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MENA (Middle East and North Africa) News: Bahrain, Libya and Yemen try to crush protests with violence

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  • Zafar Khan
    Bahrain, Libya and Yemen try to crush protests with violence Reports of dozens killed by Gaddafi s security forces, while Bahrain troops leave scores wounded
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19, 2011
      Bahrain, Libya and Yemen try to crush protests with violence
      Reports of dozens killed by Gaddafi's security forces, while Bahrain troops leave scores wounded
      Ian Black, Middle East editor, and Martin Chulov in Manama
      guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 February 2011 19.37 GMT


      Violence in Libya and Bahrain has claimed scores of lives and left many more injured as the two Arab countries were united by popular protests that continue to shake the status quo and sound alarm bells across the region and the world.

      A week after Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, was forced to stand down, dozens of Libyans were reported killed by Muammar Gaddafi's security forces. Meanwhile, Bahraini troops shot dead at least one protester and wounded 50 others after mourners buried four people who were killed on Thursday in the worst mass unrest the western-backed Gulf state has ever seen.

      "We don't care if they kill 5,000 of us," a protester screamed inside Salmaniya hospital, which has become a staging point for Bahrain's raging youth. "The regime must fall and we will make sure it does."

      Last night footage was posted on YouTube apparently showing Bahraini security forces shooting protesters.

      Western nations have been struggling to adjust their policies in response to the security crackdowns in Arab countries.

      But Britain announced that it was revoking 44 licences for the export of arms to Bahrain amid concern over the violent suppression of protests in the Gulf state. The Foreign Office also said that eight arms export licences to Libya had been withdrawn, while a review of arms exports to the wider region continues.

      Bahrain's crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa went on television to promise a national dialogue once calm has returned. But the country's most senior Shia cleric, Sheikh Issa Qassem, condemned attacks on protesters as a "massacre" and said the government had shut the door to such dialogue.

      While the unrest in Bahrain was broadcast instantly around the world, the unprecedented bloodshed in the remote towns of eastern Libya was far harder for global media to cover.

      Amid an official news blackout in Libya, there were opposition claims of 60 dead as diplomats reported the use of heavy weapons in Benghazi, the country's second city, and "a rapidly deteriorating situation" in the latest – and the most repressive – Arab country to be hit by serious unrest.

      Libyans said a "massacre" had been perpetrated in Benghazi, al-Bayda and elsewhere in the region. Crowds in the port city of Tobruk were shown destroying a statue of Gaddafi's Green Book and chanting, "We want the regime to fall," echoing the slogan of the uprising in Egypt.

      Umm Muhammad, a political activist in Benghazi, told the Guardian that 38 people had died in the city. "They [security forces] were using live fire here, not just teargas. This is a bloody massacre – in Benghazi, in al-Bayda, all over Libya. They are releasing prisoners from the jails to attack the demonstrators." Benghazi's al-Jala hospital was appealing for emergency blood supplies to help treat the injured.

      News and rumours spread rapidly via social media websites including Twitter and Facebook, but information remained fragmentary and difficult to confirm.

      In Yemen at least five people were reported killed when security forces and anti-government protesters clashed for a seventh consecutive day in the capital, Sana'a, Aden and other cities, with crowds demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule.

      Barack Obama said he was "deeply concerned" about the reports of violence from Bahrain, a close ally and the base of the US fifth fleet, as well as those from Libya and Yemen, and he urged their rulers to show restraint with protesters.

      Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, also condemned the killings of protesters in Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. "The Middle East and North Africa region is boiling with anger," he said. "At the root of this anger is decades of neglect of people's aspirations to realise not only civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights."

      In Cairo's Tahrir Square, the influential Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi said the Arab world had changed and said Egypt's new military leaders should listen to their people "to liberate us from the government that Mubarak formed".

      It has also emerged that the Ministry of Defence has helped train more than 100 Bahraini army officers in the past five years at Sandhurst and other top UK colleges.

      Libya protests: massacres reported as Gaddafi imposes news blackout
      Opposition says 61 killed as diplomats report use of heavy weapons in Benghazi and rumours sweep the country


      Robert Fisk in Bahrain: 'They didn't run away. They faced the bullets head-on'
      After Egypt's revolution, the people have lost their fear
      Saturday, 19 February 2011


      "Massacre – it's a massacre," the doctors were shouting. Three dead. Four dead. One man was carried past me on a stretcher in the emergency room, blood spurting on to the floor from a massive bullet wound in his thigh.

      A few feet away, six nurses were fighting for the life of a pale-faced, bearded man with blood oozing out of his chest. "I have to take him to theatre now," a doctor screamed. "There is no time – he's dying!"

      Others were closer to death. One poor youth – 18, 19 years old, perhaps – had a terrible head wound, a bullet hole in the leg and a bloody mess on his chest. The doctor beside him turned to me weeping, tears splashing on to his blood-stained gown. "He has a fragmented bullet in his brain and I can't get the bits out, and the bones on the left side of his head are completely smashed. His arteries are all broken. I just can't help him." Blood was cascading on to the floor. It was pitiful, outrageous, shameful. These were not armed men but mourners returning from a funeral, Shia Muslims of course, shot down by their own Bahraini army yesterday afternoon.

      Prison guards accused of killing dozens of jail inmates in Egypt
      'Independent' investigation uncovers evidence of massacre while protests against Mubarak were at their peak
      By Donald Macintyre in al-Qatta
      Saturday, 19 February 2011


      Libya protests: 'Terror and bribery are blunt tools now'
      Author Hisham Matar pleads with Muammar Gaddafi to hold his troops back


      Yemen observes 'Friday of Fury'
      At least six people killed as tens of thousands of protesters, both pro- and anti-government, march in several cities.


      Scores killed in Libya protests
      Human Rights Watch says 84 people killed in past three days during rallies calling for ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
      Last Modified: 19 Feb 2011 08:23 GMT


      Fresh clashes in Bahrain protests
      Tear gas fired on protesters attempting to retake Pearl roundabout, as military are ordered to pull out by crown prince.
      Last Modified: 19 Feb 2011 11:39 GMT


      Algeria protests under way
      Demonstrations taking place in capital Algiers and city of Oran as protesters call for government to resign.
      Last Modified: 19 Feb 2011 11:51 GMT


      Hundreds of Algerians have turned out for anti-government protests in the capital Algiers, a week after thousands of demonstrators were confronted by 30,000 riot police at the same venue.

      Three people have so far been arrested at May 1 Square, the focal point of protests, according to Elias Filali, an activist and blogger who spoke to Al Jazeera.

      The square has been blocked by more than a thousand police officers, equipped with riot gear, who are trying to divide protesters into smaller groups. Helicopters are also reported to be flying overhead.

      "The people have lost faith in this regime. This [protest] is a success because ... [protesters] have broken this barrier of fear," Filali said.

      El Watan, an Algerian daily newspaper, reported on Saturday that train services in the country had been shut down completely, and that authorities have set up road blocks on the highway that links Tizi-Ouzou, Boumerdes and Bejaia to the capital.

      The newspaper also reported that people from the eastern region of Kabylie, known for their involvement in previous uprisings, are not being allowed to travel to Algiers.

      May 1 Square was also the site of last week's rally. Saturday's protest was organised by the National Co-ordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD).

      The month-old umbrella group is made up of the political opposition, the Algerian human rights league and trade unions.

      Mourad Medelci, Algeria's foreign minister, said the authorities had not received a formal request to authorise the protest in Algiers, where demonstrations have long been banned.

      "To my knowledge there was no request to march," Medelci said, speaking in Madrid, the Spanish capital.

      "Perhaps there was a will to do so but we are an administration which functions in a transparent manner and we respond when we are solicited."

      The Arab world is dead, but the Egyptians may revive it
      Egypt's revolution has not just deposed a dictator, it has breathed life into an exhausted idea: Arab self-determination


      The protesters on the streets of Cairo who, in just 18 days, ended the three-decade rule of Hosni Mubarak were not merely demanding the end of an unjust, corrupt and oppressive regime. They did not merely decry privation, unemployment or the disdain with which their leaders treated them. They had long suffered such indignities. What they fought for was something more elusive and more visceral.

      The Arab world is dead. Egypt's revolution is trying to revive it.

      From the 1950s onwards, Arabs took pride in their anti-colonial struggle, in their leaders' standing and in the sense that the Arab world stood for something, that it had a mission: to build independent nation-states and resist foreign domination.

      In Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser presided over a ruinous economy and endured a humiliating defeat against Israel in 1967. Still, Cairo remained the heart of the larger Arab nation – the Arab public watched as Nasser railed against the west, defied his country's former masters, nationalised the Suez canal and taunted Israel. Meanwhile, Algeria wrested its independence from France and became the refuge of revolutionaries; Saudi Arabia led an oil embargo that shook the world economy; and Yasser Arafat gave Palestinians a voice and put their cause on the map.

      The massacre behind the revolution
      It was the deliberate slaying of protesters in Tunisia that turned a regional uprising into a nationwide revolution.


      Clashes rock Bahraini capital
      Armoured vehicles seen on the streets of Manama after police storm protest site in roundabout, killing at least six.


      'Day of rage' kicks off in Libya
      Reports of deaths as protesters take to the streets in four cities despite a crackdown, heeding calls for mass protests.
      Last Modified: 17 Feb 2011 15:35 GMT


      Iraqis attack government offices
      Three people killed in clashes with security forces as protesters break into public offices and set buildings on fire.
      Last Modified: 16 Feb 2011 16:17 GMT


      Iran funeral triggers new clashes
      Government supporters and opposition activists clash at funeral procession for student killed in Tehran.
      Last Modified: 16 Feb 2011 13:12 GMT


      Egyptians defy call to end strikes
      Airport and textile workers among those refusing to heed military's appeal not to protest.
      Last Modified: 16 Feb 2011 20:11 GMT


      Gaddafi sweats as wave of Arab unrest reaches Libya
      Violence erupts as dissent continues across neighbouring states of Yemen and Bahrain

      By Kim Sengupta, Diplomatic Correspondent
      Thursday, 17 February 2011


      Deposing dictators is just the start of a Middle East transformation
      Protest won't fade away in Egypt and Tunisia, whatever the old order and its allies in the US think


      Robert Fisk: Three weeks in Egypt show the power of brutality – and its limits
      As he leaves Cairo, our writer reflects on the lessons of an extraordinary uprising for protesters and police alike

      Wednesday, 16 February 2011


      'President Saleh is not the problem, it's the corrupt people under him'
      In Yemen's capital, Sana'a, a group of friends in their 20s discuss a leader they call 'father' and bemoan an outdated education system that hinders their job prospects


      'A lot of graduates in Morocco get to 30 and still don't have a job'
      Rachid Chaoui, one of thousands of young Moroccans unable to find work after studying, is watching events in Egypt closely and plans to join a national protest organised via Facebook Interactive: Read more about young people in the Arab world


      Schoolgirl blogger jailed in Syria
      Teenage blogger accused of spying for a foreign country sentenced to five years in jail after a closed-door hearing.
      Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 03:04 GMT


      WikiLeaks cables: Egyptian military head is 'old and resistant to change'
      US ambassador to Cairo gives his opinion on Muhammad Tantawi and number two general, Sami Enan


      Iran's green opposition calls rally despite government ban
      Committee gathers support and asserts constitutional right to protest

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