy protesters took to the streets in Algiers, the capital, demanding the government overturn a law banning public gatherings.

    It came after riots erupted over rising food costs and unemployment.

    Bouteflika said on Thursday the government should adopt new measures to promote job creation in the former French colony.

    Egypt experience

    Tarek Masoud, a political analyst from Harvard University, told Al Jazeera that "Arab regimes are learning from the Egyptian experience".

    "I think others who are maybe in similar positions to Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, are learning from this experience and perhaps the counter-productive thing to do is to crack down on protests," he said.

    The state of emergency was enforced in Algeria following a brutal 1990s conflict with Islamist fighters, which left tens of thousands of people dead.

    The government had said at the time it needed the extra powers to fight groups linked to al Qaeda.

    But on Thursday Bouteflika said he "ordered the government to immediately draw up appropriate provisions which will allow the state to continue the fight against terrorism until its conclusion, with the same effectiveness".


    Source:
    Al Jazeera and agencies
     
  5. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    The first wind of change to sweep across Africa happened in the sixties now this a second wind of change and the whole of Africa will not be spared .......................................history repeats itself, or doesn't it?

    CCM should brace themselves to hand over to Chadema sooner than later..........................................
     
  6. K

    Kwiifoenda Member

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    We are eager to initiate mass protests like our fellows have done in the North! We are dying for that moment here in Tanzania! Our regime has forgotten the SOLE PURPOSE of its existence! We are pro-change that can restore the stolen African humanity, pride and integrity!
     
  7. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Unrest in the Middle East - Monday 14 February

    • Clashes on "day of rage" in Bahrain
    • Renewed violence in Yemen
    • Protesters told to leave Egypt's Tahrir Square or be arrested
    • Mir Hussein Mousavi under house arrest in Iran
    • Algeria's state of emergency to end "within days"
    • Read the latest summary of the day's events

    In Iran? Share your pictures and thoughts by emailing newseditor@guardian.co.uk

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    [​IMG] A demonstration in Manama, Bahrain. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters [​IMG] 3.35pm: The ministry of information in Bahrain started tweeting today. Earlier it used its account to chide someone over their spelling of the word "sheikh" (it's now been deleted, I should have taken a screengrab) but it has since been using it to offer its own narrative of today's events in the country. Here's a sample (some of them are automatic translations so the language is a bit odd):
    Illegal rally in Karzakan 3 policemen attacked, Police had to fire 2 rubber bullet. 1st as warning shot 2nd bounced & hit a demonstrator
    Interior Minister met the father of the man injured in Karzakan. He directed that the injured be treated abroad & has ordered an inquiry.
    What happened in Nuwaidrat today resulted in one person being injured. He is in hospital & is stable. He had suffered bruises in the face.
    Rallies are illegal in several areas and warnings not to legality and disobeying been dealing with them using natural gas
    3.27pm: It's almost 6.30pm Tehran time and reports from various sources suggest that protesters succeeded in gathering in scattered groups in various parts of the capital, mostly in central areas such as Sadeghieh square, Enghelab Square and Vali-e-Asr.
    Eyewitnesses told opposition websites that the riot police used tear gas and wielded batons to disperse protesters. They said that the security forces have blocked the streets to Azadi (freedom) Square where the protesters had planned to gather at the end.
    At the same time, protesters in the cities of Shiraz, Isfahan, Rasht, Mashhad and Kermanshah have given accounts of the presence of hundreds of people in streets.
    Eyewitnesses from Tehran told BBC Persian TV that gunshots have been heard in different places and "significant" numbers of protesters have gathered despite the ban.
    Access to the websites of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi has been restricted.
    Videos of today's protest, posted on YouTube, showed protesters chanting "Khamenei, shame on you!" and "Death to dictator".3.24pm: There are still reports of clashes and people having been injured in Bahrain. [​IMG] @bahraini14feb
    Many direct head injuries in protesters more than 20 people carried to hospital by ambulence including many women #bahrain #feb14
    @maryamalkhawaja, head of the foreign relations office of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has been tweeting furiously today.
    Around 300 people just got attacked at human rights activists march #feb14 they just fired straight at our car
    Video has also been posted of people apparently fleeing from teargas in the north-west village of Bani Jamra.
    3.01pm: @oxfordgirl, who rose to prominence for helping to mobilise the opposition movement from a quiet village in Oxfordshire via Twitter, has been very active again today: [​IMG] Screengrab from Twitter -
    2.47pm: A couple of videos from Iran are worth viewing. The first shows Iranian protesters against the current regime singing revolutionary songs at Sharif University. And this below shows a protester on top of a crane in Qasr cross in Qoddosi street in Tehran, holding pictures of martyrs killed in 2009 post-election unrest. -
    2.41pm: Reuters is also reporting teargas being used against protesters in central Tehran:
    Iranian security forces fired teargas in central Tehran on Monday to disperse opposition supporters marching in a banned rally inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, a witness said. "There are thousands of people marching ... not chanting slogans ... Security forces fired teargas to disperse them near Imam Hossein square," said the witness.
    2.36pm: The New York Times has an interesting article on how Tunisian and Egyptian activists learnt from each other. Perhaps others will pick up the lessons as well.
    Young Egyptian and Tunisian activists brainstormed on the use of technology to evade surveillance, commiserated about torture and traded practical tips on how to stand up to rubber bullets and organize barricades.
    They fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons. Breaking free from older veterans of the Arab political opposition, they relied on tactics of non-violent resistance channelled from an American scholar through a Serbian youth brigade — but also on marketing tactics borrowed from Silicon Valley.
    2.20pm: There is video footage on Bambuser from Karzakan, in Bahrain filmed in the past half hour. There were clashes there last night (see 8.57am).A reader has sent us an account from Bahrain of gunshots and reports of casualties:
    I have just got home to to my compound by a village hotspot/poor Shia neighbourhood) and can hear sporadic gunfire. A friend has just reported trouble along Budaiya highway (big hotspot/poor Shia neighbourhood) with gunshots.
    There are helicopters flying overhead. and sirens. Now there are so many car horns going off. The shooting in Karzakan last night may inflame. It's alleged that a wedding party was fired on unprovoked with one dead and at least six injured (rumours flying around and depicted on Facebook 'Bahrain Day of Rage' and Twitter).
    Most office workers in Manama fled around 2pm local time as have been advised that many villages protesting and roads getting blocked off. The protests are meant to be all day. Not sure if anyone will be going to mosque at sundown due to it kicking off now; usually if anything is going to kick off it does then. Distinct impression (Karzakan) security forces are coming down very hard. They have (apparently) already arrested lots of people. Again. This will add to the hundreds already sitting in prison.
    I expect this is all going to be just a little news item as the protesters are surely going to be quashed as quickly as they rise up. On my way home the local english radio station was playing Irish banjo music and the DJ talking about a swimming competition. I am too frightened to tell you who I am or where I live for fear, rational or otherwise, of being found out.
    2.02pm: Al-Jazeera correspondent Imran Khan says the police are using force against people demonstrating in Tehran.
    [​IMG]
    #Iran #25Bahman: Thousands of protesters now marching in Tehran. Police has responded with tear gas. Police are attacking with batons

    An opposition website (Farsi link)
    also says shots have been fired in the air by police, while al-Jazeera reports pepper spray is being used against protesters.
    1.58pm: Egypt's ruling military council has called on labour leaders to halt strikes and protests. News that the military was planning such a move first emerged yesterday. The response will be interesting.1.53pm: Thanks Adam, this is Haroon back again. Some developments from Iran:•Opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard have joined the protesters, according to al-Arabiya's Persian service. However, this contradicts the earlier reports that security forces prevented Mousavi from leaving his house.
    • Around 10 people have been arrested near Enghelab square in central Tehran, according to @iran88.
    • Metro stations in Imam Hossein square, Enghelab Squre and Vali Asr have been closed down by the government to try to disrupt the protests, according to @StopAhmadi.
    • There are reports from Tehran of mobile users complaining their text services are being blocked.
    1.36pm: Hello, Adam Gabbatt here with a summary while Haroon has a quick lunch: [​IMG] • Protests are underway across the middle east, as unrest spreads following the events in Egypt and Tunisia. Demonstrations are continuing in Egypt, while there have been clashes in Iran, Bahrain and Yemen.
    • In Iran, hundreds of protesters have gathered in the centre of Tehran, where they have been met by riot police. Today is the Iranian opposition's first attempt in more than a year to hold street protests against the government, with demonstrations also taking place in Isfahan and Shiraz.
    • In Yemen, pro-reform demonstrators have reportedly been attacked by government-supporting gangs. Spurred on by events in Egypt, thousands of demonstrators had gathered to protest against the 32-year-rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, but the protests have become increasingly violent with clashes between Saleh-supporters and critics.
    • In Egypt, some 1,000 protesters remain in Tahrir Square despite the military's continuing attempts to clear them. All news organisations have been stopped from broadcasting in the square, while the reopening of Egypt's stock exchange has been delayed. Reports are suggesting that the former president Mubarak has fallen into a coma.
    • Police have used rubber bullets and teargas against protesters on Bahrain's "day of rage". In the village of Nuweidrat, 10 people were slightly injured according to witnesses.
    1.10pm: Some context for today's action in Iran (by Saeed Kamali Dehghan):
    Today marks the Iranian opposition's first attempt in more than a year to hold street protests against the government.
    It's not yet clear how successful they will be, but reports from Tehran suggest that despite a heavy security presence, small groups of people have gatheredin Sadeghieh Squyare, Enghelab Square, Kalej junction and Azadi street.
    A wave of unrest hit Iran following the disputed presidential election in 2009, but in the ensuing crackdown, dozens of people were killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested. Since then, the opposition has largely been forced underground or onto the internet, where - despite government efforts to control the web - protesters have been active on social networking websites.
    Opposition activists in Iran watched events in Tunisia and Egypt with mixed feelings - inspired and energised, but also frustrated that their own efforts to bring down an autocratic regime did not succeed.
    With Iranian media under strict government control, citizen journalists in Iran are once again turning to social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter to get their accounts out of Tehran. (Twitter users are using the #25bahman hashtag). Eyewitnesses told opposition websites that protesters are chanting "Death to dictator" in streets and YouTube videos showed protesters chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) last night on rooftops.
    1.00pm: Hundreds of protesters are trying to move into the centre of Tehran, Reuters reports:
    Hundreds of demonstrators marched down Azadi (Freedom) Street, a wide boulevard, towards Azadi Square, a traditional rallying point for protests dominated by a huge white marble arch, in central Tehran.
    "Hundreds of people are marching towards Azadi and Enghelab streets," one witness said. "Hundreds of riot police are in the area as well but there are no clashes."
    Hundreds of marchers also gathered in the central city of Isfahan, witnesses said.
    12.55pm: Video has emerged of members of Iran's Basiji militia, in their distinctive clothes and helmets, riding into central Tehran on motorbikes: -
    12.52pm: Although today's Iran protest was initially organised for the capital Tehran, reports suggest that protesters have also taken to the streets in Enghelab Square, in the city of Isfahan, and Namazi Square, in Shiraz.
    in Tehran, an eyewitness told BBC Persian TV that there have been clashes between the riot police and protesters in Kalej cross.
    Opposition websites report that Abdollah Naseri, a reformist activist and close ally to former president Mohammad Khatami has been arrested.
    Iran's semi-official Fars News agency reported last night that the revolutionary guards are claiming western spies are conspiring to ignite an uprising in Iran. Commander Mohammad Reza Naghdi said: "Western intelligence agencies are searching for a mentally challenged person who can set himself on fire in Tehran to trigger developments like those in Egypt and Tunisia."12.40pm: There are disturbing reports of gangs of government thugs attacking protesters in Yemen. From Reuters:
    Government backers armed with broken bottles, daggers and rocks chased down thousands of pro-reform demonstrators in Yemen's capital on Monday, turning unrest inspired by Egypt's uprising increasingly violent.
    Police who had been trying to keep the sides apart locked several thousand fleeing protesters inside the Sanaa University campus near where they were rallying to stem the bloodshed. Five people were wounded in the melee, an opposition source said.
    "With our blood, we sacrifice for you Ali!" Saleh supporters chanted in Sanaa before violence erupted. Some of the several hundred Saleh backers who gathered held pictures of the man who has ruled Yemen for 32 years, and they waved Yemeni flags.
    Another 12 people were reported hurt south of Sanaa, where police fired shots into the air as hundreds of anti-government demonstrators clashed with Saleh supporters, witnesses said.
    But police were unable to control the crowds in the agro-industrial town of Taiz, where thousands of protesters had held a night-long rally. The disturbances occurred while Saleh and the main opposition group were preparing for talks that the government hoped would help avert an Egypt-style revolt. They were due to begin within days, an opposition official has said.
    Human Rights Watch criticised Yemeni police for what they described as unnecessary brutality against demonstrators, including the use of electroshock tasers.
    "Without provocation, government security forces brutally beat and tasered peaceful demonstrators on the streets of Sanaa," said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director of the US based rights group.
    [​IMG] Anti-government protests in Sanaa, Yemen. Photograph: Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images -
    12.35pm: Of course, no sooner does the Turkish president, in Iran, call for governments to listen to the demands of their people, than there are reports of clashes on a Tehran street: [​IMG] @onlymehdi
    Live: Clashes in 4 Rah valiasr with tear gas #iran #25bahman
    [​IMG] Photograph: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images 12.31pm: I mentioned earlier (12pm) that the presence of the Turkish president Abdullah Gul in Tehran could be a restraining influence on the way the Iranian security services deal with today's demonstrations. Well, Gul has used a press conference with his Iranian counterpart to urge (unspecified) Middle East governments to listen to the demands of their people. He said:
    The desires of people must be taken into account. In this respect, fundamental reforms must be carried out, whether economic or political.
    [​IMG] AFP/Getty Images 12.20pm: The former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak fell into a coma on Saturday, according to an Egyptian paper, al-arabiya reports:
    Egypt's deposed president, Hosni Mubarak, went into a full coma on Saturday night at his residence in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, an Egyptian newspaper reported on Monday, quoting well-informed sources. Mubarak and his family moved to Sharm al-Sheikh on Thursday night following his final speech, in which he handed over executive authority to former Vice-President Omar Suleiman, Egypt's al-Masry al-Youm reported.
    The same sources said that Mubarak was currently receiving medical treatment but that no decision had yet been made on whether to transfer the 82-year-old former head-of-state to a hospital.
    12.11pm: Several metro stations have been closed in central Tehran to try to scupper the march, according to reports, and al-Jazeera says shops have been closed along the planned protest route.12.00pm: BBC Persian has started its daily broadcast earlier than usual. An eyewitness told the channel that a group of people have gathered in Sadeghieh Square in central Tehran where people are chanting "Death to dictator." [​IMG] On Twitter, @MikVerbrugge, in Tehran, reports clashes between students:
    #iran #25bahman Clashes at Shiraz Azad Uni.Green Students fighting with Basiji Students
    The Turkish leader Abdullah Gul is visiting Iran, prompting speculation that there will be lenient treatment of protesters so not as to embarrass Tehran's ally.
    11.47am: There is confusion in Iran over whether the government has issued a permit for today's protests. It was reported on Iranian state-sanctioned website that a permit was issued but BBC Persian is saying that a permit has not been issued. To add to the confusion the report on the website, which said a permit had been issued, Aftab News, is no longer accessible.
    There is speculation on Twitter that the government may have issued a permit and then revoked it.11.36am: Iraq can be added to the list of countries where people are protesting today. From the Associated Press:
    Hundreds of Iraqis rallied in central Baghdad against corruption and the lack of government services that have plagued this country for years. Many of the demonstrators carried banners that bore the image of a broken red heart, alluding to the fact that the protest took place on Valentine's Day.
    Iraqis endure electricity and water shortages after years of warfare, UN sanctions and corruption.
    The gatherings in Iraq have been small in scale, although organizers are promising a much larger event on February 25. The Iraqis are calling for government reforms and more jobs.
    11.26am: Some developments in Egypt:• All news organisations have now been stopped from broadcasting in Egypt's Tahrir Square, al-Jazeera reports (see 10.06am).
    • Despite this fact al-Jazeera says there are around 1,000 protesters chanting anti-police slogans. That is in response to police officers who marched through Tahrir Square earlier chanting "We and the people are one." It was the police who tried to enforce the crackdown on protesters in the early days of the demonstrations.
    • The reopening of Egypt's stock exchange has been delayed again. A bourse official said it remain closed until stability returns to the economy and the financial sector, Reuters reports. He initially said it would reopen on Sunday but then said it would take place on an unspecified date.
    • Hundreds of Egyptian state employees are protesting in Cairo to demand better pay and conditions, the Associated Press reports. Public transport workers are demonstrating to demand better pay outside the Nile-side TV and state radio building. Several hundred protesters from the state Youth and Sports Organisation protested in Tahrir Square with similar demands. And the Central Bank of Egypt has ordered the closure of banks across the country because of a strike by employees of the National Bank, the largest state bank.
    • There is a demonstration outside the supreme council of antiquities against corruption within the organisation. The supreme council of antiquities announced over the weekend that 18 priceless artefacts had been stolen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, including two gilded statues of King Tutankhamun.
    [​IMG] Egyptian policemen protest at the Interior Ministry in Cairo. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters -
    11.05am: The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights has sent an account of today's events in Nuweidrat and some pictures, including one of an injured protester.
    Demonstrators began after the morning prayer in a peaceful demonstration in Nuweidrat (5am )
    Demonstrators raised the flag of Bahrain and demanded investigation of violations of human rights.
    Security forces fired rubber bullets and tears gas on the demonstrators (6.45am).
    The demonstrators were dispersed and after about 15 minutes they gathered again in a peaceful demonstration.
    Security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas again (with the presence of the foreign press).
    Many of the demonstrators were injured, and one demonstrator may have been moved to hospital.
    [​IMG] Picture from Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights -
    10.52am: The Iranian security apparatus is out In force on the streets of Tehran already in anticipation of the planned opposition rally, Reuters reports.
    "There are dozens of police and security forces in the Vali-ye Asr Avenue ... they have blocked entrances of metro stations in the area," a witness told Reuters by telephone, referring to a large thoroughfare that cuts through Tehran. Another witness said police cars with windows covered by black curtains were parked near Tehran's notorious Evin prison.
    Mir Hussein Mousavi's website Kaleme said security forces had set up a road block, refusing access to the opposition leader's residence in southern Tehran. It said both mobile and landline telephone communications with Mousavi's house were also cut.
    "It seems these newly-set restrictions are aimed at preventing Mousavi and his wife (Zahra Rahnavard) from attending the rally," Kaleme said. Plain-clothes police stopped Rahnavard leaving the house, another opposition website reported....
    Authorities deny rigging the 2009 election and accuse opposition leaders of being part of a Western plot to overthrow the Islamic system. "They are incapable of doing a damn thing," the hardline Kayhan newspaper quoted Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi as saying, echoing words used by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to refer to the United States. The opposition is "guided by Iran's enemies abroad", Moslehi said.
    10.34am: Proof of the strength protesters in the Middle East are deriving from events in Tunisia and Egypt can be derived from an appeal to leading Egyptian dissident Wael Ghonim to support the green movement in Iran. He appeared last week wearing a green wristband, which was interpreted as a sign of solidarity with the Iranian opposition. An open letter to Ghonim on the "A struggle for freedom" blog reads:
    Dear Wael Ghonim,
    Many Iranians, specially activist of the Green Movement, wish that you write an statement in support of the Green Movement. Today, many of Iranians want to participate on a demonstration in support of democratic movements in north Africa, e.g. Egypt. This could also cause a rebirth of the Green Movement. Iranian government refused permission to hold a rally on February 14.
    By writing a statement, you not only could make the Iranian people happy, you would also make it harder for the Iranian regime to suppress the demonstrations. The worldwide press is watching Egypt. Your words mean a lot to us.
    best wishes,
    one Iranian who is wishing freedom for his country
    10.26am: Crowdvoice.org has pictures of teargas being used in Bahrain today and of injured protesters. It is a good resource for photos and videos of protests as well as links to news stories and reports (thanks to @orlandobeetle in the comments section for the tip-off). [​IMG] 10.10am: The Guardian's Middle East editor, Ian Black, has provided some interesting analysis of the situation in Bahrain and the prospects of the protests escalating:

    Bahrain's Day of Rage today is unlikely to take on the dimensions of the unrest in Cairo, but it will be closely watched to see if the small island state lives up to its reputation for being the odd man out in the Gulf.
    It is not the first time that riot police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesting youths in villages around Manama but the mood has sharpened since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Twitter and Facebook have again been getting out the crowds and a solidarity demonstration is planned by Bahraini exiles in London. Another sign that trouble is expected is a flurry of pre-emptive announcements from the government – smoothly distributed by expensive western PR firms.
    Bahrain's distinction is that the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty rules over an often restive Shia majority that has long complained about discrimination for jobs and housing. Precise figures are not available but the population has grown from 750,000 to more than 1 million in a few years while the number of Shias in senior jobs has decreased. Large numbers of non-Bahraini Sunnis have been naturalised. This sectarian division puts Bahrain on a major regional fault line, with Iran glowering across the Gulf at a state which is also home to the US 5th fleet.
    Bahrain does have political pressure valves – an elected lower house of parliament in which Shia are represented even if the final say rests with King Hamad. Parliament's attempts to investigate a high-level real-estate scandal involving the royal family caused nervousness last year. The prime minister, the king's uncle, has been in power for the entire 40 year-period since independence from Britain. Attention in recent months has focused on the arrest, detention and trial of 23 opposition activists who were rounded up during a sudden crackdown last summer, as well as allegations that they were tortured in custody.
    The authorities have stepped in with pre-emptive concessions to try to defuse tensions and deflect criticism. Talks began on Sunday about loosening state control of the media. Last week the government donated BD1,000 ($2,660) to every family after increasing food subsidies earlier this month.
    10.06am: Al-Jazeera is reporting that the military is trying to stop the media broadcasting from Tahrir Square. The news organisation is interpreting it as an effort to remove the focus on the protests in central plaza in order to get the demonstrators to move on. But even if there is not something more sinister behind the move it is hardly an encouraging sign of what life under military rule will be like.9.59am: More clashes have been reported in Yemen, on a fourth consecutive day of protests in the country. From Reuters:
    Hundreds of anti-government demonstrators clashed with supporters of Yemen's president on Monday south of the capital, with both sides hurling rocks as protests escalated in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state.
    Witnesses said police had fired shots into the air but were unable to control the crowds in the industrial town of Taiz, while in Sanaa protesters inspired by an uprising in Egypt vowed to march to police intelligence headquarters.
    "Hey Ali, get out, get out," anti-government protesters shouted at Sanaa University, referring to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a U.S. ally against al Qaeda's resurgent Yemen-based wing. "There is no solution except to leave."
    Police stood between around 500 anti-government protesters and a rival group of around 100 supporters of Saleh at Sanaa University, a frequent launchpad for demonstrations, to prevent skirmishes.
    [​IMG] Photograph: Hadi Tabrizi/Getty Images 9.57am: Iranian opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi has been placed under house arrest and had his phone line cut, according to his website (link is in Farsi). The measures have clearly been taken to prevent him taking part in opposition protests planned for later today.9.44am: For some useful background on Bahrain, Amnesty International published a report on Friday in which it detailed "a significant deterioration in the human rights situation" (link to pdf) in the country.
    The report focuses on the arrest, detention and trial of 23 political opposition activists, as well as allegations that they were tortured in custody. Philip Luther, deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme, said:
    Bahrain is at a crossroads when it comes to human rights. Many of the advances made during the last ten years are in danger of being eroded by the increasing reports of torture and other ill-treatment against political activists held in prison and the government's failure to ensure they are independently investigated.
    9.31am: Video has been emerged of a peaceful protest in Nuweidrat, in Bahrain, this morning where police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds (see 8.57 post, where there is also footage of police cracking down on protesters in Karzakan). -
    9.17am: Mubarak's two sons almost came to blows on Thursday when the former Egyptian president gave his final speech in an effort to stay in power, according to a state-owned paper, Reuters reports.
    Al-Akhbar said Alaa Mubarak accused his younger brother Gamal, who had held a senior position in the ruling party, of having ruined the 82-year-old leader's final days in office through promoting his business friends in political life.
    Alaa reportedly said this had turned Egyptians against their father, who had been in power since 1981.
    "You ruined the country when you opened the way to your friends and this is the result. Instead of your father being honoured at the end of his life you helped to spoil his image in this manner," the daily quoted him as saying.
    The newspaper did not give its sources, simply saying it "learned" of the details. There was no way to immediately confirm the report.
    It said the argument took place in the presidential palace in Cairo while Mubarak was recording his final speech, which he hoped would persuade protesters to stand down and give promised reforms a chance during Mubarak's last months in office.
    It said senior officials had to intervene to separate them.
    Gamal Mubarak, 47, who spent 11 years working at Bank of America in Cairo and London, gained considerable influence in government after Mubarak appointed him head of the ruling National Democratic Party's (NDP) policy committee in 2002.
    Analysts say he eased the way of business friends to senior positions in the NDP and into the cabinet of Ahmed Nazif, the prime minister sacked by Mubarak several days after massive protests broke out in Egypt on January 25.
    9.09am: The 19-year-old state of emergency in Algeria will end within days, foreign minister Mourad Medelci said. There were running battles between police officers and about 2,000 demonstrators in Algiers on Saturday. Officials said that 400 were arrested by police – who vastly outnumbered them. Most were then released. Reuters reports:
    A state of emergency has been in force in Algeria since 1992 and the government has come under pressure to ditch emergency laws following uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
    "In the coming days, we will talk about it as if it was a thing of the past," Medelci told the French radio station Europe 1 in an interview.
    Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said earlier this month the state of emergency would be lifted in the very near future.
    8.57am: At least 14 people have been injured in clashes on Bahrain's "Day of Rage" Reuters reports:
    Police clashed late on Sunday with residents in Karzakan village, where security forces regularly skirmish with Shia youths, and one protester was injured, witnesses said. Police said three officers were hurt.
    In the village of Nuweidrat, police used teargas and rubber bullets on Monday to disperse a crowd demanding the release of Shia detainees, witnesses said, adding that 10 people were slightly injured.
    "There were 2,000 sitting in the street voicing their demands when police started firing," 24-year-old Kamel told Reuters, declining to give his full name. Nearby, streets were littered with teargas canisters and rubber bullets.
    The scene was different in Manama, where government supporters honked car horns and waved Bahraini flags to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a national charter introduced after unrest in the 1990s.
    -
    8.53am: After scuffles yesterday, when soldiers tried to clear demonstrators out of Tahrir Square, the military has delivered an ultimatum to protesters today to leave the central plaza that formed the heart of the revolution or face arrest:
    We have half an hour left, we are cordoned by military police," protester Yahya Saqr told Reuters. "We are discussing what to do now," he said, adding that a senior officer "told us we have one hour to empty the square or we will be arrested."
    8.49am: The wave of protests inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt show no signs of dissipating.Activists in Iran are planning to go ahead with a banned rally in central Tehran today in defiance of warnings by the regime. Iranian leaders have vowed to deal with protesters from the opposition Green movement severely, even though Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government welcomed the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
    There have been clashes in Bahrain as protesters stage their own "day of rage". Shia citizens ruled by a Sunni minority are unhappy about their lack of representation. In a bid to stave off protests King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, trying to defuse the tension, said he would give 1,000 dinars (£1,650) to each local family, and the government has indicated that it may free minors arrested under a security crackdown last year.

    There have been demonstrations in Yemen for the past three days. Witnesses in the capital, Sana'a, said several protesters were injured and 23 were detained by police in clashes yesterday.
    Despite the ousting of Mubarak, tensions continue in Egypt over the military's plan to rule by martial law until elections are held. While the military's move has been welcomed by some, other pro-democracy protesters are alarmed by the failure to agree to a civilian-led interim government. The army is expected to issue a communique today cracking down on those creating "chaos and disorder" as well as effectively banning strikes.


    Posted by Haroon Siddique and Saeed Kamali Dehghan Monday 14 February 2011 08.48 GMT guardian.co.uk
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    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] LauraOliver 14 February 2011 9:15AM

      @lesbiches - thanks. There's a lot going on today but if there are areas or particular events commenters are interested in hearing more about in the context of this live blog, do let us know.


    • [​IMG] happytolive 14 February 2011 9:20AM

      Ahmed Shafiq says: "Our main concern now as a cabinet is security”
      Of course, you’ve got it right. Your chiefs in the West are very happy indeed.
      But people say you are completely wrong. They want what they have fought for, to oust the regime and hand power to the people.
      Let’s develop the revolution to reject all the bases of the regime.
      Let’s isolate those who have leaned towards the regime and support their national brothers in the army.
      The West and their hands in Egypt must fail. The struggle of the people will not be in vain!


    • [​IMG] Nighthood 14 February 2011 9:21AM

      I thought Bahrain's day of rage was meant to be today, hence the #feb14 hashtag and the tweets saying"Helicopters are circling while protesters gather" and other similar things. Unless the protest yesterday was just a precursor, which is eminently possible.
      Still, good luck to everyone engaged in demonstration, and good luck to Egypt as always.


    • [​IMG] lesbiches 14 February 2011 9:29AM

      Laura - I just clicked through to your other articles linked here - wow there is a lot going on indeed.
      I'd really appreciate any twitter / blog coverage like we had with sandmoney in Egypt -would be very helpful to personalise things as to what can otherwise look like an abstract mass of "thousands of protesters".
      Well, there goes my work for another day! :)






    • [​IMG] OneWorldGovernment 14 February 2011 9:51AM

      Just a reminder that I posted this other blog from yesterday:
      "They will likely re-invent the NDP in another form to check the opposition in elections (whenever they are held; doubtful it will be in six months though)."
      Here is a news tidbit that seems to have been overlooked on this blog this morning (in your part of the world):
      Around 500 members of Egypt's ruling NDP have tendered their resignations and are saying they have been unable to achieve reform. Those who resigned announced their intention to start a new political party better able to meet the demands of the Egyptian people to meet the demands of the Egyptian people. The new party is called the "New Youth of Egypt." Democracy and elimination of poverty will create a better Egypt.
      ~ Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper
      Moving onto Iran...


    • [​IMG] Barlow 14 February 2011 9:52AM

      Any word on what Colin Firth make of these ongoing events in the Middle East? I would be interested in hearing his opinions on the matter.



    • [​IMG] Ozzicht 14 February 2011 9:57AM

      the military has delivered an ultimatum to protesters today to leave the central plaza that formed the heart of the revolution or face arrest:
      So much for the army being on the side of the pro-democracy movement! What will happen if, as El Baradei foreshadowed yesterday, the rest of the central demands have not been honoured by Friday and another mass demonstration is called?
      Meanwhile, it seems that other dictatorships in the region have learned nothing from the Egyptian experience and think they can intimidate their people into silence. At least the Algerian regime seems to be getting part of the message: concessions early in the process may head off worse trouble later!


    • [​IMG] OneWorldGovernment 14 February 2011 10:03AM

      What will happen if, as El Baradei foreshadowed yesterday, the rest of the central demands have not been honoured by Friday and another mass demonstration is called?
      Martial law. If necessary a suspension of civilian institutions (a PM-led cabinet, government ministries, judiciary, etc.).
      It will then become a contest between the protesters ability to mobilize versus the military's ability to constrain them.


    • [​IMG] lesbiches 14 February 2011 10:10AM

      @Ozzicht - damn right.
      Will Robert Gates please clarify whether he still thinks the Egyptian military are doing an "exemplary job" ?
      For that matter, does anyone in the US give a crap what's happening right now or have they now sunk back into a complicit wilful blindness now that they have congratulated themselves on having done SO MUCH to promote democracy in the region.
      Can we get an update from you please Wolf Blitzer?
      lesbiches
      11 February 2011 6:54PM
      Wolf Blitzer on CNN
      "This is a moment for the US to bask in, and to continue its efforts to promote democracy in the region."


    • [​IMG] Nighthood 14 February 2011 10:16AM

      I'm actually surprised at how much is happening around the middle-east. Egypt has obviously been even more of a catalyst than expected.


    • [​IMG] Aliboy 14 February 2011 10:16AM

      Martial law. If necessary a suspension of civilian institutions (a PM-led cabinet, government ministries, judiciary, etc.).
      You've failed to notice, OWG, that we have those already in Egypt, or pretty close.
      You have a great deal of optimism that all those serried ranks of military are going to carry out their orders. The elite will, the red-beret MPs, the Republican Guard. The rest are pretty dubious. And what if these others turn on the elite? There are plenty of tanks outside the Republican Guard.


    • [​IMG] johnandanne 14 February 2011 10:16AM

      Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria - its all happening. Watch out Europe and USA - you are all tied in together one way or another


    • [​IMG] prometheancaliban 14 February 2011 10:17AM

      OWG:
      Martial law. If necessary a suspension of civilian institutions (a PM-led cabinet, government ministries, judiciary, etc.).
      Apparently, Egypt is already under martial law: Egypt's generals impose martial law
      Announcements due today on measures to prohibit strikes etc.
      Where is Omar Suleiman in all this? I get the impression that the top echelons of the NDP survives more or less intact. Am I wrong?


    • [​IMG] Hawarman 14 February 2011 10:20AM

      Not much going on in Bahrain - low level demonstrations a few hundred people at a time only in a few villages but we see this sort of thing every weekend - our demos are not inspired by Egypt or Tunia they are sectarian in nature -mostly inspired by Immans to deflect attention from the bigger picture in Iran - T his afteroon there will be much bigger demonstrations from those that support the government but of course they won't make the news - not interesting enough -


    • [​IMG] lesbiches 14 February 2011 10:26AM

      Well, in fairness to CNN, they are filing a report on the Tehran protests now.
      COME ON MEDIA, KEEP THIS IS THE SPOTLIGHT.



    • [​IMG] Nighthood 14 February 2011 10:27AM

      @Hawarman
      I've noticed a number of comments like yours kicking about on CiF. Enough that it almost seems as if said comments are trying to discourage the people of Bahrain from protesting.
      I'm a sucker for a good conspiracy theory.


    • [​IMG] prometheancaliban 14 February 2011 10:35AM

      've noticed a number of comments like yours kicking about on CiF. Enough that it almost seems as if said comments are trying to discourage the people of Bahrain from protesting.
      Imagine if we'd had the web in 1990: "Massive pro-Tory rally in Hemel Hempstead dwarfs crowds in Trafalgar Square - of course media isn't reporting on that."


    • [​IMG] prometheancaliban 14 February 2011 10:37AM

      Guardian, do you have the 'notes' that Wael Ghonim has reportedly posted re. his meeting with the generals?


    • [​IMG] KingKO2010 14 February 2011 10:41AM

      Bahrain's distinction is that the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty rules over an often restive Shia majority that has long complained about discrimination for jobs and housing
      ====================================
      Shall we talk about how iran or iraq is treating its sunni citizens, as for bahrain its not a suprise they are run by greedy kings, we have seen it in the middle east for a long time!


    • [​IMG] Haveatye 14 February 2011 10:42AM

      Any word on what Colin Firth make of these ongoing events in the Middle East? I would be interested in hearing his opinions on the matter.
      Why?


    • [​IMG] Haveatye 14 February 2011 10:45AM

      On a more serious note. The Egyptian protesters cannot stop now
      . "The revolution which stops halfway is doomed to be soon defeated." Peter Kropotkin.

    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] LauraOliver 14 February 2011 10:51AM

      @lesbiches - thanks for your pointer - will see who else is reporting on the ground as @sandmonkey was.
      @prometheancaliban - will have a look for Wael Ghonim's notes - not heard the reports yet myself.
      @Hawarman - if you're able to give us updates on the protests this afternoon by posting more comments, we'd really appreciate it and the events in Bahrain are of interest to us and this live blog.


    • [​IMG] jimbojamesiv 14 February 2011 10:52AM

      Within all the vastness of the internets, this guardian live blog is a respite for me from the corporate media and the international community that keeps on telling me that I should just go back to normal, my demands will be met and to forget about the revolution because rest assured the army is in charge and will transform the nation into a democracy. Good grief. Even al-Jazeera has stopped broadcasting the revolution, which must be a corporate decision to appease its paymasters.


    • [​IMG] BernadetteJODH 14 February 2011 10:55AM

      I wondered: Is Dr. Zahi Hawass a minor Mubarak?
      Dictators often have strange hobbies. I haven’t found Hosni Mubarak’s favourite pastime. Maybe the ‘Last Pharaoh’ simply enjoyed being a dictator.
      What about Dr. Zahi Hawass? Naturally he keeps his position.
      A few quotes from A Jolly Dictator on the Holland Park Press website.


    • [​IMG] Ozzicht 14 February 2011 10:58AM

      @prometheancaliban (and Lauraoliver):
      This was posted on the AJE live blog an hour ago:
      Google executive Wael Ghonim and blogger Amr Salamahey, two of the activists who organised the protests, say the military council has vowed to rewrite the constitution within 10 days and put it to a referendum within two months.
      How good the news is depends, of course, on how fundamental the proposed changes actually are. Doesn't look as if they're going to consult the activists' leaders about the actual revisions?






    • [​IMG] ceiiinosssttuv 14 February 2011 11:11AM

      KingKO2010


      Bahrain's distinction is that the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty rules over an often restive Shia majority that has long complained about discrimination for jobs and housing
      ====================================
      Shall we talk about how iran or iraq is treating its sunni citizens, as for bahrain its not a suprise they are run by greedy kings, we have seen it in the middle east for a long time!
      By all means do so if you think its relevant to ongoing unrest - the Middle east is a big place with a lot going on, theres always more that can be mentioned.
      Iran - well no one is pretending they have a nice government, protests expected today. I didn't know about treatment of Sunnis in particular, but generally not a good record with minorities. Iraq - a haven of peace, prosperity and stability since we *liberated* it, so I'm told. Bahrain's situation is relevant atm with clashes today, and since its not much in the news it is useful to get some background information


    • [​IMG] prometheancaliban 14 February 2011 11:11AM

      Thanks, Ozzicht.

      "We met the army ... to understand their point of view and lay out our views," Google executive Wael Ghonim and blogger Amr Salama said in a note on a pro-democracy website that helped launch the revolt.
      I note the word 'views' instead of 'demands.'



    • [​IMG] Hawarman 14 February 2011 11:15AM

      @Nighthood
      my comments are truthful - I am an expat with no particular axe to grid - I have been here a long time and it bugs me when I see the truth maipulated for news inches -
      I see the M/E editor Ian Black talking things up now - if people looked a bit closer they would see that the Shia have simply highjacked other causes and assummed that identity as their own - the problems here run much deeper and is centuries old but are distinctly sectarian and now orchestrated by others with an islamic agenda
      Only a few months back IRAN claimed Bahrain belonged to them it is a common slogan used by the Shia community here don't believe me check out the Bahrain Freedom Fighters web page see for yourself.
      Many Sunni in my office today have recieved texts telling them they are dead meat they will be the first on the hit list followed by all christians and Jews



    • [​IMG] OneWorldGovernment 14 February 2011 11:16AM

      Apparently, Egypt is already under martial law: Egypt's generals impose martial law
      Announcements due today on measures to prohibit strikes etc.
      Where is Omar Suleiman in all this? I get the impression that the top echelons of the NDP survives more or less intact. Am I wrong?
      It's not really martial law yet despite the WashPo claiming otherwise. Martial law will be when all political activity is banned. As of now, the civilian institutions remain in place. The council is still establishing a legal framework order to avoid having to impose martial law. If martial law is enforced the police, judiciary, cabinet, and etc. (civilian institutions) will be wiped away.
      Suleiman's role has not been established (if he has one, though it was rumored that he retained a role).
      You have a great deal of optimism that all those serried ranks of military are going to carry out their orders. The elite will, the red-beret MPs, the Republican Guard. The rest are pretty dubious. And what if these others turn on the elite? There are plenty of tanks outside the Republican Guard.
      I'm not optimistic or pessimistic. I'm just passing along my interpretations along with other stuff I pick up along the way. One soldier has been replaced by other soldiers. The 82 year's old son will not be president. The constitution and parliament are no more. A military junta is in charge.
      If you really think about it, it was Mubarak trying to overthrow the Nasser regime by installing his son (no military experience). This was a direct challenge to the military. Gamal had no links to the high command nor was he a career military officer. This infuriated the military since it would be a hereditary monarchy (in essence) instead of a military regime installed by Nasser. That intra-elite struggle had been going for a year until the military triumphed with the ouster of Mubarak.
      The military officers want the same thing as the protesters (Mubarak out), but they had been maneuvering long before the protests started. The crowds helped create a crisis that the military welcomed so they could push out Mubarak. The older generation (pals of Mubarak) were the ones that were reluctant to act. The biggest objectors to Gamal were the post 1973 U.S. trained younger generation of officers and the ones that were most likely agitating for a coup.
      The reality is that there was never a revolution. It was a military coup using the crowd as cover to save the regime and take direct control.
      The military is not going to have to use overwhelming force. I was just answering a hypothetical posed by another should the protests flare up into something the military perceives as an existential threat. It is not happening though. The protesters were only a small portion of the 80 million Egyptians.


    • [​IMG] Streatham 14 February 2011 11:18AM

      OneWorldGovernment
      Martial law. If necessary a suspension of civilian institutions (a PM-led cabinet, government ministries, judiciary, etc.).
      It will then become a contest between the protesters ability to mobilize versus the military's ability to constrain them.
      A general strike would make life more difficult for the generals than demonstrations in confined places. The troops can't be everywhere, can't force workers back to work at bayonet point, and the generals can't rely on all the conscripts.


    • [​IMG] Hawarman 14 February 2011 11:27AM

      This is what police here in Bahrain have had to put up with here for years - check out this video and the date when these people get arrested and they often are - they call foul screeming torture and such like - boy do they know how to milk the western media who fall for their crap hock line and sinker.
      YouTube - bahrain shia try to murder the police by Molotov


    • [​IMG] jimbojamesiv 14 February 2011 11:35AM

      One world government, there are many problems with the things that you say and I can hardly identify and critique each one. However, I notice the way you dance on the head of a pin when you can't even accept the compliment from promethean that you had been saying the revolution was a bait and switch by the military.
      I say this because I think you enjoy the game or the process or maybe it's even darker than that: you are defending the military by arguing that it's not martial law until the military says it is, as if they are the arbiter of reality. I think we had this sort of debate yesterday.
      I agree with you when you say that the military has usurped the revolution and may even delve into the crazy idea that somehow this revolution was contrived, but what I really have to object to is your contention that the numbers of the protesters were somehow either small or not representative of the population as a whole. This is another sort of half-truth because (a) protest movements and even revolutions never have either unanimous consent or full participation of all those in favor, and (b) the numbers were huge. I haven't seen any solid estimates of the size of the crowds on Friday, Feb. 11, but some have put them at 10 million and I don't know if that was just in Cairo or throughout the nation. The reason this latter point is so important is because at the end of the day, the military only numbers at most 1,000,000, and if you add in the security forces, which also are at most 1,000,000. Those small number of troops and forces pale in the face of the people who protested even if the people are unarmed and outgunned. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if the numbers of revolutionaries (i.e. those who want regime change) are huge, then I would add that this should not come as a surprise given that we know our best laid plans often go awry. In other words, no matter how much the Egyptian military, the CIA, the US of A, the UK or the rest of the international community wanted to pull a fast one, sometimes, if not always, things get out of hand. Thus, at the end of the day, if someone, like for instance in coordination with Google, manipulated events behind the scenes for their own purposes that doesn't mean they always get the outcome they devised.



    • [​IMG] hieroglyph 14 February 2011 11:36AM

      Ooh, I thought the demo against Zahi Hawass and the SCA was set for Wednesday? Good to see they're over there at SCA HQ already. Hopefully Dr. Hawass will be building sand-pyramids on the beach at Sharm with his buddy Hosni sooner rather than later so that a proper Egyptologist who knows more than the tourist basics of pyramids, Tutankhamun, Ramses II, can have his job . . .


    • [​IMG] randomdoofus 14 February 2011 11:37AM

      Sadly, I think we all know exactly how this revolution will pan out.
      Not a question of if, just a question of when and how many dead.


    • [​IMG] Armstrongx15 14 February 2011 11:49AM

      People power booting out the evil Mubarak
      and then..
      Shit!... the Army is going to hold power until some sort of elections are sorted.
      Well we all know where this is going


    • [​IMG] OneWorldGovernment 14 February 2011 11:49AM

      However, I notice the way you dance on the head of a pin when you can't even accept the compliment from promethean that you had been saying the revolution was a bait and switch by the military.
      I just disagree what martial law entails. In my opinion, martial law is when the civilian institutions are wiped away (like the judiciary and military justice is applied to civilians). If you look up the definition of martial law you usually see that in entails a lot more than what has happened so far. Martial law is what happened in postwar Germany and Japan. It you want to call it martial law right now, then call it that. It makes no difference to me. I can see the viewpoint that Egypt presently is under martial law.
      As for the crowd size and protesters we are going to have agree to disagree on that subject. The majority of Cairo was not engulfed by protests. The numbers I have seen is that it never got more than a few hundred thousand in Cairo and I will believe those sources since they have been accurate the entire way.
      Anyways, I'm going to bed. Enjoy the day.









































     
  8. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

    #8
    Feb 16, 2011
    Joined: Sep 24, 2010
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    Middle East protests - live updates

    [​IMG] Bahraini protesters wave their national flag and chant slogans as they gather at Manama's Pearl roundabout today. Photograph: Phil Weymouth/AFP/Getty Images 5.00pm – Egypt: Egypt's health ministry says 365 people have been killed since the anti-government protests began.
    Minister Ahmed Sameh Farid said it was only a preliminary count of civilians killed and did not include police or prisoners.
    A previous estimate by the United Nations put the total at around 300.
    4.52pm – Libya: This video on Facebook is purportedly protests in Banghazi, Libya. Apparently they are saying: "Gaddafi, we don't want your flats, we want the truth."
    4.37pm: The Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has been on the phone to Bahrain's king to express support for the king, as both countries face protests. Saleh blamed people with "foreign agendas" for trying to spread chaos across the region, Reuters reports, citing Yemen's state news agency. Saleh reportedly said to King Hamad:
    There are plans to try and sink the region into a fervour of chaos and violence, and they have targeted the security of the region and stability of our countries. The people creating these works of chaos and sabotage are only implementing suspicious foreign agendas.
    4.34pm – Iran: My colleague Saeed Kamali Dehghan has written a story about the death of Saane Zhaleh (see 3.34pm), whose family says is being is being falsely described as a pro-government militia member.
    [​IMG] A family member of Saane Zhaleh, a 26-year-old theatre student at Tehran University of Arts, told the Guardian that the Iranian authorities had launched a campaign to depict the pro-opposition protester as a member of the government-sponsored basiji militia who had been killed by what they described as terrorists.
    "They [security forces] have killed him and now they want to hijack his dead body and exploit his funeral for their own purposes. His family is totally devastated and inundated in sorrow," said the family member, who asked not to be identified.
    4.27pm – Yemen: The BBC World Service is reporting two dead in Aden, Yemen.
    [​IMG] 4.23pm: Here is an evening summary:• Bahrain: Thousands of protesters have continued to demonstrate at Pearl roundabout in the capital Manama. Our reporter there says there are signs of growing anger at King Hadad, who is seen as responsible for propping up the Sunni-based establishment. Thousands of people took part in a funeral for Fadhel Al-Matrook, a protester shot dead at funeral of another protester yesterday. The US, Britain and the UN have expressed concern about the violence. A government minister reportedly acknowledged that the two killings were "catastrophic" (see 3.11pm).
    • Yemen: A sixth day of protests against Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, was broken up by pro-government supporters bussed in to the capital Sana'a. Up to four protesters were injured, and 2,000 police deployed to break up the clashes. There have also been protests in other cities such as Aden and Taiz (see 3.01pm). Saleh responded by saying "chaos, wrong mobilisation and irresponsible utterance via media" was not the way to "reach the power" (see 3.38pm).
    • Iran: Students and academics have been arrested in a raid at a university in Tehran. A state news agency reported clashes between government supporters and protesters after the funeral of Saane (or Sanee) Zhaleh, who was killed in protests on Monday (see 3.34pm). Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, said the protests were doomed to fail.
    • Egypt: Protesters are planning to gather in Tahrir Square on Friday to mark a week since Hosni Mubarak, the president, stood down (see 3.03pm). A coalition of activists have released a list of candidates they would like to see in the transitional government (see 3.14pm). Both moves are intended to put pressure on the army, which took control after Mubarak's fall.
    • Libya: Up to 38 people have been injured in the city of Benghazi after protests about the arrest of a civil rights campaigner and critic of Muammar Gaddafi. There are reports that critics of Gaddafi have been arrested.
    • Morocco: Protests are planned for Sunday (see 3.23pm).
    4.04pm: France will not allow in Tunisian immigrants without a valid visa, the government has said, according to Reuters, days after thousands of illegal migrants from the country began arriving in Italy."Visa rules will apply to Tunisia, all visa rules and nothing but visa rules," government spokesman Francois Baroin told reporters following a cabinet meeting. "There is no question of welcoming other immigrants who do not respect the rules on visas."
    3.59pm: Commenter Numa, who has been posting several updates reportedly from within Bahrain, posts this report about the internet in Bahrain, which we can't confirm:
    [​IMG] Internet extremely slow in Bahrain. When I called to my provider to complain I was told it was a "global problem" all over the island with every service provider. I asked if it had to do with the demonstrations. I was told it had. I asked further. Is the govt controlling the internet access – "Yes sir, sorry sir."
    3.47pm: Nabeel Rajab from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has uploaded disturbing footage of a protester badly injured on Monday. He said the man was victim of the police. Warning: graphic content. [​IMG] Supporters of the Yemeni government shout slogans as they try to enter Sana'a University, where anti-government protesters gather in Yemen. Photograph: Hani Mohammed/AP 3.38pm – Yemen: In a barely veiled threat to protesters in Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country's president, has said that the time of coups, chaos and creative anarchy has gone, according to the Yemeni state news agency Saba news. Saleh was quoted as saying:
    Anybody wants to reach the power, he should pass through the ballot boxes, which are the only way, but not chaos, wrong mobilisation and irresponsible utterance via media.
    3.34pm – Iran:This (below) is a death announcement for Saane (or Sanee) Zhaleh, a student who was shot dead during an opposition rally on 14 February, created by his classmates at Tehran University of Arts. The announcement has been circulated among Iran's blogging community and social networking websites.
    It reads:
    From the students of Tehran University of Arts. With sorrow and regret we announce the martyrdom of our courageous, passionate friend Saane Zhaleh and we express our condolences on his death. Peace be upon his soul / and we will remember him.
    [​IMG] _
    3.30pm – Egypt: My colleague Mark Tran writes about a fact sheet the US embassy in London has just sent out "to show it's on the side of the angels", giving a breakdown of US funding to promote "a vibrant civil society in Egypt" and in the Middle East.
    [​IMG] The US says since 2006, it has provided approximately $210m (£131m) to support democracy activities in Egypt:
    "In FY [financial year] 2010, we more than doubled our support to civil society activities (from $9.5m to $25m). Our FY 2011 request maintains this strong support ($21m). We also significantly increased support for the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in FY 2011 to support civil society and democratic reform across the Middle East. The US government has increased its direct support for indigenous Egyptian organisations. In FY 2010, Egyptian NGOs received $14m in US assistance, significantly above the $9m provided in FY 2009 and $8.5m in FY 2008. These funds went to support core civil society activities such as rights education, as well as democracy and building civil society capacity to expand the impact of Egypt's active citizens' groups."
    To put this into context, however, US military aid for Egypt runs at $1.3bn a year. On the subject of US aid to Egypt, here is an article from the Carnegie of Endowment in Washington arguing why Egyptians are unlikely to appreciate US economic aid.
    It says: "The current focus on helping businessmen, particularly powerful ones, and on US-chosen infrastructure projects that create few permanent job opportunities will keep USAID unpopular in Egypt, especially in light of the aid's small size."
    3.29pm – Libya: Social networking sites and al-Jazeera are now reportedly back online again in Libya (see 2.51pm).
    3.27pm – Bahrain: Pro-government Twitter users in Bahrain are posting updates/propaganda under using the term #silentmajority, Global Voices has spotted.
    It picks out a selection of updates from Hussakhalid, described as "a tech-savvy MBA graduate who knows a thing or two (maybe three)".
    [​IMG] Do you know that Bahrain provides free K-12 Education for all citizens? #Bahrain #silentmajority
    Do you know that there are no income taxes in Bahrain? #Bahrain #silentmajority
    Do you know that #Bahrain provides free healthcare for all citizens? #Feb14 #silentmajority
    3.23pm – Morocco: There is a lot of discussion in the comments of this YouTube video about protests planned for Morocco on Sunday, my colleague Giles Tremlett notes. #Feb20 and #20Fev are the hashtags being used on Twitter, and this is a popular Facebook protest site.
    3.14pm – Egypt: Jack Shenker sends some more from Cairo. A coalition of independent activists, bloggers and professional groups have released a shortlist of candidates that they would like to see make up a new transitional government in Egypt.
    [​IMG] There's a lot of anger that despite the supreme military council's takeover, most of Mubarak's old cabinet (which had only been in place for a few weeks before he was forced out) remain in place. The army says this is essential to ensure that the country can function normally until fresh elections are called (likely to be in about six months time).
    But many of those who participated in the revolution feel differently; hence they've drawn up a list of acceptable caretaker ministers for each government department and are demanding that the military take notice.
    The list is currently only in Arabic, but it lays down in some detail the criteria by which each nominee has been selected: there are no members of Mubarak's NDP party, no leaders of other political parties, and nobody tainted by corruption scandals. None of those appointed should be allowed to run for office in future elections, claim the organisers of the list – thus ensuring that they act only in the interest of Egypt throughout the transitional period, instead of seeking to maximise their own position.
    3.11pm – Bahrain: A government minister in Bahrain has admitted that killing two protesters was "catastrophic", according to New York Times columnist Nick Kristof.
    [​IMG] Just interviewed the foreign minister here in #Bahrain. He acknowledges that killing protesters was catastrophic.
    The UN has expressed alarm at the killing of protesters in Bahrain.
    Navi Pillay, the high commissioner for human rights, said:
    Too many peaceful protesters have recently been killed across the Middle East and North Africa. Authorities everywhere must scrupulously avoid excessive use of force, which is strictly forbidden in international law. They must conduct prompt, impartial and transparent investigations where there have been breaches of this obligation.
    I have been urging the authorities to curb the excesses of the security apparatus and to undertake serious investigations into allegations of torture and abuse of detention rights of hundreds of political and human rights activists. These activists, including numerous children as young as 10, were reportedly arrested and detained without meaningful access to lawyers and their families, and subjected to ill-treatment in detention.
    I urge the authorities to immediately cease the use of disproportionate force against peaceful protesters and to release all peaceful demonstrators who have been arrested.
    3.03pm – Egypt: Jack Shenker reports from Cairo on calls for a mass rally on Friday, the one-week anniversary of Hosni Mubarak's departure.
    [​IMG] Some claim it will be a festival of celebration over the dictator's fall, while others are planning a more sombre event to honour the memory of those who lost their lives in the recent struggles (that number currently stands at approximately 300, though many others remain missing).
    But whatever form Friday's demonstration takes, the sight of Tahrir Square – the iconic heart of Egypt's revolution – once again being transformed from a traffic-choked interchange into a sea of people, drums and flags is likely to send a strong message to the military council currently overseeing Egypt's "transition" to democracy.
    Opinions are split on the genuine intentions of the army, and many will be keen to take this opportunity to remind officers that they have been mandated by the people to help establish a sustainable civilian government, not to hang on to the reins of power themselves. After issuing a series of recent communiques calling for all protests and strikes to end, it will be interesting to see how the military – who still have forces stationed in and around the square – respond to Friday's gathering.
    3.01pm – Yemen: The Associated Press has filed some more on the conflict between police and protesters in Yemen today. The news agency says Facebook and Twitter spread the word that Yemenis should join a series of "one million people" rallies on a so-called "Friday of rage" in all Yemeni cities.
    A statement posted on Facebook said: "We will remain in the streets until the regime departure." The news agency reported: "Copies signed by a group named the February 24 Movement were distributed among youth via e-mail. The group is taking that name because organisers hope to have their biggest protest on that day next week." AP had this to say about Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president against whom the protesters are demonstrating:
    Saleh has tried to defuse protesters' anger amid the unprecedented street demonstrations by saying he will not run for another term in 2013 and that he will not seek to set up his son, Ahmed, to succeed him in the conflict-ridden and impoverished nation. Protesters still chanted slogans against the president's son Wednesday.
    Saleh has become a key US partner in battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network's offshoot in Yemen. The group's several hundred fighters have battled Saleh's US-backed forces and have been linked to attacks beyond Yemen's borders, including the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009. The US military plans a $75m training program with Yemen's counterterrorism unit to expand its size and capabilities in the nation's mountainous terrain.
    It's a difficult balancing act for Saleh, who has been criticised as being too close to the United States.
    Yemeni state TV reported that Saleh has been holding meetings since Sunday with heads of tribes to prevent them from joining the anti-government protests.
    Saleh's government is weak its control barely extends beyond the capital and is dependent on fragile alliances with powerful tribes and it faces other serious challenges.
    For more than six years, government forces have been battling a sporadic armed rebellion in the north. A secessionist movement by once-independent southern Yemen also is heating up.
    Yemen's main source of income oil could run dry in a decade, and the country is also rapidly running out of water. Much of the population suffers from malnutrition.
    Yemen has been the site of anti-U.S. attacks dating back to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbour, which killed 17 American sailors. Radical US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, thought to be hiding in Yemen, is suspected of having inspired some attacks, including the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.
    Of the Sana'a University protests, AP says police chained the university's iron gates to prevent students from streaming into adjacent streets. About 120 judges protested in front of the Ministry of Justice, calling for independence of the judiciary and better salaries, the first such protest by judges. Demonstrations also took in Yemen's port city of Aden – where protesters set fire to tyres, "fierce clashes" took place between riot police and thousands of protesters, injuring three, and there was "heavy gunfire" – and in Taiz, where thousands shouted: "Down with Ali Abdullah Saleh." Protesters have been camping in Safir Square in central Taiz, about 270 miles south of Sana'a, saying they will not leave until Saleh steps down.
    Just like in Cairo's Tahrir Square, protesters [in Taiz] have organised a makeshift camp in the city centre, with medical teams, cleaning crews and security to protect them from outside attacks, said Ghazi al-Samie, a lawyer and activist. Al-Samie said thousands have joined the protests in the last few days in Yemen's second-biggest city.
    2.51pm – Libya: The Libyan security apparatus is doing its best to stop any further protests, according to Libyans on the ground.
    ShababLibya
    [​IMG] according to Libya Today,there have been a large number of arrests in the eastern city of Al Beida, families have lost contact #Feb17 #Libya
    taimurian
    [Confirmed] .. Facebook, Twitter, Aljazeera.Net, Alarabiya.Net and Youtube are blocked now in Libya #libya #feb17 #benghazi #egypt
    2.38pm – Bahrain: Othman Janahi, an investment officer in Bahrain, is sending out pro-government updates on Twitter.
    They include pictures of a rally in support of the king.
    He also complains of bias in the international media:
    [​IMG] @LuluKQ unfortunately some of the international media are focusing on one side of the coin for their own agenda ÜberTwitter - Othman_Janahi - @LuluKQ unfortunately some of the international media are focusing on one side of the coin for their own agenda
    2.31pm – Egypt: Fidel Castro has weighed into Egypt's febrile post-Mubarak politics, backing protesters' demands that the former president return the fortune he is suspected of having removed from the country.
    2.27pm – Libya: A Libyan blogger and activist is claiming that families of victims of the 1996 killings at Abu Salim prison in Tripoli will stage a protest in a few hours in Benghazi.
    The Abu Salim killings are a notorious incident in Libya's history when Libyan groups outside the country said up to 1,200 prisoners had died. A massacre was reported to have taken place after prisoners unhappy about conditions seized a guard. Human Rights Watch investigated the atrocity. One of those it spoke to was a former prisoner, Hussein al-Shafa:
    Around 5am on June 29, security forces moved some of the prisoners between the civilian and military sections of the prison. By 9am they had forced hundreds of prisoners from blocks 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 into different courtyards. They moved the low security prisoners in block 2 to the military section and kept the prisoners in blocks 7 and 8, with individual cells, inside. Al-Shafa, who was behind the administration building with other kitchen workers at the time, told Human Rights Watch what happened.
    "At 11:00 a grenade was thrown into one of the courtyards. I did not see who threw it but I am sure it was a grenade. I heard an explosion and right after a constant shooting started from heavy weapons and kalashnikovs from the top of the roofs. The shooting continued from 11:00 until 1:35."

    He continued: "I could not see the dead prisoners who were shot, but I could see those who were shooting. They were a special unit and wearing khaki military hats. Six were using kalashnikovs.
    "I saw them, at least six men, on the roofs of the cellblocks. They were wearing beige khaki uniforms with green bandanas, a turban-like thing."
    Around 2pm the forces used pistols to finish off those who were not dead, he said.
    Abu Salim prison held between 1,600 and 1,700 prisoners at the time, and the security forces killed around 1,200 people, al-Shafa said. He calculated this figure by counting the number of meals he prepared prior to and after the incident.
    [​IMG] Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features 2.01pm – Yemen:The British government has pledged its support for political reform in Yemen, according to the Press Association news agency.
    Alan Duncan (left), the international development minister, said:
    Recent events demonstrate more than ever the importance of the Friends of Yemen process to prevent state failure in their country. We will work to support political reform and the right of all Yemenis to participate legitimately and democratically in their political future.
    MPs were today told the Friends of Yemen group will meet in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in six weeks to discuss how best to help the nation. Duncan, who visited Yemen last week, said there had been "substantial progress on many fronts" in recent months. He added: "Preventing state failure is much less costly than dealing with a failed state afterwards."
    1.55pm – Bahrain: The protests in Bahrain are so organised that they even have a media centre, according to this picture (below) by Maryam Alkhawaja, head of foreign relations at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
    [​IMG] Media centre at Bahrain protests, 16 February 2011. Photograph: maryamalkhawaja From a distance the protest camp looks like a car boot sale.
    [​IMG] Hundreds of Bahraini protesters shout slogans as the attend the funeral of Fadel Salman Matrouk, who was shot dead in front of a hospital yesterday. Photograph: Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images 1.41pm – Bahrain: More from Bahrain from another of our commenters, SandyBh, who says people are calling Lulu/Pearl roundabout "the martyr square". He/she says people there have confirmed "there are some Sunnis out there, but not a lot, which is natural considering that the Shiites are the majority and the ruling family is Sunni":
    [​IMG] Many Sunnis are either too afraid to go out and protest or they are prevented by their Sunni ideologies that declare people should have complete loyalty to the "wali" or a governing ruler, even though one who is an oppressor (this is to the best of my knowledge and how I see things when I talk with Sunnis). Moreover, you should account for the fact that many of the Sunnis here are actually not Bahrainis for they have been imported from places like Pakistan, Baluchistan, Jordan, or Yemen to work in the Ministry of Defence.
    SandyBH went on, in another comment:
    You should hear what the people in the roundabout are saying ... They are hailing now and again that their movement is not only for Shiites but Sunnis as well. This is a movement by the people for the people no matter their sect. A lot of people are refusing to call it a Shiite uprising.
    As for being afraid of change since they are a minority, no one should have such fears in a democratic government that is well-representative of the population.
    As for the foreigners being employed in the Ministry of Defence and police forces, there is a reason behind it. The government has long mistrusted Shiites in Bahrain, and despite being the majority, they are not employed in these two sectors simply because of this mistrust. The percentage of Shiites in the Ministry of Defence is almost non-existent. Even some Sunnis are being aware now of the situation of foreigners in the defence forces and are expressing resentment.
    [​IMG] Footage broadcast by Libya's state television showing Libyans holding portraits of Muammar Gaddafi during a demonstration in support of him in the southern city of Sebha. Protesters say that state TV is not showing footage of large, anti-Gaddafi protests. Photograph: Libyan TV/AFP/Getty Images 1.20pm - Libya:Reuters has a fuller report on the clashes in Benghazi.
    Here's an edited version:
    Reports from Benghazi, about 1,000 km (600 miles) east of the Libyan capital, indicated the city was now calm but that overnight, protesters armed with stones and petrol bombs had set fire to vehicles and fought with police.
    The protesters were angry about the arrest of a human rights campaigner and demanded his release. Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi, quoted Abdelkrim Gubaili, the director of a local hospital, as saying 38 people were injured in the clashes, most of them members of the security forces. He said they had all been discharged.
    "Last night was a bad night," a Benghazi resident, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters by telephone.
    "There were about 500 or 600 people involved. They went to the revolutionary committee (local government headquarters) in Sabri district, and they tried to go to the central revolutionary committee ... They threw stones," he said.
    "Now Benghazi is quiet. The banks are open and the students are going to school," the same witness said later.
    1.01pm: Summary time: [​IMG] • Libya: Up to 38 people have been injured in the city of Benghazi after protests about the arrest of a civil rights campaigner and critic of Muammar Gaddafi. There are reports that critics of Gaddafi have been arrested.
    • Bahrain: Thousands of protesters have continued to demonstrate at Pearl roundabout in the capital Manama. Our reporter there says there are signs of growing anger at King Hadad, who is seen as responsible for propping up the Sunni-based establishment. Thousands of people took part in a funeral for Fadhel Al-Matrook, a protester shot dead at funeral of another protester yesterday. The US and Britain has expressed concern about the violence.
    • Yemen: A sixth day of protests against president Saleh was broken up by pro-government supporters bused in to the capital Sana'a. Up to four protesters were injured, and 2,000 police deployed to break up the clashes.
    • Iran: Students and academics have been arrested in a raid at a university in Tehran. A state news agency reported clashes between government supporters and protesters after the funeral of Sanee Zhaleh, who was killed in protests on Monday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the protests were doomed to fail.
    12.55pm - Libya: Our Middle East editor Ian Black has this instant analysis on the significance of today's clashes in Benghazi.
    [​IMG] Libya's "day of rage," inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, was due to have take place on Thursday but began prematurely with clashes overnight in the eastern city of Benghazi, where 38 demonstrators were injured in clashes with security forces.
    Libyan opposition sources say they believe the trouble was deliberately provoked by the authorities to undermine tomorrow's main event — and intimidate people into keeping off the streets.
    Sporadic trouble has been reported from Benghazi, the country's second city, in recent weeks, and the latest outbreak was linked to protests over the infamous massacre of over 1000 prisoners at Abu Salim in 1996 — a bloody landmark in Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule. But like previous unrest, it remains local and has not coalesced into opposition at the national level. So far.
    "This could snowball into something big," says Ashour Shamis, a veteran Libyan opposition activist. "There are grievances all over the country. But this looks like a spoiler by the government."
    Libya's experience of the "Arab spring" may be different from that of its North African neighbours for several reasons. Its enormous oil and gas reserves and small population (6.5m) mean it is relatively wealthy — four times as rich as Egypt — and can afford to buy off dissent.
    It is also far less free than either of its neighbours, with a pervasive secret police and little in the way of a free media or independent institutions. Behind the facade of the popular committees the security state still looks unassailably powerful.
    Gaddafi's Jamahiriya or "state of the masses" has seen a revolution in its foreign relations over the last decade since it surrendered the Lockerbie bombing suspects, stopped supporting terrorism and gave up its wepaons of mass destruction.
    Economic liberalisation has benefited a small middle class but otherwise there has been little domestic change. Libya is extremely corrupt by international standards, though there is less of the flaunting of wealth by the elite than in Tunisia. Its army and security services, based on strong tribal loyalties, would almost certainly step in with force in the event of serious political upheaval and possibly take over the country completely.
    Gaddafi — now the longest-serving of all Arab leaders — remains as vigorous and eccentric as ever. Talk of the succession of his reformist-minded son, Saif al-Islam, has faded recently in the face of resistance by the old guard. Another son, Mutasim, is a rising star as his father's national security adviser.
    Like other Arab regimes it is capable of easing tensions by concessions such as raising subsidies to keep food prices down. But plans to release the remaining prisoners of the long-banned Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who have renounced violence pre-date the current unrest.
    12.53pm - Bahrain: One of our commenters below the line, goonerinoman, has provided another update from Bahrain:
    [​IMG] Just got back from the Pearl roundabout. I was there for about 30 minutes. I would say there are about 3-4 thousand there. A lot of people were on their way after attending the funeral. I was surprised how different things were from yesterday. I was at the roundabout for the start of the protests yesterday and the roads around were all closed and there were hundreds of police and vehicles. Today there were no police anywhere to be seen and now the roundabout was covered in tents and a mock stage has been erected, all the roads are open as normal and cars are driving round the roundabout. Whereas yesterday people were milling around and it was more of a carnival atmosphere, today it seemed more politicised. There were people addressing the crowds and it was more like a western protest. The crowd were a lot more fired up. I could not understand what was being said as my Arabic is not very good but there was a lot of mentions of Mubarak. Around the edge of the roundabout people had written slogans using stones such as Khalifa r we loud enough for you, a CND symbol, peaceful protest and others in Arabic.
    It is weird because about 150 metres [away] is the main highway and it has a flyover, it is the perfect vantage point to stop and watch - it is like a drive thru protest. It seems like the protesters are not giving up easily. I imagine they may be joined by some Saudi Shias as the Saudi weekend starts now. I think with the US Naval base here it can't go on for too long and the F1 race looming on the horizon. I can't imagine the Shias giving up without a fight. I am by no means an expert but I think the Shias are not afraid of martyrdom because of events like Ashoora. I really hope I am wrong but I think it will get messy. I guess Friday like in Egypt will be the crunch day. I am also amazed by the normality of it all.
    12.46pm - Libya: Some reports on Twitter are saying two people were killed in Benghazi but we have no way of verifying them at present.
    12.40pm - Egypt: The Guardian is compiling a database of the missing and detained in Egypt since the recent protests. If you have any information please use the form provided to help us to update it.
    12.34pm - Libya: There's limited information coming out from Benghazi, with reporters not on the ground there and not much in the way of first-hand accounts online. But the Libyan youth movement tweets that violence against protesters is continuing:
    right now in #benghazi, tear gas being thrown in the city center and have blockaded the city center #Libya #Feb17
    [​IMG] Pro-regime protesters holding posters of their president gather near Sana'a University, Yemen. Photograph: Mohammad Huwais/AFP/Getty Images 12.26pm - Yemen: Pro-Saleh supporters are being bused in to the Yemeni capital Sana'a to beat anti-government protests, Tom Finn reports.
    People have seen them arriving in buses, and they have also seen people handing out signs and sticks and weapons to plain clothes men from the back of SUVs and trucks at the protests.
    The danger in Yemen is that it is a heavily armed country. There are three times as many guns as people here. What people are very worried about is that if things become violent it may escalate.
    There were three or four students injured today. The pro-Saleh guys have been pre-empting the demonstrations. They have been arriving in the morning at the places that the anti-government protests are due to take place. It sounds like the numbers are similar [on both sides].
    The protests are much much smaller than anything that happened in Egypt. The difference now is that they are becoming more violent. And also, importantly, they are no longer under the control of the opposition.
    President Saleh is worried and he's making efforts to calm these protests. He has cancelled a trip to Washington. But he does have more support than Mubarak had in Egypt.
    As things stand it is still a small group that is protesting [in Sana'a]. The real concern is taking place in Taiz, a city in the south. There you have seen demonstrators staying out over night, and people being arrested, and larger protests. People are saying that if something is going to happen it may well happen in the south, as opposed to in the capital.
    Listen! Turn off auto refresh to listen to full audio -
    12.23pm - Egypt: Labour unrest is continuing in Egypt despite the ruling military council's call for "noble Egyptians" to end all strikes immediately, the Associated Press reports:
    Hundreds of Cairo airport employees were protesting inside the arrivals terminal Wednesday to press demands for better wages and health coverage. In the industrial Nile Delta city of Mahallah al-Koubra, workers from Egypt's largest textile factory went on strike over pay and calls for an investigation into alleged corruption at the factory.
    In Port Said, a coastal city at the northern tip of the Suez canal, about 1,000 people demonstrated to demand that a chemical factory be closed because it was dumping waste in a lake near the city.
    12.10pm- Libya: The Guardian's Twitter network of Arab and Middle East protests has been updated to include Libya.
    12.04pm - Libya: Al-Arabiya TV and AFP (via Zawya.com) are both now reporting 38 injured in the violence in Benghazi, citing medical sources in the city.
    11.56am - Libya:The artist, Muhammed Al-Amin, and the author and poet Habib Al-Amin have been arrested in Benghazi, according to @EnoughGaddafi on Twitter. Another writer, Idris al Mesmari, was reportedly arrested in Libya's second largest city, hours after a telephone interview with al-Jazeera in which he told the television station:
    I am scared, really scared. The regime's cars and thugs are attacking us. They're attacking Libya's youth. They're using hot water cannons.
    [​IMG] Iranian government supporters hit an image of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi with their shoes in Tehran, Iran. Photograph: Stringer/EPA 11.36am - Iran: Ten students and academics were arrested at a raid on a university in Tehran, according to Omid Habibina, a former journalist with BBC Arabic and a state news agency.
    He tweets:
    Reports: 10 Art Uni. Students & Professors Arrested, inc Ali Akbar Alizadeh Head of Cinema Faculty. #25Bahman #Iran #Tehran #Neda
    He also posts a link to a Facebook video of the raid.
    11.30am – Libya: There seems to be a sense of frustration that the protests in Benghazi, Libya's second biggest city, have not caught on in the capital Tripoli, even though tomorrow is supposed to be the big day for demonstrations to commemorate the failed uprising against Gaddafi in 2006:
    ShababLibya
    guys in Tripoli get out onto the streets, start with 100, or we will see a massacre in #Benghazi, its now or never, #Libya #Feb17
    EEE_Libya
    @freetelw yes in Tripoli #libya. Nothing but staged [pro-Gaddafi] protest now going on here. Tripoli wake up!!!!!!
    11.24am – Bahrain: Protesters arranged themselves on the Pearl roundabout to spell out the slogan "down with the regime", according to Maryam Alkhawaja, head of foreign relations at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
    She posted this picture to Twitter with the caption:
    They wrote with humans "yasqe6 alnedham" down with the regime in #martyrssquare #bahrain #feb14
    [​IMG] Protesters in Bahrain spell out "down with the regime" 16 February 2011. Photograph: maryamalkhawaja _
    11.16am – Bahrain: By most accounts the protests in Bahrain were peaceful before shots were fired by the security forces, and yet the British Foreign Office has called on both sides to exercise restraint (it trotted out the same line on Egypt at the start of the protests).
    Alistair Burt, the minister for the Middle East and north Africa, said:
    I am concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by police during demonstrations in Bahrain that led to the death of two protesters. I call on all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.
    The UK will always support, and speak out in defence of, the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. It is now critical that the Bahraini government moves quickly to carry out its commitment to a transparent investigation into yesterday's deaths and any alleged human rights abuses.
    When he was in Bahrain last week the foreign secretary raised the importance of open, plural societies, and of promoting universal values. I welcome the progress that the government of Bahrain has made on political reform in the recent past, but it is essential that this process continues to meet legitimate aspirations for greater political and social freedoms.
    11.11am – Bahrain: The Bahrain government and monarchy are "clearly rattled" by the demonstrations, Martin Chulov reports from Pearl roundabout in Manama.
    At the roundabout this morning there at least 5,000-10,000. This is a group that has got itself organised – there are marquees and first aid tents everywhere. It has a sense of a protest movement that is gaining momentum. The police are staying away ... All access points to this area are being coordinated by citizens.
    It is predominantly Shia. They are saying they have been pushed into a sectarian corner. They are looking for a greater role in society in Bahrain. They feel emboldened by what's happened in Egypt and Tunisia. A secondary concern, fast becoming a dominant one, is that the king should leave.
    They are not placated. The monarch has been largely responsible for buttressing the Sunni-based establishment. The lightening rod for the discontent is the monarch.
    It does have a feel of a movement that is going somewhere. The government and the monarchy are clearly rattled by it. Instinctively it feels like one to watch.
    Listen! Turn off auto-refresh above to listen in full
    _
    11.10am – Libya: The Libyan youth movement says there are reports of a first death in Benghazi, that of a teenager.
    Alot of reports coming out of the first to be killed in benghazi, 17 year old from well known family #Feb17 #Libya
    Meanwhile, freetelw tweets that it is quiet in the Libyan capital at the moment with just some organised pro-Gaddafi protests:
    #Tripoli just got back from Green Sq (12.30 pm)..bunch of 'pro-Gaddafi protesters' are chanting..they brought high school students in groups
    [​IMG] 10.38am – Libya: Like the other countries in the Middle East and North Africa in revolt, Libya has its own Facebook protest page.
    A recent post (in Arabic) is urging "all the youth of Tripoli" to go immediately to Omar Mukhtar Street. It seems to be saying that there are no military battalions in the Libyan capital at the moment, only security forces, which would tie in with comments on Twitter that the regime has been taken by surprise by the protests.
    10.26am – Yemen: The Associated Press news agency has a bit more on the protests in Yemen today (see 9.57am). According to AP, Yemen has sent 2,000 policemen into the streets to try to stem the demonstrations, which are in support of political reforms and against the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
    The policemen, including plainclothes officers, fired in the air and blocked thousands of students at Sanaa University from joining thousands of other protesters elsewhere in the capital. They are holding a sixth straight day of demonstrations ...
    Witnesses say at least four protesters were wounded in scuffles with police on Wednesday.
    Yemen is a conflict-ridden and impoverished nation. Its president has cooperated with the US in battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
    10.24am – Bahrain: Blogger Redha Haji has posted a series of photographs of today's funeral of Fadhel Al Matrook.
    One shows that the Bahrain flag was placed over his coffin before he was buried.
    10.22am – Libya: The Guardian wrote yesterday about how young people in the Arab world use rap as a way to express themselves and as a rallying call. This rap track is promoting tomorrow's protests in Libya. One image featuring Gaddafi says: "Send the devil back to hell," while there are also numerous images of the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, showing the influence of the revolutions in those two countries.
    Turn off auto-refresh above to watch in full _
    10.11am – Bahrain: The respected Middle East analyst Juan Cole predicts what might happen if the Shia majority were granted more representation and power, as protesters are demanding.
    A Shiite-dominated government in Bahrain might well demand a closure of the US naval base. It would not be an Iranian puppet, insofar as Arab Shiites are jealous of their independence and most Bahraini Shiites don't follow ayatollahs; but it would certainly have warm relations with Tehran. A Shiite victory there would politically embolden other Gulf Arab Shiites, in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (Shiites are a minority in all three). Insofar as Iran enjoys soft power with the region's Shiites, the net result would certainly favour Iran and at least somewhat disadvantage the United States, which already shot itself in the foot by helping install a Shiite government in Baghdad that has excellent relations with Iran. For the Bahrain government to become more democratic and more Shiite-influenced would annoy the Wahhabi Saudi state, which now sees the Sunni Bahraini king as a strategic asset.
    If, like me, you are on a steep Bahrain learning curve, the piece also provides a useful backgrounder. Did you know that more than half the people in Bahrain are guest workers?
    9.57am – Yemen: There are reports of clashes between pro-government supporters in Libya, Iran and now Yemen.
    Reuters has this:
    Government loyalists wielding batons and daggers clashed with anti-government protesters in the Yemeni capital on Wednesday. Police were unable to keep the two sides apart as protesters gathered for a demonstration at Sana'a University to demand the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
    Hundreds of Saleh backers charged at protesters, who quickly fled. One student was wounded, a Reuters reporter said.
    A few hundred more student demonstrators emerged from inside the university to try to restart the rally. When police locked them inside the campus, they began throwing rocks at the government loyalists from the campus gate.
    "We'll keep protesting until this regime leaves," said Murad Mohammed, a Yemeni university student at the disrupted protest. "We have no future under current conditions."
    The opposition coalition has agreed to negotiate with Saleh, but many young protesters are getting frustrated.
    "We want change and we want to make that change the way the Egyptians and Tunisians did," said Meshaal Sultan, a Sanaa University student, referring to the revolts that ousted the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia over the last month.
    9.50am – Egypt: Jack Shenker has written about how political activists in the country fear the revolution is being hijacked by the army but the April 6 Youth Movement has put out a statement to followers of its Facebook page declaring its "full faith in our honourable military forces". However, the group of online activists also called on the army to expedite the release of political prisoners:
    April 6 Youth Movement calls on the Egyptian armed forces to speed up the release of political detainees who were arrested in the era of the former regime, as well as the immediate release of all detainees who participated in the uprising of January 25th.
    The sources inside the armed forces had told April 6 Youth Movement through the meetings that has [sic] been going on Thursday, February 10, that those who were arrested since January 25th will be released within days, but we are calling for fast release of all detainees to maintain the security in Egypt ...
    April 6 Youth Movement has full faith in our honourable military forces and we are sure that they will release all the innocent victims of our former oppressive regime.
    9.46am – Libya: The Associated Press is coming under fire on Twitter for a line in its story about the Libyan protests (picked up by various news outlets) that says: "The crowds, however, did not appear to direct their anger at Muammar Gaddafi."
    Libyan4life:
    SMH @HuffingtonPost @AP Protests in #Benghazi were solely towards #Gaddafi despite direct evidence, continue to report misinformation #Feb17
    Cyrenaican:
    They say the revolution will not be televised. Fine. Can we at least get it reported correctly? @AssociatedPress #Benghazi #Feb17 #Libya
    Incidentally, it appears that a big demonstration is planned for tomorrow in Libya – the hashtag #Feb17 is being used on Twitter – but protests started early in Benghazi. There is a lot of video emerging of last night's protests in the city.
    9.33am - Bahrain: [​IMG] This photograph has emerged of Fadhel Al-Matrook the protester who was killed in yesterday's clashes. It shows Matrook with his son and daughter, according to the Facebook group True Royal Democracy.
    Thousands of people have gathered for his funeral today where he is being hailed as a martyr.
    9.11am - Bahrain: Below the line in the comments section, goonerinoman claims to be witnessing events in Bahrain.
    [​IMG] Going to have a wander down to the Pearl roundabout in an hour. Will keep you all informed as to what's going on there. People back at work today but from what I have heard there are still lots of people at the roundabout. Bahrain is a small place and the Pearl roundabout is right in the middle of the shopping malls and the main highway and very near the financial centre.
    Global Voices has a typically-thorough round-up of the latest social media updates on the protests in Bahrain. It reports:
    Similar to Tuesday, hundreds of protesters headed towards Salmaniya hospital to collect the fallen man's body and begin the procession to Sheikh Maytham cemetery in Mahooz in Manama. Unlike yesterday, the procession was allowed to move smoothly without police interference.
    9.02am - Egypt: Harriet Sherwood has more on the speculation about the whereabouts and health of the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
    [​IMG] The Al Arab news site claims that Hosni Mubarak is now holed up in a luxury hotel in the Israeli resort of Eilat.
    Apparently there is a big Israeli security presence around the unnamed hotel, and aircraft are hovering above monitoring activity. Indeed, an anonymous hotel employee "revealed" that Mubarak was a guest.
    The ousted president has also been reported to be in Sharm el Sheikh, in Germany, in Dubai, in a coma, in a state of severe depression and at death's door.
    8.47am - Iran: It is getting hard to keep track of the various protests across the Middle East. Now Iran's state broadcaster IRIB is reporting clashes between government supporters and protesters in Tehran.
    "Students and the people attending the funeral ceremony of the martyred student Sanee Zhaleh have clashed with a limited number of people apparently linked to the sedition movement and forced them out by chanting slogans of death to hypocrites," it said, according to Reuters.
    Zhaleh was shot dead during an opposition rally on Monday, a killing the government blamed on anti-government protesters but which opposition websites say was done by security forces.
    Activist Saeed Valadbaygi is running a Facebook commentary on the latest unrest. One of his updates says:
    University doors have been closed and chants of "down with Khatami and Down with England" is seen around Valiasr.
    Another says:
    A largely organised group of Basij is being transferred to the funeral place through the BRT line.
    8.31am - Bahrain: Protesters are holding their ground at the Pearl roundabout, AP reports.
    Security forces have pulled back sharply apparently on orders to ease tensions after clashes that left at least two people dead and dozens injured.
    Police helicopters, however, flew low over a major funeral procession for one of the victims in which mourners called him a "martyr" and pledged more protests in the island nation home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet.
    Thousands of people spent the night in a makeshift tent camp in Manama's Pearl Square, which was swarmed by demonstrators a day earlier. One demonstrator used a bullhorn to call on protesters to remain until their demands are met, as the Arab wave for change takes hold in the Gulf.
    The protests began Monday as a cry for the country's Sunni monarchy to loosen its grip, including hand-picking most top government posts, and open more opportunities for the country's Shia majority, who have long complained of being blocked from decision-making roles.
    US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley has expressed concern about events in Bahrain. In a statement last night, he said:
    The United States is very concerned by recent violence surrounding protests in Bahrain. We have received confirmation that two protesters in Bahrain were recently killed, and offer our condolences to the families and friends of the two individuals who lost their lives.
    The United States welcomes the government of Bahrain's statements that it will investigate these deaths, and that it will take legal action against any unjustified use of force by Bahraini security forces. We urge that it follow through on these statements as quickly as possible. We also call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.
    Mobile phone footage of the protests at the Pearl roundabout is being streamed to the video sharing site Bambuser.
    8.10am - Libya: Video has emerged of protesters in Benghazi demanding the release of a human rights lawyer and critic of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.
    The state news agency Jana reports a series of pro-Gaddafi rallies, including in Benghazi, the Middle East expert Scott Lucas reports on his Enduring America blog.
    A video from Benghazi, dated yesterday, appears to show a protest being broken up by gunfire. (Note: there is some dispute over when this video was filmed.)
    To watch the video in full turn off auto-refresh at the top of the page _
    Meanwhile, a human rights group claimed that a 110 prisoners jailed for membership of banned militant organisation the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group will be released today.
    Reuters has this:
    The prisoners are the last members of the group still being held and will be set free from Tripoli's Abu Salim jail, chairman of the Libya Human Rights Association Mohamed Ternish told Reuters.
    Hundreds of alleged members of the group have been freed from jail after it renounced violence last year.
    8.04am: Protests continue in the Middle East and North Africa. The latest flashpoints are Bahrain, where demonstrations continue for a third day despite the intervention of King Hadad, and Libya where the arrest of a human rights campaigner sparked clashes with police in the eastern city of Benghazi.Up to 2,000 people were involved in the clashes in Libya, according to the BBC.
    Eyewitnesses told the BBC that the unrest had been triggered by the arrest of a lawyer who is an outspoken critic of the government.
    The lawyer was later said to have been released, but the demonstrations reportedly continued..
    They [the witnesses] say stones were thrown at police who are said to have responded with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets.
    In Bahrain protesters have occupied Pearl roundabout, a landmark in the capital Manama. Thousands of people are expected to take part in a funeral procession for Fadhel Matrook who was killed at a funeral yesterday.
    Here's a round-up by country of yesterday's events in the region:
    Bahrain

    King Hamad tried to quell unrest by promising to investigate the killings of opposition protesters. Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima was killed in Monday's protests. Fadhel Matrook was shot when security forces fired at crowds of people who had gathered yesterday for Mushaima's funeral.
    The opposition Shia party al-Wifaq, announced that it was withdrawing from parliament in protest against the crackdown. This was a key event, writes our Middle East editor Ian Black, because political participation al-Wifaq party is seen as crucial to political stability, as a leaked US embassy cable revealed.
    Yemen

    Protests calling for removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh have been taking place for last five days in the capital Sana'a. Yesterday pro-government supporters clashed with protesters yesterday amid alarm about increasing violence.
    Egypt

    • Elements of Egypt's fractured political opposition are concerned that the army will hijack the revolution. They are alarmed by the army's unilateral declarations of reform and the apparent unwillingness of senior officers to open up genuine negotiations with activists.
    • The Muslim Brotherhood announced that it plans to set up a political party.
    • The Guardian is compiling a database of those missing and detained during the unrest in Egypt.
    • Barack Obama said his administration was "on the right side of history" for its response to the downfall of the Mubarak regime.
    •
    CBS News journalist Lara Logan is recovering in hospital
    after being violently attacked and sexually assaulted by a mob in Egypt's Tahrir Square on Friday.
    Iran

    The authorities confirmed that a second person had died in Monday's unrest, in which security forces used teargas, pepper spray and batons against the protesters. Around 1,500 were arrested in the protests. MPs have branded opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi "corrupt on earth" a charge that carries the death penalty.
    Jordan

    The government sought to head off trouble by easing restrictions on public gatherings. Jordan's interior minister Saed Hayel Srour said that protesters would still have to inform authorities of any gathering two days in advance to ensure public safety.
    Tunisia

    The new government extended a state of emergency in place since Zine al Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, but ended a curfew imposed during the protests.
    Morocco

    The government appears to be trying to calm fears over price hikes on basic goods ahead of a Facebook-arranged protests planned for next Sunday. It has doubled the money it sets aside for state subsidies to counter rising global commodity prices.




    • [​IMG] goonerinoman 16 February 2011 8:32AM

      Going to have a wander down to the pearl roundabout in an hour. will keep you all informed as to whats going on there. people back at work today but from what I have heard there are still lots of people at the roundabout. Bahrain is a small place and the Pearl roundabout is right in the middle of the shopping malls and the main highway and very near the financial centre.


    • [​IMG] orlandobeetle 16 February 2011 8:33AM

      LGBT Egyptians are campaigning against article 2 of constitution:
      Art.2*: Islam is the Religion of the State. Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).
      Their hashtag is #ScrewYouArticle2
      Full Egyptian constitution in english here:
      Egypt

    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] LauraOliver 16 February 2011 8:59AM

      @goonerinoman we'd really appreciate your updates. Are you from Bahrain or living/working there?
      @orlandobeetle great links - thanks again.


    • [​IMG] whizgiggle 16 February 2011 9:06AM

      How long before Hilary Clinton comes out and praises the Libyan demonstrators?

    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] teaandchocolate 16 February 2011 9:11AM

      Matthew Weaver

      The Al Arab news site claims that Hosni Mubarak is now holed up in a luxury hotel in the Israeli resort of Eilat.
      Apparently there is a big Israeli security presence around the unnamed hotel, and aircraft are hovering above monitoring activity. Indeed, an anonymous hotel employee "revealed" that Mubarak was a guest.
      The ousted president has also been reported to be in Sharm el Sheikh, in Germany, in Dubai, in a coma, in a state of severe depression and at death's door.

      Someone I know reckons they saw him in our local Marks and Spencer yesterday.


    • [​IMG] goonerinoman 16 February 2011 9:15AM

      @ LauraOliver I am working here at a University and I took this week off work as is the semester break. Lots of my students are already there.


    • [​IMG] kookoobean 16 February 2011 9:21AM

      The truth is always a good place to start a report. Maybe the newspapers should find a few sunni people who could tell you that truth. The King and his monarchy have done so much for these people and still they want more. They are never satisfied! They talk about not having jobs but you only have to take a look in the banking sector of Bahrain to see that they have a high majority working there, and believe me they get paid a whole lot more than a ministry employee. So why do they want to be employed in the ministry of interior or the Bahrain Defence Force where the pay is peanuts in comparison to their very cushy little numbers in the banks? Its all to do with control. They aren’t happy having a little, like the rest of us, noo, they want it all. But the people of Bahrain know that if they give up that power to them that this lovely, peace loving country will be no more. It seems inbred in them to hate, to want to feel depressed, to be forever fighting. I tell you that even if we give them what they want today, they will find something new to be angry about tomorrow. Why destroy this lovely land. It’s a beautiful place and welcomes everyone to its shores. Why kill that reputation and surround it with terror and hate. Arabs have a tradition whereby they invite you into their homes, to sit and eat at their tables after 5 minutes of knowing you. Not anymore, its all gone, its all lost and we don’t want Bahrain to change, we love it the way it is now. God bless the king, may he reign for many years, and carry on doing what he does best and that’s protecting his people. Thank you



    • [​IMG] Nighthood 16 February 2011 9:30AM

      @kookoobean
      You're not going to dissuade people by posting on a comments thread populated mainly by westerners. The live-blog is reporting what is happening, not asking for opinion pieces, and even then, it appears the sunni group in Bahrain is actually very much the minority.


    • [​IMG] goonerinoman 16 February 2011 9:33AM

      the Mahooz cemetary is not a million miles from the American Naval base. Anyway going out to see what I can lots of roads blocked but i will try my best


    • [​IMG] snickid 16 February 2011 9:39AM

      whizgiggle. 16 February 2011 9:06AM. How long before Hilary Clinton comes out and praises the Libyan demonstrators?
      If she was sensible, she would get ahead of the game, and praise the Bahraini demonstrators too.
      But remember, we're now friends with the Libyans: Tony Blair sold them a load of British-made weapons just before leaving office.


    • [​IMG] prometheancaliban 16 February 2011 9:40AM

      @ orlandobeetle,
      Thanks for those links, esp. the one re. army's economic holdings. This obviously throws the strikes into a whole different perspective: the army's not just the government, it's the boss...


    • [​IMG] prometheancaliban 16 February 2011 9:42AM

      @ snickid
      If she was sensible, she would get ahead of the game, and praise the Bahraini demonstrators too.
      Hilliary isn't ahead or behind the 'game.' She's the game itself. What's actually happening on the ground is the only reality.


    • [​IMG] KrustytheKlown 16 February 2011 9:42AM

      john
      A Government, wherever in the World, is more likey to compromise it's position rather than cede power.
      Yes, but you know the old phrase: There is nothing more dangerous than when a corrupt regime tries to reform itself.

    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] LauraOliver 16 February 2011 9:45AM

      @goonerinoman Thanks again - do post when you can, or if you're tweeting or sharing updates elsewhere let us know.


    • [​IMG] happytolive 16 February 2011 9:55AM

      Let’s face it; the popular opposition is as infected as what they are opposed to.
      Opposition in the ME is growing because of weaknesses in their dictatorial governments on one hand and the increasing awareness and confidence of the people on the other. The weaknesses of the people’s independent organisations and their political parties however make any popular uprising fail in the short term. Take the Egyptian revolution for example. The revolution forced the symbol of dictatorship to fall. Capitalism and its political advocates inside and outside the country are taking measures to contain and direct the results to their benefit. What they rely on and what their power is based upon are exactly the facts on the ground created by the old dictator: lack of an organised force based on a progressive agenda. This cannot be created overnight; it takes years of continuous hard work, promoting a progressive agenda within the people.
      The real fight for such an agenda has just started with strikes and demonstrations for grievances; all a sign of that long journey. The military government is trying to put the derailed political system back on track. And the political figures and organisations, some correctly and some with an obvious illusion are trying to get involved and force the government to take them onboard. Regardless of what the result of this would be, something is absolutely clear; a progressive force will not have any role in any government to come in any foreseeable future. On the contrary their advocates will be the first victims of the revolution. People who oppose the same thing do not necessarily share the same aims and alternatives for the future.

      Another example is the opposition in Iran. The West is trying all they can to stir up and strengthen an uprising in the country. It is very obvious that with every demonstration all their media work overtime tenfold to report what is happening in the country. And that is not enough - Clinton and Obama are explicitly declaring their support for toppling the current regime. But their actions do not end here; most importantly they are preparing their alternatives after the regime. The just grievances people have will be the first thing that is forgotten. The current opposition leaders, at least those who the Western media talk about, have their root either in the current government or the Shah with no progressive agenda whatsoever.
      This mirrors also the fact in other regions including the western countries. The UK and the US are typical examples. In the UK oppressive governments one after another have been either in power or in opposition maintaining the existence and power of a very strict circle of elite beneficiaries. They do not tolerate any serious opposition against them following a similar model of oppression as in the ME.
      All in all it is the progressive agenda which is their enemy number one, not the opposition in parliament who is trying to show that they are more competent in suppressing that agenda or opposition in the street who have succeeded in taming the wild masses under their leadership.
      A progressive agenda requires hard work within the people, creating their true democratic and independent organisations. People can understand each other and get united if the discussion is concentrated on what the alternative is instead of what they are opposed to; something which has been postponed because of the oppressive measures taken by the political representatives of capitalism, or the illusion which exists in the true opposition that they can soon get a share in power without even the platform in place, forgetting their main role as organiser and advocator for true change.



    • [​IMG] usini 16 February 2011 10:12AM

      We are reading reports about some very brave people who are taking on the security forces at the risk of their live and freedom.
      I nothing else, these people have changed the perception of Arabs in the western world. That at least will never be the same again.


    • [​IMG] SandyBh 16 February 2011 10:19AM

      @ kookoobean
      all the people are asking for is freedom of speech and a new constitution that is a social contract between people and their government and they want a government that is representative of the whole population of Bahrain.
      Isn't it strange that Shiis are underrepresnted in the government and in most ministries despite being the majority of the population here?
      If you want the untarnished truth, go out to the streets of the villages in Bahrain to see the abject poverty of Bahrainis. There are some houses with twenty people living in them because most people, when they get married in bahrain, cannot afford to buy a house or rent a flat so they are forced to live at their parents' with their wives and kids. It's not strange at all to find some people living with their families of four or five in two small rooms. Those people have to wait fifteen to twenty years to get a house by which time they are too old to enjoy a life of independence.
      It is only fair that people go out into the streets and ask for fairness. It is so unjust for us to live homeless when new housess are given to newly-Bahrinized people who are imported from other countries to work in the ministry of defense.
      We are not asking for the rights of only one sect in Bahrain, we are asking for the rights of all the people living here. we are all brothers and sisters in Bahrain and we all belong to our BELOVED BAHRAIN.


    • [​IMG] checanary 16 February 2011 10:21AM

      Gooner, I may be being a bit paranoid but I wouldn't give too much personal information out. Take care.


    • [​IMG] blueblossom 16 February 2011 10:22AM

      Hello everyone,
      I haven't been following the recent set of Live Blogs as closely as I was following the protests in Egypt up to Mubarak's departure. And whilst I'm relatively up to speed with Iran and Jordan, I know next to nothing about the politics of Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Morocco (except for the obvious stuff like general nature of the regimes, names of leaders, etc) - so I don't have a clear idea of how significant these protests are, how out of the ordinary they are, what their potential is. Can anyone paint a simple picture for me? Is this Big News? and is there a real contagion effect here? - or does it just look big because of the spotlight that Egypt has brought to the region?



    • [​IMG] Kritik 16 February 2011 10:26AM

      Since this is the protest page, I'd like to ask why the Guardian isn't covering the protests in Gabon which have been happening since late January? Of course this started as a North Africa blog, but Sidibouzid's infectious spirit of protest has spread on the African Continent as well as to the Middle East. Surely somebody needs to write a story about this. Not on the MENA blog but as a separate news story. It needs to be done because the less a story is publicized the greater the chance the government (with French support) has of using all its might to crush protests, slaughtering innocents without it being known. With the Bongos (father & son) legacy, I put nothing past them.
      <a href=http://globalvoicesonline.org/specialcoverage/gabon-unrest-2011/>Global Voices have been covering this story, I think other bigger media organisations in the English-speaking world need to do the same.


    • [​IMG] upnorth 16 February 2011 10:32AM

      This could get interesting as certain types on the left get tied up in knots wondering which side to support. The Iranian regime is widely praised by certain sections due to it's anti Western and anti Israel stance. Ditto Lybia who's leader has always had a place in the heart of those who don't actually have to live under the regime, sort of an Arab Castro to some.
      If these regimes are replaced by democratic governments who are less likely to declare war on the west and all it stands for, plus a healthy dose of capitalism , after all the Arabs were international traders and business tycoons whilst we were sitting around rubbing dung in our hair, can we look forward to hysterical denouncements of the modernisers as tools of the West or middle class sell outs? Will we see learned articles demanding that they do as the Western left wishes? will it be like the sense of betrayal felt by the left after the Berlin wall came down? Interesting times indeed.
      As one who travels often in the Middle East I wish them all the best and I sincerely hope that they do not go down the extreme religious road. I also hope that they tell the Western metro agitators where to shove their ideas.


    • [​IMG] agreewith 16 February 2011 10:35AM

      Having left residency in Libya many years ago, there is little which fills me with as much anticipated pleasure as the thought of the Colonel and his ilk being removed from power.
      &#1581;&#1592;&#1575; &#1587;&#1593;&#1610;&#1583;&#1575;


    • [​IMG] usini 16 February 2011 10:39AM

      @upnorth
      Lybia who's leader has always had a place in the heart of those who don't actually have to live under the regime, sort of an Arab Castro to some.
      The only person I know who seems close to Ghadaffi or to have a good word for him is that arch capitalist and media manipulator Burlusconi. Where on earth do you get your information from? cornflakes packets?


    • [​IMG] Redsockspaxman 16 February 2011 10:44AM

      The 'respected' analysis of Juan Cole is very mis-informed, like so much of what gets written about Bahrain.
      For starters, almost all Bahraini Shia follow an Ayatollah - be that Ayatollah Bahraini, Lebanese, Iraqi, Iranian or other by birth. They do this spiritually first (for guidance on daily life, when religious festivals start, what is haram and halal etc) and them MAYBE in terms of political sensibilities second. It also depends on the Shia, whether they are Baharna (originally from Bahrain/Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia) or Ajam - originally from Iran.
      Bahrainis as a people are fiercely independent and proud of their nation and don't underestimate the efforts being made from all sides to resolve what are very difficult social problems, not just today but over many recent years.

    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] LauraOliver 16 February 2011 10:46AM

      @Kritik thanks for that link and for your comment. You're right that this live blog wouldn't be the right place for coverage of Gabon, but I'll be sure to let our teams here know of the reports you've highlighted.


    • [​IMG] johnandanne 16 February 2011 10:52AM

      krustytheKlown
      I've read some of your recent contributions about the Middle East. You are very knowledgable and perceptive (sounds like a school report - it's not) and I agree wholeheartedly with almost all your sentiments and analysis.
      And yet again you are right when you say "There is nothing more dangerous than when a corrupt regime tries to reform itself" But there is no reason at all why people anywhere in the World shouldn't make reasonable demands in support of their basic rights, irrespective of the possible reactions and consequences they might encounter as a consequence. If you don't do that - life ain't worth living?

    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] LauraOliver 16 February 2011 10:53AM

      @agreewith I'm not sure how long ago you were living in Libya, but it would be interesting to hear more of your views as a former resident on the protests there.
      There was some doubt amongst commenters and commentators earlier in the week that any protests in Libya would bring about much change and concerns that any would be quickly quashed by Gaddafi. But today we hear reports of clashes in the country.
      In your opinion what would need to happen in Libya for protests/demonstrations to have an impact on the existing regime?


    • [​IMG] Numa 16 February 2011 10:56AM

      Rumours here in Bahrain are that the King is to go to address protesters at the Pearl Roundabout. More demonstrations planned for 14.00 local time.



    • [​IMG] alexweir1949 16 February 2011 11:02AM

      Fraud Proof Voting Systems would obviate all these problems - dictators would topple like dominos. Why does the West not want this to happen? Hypocrisy is too small a word to describe what our leaders are up to. Time for us to call our leaders to account - as Tunisia and Egypt have done.
      Alex Weir, London and Harare


    • [​IMG] Numa 16 February 2011 11:09AM

      Yes Redsockspaxman - you are quite correct about the Bahrainis and the Shia. You only have to drive through some of the villages in the Northern Governate to see a very different Bahrain from that reflected by award winning skyscrapers and the Grand Prix.

    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] LauraOliver 16 February 2011 11:09AM

      @blueblossom
      I haven't been following the recent set of Live Blogs as closely as I was following the protests in Egypt up to Mubarak's departure. And whilst I'm relatively up to speed with Iran and Jordan, I know next to nothing about the politics of Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Morocco (except for the obvious stuff like general nature of the regimes, names of leaders, etc) - so I don't have a clear idea of how significant these protests are, how out of the ordinary they are, what their potential is. Can anyone paint a simple picture for me? Is this Big News? and is there a real contagion effect here? - or does it just look big because of the spotlight that Egypt has brought to the region?
      Thought you might be interested in a few of the analysis pieces that we've published since the protests have spread from Egypt:
      A good starting point is this piece from Ian Black.
      And from Comment is Free El Hasan bin Talal 'Don't fear the Middle East's new wave'.


    • [​IMG] Kritik 16 February 2011 11:11AM

      LauraOliver
      Thank you for replying and for passing this important story on to your colleagues.

    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] LauraOliver 16 February 2011 11:11AM

      @Numa - thanks for your commments. Where are you hearing these reports from about the King addressing protestors? Do you know if this is via a particular TV channel or in person?


    • [​IMG] Nighthood 16 February 2011 11:18AM

      Are the pro-government protesters mostly plants as they were in Egypt? I get that impression, but can't be sure.


    • [​IMG] nickmavros 16 February 2011 11:25AM

      Time for Qaddafi, one of the evilest tyrant, to be toppled! Good luck Libyans!



    • [​IMG] nickmavros 16 February 2011 11:28AM

      President Ahmadinejad says protests are doomed - democracy is never doomed! One day, you will be doomed Ahmadinejad - let's hope it's in the very near future! Good luck Iranians.


    • [​IMG] blueblossom 16 February 2011 11:29AM

      Thanks for the links, Laura. I definitely need to read up!
      Quick question to anyone who knows: are there any Sunnis involved in the Bahrain protests? And more generally, is there much Sunni discontent with the regime?


    • [​IMG] Temascos 16 February 2011 11:34AM

      It's amazing that people are losing their fear over the regimes that have ruled them for so long. I hope, like many others do, that it works out for them and that democratic societies emerge with representation of multiple groups, both ethnic and political. Of course it could go horribly wrong for generations but its better to have overthrows through (Largely) peaceful protests rather than through violance.
      That's my opinion anyway. Will be keeping up to date on these protests!


    • [​IMG] agreewith 16 February 2011 11:39AM

      My time in Libya is a distant memory, although I am still in touch with a few people from there who came over at the time of the coup. As a generalisation, something which I tend to avoid, Libyans are wary of revolutions, with good cause, they are wary of Green Book like proclamations too. It is the events in the rest of the Arab world that will have the most profound effect, and perhaps the people of Benghazi, who have a history of dissent. Al-Ahly Benghazi &#1575;&#1604;&#1571;&#1607;&#1604;&#1610; &#1576;&#1606;&#1594;&#1575;&#1586;&#1610; (Football Club) has been banned before now.
      Libya is very different from Egypt, a poor net and comms system, poor population. Morozov's theories as put forward in 'The Net Delusion', will be interesting to review when the revolutionary momentum of Egypt and Libya are compared.


    • [​IMG] relish 16 February 2011 11:39AM

      Here's a podcast called "The Arab Revolutions of 2011 from a Historical Perspective" ... Algerian specialist Martin Evans and Eugene Rogan, Middle Eastern expert, talk about how Tunisia and Egypt both have historical legacies to live up to, in leading Arab reform. It's free (from the History Today magazine website):
      The Arab Revolutions of 2011 | History Today




     
  9. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

    #9
    Feb 16, 2011
    Joined: Sep 24, 2010
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    Middle East protests - live updates

    [​IMG] Bahraini protesters wave their national flag and chant slogans as they gather at Manama's Pearl roundabout today. Photograph: Phil Weymouth/AFP/Getty Images 5.00pm – Egypt: Egypt's health ministry says 365 people have been killed since the anti-government protests began.
    Minister Ahmed Sameh Farid said it was only a preliminary count of civilians killed and did not include police or prisoners.
    A previous estimate by the United Nations put the total at around 300.
    4.52pm – Libya: This video on Facebook is purportedly protests in Banghazi, Libya. Apparently they are saying: "Gaddafi, we don't want your flats, we want the truth."
    4.37pm: The Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has been on the phone to Bahrain's king to express support for the king, as both countries face protests. Saleh blamed people with "foreign agendas" for trying to spread chaos across the region, Reuters reports, citing Yemen's state news agency. Saleh reportedly said to King Hamad:
    There are plans to try and sink the region into a fervour of chaos and violence, and they have targeted the security of the region and stability of our countries. The people creating these works of chaos and sabotage are only implementing suspicious foreign agendas.
    4.34pm – Iran: My colleague Saeed Kamali Dehghan has written a story about the death of Saane Zhaleh (see 3.34pm), whose family says is being is being falsely described as a pro-government militia member.
    [​IMG] A family member of Saane Zhaleh, a 26-year-old theatre student at Tehran University of Arts, told the Guardian that the Iranian authorities had launched a campaign to depict the pro-opposition protester as a member of the government-sponsored basiji militia who had been killed by what they described as terrorists.
    "They [security forces] have killed him and now they want to hijack his dead body and exploit his funeral for their own purposes. His family is totally devastated and inundated in sorrow," said the family member, who asked not to be identified.
    4.27pm – Yemen: The BBC World Service is reporting two dead in Aden, Yemen.
    [​IMG] 4.23pm: Here is an evening summary:• Bahrain: Thousands of protesters have continued to demonstrate at Pearl roundabout in the capital Manama. Our reporter there says there are signs of growing anger at King Hadad, who is seen as responsible for propping up the Sunni-based establishment. Thousands of people took part in a funeral for Fadhel Al-Matrook, a protester shot dead at funeral of another protester yesterday. The US, Britain and the UN have expressed concern about the violence. A government minister reportedly acknowledged that the two killings were "catastrophic" (see 3.11pm).
    • Yemen: A sixth day of protests against Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, was broken up by pro-government supporters bussed in to the capital Sana'a. Up to four protesters were injured, and 2,000 police deployed to break up the clashes. There have also been protests in other cities such as Aden and Taiz (see 3.01pm). Saleh responded by saying "chaos, wrong mobilisation and irresponsible utterance via media" was not the way to "reach the power" (see 3.38pm).
    • Iran: Students and academics have been arrested in a raid at a university in Tehran. A state news agency reported clashes between government supporters and protesters after the funeral of Saane (or Sanee) Zhaleh, who was killed in protests on Monday (see 3.34pm). Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, said the protests were doomed to fail.
    • Egypt: Protesters are planning to gather in Tahrir Square on Friday to mark a week since Hosni Mubarak, the president, stood down (see 3.03pm). A coalition of activists have released a list of candidates they would like to see in the transitional government (see 3.14pm). Both moves are intended to put pressure on the army, which took control after Mubarak's fall.
    • Libya: Up to 38 people have been injured in the city of Benghazi after protests about the arrest of a civil rights campaigner and critic of Muammar Gaddafi. There are reports that critics of Gaddafi have been arrested.
    • Morocco: Protests are planned for Sunday (see 3.23pm).
    4.04pm: France will not allow in Tunisian immigrants without a valid visa, the government has said, according to Reuters, days after thousands of illegal migrants from the country began arriving in Italy."Visa rules will apply to Tunisia, all visa rules and nothing but visa rules," government spokesman Francois Baroin told reporters following a cabinet meeting. "There is no question of welcoming other immigrants who do not respect the rules on visas."
    3.59pm: Commenter Numa, who has been posting several updates reportedly from within Bahrain, posts this report about the internet in Bahrain, which we can't confirm:
    [​IMG] Internet extremely slow in Bahrain. When I called to my provider to complain I was told it was a "global problem" all over the island with every service provider. I asked if it had to do with the demonstrations. I was told it had. I asked further. Is the govt controlling the internet access – "Yes sir, sorry sir."
    3.47pm: Nabeel Rajab from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has uploaded disturbing footage of a protester badly injured on Monday. He said the man was victim of the police. Warning: graphic content. [​IMG] Supporters of the Yemeni government shout slogans as they try to enter Sana'a University, where anti-government protesters gather in Yemen. Photograph: Hani Mohammed/AP 3.38pm – Yemen: In a barely veiled threat to protesters in Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country's president, has said that the time of coups, chaos and creative anarchy has gone, according to the Yemeni state news agency Saba news. Saleh was quoted as saying:
    Anybody wants to reach the power, he should pass through the ballot boxes, which are the only way, but not chaos, wrong mobilisation and irresponsible utterance via media.
    3.34pm – Iran:This (below) is a death announcement for Saane (or Sanee) Zhaleh, a student who was shot dead during an opposition rally on 14 February, created by his classmates at Tehran University of Arts. The announcement has been circulated among Iran's blogging community and social networking websites.
    It reads:
    From the students of Tehran University of Arts. With sorrow and regret we announce the martyrdom of our courageous, passionate friend Saane Zhaleh and we express our condolences on his death. Peace be upon his soul / and we will remember him.
    [​IMG] _
    3.30pm – Egypt: My colleague Mark Tran writes about a fact sheet the US embassy in London has just sent out "to show it's on the side of the angels", giving a breakdown of US funding to promote "a vibrant civil society in Egypt" and in the Middle East.
    [​IMG] The US says since 2006, it has provided approximately $210m (£131m) to support democracy activities in Egypt:
    "In FY [financial year] 2010, we more than doubled our support to civil society activities (from $9.5m to $25m). Our FY 2011 request maintains this strong support ($21m). We also significantly increased support for the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in FY 2011 to support civil society and democratic reform across the Middle East. The US government has increased its direct support for indigenous Egyptian organisations. In FY 2010, Egyptian NGOs received $14m in US assistance, significantly above the $9m provided in FY 2009 and $8.5m in FY 2008. These funds went to support core civil society activities such as rights education, as well as democracy and building civil society capacity to expand the impact of Egypt's active citizens' groups."
    To put this into context, however, US military aid for Egypt runs at $1.3bn a year. On the subject of US aid to Egypt, here is an article from the Carnegie of Endowment in Washington arguing why Egyptians are unlikely to appreciate US economic aid.
    It says: "The current focus on helping businessmen, particularly powerful ones, and on US-chosen infrastructure projects that create few permanent job opportunities will keep USAID unpopular in Egypt, especially in light of the aid's small size."
    3.29pm – Libya: Social networking sites and al-Jazeera are now reportedly back online again in Libya (see 2.51pm).
    3.27pm – Bahrain: Pro-government Twitter users in Bahrain are posting updates/propaganda under using the term #silentmajority, Global Voices has spotted.
    It picks out a selection of updates from Hussakhalid, described as "a tech-savvy MBA graduate who knows a thing or two (maybe three)".
    [​IMG] Do you know that Bahrain provides free K-12 Education for all citizens? #Bahrain #silentmajority
    Do you know that there are no income taxes in Bahrain? #Bahrain #silentmajority
    Do you know that #Bahrain provides free healthcare for all citizens? #Feb14 #silentmajority
    3.23pm – Morocco: There is a lot of discussion in the comments of this YouTube video about protests planned for Morocco on Sunday, my colleague Giles Tremlett notes. #Feb20 and #20Fev are the hashtags being used on Twitter, and this is a popular Facebook protest site.
    3.14pm – Egypt: Jack Shenker sends some more from Cairo. A coalition of independent activists, bloggers and professional groups have released a shortlist of candidates that they would like to see make up a new transitional government in Egypt.
    [​IMG] There's a lot of anger that despite the supreme military council's takeover, most of Mubarak's old cabinet (which had only been in place for a few weeks before he was forced out) remain in place. The army says this is essential to ensure that the country can function normally until fresh elections are called (likely to be in about six months time).
    But many of those who participated in the revolution feel differently; hence they've drawn up a list of acceptable caretaker ministers for each government department and are demanding that the military take notice.
    The list is currently only in Arabic, but it lays down in some detail the criteria by which each nominee has been selected: there are no members of Mubarak's NDP party, no leaders of other political parties, and nobody tainted by corruption scandals. None of those appointed should be allowed to run for office in future elections, claim the organisers of the list – thus ensuring that they act only in the interest of Egypt throughout the transitional period, instead of seeking to maximise their own position.
    3.11pm – Bahrain: A government minister in Bahrain has admitted that killing two protesters was "catastrophic", according to New York Times columnist Nick Kristof.
    [​IMG] Just interviewed the foreign minister here in #Bahrain. He acknowledges that killing protesters was catastrophic.
    The UN has expressed alarm at the killing of protesters in Bahrain.
    Navi Pillay, the high commissioner for human rights, said:
    Too many peaceful protesters have recently been killed across the Middle East and North Africa. Authorities everywhere must scrupulously avoid excessive use of force, which is strictly forbidden in international law. They must conduct prompt, impartial and transparent investigations where there have been breaches of this obligation.
    I have been urging the authorities to curb the excesses of the security apparatus and to undertake serious investigations into allegations of torture and abuse of detention rights of hundreds of political and human rights activists. These activists, including numerous children as young as 10, were reportedly arrested and detained without meaningful access to lawyers and their families, and subjected to ill-treatment in detention.
    I urge the authorities to immediately cease the use of disproportionate force against peaceful protesters and to release all peaceful demonstrators who have been arrested.
    3.03pm – Egypt: Jack Shenker reports from Cairo on calls for a mass rally on Friday, the one-week anniversary of Hosni Mubarak's departure.
    [​IMG] Some claim it will be a festival of celebration over the dictator's fall, while others are planning a more sombre event to honour the memory of those who lost their lives in the recent struggles (that number currently stands at approximately 300, though many others remain missing).
    But whatever form Friday's demonstration takes, the sight of Tahrir Square – the iconic heart of Egypt's revolution – once again being transformed from a traffic-choked interchange into a sea of people, drums and flags is likely to send a strong message to the military council currently overseeing Egypt's "transition" to democracy.
    Opinions are split on the genuine intentions of the army, and many will be keen to take this opportunity to remind officers that they have been mandated by the people to help establish a sustainable civilian government, not to hang on to the reins of power themselves. After issuing a series of recent communiques calling for all protests and strikes to end, it will be interesting to see how the military – who still have forces stationed in and around the square – respond to Friday's gathering.
    3.01pm – Yemen: The Associated Press has filed some more on the conflict between police and protesters in Yemen today. The news agency says Facebook and Twitter spread the word that Yemenis should join a series of "one million people" rallies on a so-called "Friday of rage" in all Yemeni cities.
    A statement posted on Facebook said: "We will remain in the streets until the regime departure." The news agency reported: "Copies signed by a group named the February 24 Movement were distributed among youth via e-mail. The group is taking that name because organisers hope to have their biggest protest on that day next week." AP had this to say about Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president against whom the protesters are demonstrating:
    Saleh has tried to defuse protesters' anger amid the unprecedented street demonstrations by saying he will not run for another term in 2013 and that he will not seek to set up his son, Ahmed, to succeed him in the conflict-ridden and impoverished nation. Protesters still chanted slogans against the president's son Wednesday.
    Saleh has become a key US partner in battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network's offshoot in Yemen. The group's several hundred fighters have battled Saleh's US-backed forces and have been linked to attacks beyond Yemen's borders, including the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009. The US military plans a $75m training program with Yemen's counterterrorism unit to expand its size and capabilities in the nation's mountainous terrain.
    It's a difficult balancing act for Saleh, who has been criticised as being too close to the United States.
    Yemeni state TV reported that Saleh has been holding meetings since Sunday with heads of tribes to prevent them from joining the anti-government protests.
    Saleh's government is weak its control barely extends beyond the capital and is dependent on fragile alliances with powerful tribes and it faces other serious challenges.
    For more than six years, government forces have been battling a sporadic armed rebellion in the north. A secessionist movement by once-independent southern Yemen also is heating up.
    Yemen's main source of income oil could run dry in a decade, and the country is also rapidly running out of water. Much of the population suffers from malnutrition.
    Yemen has been the site of anti-U.S. attacks dating back to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbour, which killed 17 American sailors. Radical US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, thought to be hiding in Yemen, is suspected of having inspired some attacks, including the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.
    Of the Sana'a University protests, AP says police chained the university's iron gates to prevent students from streaming into adjacent streets. About 120 judges protested in front of the Ministry of Justice, calling for independence of the judiciary and better salaries, the first such protest by judges. Demonstrations also took in Yemen's port city of Aden – where protesters set fire to tyres, "fierce clashes" took place between riot police and thousands of protesters, injuring three, and there was "heavy gunfire" – and in Taiz, where thousands shouted: "Down with Ali Abdullah Saleh." Protesters have been camping in Safir Square in central Taiz, about 270 miles south of Sana'a, saying they will not leave until Saleh steps down.
    Just like in Cairo's Tahrir Square, protesters [in Taiz] have organised a makeshift camp in the city centre, with medical teams, cleaning crews and security to protect them from outside attacks, said Ghazi al-Samie, a lawyer and activist. Al-Samie said thousands have joined the protests in the last few days in Yemen's second-biggest city.
    2.51pm – Libya: The Libyan security apparatus is doing its best to stop any further protests, according to Libyans on the ground.
    ShababLibya
    [​IMG] according to Libya Today,there have been a large number of arrests in the eastern city of Al Beida, families have lost contact #Feb17 #Libya
    taimurian
    [Confirmed] .. Facebook, Twitter, Aljazeera.Net, Alarabiya.Net and Youtube are blocked now in Libya #libya #feb17 #benghazi #egypt
    2.38pm – Bahrain: Othman Janahi, an investment officer in Bahrain, is sending out pro-government updates on Twitter.
    They include pictures of a rally in support of the king.
    He also complains of bias in the international media:
    [​IMG] @LuluKQ unfortunately some of the international media are focusing on one side of the coin for their own agenda ÜberTwitter - Othman_Janahi - @LuluKQ unfortunately some of the international media are focusing on one side of the coin for their own agenda
    2.31pm – Egypt: Fidel Castro has weighed into Egypt's febrile post-Mubarak politics, backing protesters' demands that the former president return the fortune he is suspected of having removed from the country.
    2.27pm – Libya: A Libyan blogger and activist is claiming that families of victims of the 1996 killings at Abu Salim prison in Tripoli will stage a protest in a few hours in Benghazi.
    The Abu Salim killings are a notorious incident in Libya's history when Libyan groups outside the country said up to 1,200 prisoners had died. A massacre was reported to have taken place after prisoners unhappy about conditions seized a guard. Human Rights Watch investigated the atrocity. One of those it spoke to was a former prisoner, Hussein al-Shafa:
    Around 5am on June 29, security forces moved some of the prisoners between the civilian and military sections of the prison. By 9am they had forced hundreds of prisoners from blocks 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 into different courtyards. They moved the low security prisoners in block 2 to the military section and kept the prisoners in blocks 7 and 8, with individual cells, inside. Al-Shafa, who was behind the administration building with other kitchen workers at the time, told Human Rights Watch what happened.
    "At 11:00 a grenade was thrown into one of the courtyards. I did not see who threw it but I am sure it was a grenade. I heard an explosion and right after a constant shooting started from heavy weapons and kalashnikovs from the top of the roofs. The shooting continued from 11:00 until 1:35."

    He continued: "I could not see the dead prisoners who were shot, but I could see those who were shooting. They were a special unit and wearing khaki military hats. Six were using kalashnikovs.
    "I saw them, at least six men, on the roofs of the cellblocks. They were wearing beige khaki uniforms with green bandanas, a turban-like thing."
    Around 2pm the forces used pistols to finish off those who were not dead, he said.
    Abu Salim prison held between 1,600 and 1,700 prisoners at the time, and the security forces killed around 1,200 people, al-Shafa said. He calculated this figure by counting the number of meals he prepared prior to and after the incident.
    [​IMG] Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features 2.01pm – Yemen:The British government has pledged its support for political reform in Yemen, according to the Press Association news agency.
    Alan Duncan (left), the international development minister, said:
    Recent events demonstrate more than ever the importance of the Friends of Yemen process to prevent state failure in their country. We will work to support political reform and the right of all Yemenis to participate legitimately and democratically in their political future.
    MPs were today told the Friends of Yemen group will meet in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in six weeks to discuss how best to help the nation. Duncan, who visited Yemen last week, said there had been "substantial progress on many fronts" in recent months. He added: "Preventing state failure is much less costly than dealing with a failed state afterwards."
    1.55pm – Bahrain: The protests in Bahrain are so organised that they even have a media centre, according to this picture (below) by Maryam Alkhawaja, head of foreign relations at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
    [​IMG] Media centre at Bahrain protests, 16 February 2011. Photograph: maryamalkhawaja From a distance the protest camp looks like a car boot sale.
    [​IMG] Hundreds of Bahraini protesters shout slogans as the attend the funeral of Fadel Salman Matrouk, who was shot dead in front of a hospital yesterday. Photograph: Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images 1.41pm – Bahrain: More from Bahrain from another of our commenters, SandyBh, who says people are calling Lulu/Pearl roundabout "the martyr square". He/she says people there have confirmed "there are some Sunnis out there, but not a lot, which is natural considering that the Shiites are the majority and the ruling family is Sunni":
    [​IMG] Many Sunnis are either too afraid to go out and protest or they are prevented by their Sunni ideologies that declare people should have complete loyalty to the "wali" or a governing ruler, even though one who is an oppressor (this is to the best of my knowledge and how I see things when I talk with Sunnis). Moreover, you should account for the fact that many of the Sunnis here are actually not Bahrainis for they have been imported from places like Pakistan, Baluchistan, Jordan, or Yemen to work in the Ministry of Defence.
    SandyBH went on, in another comment:
    You should hear what the people in the roundabout are saying ... They are hailing now and again that their movement is not only for Shiites but Sunnis as well. This is a movement by the people for the people no matter their sect. A lot of people are refusing to call it a Shiite uprising.
    As for being afraid of change since they are a minority, no one should have such fears in a democratic government that is well-representative of the population.
    As for the foreigners being employed in the Ministry of Defence and police forces, there is a reason behind it. The government has long mistrusted Shiites in Bahrain, and despite being the majority, they are not employed in these two sectors simply because of this mistrust. The percentage of Shiites in the Ministry of Defence is almost non-existent. Even some Sunnis are being aware now of the situation of foreigners in the defence forces and are expressing resentment.
    [​IMG] Footage broadcast by Libya's state television showing Libyans holding portraits of Muammar Gaddafi during a demonstration in support of him in the southern city of Sebha. Protesters say that state TV is not showing footage of large, anti-Gaddafi protests. Photograph: Libyan TV/AFP/Getty Images 1.20pm - Libya:Reuters has a fuller report on the clashes in Benghazi.
    Here's an edited version:
    Reports from Benghazi, about 1,000 km (600 miles) east of the Libyan capital, indicated the city was now calm but that overnight, protesters armed with stones and petrol bombs had set fire to vehicles and fought with police.
    The protesters were angry about the arrest of a human rights campaigner and demanded his release. Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi, quoted Abdelkrim Gubaili, the director of a local hospital, as saying 38 people were injured in the clashes, most of them members of the security forces. He said they had all been discharged.
    "Last night was a bad night," a Benghazi resident, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters by telephone.
    "There were about 500 or 600 people involved. They went to the revolutionary committee (local government headquarters) in Sabri district, and they tried to go to the central revolutionary committee ... They threw stones," he said.
    "Now Benghazi is quiet. The banks are open and the students are going to school," the same witness said later.
    1.01pm: Summary time: [​IMG] • Libya: Up to 38 people have been injured in the city of Benghazi after protests about the arrest of a civil rights campaigner and critic of Muammar Gaddafi. There are reports that critics of Gaddafi have been arrested.
    • Bahrain: Thousands of protesters have continued to demonstrate at Pearl roundabout in the capital Manama. Our reporter there says there are signs of growing anger at King Hadad, who is seen as responsible for propping up the Sunni-based establishment. Thousands of people took part in a funeral for Fadhel Al-Matrook, a protester shot dead at funeral of another protester yesterday. The US and Britain has expressed concern about the violence.
    • Yemen: A sixth day of protests against president Saleh was broken up by pro-government supporters bused in to the capital Sana'a. Up to four protesters were injured, and 2,000 police deployed to break up the clashes.
    • Iran: Students and academics have been arrested in a raid at a university in Tehran. A state news agency reported clashes between government supporters and protesters after the funeral of Sanee Zhaleh, who was killed in protests on Monday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the protests were doomed to fail.
    12.55pm - Libya: Our Middle East editor Ian Black has this instant analysis on the significance of today's clashes in Benghazi.
    [​IMG] Libya's "day of rage," inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, was due to have take place on Thursday but began prematurely with clashes overnight in the eastern city of Benghazi, where 38 demonstrators were injured in clashes with security forces.
    Libyan opposition sources say they believe the trouble was deliberately provoked by the authorities to undermine tomorrow's main event — and intimidate people into keeping off the streets.
    Sporadic trouble has been reported from Benghazi, the country's second city, in recent weeks, and the latest outbreak was linked to protests over the infamous massacre of over 1000 prisoners at Abu Salim in 1996 — a bloody landmark in Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule. But like previous unrest, it remains local and has not coalesced into opposition at the national level. So far.
    "This could snowball into something big," says Ashour Shamis, a veteran Libyan opposition activist. "There are grievances all over the country. But this looks like a spoiler by the government."
    Libya's experience of the "Arab spring" may be different from that of its North African neighbours for several reasons. Its enormous oil and gas reserves and small population (6.5m) mean it is relatively wealthy — four times as rich as Egypt — and can afford to buy off dissent.
    It is also far less free than either of its neighbours, with a pervasive secret police and little in the way of a free media or independent institutions. Behind the facade of the popular committees the security state still looks unassailably powerful.
    Gaddafi's Jamahiriya or "state of the masses" has seen a revolution in its foreign relations over the last decade since it surrendered the Lockerbie bombing suspects, stopped supporting terrorism and gave up its wepaons of mass destruction.
    Economic liberalisation has benefited a small middle class but otherwise there has been little domestic change. Libya is extremely corrupt by international standards, though there is less of the flaunting of wealth by the elite than in Tunisia. Its army and security services, based on strong tribal loyalties, would almost certainly step in with force in the event of serious political upheaval and possibly take over the country completely.
    Gaddafi — now the longest-serving of all Arab leaders — remains as vigorous and eccentric as ever. Talk of the succession of his reformist-minded son, Saif al-Islam, has faded recently in the face of resistance by the old guard. Another son, Mutasim, is a rising star as his father's national security adviser.
    Like other Arab regimes it is capable of easing tensions by concessions such as raising subsidies to keep food prices down. But plans to release the remaining prisoners of the long-banned Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who have renounced violence pre-date the current unrest.
    12.53pm - Bahrain: One of our commenters below the line, goonerinoman, has provided another update from Bahrain:
    [​IMG] Just got back from the Pearl roundabout. I was there for about 30 minutes. I would say there are about 3-4 thousand there. A lot of people were on their way after attending the funeral. I was surprised how different things were from yesterday. I was at the roundabout for the start of the protests yesterday and the roads around were all closed and there were hundreds of police and vehicles. Today there were no police anywhere to be seen and now the roundabout was covered in tents and a mock stage has been erected, all the roads are open as normal and cars are driving round the roundabout. Whereas yesterday people were milling around and it was more of a carnival atmosphere, today it seemed more politicised. There were people addressing the crowds and it was more like a western protest. The crowd were a lot more fired up. I could not understand what was being said as my Arabic is not very good but there was a lot of mentions of Mubarak. Around the edge of the roundabout people had written slogans using stones such as Khalifa r we loud enough for you, a CND symbol, peaceful protest and others in Arabic.
    It is weird because about 150 metres [away] is the main highway and it has a flyover, it is the perfect vantage point to stop and watch - it is like a drive thru protest. It seems like the protesters are not giving up easily. I imagine they may be joined by some Saudi Shias as the Saudi weekend starts now. I think with the US Naval base here it can't go on for too long and the F1 race looming on the horizon. I can't imagine the Shias giving up without a fight. I am by no means an expert but I think the Shias are not afraid of martyrdom because of events like Ashoora. I really hope I am wrong but I think it will get messy. I guess Friday like in Egypt will be the crunch day. I am also amazed by the normality of it all.
    12.46pm - Libya: Some reports on Twitter are saying two people were killed in Benghazi but we have no way of verifying them at present.
    12.40pm - Egypt: The Guardian is compiling a database of the missing and detained in Egypt since the recent protests. If you have any information please use the form provided to help us to update it.
    12.34pm - Libya: There's limited information coming out from Benghazi, with reporters not on the ground there and not much in the way of first-hand accounts online. But the Libyan youth movement tweets that violence against protesters is continuing:
    right now in #benghazi, tear gas being thrown in the city center and have blockaded the city center #Libya #Feb17
    [​IMG] Pro-regime protesters holding posters of their president gather near Sana'a University, Yemen. Photograph: Mohammad Huwais/AFP/Getty Images 12.26pm - Yemen: Pro-Saleh supporters are being bused in to the Yemeni capital Sana'a to beat anti-government protests, Tom Finn reports.
    People have seen them arriving in buses, and they have also seen people handing out signs and sticks and weapons to plain clothes men from the back of SUVs and trucks at the protests.
    The danger in Yemen is that it is a heavily armed country. There are three times as many guns as people here. What people are very worried about is that if things become violent it may escalate.
    There were three or four students injured today. The pro-Saleh guys have been pre-empting the demonstrations. They have been arriving in the morning at the places that the anti-government protests are due to take place. It sounds like the numbers are similar [on both sides].
    The protests are much much smaller than anything that happened in Egypt. The difference now is that they are becoming more violent. And also, importantly, they are no longer under the control of the opposition.
    President Saleh is worried and he's making efforts to calm these protests. He has cancelled a trip to Washington. But he does have more support than Mubarak had in Egypt.
    As things stand it is still a small group that is protesting [in Sana'a]. The real concern is taking place in Taiz, a city in the south. There you have seen demonstrators staying out over night, and people being arrested, and larger protests. People are saying that if something is going to happen it may well happen in the south, as opposed to in the capital.
    Listen! Turn off auto refresh to listen to full audio -
    12.23pm - Egypt: Labour unrest is continuing in Egypt despite the ruling military council's call for "noble Egyptians" to end all strikes immediately, the Associated Press reports:
    Hundreds of Cairo airport employees were protesting inside the arrivals terminal Wednesday to press demands for better wages and health coverage. In the industrial Nile Delta city of Mahallah al-Koubra, workers from Egypt's largest textile factory went on strike over pay and calls for an investigation into alleged corruption at the factory.
    In Port Said, a coastal city at the northern tip of the Suez canal, about 1,000 people demonstrated to demand that a chemical factory be closed because it was dumping waste in a lake near the city.
    12.10pm- Libya: The Guardian's Twitter network of Arab and Middle East protests has been updated to include Libya.
    12.04pm - Libya: Al-Arabiya TV and AFP (via Zawya.com) are both now reporting 38 injured in the violence in Benghazi, citing medical sources in the city.
    11.56am - Libya:The artist, Muhammed Al-Amin, and the author and poet Habib Al-Amin have been arrested in Benghazi, according to @EnoughGaddafi on Twitter. Another writer, Idris al Mesmari, was reportedly arrested in Libya's second largest city, hours after a telephone interview with al-Jazeera in which he told the television station:
    I am scared, really scared. The regime's cars and thugs are attacking us. They're attacking Libya's youth. They're using hot water cannons.
    [​IMG] Iranian government supporters hit an image of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi with their shoes in Tehran, Iran. Photograph: Stringer/EPA 11.36am - Iran: Ten students and academics were arrested at a raid on a university in Tehran, according to Omid Habibina, a former journalist with BBC Arabic and a state news agency.
    He tweets:
    Reports: 10 Art Uni. Students & Professors Arrested, inc Ali Akbar Alizadeh Head of Cinema Faculty. #25Bahman #Iran #Tehran #Neda
    He also posts a link to a Facebook video of the raid.
    11.30am – Libya: There seems to be a sense of frustration that the protests in Benghazi, Libya's second biggest city, have not caught on in the capital Tripoli, even though tomorrow is supposed to be the big day for demonstrations to commemorate the failed uprising against Gaddafi in 2006:
    ShababLibya
    guys in Tripoli get out onto the streets, start with 100, or we will see a massacre in #Benghazi, its now or never, #Libya #Feb17
    EEE_Libya
    @freetelw yes in Tripoli #libya. Nothing but staged [pro-Gaddafi] protest now going on here. Tripoli wake up!!!!!!
    11.24am – Bahrain: Protesters arranged themselves on the Pearl roundabout to spell out the slogan "down with the regime", according to Maryam Alkhawaja, head of foreign relations at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.
    She posted this picture to Twitter with the caption:
    They wrote with humans "yasqe6 alnedham" down with the regime in #martyrssquare #bahrain #feb14
    [​IMG] Protesters in Bahrain spell out "down with the regime" 16 February 2011. Photograph: maryamalkhawaja _
    11.16am – Bahrain: By most accounts the protests in Bahrain were peaceful before shots were fired by the security forces, and yet the British Foreign Office has called on both sides to exercise restraint (it trotted out the same line on Egypt at the start of the protests).
    Alistair Burt, the minister for the Middle East and north Africa, said:
    I am concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by police during demonstrations in Bahrain that led to the death of two protesters. I call on all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.
    The UK will always support, and speak out in defence of, the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. It is now critical that the Bahraini government moves quickly to carry out its commitment to a transparent investigation into yesterday's deaths and any alleged human rights abuses.
    When he was in Bahrain last week the foreign secretary raised the importance of open, plural societies, and of promoting universal values. I welcome the progress that the government of Bahrain has made on political reform in the recent past, but it is essential that this process continues to meet legitimate aspirations for greater political and social freedoms.
    11.11am – Bahrain: The Bahrain government and monarchy are "clearly rattled" by the demonstrations, Martin Chulov reports from Pearl roundabout in Manama.
    At the roundabout this morning there at least 5,000-10,000. This is a group that has got itself organised – there are marquees and first aid tents everywhere. It has a sense of a protest movement that is gaining momentum. The police are staying away ... All access points to this area are being coordinated by citizens.
    It is predominantly Shia. They are saying they have been pushed into a sectarian corner. They are looking for a greater role in society in Bahrain. They feel emboldened by what's happened in Egypt and Tunisia. A secondary concern, fast becoming a dominant one, is that the king should leave.
    They are not placated. The monarch has been largely responsible for buttressing the Sunni-based establishment. The lightening rod for the discontent is the monarch.
    It does have a feel of a movement that is going somewhere. The government and the monarchy are clearly rattled by it. Instinctively it feels like one to watch.
    Listen! Turn off auto-refresh above to listen in full
    _
    11.10am – Libya: The Libyan youth movement says there are reports of a first death in Benghazi, that of a teenager.
    Alot of reports coming out of the first to be killed in benghazi, 17 year old from well known family #Feb17 #Libya
    Meanwhile, freetelw tweets that it is quiet in the Libyan capital at the moment with just some organised pro-Gaddafi protests:
    #Tripoli just got back from Green Sq (12.30 pm)..bunch of 'pro-Gaddafi protesters' are chanting..they brought high school students in groups
    [​IMG] 10.38am – Libya: Like the other countries in the Middle East and North Africa in revolt, Libya has its own Facebook protest page.
    A recent post (in Arabic) is urging "all the youth of Tripoli" to go immediately to Omar Mukhtar Street. It seems to be saying that there are no military battalions in the Libyan capital at the moment, only security forces, which would tie in with comments on Twitter that the regime has been taken by surprise by the protests.
    10.26am – Yemen: The Associated Press news agency has a bit more on the protests in Yemen today (see 9.57am). According to AP, Yemen has sent 2,000 policemen into the streets to try to stem the demonstrations, which are in support of political reforms and against the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
    The policemen, including plainclothes officers, fired in the air and blocked thousands of students at Sanaa University from joining thousands of other protesters elsewhere in the capital. They are holding a sixth straight day of demonstrations ...
    Witnesses say at least four protesters were wounded in scuffles with police on Wednesday.
    Yemen is a conflict-ridden and impoverished nation. Its president has cooperated with the US in battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
    10.24am – Bahrain: Blogger Redha Haji has posted a series of photographs of today's funeral of Fadhel Al Matrook.
    One shows that the Bahrain flag was placed over his coffin before he was buried.
    10.22am – Libya: The Guardian wrote yesterday about how young people in the Arab world use rap as a way to express themselves and as a rallying call. This rap track is promoting tomorrow's protests in Libya. One image featuring Gaddafi says: "Send the devil back to hell," while there are also numerous images of the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, showing the influence of the revolutions in those two countries.
    Turn off auto-refresh above to watch in full _
    10.11am – Bahrain: The respected Middle East analyst Juan Cole predicts what might happen if the Shia majority were granted more representation and power, as protesters are demanding.
    A Shiite-dominated government in Bahrain might well demand a closure of the US naval base. It would not be an Iranian puppet, insofar as Arab Shiites are jealous of their independence and most Bahraini Shiites don't follow ayatollahs; but it would certainly have warm relations with Tehran. A Shiite victory there would politically embolden other Gulf Arab Shiites, in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (Shiites are a minority in all three). Insofar as Iran enjoys soft power with the region's Shiites, the net result would certainly favour Iran and at least somewhat disadvantage the United States, which already shot itself in the foot by helping install a Shiite government in Baghdad that has excellent relations with Iran. For the Bahrain government to become more democratic and more Shiite-influenced would annoy the Wahhabi Saudi state, which now sees the Sunni Bahraini king as a strategic asset.
    If, like me, you are on a steep Bahrain learning curve, the piece also provides a useful backgrounder. Did you know that more than half the people in Bahrain are guest workers?
    9.57am – Yemen: There are reports of clashes between pro-government supporters in Libya, Iran and now Yemen.
    Reuters has this:
    Government loyalists wielding batons and daggers clashed with anti-government protesters in the Yemeni capital on Wednesday. Police were unable to keep the two sides apart as protesters gathered for a demonstration at Sana'a University to demand the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
    Hundreds of Saleh backers charged at protesters, who quickly fled. One student was wounded, a Reuters reporter said.
    A few hundred more student demonstrators emerged from inside the university to try to restart the rally. When police locked them inside the campus, they began throwing rocks at the government loyalists from the campus gate.
    "We'll keep protesting until this regime leaves," said Murad Mohammed, a Yemeni university student at the disrupted protest. "We have no future under current conditions."
    The opposition coalition has agreed to negotiate with Saleh, but many young protesters are getting frustrated.
    "We want change and we want to make that change the way the Egyptians and Tunisians did," said Meshaal Sultan, a Sanaa University student, referring to the revolts that ousted the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia over the last month.
    9.50am – Egypt: Jack Shenker has written about how political activists in the country fear the revolution is being hijacked by the army but the April 6 Youth Movement has put out a statement to followers of its Facebook page declaring its "full faith in our honourable military forces". However, the group of online activists also called on the army to expedite the release of political prisoners:
    April 6 Youth Movement calls on the Egyptian armed forces to speed up the release of political detainees who were arrested in the era of the former regime, as well as the immediate release of all detainees who participated in the uprising of January 25th.
    The sources inside the armed forces had told April 6 Youth Movement through the meetings that has [sic] been going on Thursday, February 10, that those who were arrested since January 25th will be released within days, but we are calling for fast release of all detainees to maintain the security in Egypt ...
    April 6 Youth Movement has full faith in our honourable military forces and we are sure that they will release all the innocent victims of our former oppressive regime.
    9.46am – Libya: The Associated Press is coming under fire on Twitter for a line in its story about the Libyan protests (picked up by various news outlets) that says: "The crowds, however, did not appear to direct their anger at Muammar Gaddafi."
    Libyan4life:
    SMH @HuffingtonPost @AP Protests in #Benghazi were solely towards #Gaddafi despite direct evidence, continue to report misinformation #Feb17
    Cyrenaican:
    They say the revolution will not be televised. Fine. Can we at least get it reported correctly? @AssociatedPress #Benghazi #Feb17 #Libya
    Incidentally, it appears that a big demonstration is planned for tomorrow in Libya – the hashtag #Feb17 is being used on Twitter – but protests started early in Benghazi. There is a lot of video emerging of last night's protests in the city.
    9.33am - Bahrain: [​IMG] This photograph has emerged of Fadhel Al-Matrook the protester who was killed in yesterday's clashes. It shows Matrook with his son and daughter, according to the Facebook group True Royal Democracy.
    Thousands of people have gathered for his funeral today where he is being hailed as a martyr.
    9.11am - Bahrain: Below the line in the comments section, goonerinoman claims to be witnessing events in Bahrain.
    [​IMG] Going to have a wander down to the Pearl roundabout in an hour. Will keep you all informed as to what's going on there. People back at work today but from what I have heard there are still lots of people at the roundabout. Bahrain is a small place and the Pearl roundabout is right in the middle of the shopping malls and the main highway and very near the financial centre.
    Global Voices has a typically-thorough round-up of the latest social media updates on the protests in Bahrain. It reports:
    Similar to Tuesday, hundreds of protesters headed towards Salmaniya hospital to collect the fallen man's body and begin the procession to Sheikh Maytham cemetery in Mahooz in Manama. Unlike yesterday, the procession was allowed to move smoothly without police interference.
    9.02am - Egypt: Harriet Sherwood has more on the speculation about the whereabouts and health of the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
    [​IMG] The Al Arab news site claims that Hosni Mubarak is now holed up in a luxury hotel in the Israeli resort of Eilat.
    Apparently there is a big Israeli security presence around the unnamed hotel, and aircraft are hovering above monitoring activity. Indeed, an anonymous hotel employee "revealed" that Mubarak was a guest.
    The ousted president has also been reported to be in Sharm el Sheikh, in Germany, in Dubai, in a coma, in a state of severe depression and at death's door.
    8.47am - Iran: It is getting hard to keep track of the various protests across the Middle East. Now Iran's state broadcaster IRIB is reporting clashes between government supporters and protesters in Tehran.
    "Students and the people attending the funeral ceremony of the martyred student Sanee Zhaleh have clashed with a limited number of people apparently linked to the sedition movement and forced them out by chanting slogans of death to hypocrites," it said, according to Reuters.
    Zhaleh was shot dead during an opposition rally on Monday, a killing the government blamed on anti-government protesters but which opposition websites say was done by security forces.
    Activist Saeed Valadbaygi is running a Facebook commentary on the latest unrest. One of his updates says:
    University doors have been closed and chants of "down with Khatami and Down with England" is seen around Valiasr.
    Another says:
    A largely organised group of Basij is being transferred to the funeral place through the BRT line.
    8.31am - Bahrain: Protesters are holding their ground at the Pearl roundabout, AP reports.
    Security forces have pulled back sharply apparently on orders to ease tensions after clashes that left at least two people dead and dozens injured.
    Police helicopters, however, flew low over a major funeral procession for one of the victims in which mourners called him a "martyr" and pledged more protests in the island nation home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet.
    Thousands of people spent the night in a makeshift tent camp in Manama's Pearl Square, which was swarmed by demonstrators a day earlier. One demonstrator used a bullhorn to call on protesters to remain until their demands are met, as the Arab wave for change takes hold in the Gulf.
    The protests began Monday as a cry for the country's Sunni monarchy to loosen its grip, including hand-picking most top government posts, and open more opportunities for the country's Shia majority, who have long complained of being blocked from decision-making roles.
    US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley has expressed concern about events in Bahrain. In a statement last night, he said:
    The United States is very concerned by recent violence surrounding protests in Bahrain. We have received confirmation that two protesters in Bahrain were recently killed, and offer our condolences to the families and friends of the two individuals who lost their lives.
    The United States welcomes the government of Bahrain's statements that it will investigate these deaths, and that it will take legal action against any unjustified use of force by Bahraini security forces. We urge that it follow through on these statements as quickly as possible. We also call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.
    Mobile phone footage of the protests at the Pearl roundabout is being streamed to the video sharing site Bambuser.
    8.10am - Libya: Video has emerged of protesters in Benghazi demanding the release of a human rights lawyer and critic of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.
    The state news agency Jana reports a series of pro-Gaddafi rallies, including in Benghazi, the Middle East expert Scott Lucas reports on his Enduring America blog.
    A video from Benghazi, dated yesterday, appears to show a protest being broken up by gunfire. (Note: there is some dispute over when this video was filmed.)
    To watch the video in full turn off auto-refresh at the top of the page _
    Meanwhile, a human rights group claimed that a 110 prisoners jailed for membership of banned militant organisation the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group will be released today.
    Reuters has this:
    The prisoners are the last members of the group still being held and will be set free from Tripoli's Abu Salim jail, chairman of the Libya Human Rights Association Mohamed Ternish told Reuters.
    Hundreds of alleged members of the group have been freed from jail after it renounced violence last year.
    8.04am: Protests continue in the Middle East and North Africa. The latest flashpoints are Bahrain, where demonstrations continue for a third day despite the intervention of King Hadad, and Libya where the arrest of a human rights campaigner sparked clashes with police in the eastern city of Benghazi.Up to 2,000 people were involved in the clashes in Libya, according to the BBC.
    Eyewitnesses told the BBC that the unrest had been triggered by the arrest of a lawyer who is an outspoken critic of the government.
    The lawyer was later said to have been released, but the demonstrations reportedly continued..
    They [the witnesses] say stones were thrown at police who are said to have responded with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets.
    In Bahrain protesters have occupied Pearl roundabout, a landmark in the capital Manama. Thousands of people are expected to take part in a funeral procession for Fadhel Matrook who was killed at a funeral yesterday.
    Here's a round-up by country of yesterday's events in the region:
    Bahrain

    King Hamad tried to quell unrest by promising to investigate the killings of opposition protesters. Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima was killed in Monday's protests. Fadhel Matrook was shot when security forces fired at crowds of people who had gathered yesterday for Mushaima's funeral.
    The opposition Shia party al-Wifaq, announced that it was withdrawing from parliament in protest against the crackdown. This was a key event, writes our Middle East editor Ian Black, because political participation al-Wifaq party is seen as crucial to political stability, as a leaked US embassy cable revealed.
    Yemen

    Protests calling for removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh have been taking place for last five days in the capital Sana'a. Yesterday pro-government supporters clashed with protesters yesterday amid alarm about increasing violence.
    Egypt

    • Elements of Egypt's fractured political opposition are concerned that the army will hijack the revolution. They are alarmed by the army's unilateral declarations of reform and the apparent unwillingness of senior officers to open up genuine negotiations with activists.
    • The Muslim Brotherhood announced that it plans to set up a political party.
    • The Guardian is compiling a database of those missing and detained during the unrest in Egypt.
    • Barack Obama said his administration was "on the right side of history" for its response to the downfall of the Mubarak regime.
    •
    CBS News journalist Lara Logan is recovering in hospital
    after being violently attacked and sexually assaulted by a mob in Egypt's Tahrir Square on Friday.
    Iran

    The authorities confirmed that a second person had died in Monday's unrest, in which security forces used teargas, pepper spray and batons against the protesters. Around 1,500 were arrested in the protests. MPs have branded opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi "corrupt on earth" a charge that carries the death penalty.
    Jordan

    The government sought to head off trouble by easing restrictions on public gatherings. Jordan's interior minister Saed Hayel Srour said that protesters would still have to inform authorities of any gathering two days in advance to ensure public safety.
    Tunisia

    The new government extended a state of emergency in place since Zine al Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, but ended a curfew imposed during the protests.
    Morocco

    The government appears to be trying to calm fears over price hikes on basic goods ahead of a Facebook-arranged protests planned for next Sunday. It has doubled the money it sets aside for state subsidies to counter rising global commodity prices.




    • [​IMG] goonerinoman 16 February 2011 8:32AM

      Going to have a wander down to the pearl roundabout in an hour. will keep you all informed as to whats going on there. people back at work today but from what I have heard there are still lots of people at the roundabout. Bahrain is a small place and the Pearl roundabout is right in the middle of the shopping malls and the main highway and very near the financial centre.


    • [​IMG] orlandobeetle 16 February 2011 8:33AM

      LGBT Egyptians are campaigning against article 2 of constitution:
      Art.2*: Islam is the Religion of the State. Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).
      Their hashtag is #ScrewYouArticle2
      Full Egyptian constitution in english here:
      Egypt

    • [​IMG]
      [​IMG] LauraOliver 16 February 2011 8:59AM

      @goonerinoman we'd really appreciate your updates. Are you from Bahrain or living/working there?
      @orlandobeetle great links - thanks again.


    • [​IMG] whizgiggle 16 February 2011 9:06AM

      How long before Hilary Clinton comes out and praises the Libyan demonstrators?
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