Monday, February 21, 2011

Newsflick: Middle East Situation Update: 21st Feb


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via on 2/21/11

Newsflick: Middle East Situation Update: 21st Feb:



Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will fight a popular revolt to "the last man standing," one of his sons said on Monday as people in the capital joined protests for the first time after days of violent unrest in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Anti-government protesters rallied in Tripoli's streets, tribal leaders spoke out against Gaddafi, and army units defected to the opposition as oil exporter Libya endured one of the bloodiest revolts to convulse the Arab world.Speaking on state television on Monday, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said: "Our spirits are high and the leader Muammar Gaddafi is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are behind him as is the Libyan army.

"We will keep fighting until the last man standing, even to the last woman standing … we will not leave Libya to the Italians or the Turks."In the coastal city of Benghazi protesters appeared to be largely in control after forcing troops and police to retreat to a compound. Government buildings were set ablaze and ransacked.

In the first sign of serious unrest in the capital, thousands of protesters clashed with Gaddafi supporters.Gunfire rang out in the night and police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators, some of whom threw stones at Gaddafi posters.


Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since 1978, vowed Monday not to quit under pressure from the street, as MPs joined thousands of protesters in Sanaa calling for his departure.

In the country's south, police shot dead a protester in the regional capital Aden, bringing to 12 the number of people killed in protests that have raged there since February 16, according to an AFP tally based on reports by medics. Dozens have been wounded.

Anti-regime protests also spread to the north of the country, with tens of thousands of Shiite Huthi rebels demonstrating Monday in Saada to demand the ouster of Saleh, a local tribal leader said.

Saada is the stronghold of the rebels, who from 2004 fought six wars with Saleh's government before signing a peace treaty in 2010.


Five people were found dead Monday, a day after protests were held in cities across Morocco calling for political reform, the nation's interior minister told reporters.

The bodies were found in a bank in the town of Al Hoceima in northern Morocco, Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui said Monday.

Thousands demonstrated Sunday in towns across the country, according to Human Rights Watch.

Cherkaoui said several groups — labor unions, youth organizations and human rights organizations — demonstrated in at least six cities.Police stayed away from the marches and demonstrations, most of which were peaceful, Human Rights Watch reported.


Plans by an exiled Shi'ite leader to return home raised the stakes in a power struggle in Sunni-ruled Bahrain on Monday, as mainly Shi'ite protesters in Manama's Pearl Square pressed demands for a new government.

Haq movement leader Hassan Mushaimaa, tried in absentia in Bahrain for attempting to topple the government, said he would fly back from London on Tuesday, posing a fresh challenge to the ruling al-Khalifa family, whose legitimacy he has contested.

Bahrain's opposition groups will make another attempt Monday to coordinate their response to the government's call for dialogue, a day after failing to reach a consensus on whether to start negotiations with the country's rulers in the wake of last week's deadly crackdown on protesters.

"We've been demanding talks for the past 10 years, and we'd be the last to reject them, but we have to make sure our demands are unified," said Ebrahim Sharif, a Sunni Muslim and former banker who heads the secularist National Democratic Action society, an opposition group. "We will meet again [Monday] and try to build consensus: there's progress, but it's slow." (2)


Iran's government stepped up its filtering of internet content that dramatically slowed down connection speeds, reported CBS News on Monday.

According to the report, witnesses provided unconfirmed reports of anti-government gatherings on Sunday being quickly broken up by a massive security presence.

The New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said witnesses had told of police and other security agents resorting to live ammunition to break up large groups of protesters on Sunday. The group was told at least one person had died in clashes, but that report could not be confirmed, reported CBS News


Djibouti authorities have 'provisionally released' three top opposition leaders briefly detained after unprecedented protests demanding regime change, the state prosecutor says.

State television had announced the release of two of the arrested trio but it had said nothing of the third leader's fate.

'We have released them provisionally because we acknowledge that, in spite of their irresponsible behaviour, they are political party leaders and one of them is a member of parliament,' Djama Souleiman told AFP on Sunday.

'We are continuing to investigate the extent to which they may have manipulated looters and masterminded acts of violence and vandalism,' he explained.


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