Friday, February 18, 2011

Days of Protest and Rage Continue Throughout Middle East and North Africa

Protests continue throughout the Middle East and North Africa, with the deadly consequences in Libya and Yemen.

Libyan protesters defy Gadhafi and his regime is struggling to put down growing protests in cities other than Tripoli. The Libyans are preparing for a day of protest against Khadafi's regime.

Bahrain mourners call for end to monarchy. The funerals today have become rallying points for opposition to the Bahraini monarchy.

There are further protests in Jordan.

Four protesters die on Yemen's 'Friday of Rage'.

Meanwhile, the situation in Iran has gotten even more complicated. There are reports that the IRGC, which is the regime's elite military cadre that has its hands in every aspect of the Iranian economy and has been considered most loyal to the regime's mullahs, has actually sought to get assurances that they will not be asked to open fire on protesters.

I'd say that's pretty significant and should give a modicum of hope to the opposition who had previously confronted a united IRGC that was more than willing to use force.

The problem is that the officers who signed that letter are most likely to be replaced/erased from their commands by the regime. They're pretty ballsy to make such demands on the regime, which showed absolutely no qualms about opening fire on the protesters last time.

If the IRGC isn't as reliable as previously believed, that means that the enforcement role may be picked up to an even greater extent by the Basij or the Iranian regime may try to shift around its troops that they know to be loyal to deal with the protesters.

That hasn't stopped the calls for opposition leader Mirhussein Mousavi to be killed and follows similar calls from the Iranian parliament for the death of those opposed to the regime.

With all the unrest in the region, Libya has called off an Arab League summit scheduled for March 29.

A week after Hosni Mubarak was deposed in Egypt, there are renewed protests and strikes, including among Suez Canal workers protesting wages and economic conditions. The problem is that the military, which sent Mubarak packing, has a vested interest in consolidating power in itself and isn't nearly as willing to make changes to the economy because it has inserted itself into nearly every area of the economy.

Things are getting quite dangerous in Bahrain for mourners and journalists as military has opened fire on mourners and journalists.
A Western official quoted a witness saying that the shooters were from the military, not the police, and that protesters began dropping to the ground after the firing started.

It was not immediately clear if the army was using live ammunition or rubber bullets to fire at the crowd, mostly young men who had been part of a funeral procession for protesters killed earlier in a crackdown by police on their peaceful revolt against the government.

Minutes later, forces in a helicopter fired on a reporter and videographer who were shooting a video on the latest violence.

That earlier crackdown killed at least five people and, once again, left the Obama administration in the uncomfortable position of dealing with a strategic Arab ally locked in a showdown with its people.

On Thursday, the masses of once-peaceful protesters were transformed into a mob of angry mourners chanting slogans like “death to Khalifa,” the king, while the opposition withdrew from the Parliament and demanded that the government step down. At the main hospital following the violence, thousands gathered screaming, crying and collapsing in grief.
Military helicopters opened fire on journalists with the New York Times.
My colleague Michael Slackman reports that he and a video producer for The Times, Sean Patrick Farrell, were just shot at from a helicopter over Bahrain's Pearl Roundabout as they were filming a report there, minutes after the army opened fire on protesters trying to march into the area they had been cleared out of one day earlier in a deadly raid.

A Bahriani blogger who writes on Twitter as RedhaHaji expressed his shock on the social network, writing: "This is not real. Not happening."
Nicholas Kristof, who is reporting from Bahrain notes that there have been quite a few protesters who were grievously wounded - many with head trauma.

No comments: